Google Ads for Health Care Professionals

Marketing is a very general term that encompasses everything from branding to billboards and PR. In today's world, the most important aspect of marketing is arguably digital advertising, often referred to as PPC (pay per click). Here, I'll break down the first of the two major PPC options, Google Ads. You can read my broader article about marketing for healthcare professionals here - it's probably a good place to start.


Background to Google Ads

When you search for anything on Google, you'll likely notice that the first few results are marked with an AD symbol. This is how Google makes almost all of its money. Anybody (including you) can create one or more ads to be displayed when people search. Before I explain more detail, it's important to note that everything also applies to Bing Ads and Yahoo Ads, but given that Google Search has an 88% market share (that is, 88% of people worldwide use Google as their search engine of choice), I'll focus on Google's ad system here.

The basis of Google Search is to provide a search engine that can accurately and quickly identify what you're looking for, and give you the top results that are likely to match. Google's methods of doing this are secret, but a fair amount of the principal concepts are public knowledge. In summary, Google uses machine learning (ML), your search and website behavior, and massive amounts of data to semantically identify what you MEAN, not what you type. Based on this assessment, it will figure out the most likely results and show them to you in fractions of a second.

As a website owner, you're able to bypass this wall of data (somewhat) by paying Google for the privilege of displaying your ad before its normal search results. Google has gone out of its way to make their advertising platform accessible to everyone, but keep in mind that it's not necessarily best for you to manage your ads yourself. As with all aspects of marketing, you should engage with experienced professionals when the option is available.

For most PPC options, you'll be charged when someone clicks on your ad, not when it's displayed to them.


Important Terms

Google Ads (and PPC in general) is very data-centric. It revolves around raw numbers and optimization of those numbers over the long term. This is the power of digital advertising in general - you get extensive data, which can be used to great effectiveness in improving ROI. Here are a few important terms to be aware of;


The Fundamentals

To create an account, you can simply go to ads.google.com and follow the steps from there. Once created, it's broken down in to a hierarchy;


When creating an ad campaign, you will typically create one or more of each of the above items, and then your ads will appear.


How Ads are Displayed

Coming back to the background, when a person searches for something, the normal search results are displayed based on the principals already outlined above. Once you've set up a complete campaign, Google will attempt to match your keywords and ads to any search that is performed. So, for example, if you've created a campaign with keywords related to "psychology CPD courses", Google will try to display your ads when somebody searches this phrase or related phrases. How this happens is complicated, and I won't get in to the details here, but keep in mind that it's designed as a bidding process, where your ads bid against competitive ads for the most relevant and highest paying position. The winner of the bid appears first, and so on down the search results.


Best Practice

I could write many articles about how to effectively manage your Google Ads, but for simplicity, here are a few critical points;


Pros and Cons

Google Ads are very powerful. They've been proven a thousand times over to be more effective than almost anything else out there. The reasons for this are varied. Most importantly, ads are displayed based on a person's intent. That is, somebody is looking to get their CPD points online, and will search for "CPD points online". If your ad displays, and they click on it, and your website is effective, then one can assume that there's a very high likelihood of a conversion, because the person had the intent of finding you or someone like you at the start.

However, the cost of using Google Ads can be very high, especially for small businesses. You should be prepared to commit a minimum of a few hundred dollars a month to it, on a continuing basis. On top of this, although it's designed to be accessible, the data-focused nature of it means that you can easily waste money if you don't do your research and have a head for numbers.

In all cases, I would strongly recommend using an agency to manage Google Ads for you, rather than trying it yourself. If you're inclined to try it yourself, it's best to spend a few hours watching YouTube videos and reading more detailed articles about Google Ads before starting.

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