Get expert tips for creating successful healthcare PPC marketing campaigns in this highly regulated industry.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What healthcare marketing is, including its importance and benefits
  • Regulations for healthcare-related ads
  • The latest data surrounding healthcare pay-per-click (PPC) ads
  • Tips for standing out from industry competition

Those experienced in the online healthcare marketing space know that it can be, in a word, finicky.

You can thank Google’s core algorithm updates in recent years for that. At times, these updates have thrown the industry into near-chaos, with some sites losing nearly all of their traffic and others seeing huge growth. 

Because of this unpredictability, it makes sense that marketers would turn to healthcare PPC, or pay-per-click advertising.

Paid search allows for spot-on audience targeting. What’s more, it can help you get to the top of the search engine results page (SERP) more quickly than relying on search engine optimization (SEO) and organic rankings alone. 

Google Trends shows health-related searches nearly doubled across the U.S. between December 2019 and March 2020. (We’re guessing COVID-19 had something to do with that).

And Moz data shows the top-positioned organic search results are now further down the page than the worst-case scenario positioning in 2013. In other words, PPC ads can be more beneficial than ever.

For best practices when it comes to healthcare PPC, read on.

group of healthcare workers walking down a hallway

Read over the ad guidelines so you can make sure you’re not spending time on a campaign that’ll end up getting rejected or pulled. (Image: Unsplash)

What is healthcare PPC?

Healthcare PPC allows you to buy top-paid positions on search engine results pages from the likes of Google and Bing. Search ads help fast-track your online presence, promote your healthcare business, and increase conversions. It’s a powerful way to get those already seeking medical information to be easily directed to your site.

Healthcare PPC goal

The goal of healthcare advertising is to attract and lead visitors to click through to your website or landing page where they complete an action that enters them into the sales funnel. These actions can include requesting a quote, purchasing a product, signing up for a subscription, or making an appointment.

Take Google’s PPC advertising program, Google Ads. With this platform, you can choose from a number of tools to select keywords and set bids that allow you to have full control of your budget, along with the target audience you’re looking to attract.


Healthcare advertising tips

Having a successful healthcare PPC campaign comes down to return on investment (ROI).

Follow our expert tips to boost your online presence, drive high-quality impressions, and turn clicks into conversions.

1. Understand the healthcare paid search regulations

Healthcare is, of course, a highly regulated industry. So it makes sense that paid search guidelines would be, too. Luckily, both Google and Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) have published clear parameters when it comes to this kind of PPC advertising content.

For example, Google only allows pharmaceutical manufacturers to advertise in Canada, New Zealand, and the United States (over-the-counter meds have a much longer list). 

Additionally, they now prohibit pharmaceutical manufacturers from promoting prescription opioid painkillers or targeting locations where they aren’t licensed. You can use Google’s handy drop-down menu to see which types of PPC ads are allowed in each country.

Google’s healthcare paid search ad policies include regulations related to:

  • Restricted drug terms
  • Unapproved substances
  • Unauthorized pharmacies
  • Speculative and experimental medical treatments
  • Clinical trial recruitment
  • Addiction services

It’s also good to be aware of Google’s “health in personalized advertising” limitation on personal health content. Even if you comply with its healthcare guidelines, Google can limit how often your PPC ads appear based on what your company aims to treat. 

For example, an audiologist may be limited because Google considers hearing loss a chronic condition.

2. Get familiar with LegitScript

Microsoft states that their policy on pharmaceutical products in particular “varies by market.” As such, those advertising drug or alcohol addiction services (rehab facilities, group therapy, and halfway houses, for example) must be certified by a company called LegitScript first.

LegitScript can take a while to get approved and should be done before PPC campaigns are built out. This approval must be done if there are any prescriptions or addiction services on your site.

For example, any mention of Botox will cause your site to be flagged without LegitScript approval. This is true even if you aren’t targeting Botox in your keywords, which is common for businesses such as medical spas. 

Some industries have regulations about using words like “best” and “will.” This includes statements like “the best healthcare” and “we will cure your pain.” Google won’t necessarily flag these, but such statements could potentially cause problems for the client. That’s why we say it’s best practice to avoid them.  

