Your Best Bet for New Dental Patients

Google’s total revenue in 2018 was $136 Billion – mostly from online advertising.

Note: Google AdWords was recently rebranded as "Google Ads". It is the same advertsing platform.

Google search ads are the most powerful Internet Marketing tool you can use to bring new patients into your practice.

But no one clicks on ads. I know I don't.

Actually, we all click on Google Ads - many times without realizing that we're doing it! It is nearly impossible not to.

The ads Google shows for searches are extremely relevant. Additionally, Google has blurred the line between ads and regular search results so it is extremely difficult to tell the difference between them

Regular (organic) search results appear below the ads. SEO techniques are used to appear on this lower part of the search engine results page, and are still a worthwhile endeavor for generating patient leads. However, it is wise to start out using PPC with Google Ads to get quick results while also working on SEO - which can take months to achieve results.

You (and most everyone else) click on Google ads because the ads provide the answer for your search.

Google made $136 Billion in 2018 because their ads are profitable for their advertisers.

Google Ads for Dentists is probably the most important lesson within

Google’s 2018 revenue of $136 Billion was mostly from online advertising.

Google makes hundreds of billions of dollars each year because their online advertising delivers results for their customers

How a Dentist Gets Patients with Google Ads (formerly "Adwords")

An example of how a search leads to a dental appointment is shown below:

Google search for "dental crowns near me" screenshot

Step 1: Search

A patient that you can help goes to Google and searches for a solution to their dental problem.

Step 2: Your Ad Shows

At that exact moment that they complete their search, a text ad for your practice appears in the search results.

Google search for "dental crowns near me" screenshot

Step 3: Phone Call

The patient reads then clicks your ad and realizes you can solve their dental problem.  They call for an appointment.

People Actually Want to See Ads in Google

Get People What They Want – Without Interrupting Them.

Google search ad campaigns are far superior to traditional forms of advertising – like radio and tv – because you’re getting your message in front of your future patient at the exact moment they’re searching for services that you offer.

It is RUDE to Interrupt. Imagine this...

Picture yourself at the movies getting ready to enjoy yet another superhero action movie set in the Marvel Universe (because Hollywood can’t seem to come up with anything original).

I’m not judging – you like what you like.

Back to the movies... you have your popcorn ready, the previews have ended, and the movie starts.

Then some loudmouth bozo starts talking on his phone right as the movie starts!

This “loudmouth bozo” is traditional advertising – like radio and tv ads.

Traditional advertising interrupts you from what you’re trying to do. Maybe you're watching cheese-rolling or mountain unicycling on tv (both are real - Google them). Or maybe you're listening to curling on the radio (again no judgment) when sudenly someone pipes in, interrupts your program and tries to sell you something you're not interested in.

Don’t Interrupt – Give Your Future Patients What They Want Right When They Search for It

With Google search ads, you’re providing the solution right when your prospective patient needs it.

They need a dentist. So they search for services your dental practice provides – your ad shows, and they call you to set up an appointment.

They are searching for a solution to their problem – and you provide it to them.

Person interrupting others with a phone in a movie theater
Google Search Advertising Doesn't Interrupt
Like Radio, TV and Even Facebook Ads

Google search ads allow you to get your advertising message in front of prospective patients at the exact moment they're searching for your services.

You're not interrupting.... You're giving them exactly what they want.

Anatomy of a Google Dental Ad

When you advertise on Google's ad platform, you will create dental advertisements that have a structure like what is shown below:

A C B D Aurora Colorado Dentist Ad


Your headline should closely match the user's search and let them know that you can solve their dental problem. A good strategy is to make a compelling offer in the headline.


Display URL

When someone clicks on your ad you will send them to the page on your site that matches the services they're looking for



You get up to two 90-character lines for your description. Appeal to the user by letting them know you're an expert and can solve their problem.


Ad Extensions

Google Ads has many extensions you can use including location extensions, call extensions and sitelink extensions.

Google Dental Ads Examples

If a prospect is searching for dental implants in Cleveland - your ad can talk about your Cleveland office’s dental implant services.

If they’re looking for teeth straightening in Schenectady, you can talk about your Invisalign or ClearCorrect services and the great results your patients have had.

After your ad is clicked, you'll send them to the most relevant page. If your ad is about implants it will send them to your implants page. If your ad is about clear aligners, they'll arrive at the clear aligners page on your website.

Having an ad and landing page that closely match the patient search and combining that with a fantastic offer will usually result in more leads.

