As you look to grow your healthcare practice, you typically turn to two types of digital strategies:
  • Organic/SEO strategies and
  • Paid Advertising (PPC)

While organic/SEO strategies can be very effective, they tend to take a long time to make an impact and can be challenging to scale with predictable results, which is why most healthcare practices rely on paid advertising to drive exponential growth.

At the heart of any paid advertising strategy is one simple concept: keywords.

Choosing the right keywords for your healthcare marketing strategy: start with your ideal patient

When it comes to marketing, your ideal patients are at the center of everything you do.

As such, you need to first identify and define your ideal patient. We typically call this your “patient personas” in marketing.

Once you know who you’re trying to target (say, for example, you’re a plastic surgeon who knows women are far more likely to look for your services online), you can create a visual map or list for terms related to what your ideal patient searches for online.

We recommend writing down the main categories (services) of your practice, and then writing down the terms or phrases that might fall under each service area. Also, now that you know your ideal patient, you can include terms and phrases that they would most likely use to find your services online.

For example, a plastic surgeon might have services that include:

  • Rhinoplasty
  • Reconstruction
  • Facelifts
  • Weight Loss

For Weight Loss, that surgeon’s ideal patient might use terms such as:

  • Tummy tuck or
  • Liposuction

Break down each of your services into these patient-centric terms so that you can humanize your keywords and relate them back to your ideal patient.

Now it’s time to research your keywords, to personalize them even further

When looking to build ads, going after terms like “liposuction” isn’t going to give you the biggest return on your investment. That’s because these main terms are incredibly competitive and pretty vague.

But these types of general keywords do have their place. If your goal is to reach as many people as possible, then generic keywords are great. Except, you should keep in mind that these generic keywords might make your ad appear for searches that aren’t always related to your business.

That’s why it’s a good idea to use specific keywords to target specific customers. In fact, we strongly recommend you focus on long-tail keywords for your ad strategies.

Long-tail keywords are phrases usually made up of 3 or more words, which are very specific to your service offering.

An Atlanta-based healthcare practice looking to market its pediatrics services might be better off crafting ad copy around search terms like “child and family therapy in Atlanta”, rather than just “pediatric therapy.”

These long-tail keyword phrases tend to attract prospects who are ready to convert and make for an effective foundation for your paid campaigns. Depending on the keyword’s popularity, you may still pay a lot for ad spend, but you’ll also likely see a greater ROI.

But how do you go about finding these coveted long-tail phrases?

While there are agencies (and programs) that can help you, you can also rely on these free channels:

  • Use Google’s autocomplete behavior to see what Google determines as related search terms
  • Enter your word or term into Google, scroll to the bottom, and take a look at those related search terms
  • Use Google AdWords’ keyword tool (it isn’t perfect, nor straightforward to use, but it can help)

Using these keywords in action

Once you have your targeted keywords, it’s time to put them into use.

You want to make sure you break down your keywords based on their match type:

  • Broad: Google’s default setting. Your ad will show whenever someone searches anything that includes one of your keywords.
  • Phrase: This is a bit more targeted than Broad. It’ll show your ads when your entire keyword or phrase is entered – even if it’s not the only phrase in the search entry.
  • Exact: The most targeted option you have. This will only show ads when your exact keyword or phrase is entered.

So, if your keyword is “urgent care”, then depending on your match type settings, your ads will appear when people type the following phrases:

  • Broad: urgent and friendly health care
  • Phrase: urgent care in Atlanta
  • Exact: urgent care

Here’s why match types are so important. You don’t want to overspend your budget in a week. Your campaign manager will help you determine how best to segregate your keywords so that you get the most bang for your buck.

Understanding ad groups

In order to show more relevant ads to your ideal patients, you’ll want to group your keywords and ads into ad groups, based on your specific services/offerings. If you don’t, then someone searching for “plastic surgery” might see your ad for “primary care physician.”

Google recommends you use anywhere between 5-20 keywords per ad group, but you can feel free to add as many keywords as you want per group. Most importantly, each of your ad groups should contain keywords that directly relate to that group’s theme.

And, as an added bonus, your keywords will automatically match variations (such as plural versions) as well as potential misspellings, so there’s no need to add those.

Developing your healthcare keywords – it’s worth the effort

The more research and time you put into developing patient-centric, long-tail keywords, the far more effective your paid campaigns will be.

Make sure to keep your ideal patient in mind as you develop your lists, and turn to tools such as Google to help you determine the relevancy and popularity of your chosen phrases.

Lastly, keyword research is not a set-it-forget-it type of approach. Search habits are constantly changing, especially as more and more of your ideal patients are using mobile devices – and their voices – to conduct online searches.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to monitor the performances of your keywords and ad campaigns and make changes as needed so that your healthcare practice remains top-of-mind of all of your prospects and ideal patients.