A Microsoft Advertising healthcare ad verbiage example

A Microsoft Advertising verbiage example

Microsoft’s healthcare paid search ad policies include regulations related to:

  • Invasive treatments and cosmetic surgery
  • Weight loss
  • Pharmacy and prescription-only medicine
  • Non-prescription medications and health supplements
  • Family planning

No matter which part of the healthcare umbrella your company falls under, it’s a good idea to read over these guidelines. This way, you can make sure you’re not spending time on ad campaigns that’ll end up getting rejected or pulled — and ultimately make you lose out on potential patients

Pro tip: If you’re a CBD advertiser that’s certified by LegitScript, or your company offers FDA-approved pharmaceuticals containing CBD, you must then be certified by Google before you can begin advertising online. 

3. Be easily reachable

It sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many companies (across multiple industries) make it difficult to get in touch.

What’s a lead to do?

In this case, they’ll likely keep scrolling to find a brand with a phone number, live chat, or an address that’s more readily available.

Setting up a call extension and location extension on your PPC ads is a great first step. It’s also wise to include your contact info on each website page, as well as your landing pages and even your social media profiles. This makes it much easier for people to reach out to you quickly, no matter where they land. 

Pro tip: If one of your main goals is to drive qualified leads to your location, don’t forget about correctly setting up your Google Business Profile. This can help increase local customer engagement across Google Maps and searches.

4. Focus on E-E-A-T

Yes, this is an SEO term. But the idea behind it is beneficial when it comes to healthcare PPC as well. If you’re not familiar, E-E-A-T (originally E-A-T) stands for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

E-E-A-T was first introduced in 2015 via a Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines document that explained how the search engine gauges website quality. It was brought up again in 2018 when these guidelines expanded to also include content authors. 

With the stiff competition in the healthcare industry (plus a focus on hard data and proven science), keeping E-E-A-T in mind when creating ad copy and landing page content can set your brand apart from the rest.

An effective way to improve your site’s E-E-A-T SEO is by creating — and maintaining — a positive brand reputation. This means keeping an eye out for any negative reviews or press, and responding promptly and professionally if anything comes up.

Other methods include:

  • Using and incorporating credible sources (particularly important in healthcare marketing) in your content
  • Providing author details and transparency
  • Regularly auditing your content to ensure it addresses your target audience’s evolving needs
  • Ensuring your content corresponds with your overall marketing strategy

While E-E-A-T isn’t a direct Google ranking factor, Google still aims to serve results with strong E-E-A-T. By retaining a high E-E-A-T that improves user trust, you can ultimately gain more conversions on your site — and enhance your brand awareness.

5. Keep your message simple

Picture it:

You’re frantically searching for the meaning of certain symptoms or the nearest urgent care facility. You’re probably not in the mood for quirky headlines or sensationalist claims.

The most effective healthcare paid search messaging is clear and direct. Your healthcare ads will have the best shot at cutting through the clutter by speaking your audience’s language and being concise about what you’re offering. Sometimes a simple question, such as “Looking for a speedy urgent care center in Atlanta?” is all it takes.

Straightforward ad copy from Mommy’s Bliss, a company that sells wellness products for moms and babies

Straightforward ad copy from Mommy’s Bliss, a company that sells wellness products for moms and babies (Image: Google)

While ad copy should be simple, we suggest your landing pages be as thorough as possible. With landing pages, you’ve already cleared the hurdle of getting someone to click your ad. From this point on, you need to provide them with as much information as possible to feel confident and informed before following your call to action (CTA).

Landing page optimization should be client focused and directly respond to what the person is trying to fix or research. 

Many healthcare providers want to direct to pages that are general or highlight a specific doctor or team to build trust. And, while it’s important to be reputable, healthcare advertising is meant to meet the needs of the customer — not the medical professional’s ego. 

Pro tip: Make sure to include an eye-catching CTA on the landing page to generate leads. 