Advertisement for dental implants in Cleveland, OH (screenshot)
Advertisement for clear aligners in Schenectady, NY

Getting Profitable Patients using Pay Per Click (PPC)

Let’s look at a typical search engine results page.

Here you can see that someone has searched for dental crowns in Colorado Springs, CO. They're looking for a nearby dentist who can fix their dental issue.

A C B dental crowns Colorado Springs search results page

And you can see the results that Google provides on the search engine results page (SERP).

The user enters their search terms  A . Google shows multiple ads  B  at the top of the search engine results - in fact, ads DOMINATE the search results for most dental related searches. You have to scroll way down on the page to see results that aren’t ads  C .

Each of the dental practices that are running ads are trying to encourage the user to click on their specific ad. You’ll notice that many of the advertisers focus on these key ingredients in their ad copy:

Google makes most of its money through advertising - and as you can see, ads DOMINATE the search engine results page for dental searches

Alright, great - so then what.... What happens when my ad gets clicked?

Good Question

Two things happen:

  1. Google gets paid (more on this in a minute)
  2. The visitor is taken to your landing page

A landing page is a page on your website that specifically talks about the services that you offer that they were searching for. You can have different landing pages for each service that you offer.

We do a deep dive on landing pages in a later chapter.

Every time a searcher clicks on your ad, Google charges your practice. This is pay per click (ppc) advertising.  The goal is to make sure that the revenue that you receive from your ad campaigns outweighs the cost of your ad clicks.

Makes sense, right?  Pay X dollars on ads, and receive 2X, 3X, 4X (or more) over the lifetime value of the patients that you’re bringing into your practice.

You get charged a cost per click (cpc) every time someone clicks on your ad.

Ok… so just how much is a cpc?

It depends.

CPC for ad campaigns can range from around $1 cpc for less competitive keywords up to $50 cpc or more for higher end keywords - like dental services in competitive urban markets.

Of course click cost is important, but you absolutely can’t look at click cost in isolation.  Your return on your ad investment is the key factor - as shown below.

When your ad is clicked, the prospect is taken to your website, and Google charges you for the click

Don't get caught up in individual statistics like cost per click.

Getting a positive return on investment (ROI) is the key to a successful ad campaign.

Focus on Return on Investment

Ad Campaign A Ad Campaign B
CPC ($)
Conversion %
(% of Clicks who Become Patients)
Total Dollar Revenue / Patient (After Overhead)

With Ad Campaign A:

Total Revenue = $15,000
 ($1,000 * 100 clicks * .15 Conversion Rate)

Total Ad Costs = $5,000
(100 * $50 = $5,000)

Ad Campaign Net = $10,000
($15,000 – $5,000)

With Ad Campaign B:

Total Revenue = $500
 ($100 * 100 clicks * .05 Conversion Rate)

Total Ad Costs = $600
(100 * $6 = $600)

Ad Campaign Net = -$100
($500 – $600)

Important Takeaways

PPC and Ad Position: Bidding on Keywords

Google Ads is kind of like an auction. You end up bidding on “keywords” that are similar to what the user is searching for.

According to Google, Keywords are:

“Words or phrases describing your product or service that you choose to help determine when and where your ad can appear.”

Each of the dental practices that are running ads are trying to encourage the user to click on their specific ad.  You'll notice that many of the advertisers focus on these key ingredients in their ad copy:

While your bid amount matters, it isn’t the only factor in determining where your ad appears in the search results.  The highest bidder may appear towards the bottom of the ads - or not even appear at all.

For more information about Google keywords, see Google's official documentation

So, My Ad Should Be at the Top of the Page for Best Results, Right?


But again, it is about getting the best return on your marketing dollars.

If you’re only focused on your ad being in the top spot all the time – you’re focused on the wrong thing.

Having your ad on top of the search results can sometimes be beneficial. It will obviously get noticed more. But there’s also a chance that you’ll get a lot of clicks that you don’t want when your ad is at the top of the results. You’re prominently featured and can get a lot of impulsive people who click on your ad without even reading it – just because you’re on top.

Sometimes you can get a lower price per click (and a better return on your ad budget) by being a bit further down in the ads. You don’t always have to be in the top spot to have success.

The goal isn't necessarily to be at the top of the search results - your goal is to maximize your return on investment.

Google Ads Targeting

You get an incredible amount of control with Google Ads in determining who will see your ad and who won’t be able to see your ad.  A brief primer is provided in this chapter. 

The power of targeting is amazing. You can:

You can even exclude members of your community who wouldn’t be a good fit for your dental practice – and they’ll never even see your ad.

