How Smart Dentists Choose Keywords for Google Ads

How to Choose Keywords for Dental Google Ads Campaigns

In my opinion a Google Ads campaign is only as good as its keywords, or more specifically its search terms. In Google Ads campaigns you are targeting and bidding for keywords but know that you are paying for actual search terms that trigger your ads.

This why it is of utmost importance to truly understand keywords, match types and negative keywords, for anyone who is serious about running profitable Google Ads campaigns.

When it comes to adding keywords to a Google Ads campaign for dentists there are certain keywords that are obvious to everyone.

Besides the most obvious choices such as dentist near me, or dentist + your city there are several less obvious keywords that can only be found by an experienced account manager and ongoing testing.

Let’s not forget about all the crappy keywords that are draining your advertising budget without any returns. These keywords should be added to the negative keyword list, that has hopefully already been setup in your Google Ads account.

Keyword selection for dentists

When setting up a Google Ads campaign for the first time, you can take two approaches to keyword targeting.

You can be the sniper with a very narrow focus on a limited amount of keywords or be the fisherman that casts his net as wide as possible to catch all kinds of search queries that may be related to your services or products.

​The most common approach that I see when seeing unprofessionally managed Google Ads campaigns is the fisherman approach. Google makes it very easy for people target as many keywords as possible with only a few clicks.

Simply click on “create a new campaign”, add a few keywords into the keyword tool and Google will present you with plenty of so-called related keywords.

While they may be related in a sense that they cover the same topic, product or service in a broad sense, these suggested keywords may have very different search intents from the keywords that you have entered.

For an untrained eye these keyword suggestions by Google will sound great.

After all, you may think Google surely has your best interest in mind when presenting you with these various keywords, enabling you to skip the process of a professional keyword analysis or keyword research. Quite the opposite is true.

As Google generates the vast majority of its revenue from pay per click advertising, the inherent motivation behind making the setup so simple is to generate more clicks and more money from advertisers, regardless of whether these additional clicks bring in any leads.

A professional Google Ads consultant with plenty of experience in running profitable Google Ads campaigns will be able to tell whether keywords are good or bad by just looking at them, as he or she should understand the search intent behind keywords that are being typed into Google.

​An obvious keyword for a dentist located in London would be dentist in London.

A person who types in dentist in London into Google is very likely in need of a new dentist in London. After all, a patient in Liverpool would not search for dentist in London but rather search for dentist in Liverpool.

Besides this I can’t think of anyone feeling the need to search for a list of local dentists in their free time without actively searching for a new dentist.

Sure, there may be a few companies selling dental related products that use Google to find potential clients in their service areas, e.g. dentists in city xyz, but let’s assume that 99% of searches for dentist in London or any other city across the UK are coming from people who are in need for a suited dentist.

Keyword Suggestions by Google

Let’s take a closer look at the keyword suggestions that we receive from Google while setting up a campaign after entering the keyword dentist:

  • Crown
  • dental bridge
  • dentist appointment
  • dentist near me
  • dentist open on Saturday
  • dentist open on Sunday
  • emergency dentist
  • emergency dentist appointment
  • emergency dentist near me
  • implants
  • my dentist
  • nhs dentist
  • orthodontist
  • private dentist
  • root canal
  • root canal treatment
  • smile dental
  • Teeth whitening
  • tooth crown
  • tooth extraction
  • tooth filling
  • tooth implant
  • walk in dentist
  • wisdom teeth removal

Of the 24 keywords that you can see above only a few are likely to be profitable keywords, while the majority are rather bad keywords that would be a big drain to your budget.

While all of these keywords may seem like great keywords to a beginner, a true professional will be able to filter the winners from the losers.

People looking for dentist near me, nhs dentist, emergency dentist near me, emergency dentist, dentist open on Sunday, walk in dentist, private dentist, dentist open on Saturday are likely facing a dental related issue that they want to resolve.

Two keywords on the list above are especially bad, as they are so broad that they could literally mean very different things depending on the person who is behind the search query.

Have you spotted these two keywords? If you have identified the keywords implants and crown as bad keywords, you can tap yourself on the shoulder.

The keyword implants may trigger search terms such as:

  • contraceptive implant
  • cochlear implant
  • breast implants
  • implant side effects
  • birth control implant

The keyword crown may trigger search terms such as:

  • the crown
  • crowne plaza
  • crown
  • crown paint
  • rose and crown
  • the crown cast
  • turkey crown
  • wwe crown jewel
  • crown carvery
  • crown jewel

Make sure to never ever include such types of keywords into your Google Ads campaign, without a very extensive negative keyword list.

The remaining keywords on the list above represent people who are looking for general information on treatment options, treatment costs or how-to guides, e.g. people who have not shown a clear search intent.

People that are higher up in the funnel are looking for information and are not yet ready to convert into customers.

That is why I generally do not recommend advertising to people who are not ready to make a purchase decision and have not yet reached the consideration or even better the decision stage of the marketing funnel.

Conversion tracking

An important factor in evaluating keyword effectiveness is conversion tracking. With the help of conversion tracking, we can look into the analytics data and discover which keywords are profitable and which ones are a waste of money.

With the power of conversion tracking we can get rid of all guess work and rely on hard data to see which parts of the campaign are truly productive in generating leads to help your dental practice grow.

Keyword Match Types

Let’s assume you would like to take the sniper approach and only use one keyword in your campaign: dentist London.

