Using Keywords to Boost Your Digital Healthcare Marketing ROI


As competition in the digital adscape continues to heat up for healthcare marketers, effective keyword targeting has become more important than ever before  here’s what you need to know.

In light of the internet’s transformative impact on the path to treatment, digital advertising is quickly emerging as the most effective strategy for acquiring new patients. Today, nearly one in 20 of Google’s two trillion annual searches are health-related, and 43% of patients report that they now rely on the internet as their primary source for medical advice and information about their health.

Healthcare marketers are slowly embracing the notion that pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a more effective/efficient tactic than traditional media, and they’re shifting the bulk of the media dollars accordingly.

However, simply investing in digital advertising doesn’t guarantee success — in other words, recognizing its importance isn’t the same as knowing how to use it effectively. Without a comprehensive knowledge of PPC ad platforms and keyword marketing tactics, it’s likely that you won’t be seeing much of a return on your investment. Here’s are a few key considerations that should be taken into account when crafting a PPC campaign.

Be Precise

Although this might seem a bit counter-intuitive, the more specific you can be with your keyword selection, the better. While short, more general keyword-phrases, such as “heart pain” or “swollen ankle” are important for boosting online visibility, they typically have lower conversion rates than long-tail keywords like “non-chemical treatment options for acne” or “outpatient vein reduction procedures near me.” This is because the latter approach targets a smaller group of patients who are actively seeking treatment options for a given condition, as opposed to a much larger group that might simply be looking for information or support.

Be Bold

And don’t be afraid of bidding on keywords with a high cost per click (CPC). David S. Brooks, Vice President of Client Services at, explains this well: a well-designed landing page typically generates about one new appointment for every 10-15 visitors — if you’re bidding $5 per click on a popular keyword-phrase, your cost per appointment (CPA) will be anywhere between $50-75. If you’re capping off your daily bid at $10, you’re probably not going to end up with very impressive results.

Remember, generating a new patient is always more expensive than holding onto an existing one — while securing that first appointment may cost between $50-75, it’s not too hard to justify this initial investment considering the potential return on a long-term patient or booked procedure.

Be Thorough

While Google Adwords pricing is mostly determined by competitive demand, Google will adjust your keyword bidding price based on the “quality” of your account and ad campaigns. In addition to determining the amount you pay per click, your quality score will actually dictate where your ads end up on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

While it’s not entirely clear how Google generates its quality scores, experts believe it directly related to the relevance of your keyword/ad copy and the corresponding landing page on the other end. Some also believe that clickthrough rate (CTR) is a contributing factor, but the extent of this is unclear. Either way, both make a lot of sense when you think about it — Google is trying to optimize the consumer’s search experience, so when it receives data that indicates an ad isn’t relevant enough, it penalizes the sponsoring party accordingly.

So make sure your keywords are highly-targeted, your ad copy is engaging, and your landing page is appealing, easy to navigate, and genuinely helpful — you’ll be handsomely rewarded with lower CPCs and a steady stream of new appointments on the books.

Medical Practice Marketing, Digital Marketing, Physician Marketing

(Image credit: Damian Zaleski/Unplash)