How to Build Successful Healthcare Paid Search Campaigns

Healthcare marketing is transforming, and paid search is at the head of that transformation. Transparency, quality, and patient satisfaction are more important than ever while consumers are more empowered than ever to decide whether your health system lives up to their standards.

Additionally, although healthcare does lag behind other industries in terms of digital marketing, digital is still the future of healthcare marketing. This all is changing the way healthcare marketers reach and relate to clients.

Don’t believe me? The proof is in the pudding. Google research shows that prior to booking an appointment:

  • 77% of patients used search
  • 83% used hospital sites
  • 54% used health insurance company sites
  • 50% used health information sites
  • 26% used consumer-generated reviews

The best way to reach patients and ensure your message gets to the right person at the right time is through paid search. This—and much more—was discussed in the OhioHealth, Fathom, and Google webinar How OhioHealth Navigates Google’s Paid Search Ecosystem. To get started right away, though, keep reading for Fathom’s quick wins for immediate results as well as our strategy for long-term healthcare paid search success.

Start with Quick Wins, Then Progress to Long Term Strategy

The beautiful thing about kicking your transformation off with short term solutions is that the momentum from the quick wins can be used as both leverage and inspiration to further your investment and effort in paid search. Get our quick wins for healthcare paid search challenges below.

Short-term solutions and quick wins: Accelerating healthcare paid search success

  • Allocate budget based on performance
  • Prioritize location targeting around the locations that bring in the most patients
  • Reset ad scheduling to hours aligned with patient search behavior and ad performance
  • Solve keyword overlap across campaigns with negative keywords
  • Increase ranking, CTR, and real estate in Search Engine Results Pages with ad extensions

If you implement these, you’re likely going to notice a significant spike in performance. As their name indicates, though, these quick wins won’t sustain success for the long-term. Get more details and start implementing quick wins by listening to our webinar today.

Long term strategy: Finding success with a philosophy of simplicity

Quick wins are great, but you want lasting resulting in the healthcare paid search space. When everything seems to bend towards complexity in both paid search and healthcare, the key to success is, surprisingly, simplicity.

The core characteristic of an effective healthcare paid search strategy is setting focus on as few keywords as possible to cover as many relevant search queries as possible. Why? Because the more keywords you bid on, the longer it takes to make a decision and understand which keywords are working. In other words–time, efficiency, and effectiveness. Having fewer keywords allows you to make better decisions, faster.

To implement this simplified, results-driving paid search strategy–what we call the Direct Path–follow these steps:

  1. Only bid on modified broad and exact match keywords. You’ll capture the majority of traffic with [Exact Match].  With +Modified +Broad +Match, you’ll capture everything else you need, including the queries not captured by exact match. With this less-is-more combination, you’ll reach a more qualified audience and achieve better, more profitable engagement.
  2.  Use negative keywords for two reasons. Negative keywords are commonly used to prevent wasted spend on low-quality search queries. You’ll want to use negative keywords for this conventional reason. There is another benefit to using negative keywords, though, and it’s one that is uniquely Direct Path. This second way to use negative keywords is through the method of cascading negatives. With cascading negatives, you can steer a user to the most relevant ad based on the user’s search queries.

With these basics, you’ll lower unnecessary spend, increase essential engagement metrics and access to data vital for decision-making, and, most importantly, you’ll reach the right audience at the right time.  The bonus is that this simplified keyword structure will allow for valuable, insightful testing and, ultimately, will result in far fewer headaches.


Direct Path works. OhioHealth’s implementation of this paid search strategy–along with the aforementioned quick win efforts–resulted in a CTR increase of 63%, Conversion rate increase of 600%, Conversion increase of 500%, and a position improvement of 25%. All this in the scope of less than one year.

These excellent results are not unattainable, though. If you get started with quick wins and set yourself up for long-term success with Direct Path, you too can see immense increases in the success of your healthcare paid search campaigns.


Want more details? Learn from experts who understand the unique challenges of running healthcare paid search campaigns by watching the webinar today.

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