6. Be thoughtful about keywords

Keywords are one of the most important aspects of PPC campaigns. That’s why it’s essential to build healthcare ads around the terms and phrases your prospects are using during their search. 

Depending on which part of the industry your company falls under, this could include things like:

  • The specific product or service you offer
  • The issue or condition your product or service addresses
  • Major symptoms that your product or service deals with
  • Your target audience
  • Company details (e.g., name, location, contact information)

If you’re too generic with your keywords, you risk getting lost in the shuffle. Take things a step further by keeping in mind what questions prospects might be typing into search boxes, and what their concerns might be (such as cost, specialties, or location). 

The more specific and targeted you can be within your budget, the better. You can even leverage negative keywords to keep unqualified clicks at bay. (Learn more about the ins and outs of keyword research here.)

7. Know how to speak to your audience

Successful ad copy will speak to the user, but not in a “buy now” sense. A common misstep many brands, whether in the healthcare industry or not, are having to now walk back from is talking in a “marketing voice.” 

Google may penalize sites that suggest users need to buy a certain product or urge people to call immediately if they’re showing certain signs. This, perhaps rightfully, forces marketers to think more like users. The result? Brands with ad copy that includes actual facts — with the authority to back them up — are more likely to be the ones that see the most success.

Healthcare searches can sometimes be a matter of life and death, but that doesn’t mean you should adopt a fear-based approach. Instead, consider things like question-based ad copy and even multimedia for additional visual aid.  

healthcare working talking to a patient

Getting proper, accurate health information to people is arguably more important than ever. (Image: Rawpixel)

8. Don’t forget about mobile

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: not being mobile friendly can have serious adverse effects on your digital marketing program. Small Biz Trends reports that 60% of consumers interested in healthcare ads visit the company’s website, and 53% of search queries come from smartphones.

You can check to see that all of your landing pages are rendering properly on mobile devices using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. You can even take things a step further by testing out mobile-specific ads and making mobile bid adjustments as needed. 

Consider utilizing responsive ads, too. These types of ads automatically adjust in size, appearance, and format to accommodate all devices — from smartphones to desktop computers to tablets. Because 80% of internet search queries occur on mobile, it’s important to ensure your healthcare PPC ads work on the device that potential customers use.

Healthcare PPC: importance and benefits

Whether you just got started with your healthcare marketing efforts or you already run PPC campaigns, implementing PPC ads are an essential part of any marketing strategy. From search engines to social media networks to email, PPC advertising in the healthcare space allows you greater (and quicker!) access to your target audience. Whether your goal is to increase visibility, boost conversions, or bring more leads, PPC can get you there.

Since PPC ads are only displayed to potential customers who are already searching for the type of products or services you provide, they’re much more likely to entice those visitors to take action.

Even though healthcare PPC can be quite competitive, it’s an excellent way to attract new patients to your practice, accelerate your speed to market, or gain more site traffic and brand awareness.

It’s also a valuable way to be at the center of what potential patients see when researching options in a specific area. For example, if someone local to your medical practice were to search “MRI exam + [your city],” chances are they’re looking for specialized care in neurology or radiology — or will need it soon.

Whereas organically ranking for popular search terms can be challenging, especially if you’re a smaller facility in a larger town, PPC advertising helps ensure your business displays for some of those search queries.

The takeaway

Staying healthy remains top of mind for many of us. Because of that, getting proper, accurate health information to people is arguably more important now than ever before.

There’s a huge opportunity for those in the healthcare industry when it comes to medical PPC search. At its root, healthcare searches are about people and their families wanting to get well and stay well. It’s a topic that’s personal and important, no matter the demographic.

Being concise and direct with your ad copy and healthcare marketing plan will do wonders to help you cut through the clutter — and competition. As long as you’re thorough, honest, and follow the proper guidelines, your healthcare PPC will be slated to succeed.

Looking for more insight on creating strong healthcare paid search campaigns? We’d love to chat. From PPC for doctors to PPC hospital ads, we’ll help you create the perfect strategy to improve your marketing ROI. 

This post has been updated and was originally published in November 2020.

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