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In this day and age, most patients turn to Google to find a GP. Patients are the bread and butter of any general practice. In this article we are going to show you why your practice should use Google Advertising to get more patients.

According to RACGP’s Health of the Nation Report 2018, 78.2% of Australian patients have a preferred GP, indicating very high overall GP loyalty. In other words, most patients are basically off the market and can’t be acquired. This shows to go that keeping existing patients happy is just as important as gaining new patients.

However, the report also found that over 25% of patients attend multiple general practices – for multiple reasons, some of which include but are not limited to:

  • Treatment they were receiving wasn’t working
  • Patient didn’t feel comfortable with the GP
  • Getting a second opinion
  • Moving to a new location
  • Patient’s doctor retires
  • Overall bad experience for various reasons

Patients use Google to find new practice

Our research shows that the most commonly used keyword search on Google for finding a medical practice is “Medical Centre + Location”. It makes sense – convenience and distance play a big part in finding a new GP and patients are typically seeking a GP close to where they live or work.

The difference between paid and organic search listings on Google

Here are some of the main differences:

google search results page for medical

Paid Google Ads Organic Google Listings
Pay for keywords you’d like to show for on Google search results page Optimise your website for search engines to gain better organic visibility on Google for specific keywords
Pay-per-click model 200+ factors play a role in ranking well
Cost per click determined by Google auction Limited number of keywords (Can’t do SEO for too many keywords)
Use as many keywords as you like Hard to optimise for locations other than your actual business location
Target your ads towards people searching in selected locations Requires long-term focus
Split-test Google listing ads You can’t split-test organic listing
Schedule ads to be live on selected times


Limitations of organic Google listings

Depending on competition and density of GP practices in a location, many medical centre websites naturally appear on the first page of Google for searches that contain “GP + Your Location”. If competition is high, it might need some extra effort or search engine optimisation for that matter to appear high up on the Google search results page.

Let’s face it, if you are not on the first page of Google for your most important keywords, you’re practically invisible online because only few people click through to the second, third and fourth page.

Whether you rank naturally for your local keywords or use SEO, there is a big limitation when it comes to ranking well on Google for searches performed by someone in surrounding suburbs.

For example, let’s assume a patient is located in Jolimont and performs a Google search for the keyword “Medical Centre Jolimont”. Naturally, Google will only show results on the first page of practices that are actually located in Jolimont. In other words, if your practice is located in the adjacent suburb Subiaco, your practice won’t show up for this persons Google search.

Expand your reach with Google Ads

As indicated earlier, Google Advertising allows you to bid on any keyword you like and you can target any location you like.

Continuing on from the example above, let’s assume the Subiaco Medical centre has set up a Google Advertising campaign that targets the keyword “Jolimont Medical Centre” and defined the target area to include Jolimont, then all of a sudden the practice can be found for relevant searches performed in surrounding suburbs which would otherwise not be possible.

The value of a new patient

If you are worried about the return of investing in Google advertising, here are some important factors to consider:

The value of a new patient goes way beyond a single appointment booking. Stats show that over 87.8% of the population visit their GP at least once each year. Older patients visit their GP much more frequently than younger patients. In addition, if a new patient likes your practice, chances are that family members also switch over to your practice.

Below graphs show how often males and females visit a GP per year.

Advertising online is all about achieving a positive return on investment (ROI). The learnings from the above stats are that we need to take into consideration the average live-time-value of a new patient in order to attain a more accurate method of calculating ROI from your advertising budget.

How does Google Advertising work?

Every time someone clicks on your Google ad you are charged a certain amount per click. The beauty is that the advertiser can set the price (bid) they’re willing to pay per click for a specific keyword. However, there is always a minimum cost per click in order to appear on the first page of Google. The position of your ad on the search results page is determined by an auction marketplace where other advertisers bid on the same keywords you’re bidding on. Therefore, the higher the competition, the higher the cost per click.

Google advertising is one of the best ways for practices to get new patients. While your practice might rank well organically on Google for certain search queries, Google Ads allow you to target people in selected locations.

How to boost specific services with PPC

Chances are that you appear on the Google map for search queries such as “Medical Centre + Location”. However, if you’re not appearing on the first page of Google organically for keywords that relate to your specialist services, Google Ads can get you in front of an audience that is actively looking for your services.

For example, you might have a skin clinic in your practice. If your practice has capacity to take more skin clinic bookings, it would be highly advisable to launch a Google Ads campaign targeting keywords, such as “skin clinic + location” or “skin doctor+ location”.

How to properly manage & optimise your ads

For best results with Google Advertising, campaigns need to be actively managed and optimised by someone with experience.

One of the most powerful things of Google Advertising is “Conversion Optimisation”. Campaigns can always and easily be optimised for clicks, however what’s much more powerful and successful is to optimise campaigns for conversions.

A conversion can be any action on your website you deem important, such as a patient bookings. For this to work, conversion tracking needs to be installed on your practice website. Besides optimising campaigns for conversions, there are three main components you need to pay attention to:

Keywords – Keywords are essentially search terms that your prospects type into Google to find a service like yours. When you set up Google Ad campaigns you can decide the exact keywords you want to use in your account. Best practice is to use keywords with a high searcher intent or in other words, keywords that indicate that the searcher is ready to take action/make a booking.

Ads – Google ads typically appear on the top and on the bottom of the search results page. Headlines and descriptions can be customised, and they should be as enticing as possible. It’s important to stand out from the crowd. Creative ad copy can make a big difference. You can set up several ads and let them compete against each other, a practice called “split-testing”. What’s more, your ad copy needs to be relevant to the keywords you’re using in your campaign.

Landing Page – The landing page is the web page you want Google searchers to visit when they click on your ad. The landing page copy needs to be in line with your keywords and ad copy. Afterall, if your page content is not relevant to what the searcher is looking for, users will hit the “back” button as soon as they land on your page and your campaign budget is drained by unrelated searches.

Each of these components need to be actively managed and optimised. A “set-and-forget” approach might be successful for a short while but if you’re not optimising your campaigns on an ongoing basis, performance can go downhill quickly.

Closing words

Google advertising can easily be the best advertising channel for any general practice to drive up patient bookings and new patient acquisition. However, if poorly managed, it can proof to be a huge waste of money.

Therefore, we highly recommend engaging experts for your Google Advertising campaigns. At Alecto Australia, we have a talented digital marketing team, specialised in Google advertising and helping practices gain more patients through tried and tested online marketing strategies.

If you would like to explore how Alecto can help with Google Advertising, please don’t hesitate to contact our Marketing Manager, Marc Straessle, via email on [email protected] or by calling him on 0430 642 556.