Simply add dentist London as a keyword to your campaign, write an ad and job done, right? Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but depending on the match type of the selected keyword your ads may actually get triggered by very different search terms.

Now you might think, what on earth are keyword match types? I’m glad you asked.

Within Google Ads there are four different keyword formats or match types that will signal to Google when to show your ads.

Broad match

When you enter the keyword dentist London without any quotation marks, plus signs or brackets, you are using it as a so-called broad match keyword.

Google defines a broad match keyword as follows:

“Broad match is the default match type that all your keywords are assigned. Ads may show on searches that include misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations.”

When reading the definition, you may think to yourself that this is exactly what you want. Afterall, Google says it is showing ads for misspellings, synonyms, related searches and other relevant variations. This is great isn’t it? Well, not so fast.

Let’s check some examples of related keywords that Google might show your ads for if you have entered dentist London as a broad match keyword:

  • Dentist
  • dentist near me
  • dental practice
  • dental clinic
  • dental surgery
  • dentist Sheffield
  • Harley street dentist
  • nhs dentist brighton
  • nhs dentist Bristol
  • nhs dentist cambridgee
  • nhs dentist leeds
  • nhs dentist London
  • how to register with a dentist

As you can see some of the keywords above are better than others. Several of these keywords make no sense to a dentist in London, as they are showing intent for a different location such as Sheffield, Brighton, Bristol or Cambridge.

We can use negative keywords as a tool to block many of these searches.

I’m discussing negative keywords in more detail in another blog post, which can be found here. A simpler way to control the search terms we are appearing for is to make use of different keyword match types.

Broad match modified

A broad match modified keyword would look like this: +dentist +London

A plus sign in front of one or multiple words signals to Google that your ad should only be triggered when each of the words is included in the search query. For this example, some keywords that might trigger our ad are:

  • dentist London
  • emergency dentist London
  • London road dentist
  • nhs dentist London
  • private dentist London
  • dentist London bridge
  • dentist jobs London
  • cheap dentist London
  • holistic dentist London
  • Hungarian dentist London

Search queries like dental clinic london or dental emergency would not trigger our ad in this instance, because they don’t include both of our required words.

As you can see broad match modified keywords are a step in the right direction. They give you much more control than broad match types but are not fool proof either.

If no one in your dental office speaks Hungarian, your ads should not appear to people who are looking for a Hungarian dentist in London. Negative keywords will help you to block these irrelevant types of search queries.

Phrase match

When you add quotation marks around the keyword or phrase that you are targeting, you are using a phrase match. In practice it would look like this: “dentist London”

The quotation marks indicate to Google that you only want your ads to show if this exact entire phrase is part of someone’s search query.

According to Google’s own definition the phrase match is “A keyword setting that allows your ad to show only when someone’s search includes the exact phrase of your keyword, or close variations of the exact phrase of your keyword, with additional words before or after.”

Some example searches would be:

  • dentist London
  • emergency dentist London
  • nhs dentist London
  • cosmetic dentist London
  • private dentist london

While phrase match keywords can give you much tighter control over the types of search queries that your ad appears for, it also prevents your ads from being triggered for relevant keywords such as dentist in London, best dentist in London, dentist city of London.

The reason why these keywords would not trigger your ad is because there are additional words between the keywords dentist and London.

Exact match

An exact match is a keyword that looks like this: [dentist London]

In the past exact match keywords would only trigger your ads if those exact words are typed into Google by a person searching for a solution to his or her problems.

Nowadays, things have changed, and Google is much more lenient on when it shows ads from advertisers, who are using exact match types.

Google’s algorithm now decides whether to show your ad for a search query based on the fact whether intent behind the search query matches the exact keyword that you are targeting.

According to Google’s definition the instances when it may show your ad when using exact match type keywords are “misspellings, singular or plural forms, stemmings, abbreviations, accents, addition or removal of words, implied words, synonyms and paraphrases and same search intent”.

As a result, your exact match keyword may trigger the following search terms:

  • dentist London
  • dentist in London
  • London dentist
  • London dentists
  • dental clinic in London

Even though exact match keywords do not always result in “exact” results, they are still the best type of match type to use, whenever you can, as they give you the biggest control over your keywords and search terms.

One downside of Google’s guidelines is, that it only allows you to target keywords with a search volume of at least 10 monthly searches as exact matches. You will not be able to target specific keywords that fall below this threshold with exact match types.

With the clever use of phrase and modified broad keyword match types you can work around this guideline and make your ad show on such rare search queries, giving you a leg up on most of your competitors.

Final words…

Keywords can be a double-edged sword. Used correctly, they will bring you plenty of leads. Used falsely they will cause you to throw money out the window.

As you have read the entire article, you should now be aware of the fact that a professionally managed Google Ads campaign should include relevant keywords, a solid negative keyword list and a variety of exact match, phrase match and broad modified keywords.

Doing this will enable you to show up for all relevant search queries, while limiting the irrelevant search queries that you want to avoid.

Now that you are armed with powerful knowledge on how to choose the right keywords, I hope that you will go ahead and start implementing money making keywords into your very own Google Ads account.

If you still fill uneasy about the task of managing your own Google Ads account and you don’t want to waste the majority of your advertising spend on irrelevant clicks, I am here to help. Feel free to reach out via e-mail or the contact form and I will be happy to discuss your questions with you.

3 thoughts on “How Smart Dentists Choose Keywords for Google Ads”

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