Targeting options allow your budget to go much further by showing your ads to only those patients who are a good fit – and greatly reducing the chances that a person who isn’t a good fit will ever see it.

For more information about Google targeting options, see Google's official documentation

Geographical Targeting in Google Ads (Geo Targeting)

You can even exclude locations near your office.  As an example, if you’re running a dental implant campaign, you can target a radius around your practice and then exclude zip codes that are predominantly young families and college students.

Google Ads radius and location geographic targeting for sample dental clinic (screenshot)
Geographical Targeting
Here we have targeted a city (Charlotte, NC), and a radius around a location (20 miles around Concord, NC). We have also excluded the cities of Kannapolis and China Grove.

Ad Scheduling


With Google Ads you can schedule when you want to run your advertising.

As a dentist, you only want to run ads when someone in your practice is available to properly handle incoming phone calls.

Most dental clicks are of an urgent nature, and if your office is closed, the person will just keep searching and calling dental offices until someone properly picks up the phone and helps meet their needs.

Running ads outside of your normal business hours is almost always a big mistake and a waste of your budget.

Ad scheduling screenshot from Google Ads Interface
Ad Scheduling
You'll only want to run dental advertisements when you can answer the phone. Here, we're running ads 8-5 Monday through Friday - except ads are off 12-1 for lunch.
We're also running ads on Saturdays from 8-1.

Device Bidding Adjustments

You can also bid differently on your keywords depending on what device the user is conducting their search from.

You’ll want to experiment with bidding a bit more on smartphones than you do on desktops. In my experience, tablets are the least effective device at generating new patients, so you’ll want to bid even less on tablet devices.

The obvious benefit of getting smart phone clicks is that they can easily call you immediately as they conduct the search.

Screenshot of bid adjustment options for devices in Google Ads
Device Bidding Adjustments
Typically, we get the best return on investment from mobile phones, and the worst from tablets. Here, we're increasing our maximum bid on phones by up to 30% and reducing our bid on tablets by up to 50%.

Budget Controls

Google Ads has budgetary controls which will help you to ensure that you stay within your budget.

You set a daily budget – while on any given day that budget can be exceeded – your daily budget on average for the month won’t be exceeded.

For example, in a 30 day month, if you have a $10 daily budget, your total monthly ad spend won’t exceed $300 – but on any given day you could be spending as much as $20 on ads.

While this sounds a little quirky – and it is – the point is that with Google Ads budgeting there won’t be any runaway spending. You won’t exceed the budget that you’ve established for the month.

Google Ads budgeting options for a dental advertising campaign (screenshot)
Budget Controls
You can prevent runaway spending by establishing a daily budget.
You can also group multiple dental campaigns under a single shared budget.


You can target on age, gender and household income.

Seemingly, women seem to make most of the dental appointments for the family. Cosmetic dentistry would also do best in areas where household income is high.

Monitor your demographic data and you can adjust your bids accordingly to target your best patients.

Google Ads Age, Gender, and Household Income Targeting Options (screenshot)
Demographic Targeting Options
Age, Gender and Household Income are demographic targeting options you may wish to consider to bring in your ideal dental patients

Negative Keywords

Be sure to take advantage of Negative keywords.

Negative keywords help to prevent your ads from ever showing to bad prospects.

For example, if someone searches for “free dental services in Phoenix” you don’t want your ad to appear. You would be paying money for someone to click on your ad who isn’t willing to pay you for your services.

In this case “free” would be a negative keyword.

You also don’t want your ad to show for other dentists in your area.

You’re not going to convert their patients into your patients.

When someone searches for “Dr Smith Salt Lake City” – they probably already have a relationship with Dr Smith’s dental office and are looking for their phone number to figure out an insurance issue or set up an appointment. They’re not actively looking to change dentists.

So, it is a smart idea to make the last names and practice names of dentists in your area negative keywords.

Screenshot of a negative keyword list for dentists in Google Ads
Negative Keyword Lists for Google Ads
This is a screenshot of a negative keyword list that has nearly 2,000 negative keywords.
Negative keywords prevent your ad from showing for undesirable searches.

Google Ads Video Lesson

We have multiple completely free modules in the dental marketing course – Google Ads for Dentists Lessons. These describe how a dentist can effectively use Google Ads to bring in more patient leads.

PPC Client Management for Dentists

PPC with Google Ads can be extremely complex. If you’re interested in learning about having our team help with the management of your paid search campaigns, contact us using this form.

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