The Most Common Healthcare Paid Search Mistakes

The healthcare industry tends to trail behind other industries when it comes to digital marketing. In some areas–such as content or social media–this is unhealthy, but it won’t kill your healthcare marketing. When it comes to healthcare paid search, though, antiquated digital habits can be fatal.


First of all, paid search is complex and always evolving, so you need to keep up to realize any kind of success. Secondly, it costs money–a lot of money, sometimes–and if you’re not pairing that money with sound healthcare paid search strategy, you might as well be throwing it away.

The result of implementing poorly optimized campaigns is that paid search will be both expensive and low impact.

An outdated approach to digital marketing is just one problem, though. There’s also a disconnect between healthcare marketing efforts and overall health system organizational goals. And when you add complications such as HIPAA compliance regulations and FDA restrictions, staying on top of paid search trends and best practices can feel formidable. It also can lead to costly mistakes.

Luckily, we’ve pulled together the top healthcare paid search mistakes from the December 8th OhioHealth, Google, and Fathom webinar How OhioHealth Navigates Google’s Paid Search Ecosystem. Keep reading to discover what pitfalls you need to keep an eye out for as well as easy fixes and long-term strategies for addressing them.

Common Healthcare Paid Search Mistakes & Effortless Ways to Fix Them

Common healthcare paid search mistake: Lacking alignment with organizational priorities

Operating in a silo is never ideal when it comes to marketing. The extreme reliance on collaborative approaches in healthcare marketing, though, makes organizational alignment even more important, especially when it comes to paid search. Without it, you’re going to have a hard time getting buy-in across the organization and proving marketing’s importance to your overall success.

One way this issue manifests itself in paid search is spreading budget across multiple channels, such as search, display, and video. While channels such as video can be valuable for brand awareness, if they’re not aligned with your health system’s number one goal, they’re not an ideal use of time.

Solve this by focusing on appropriate channel investments and increasing impression share while also by bringing business goals into keyword targeting and location targeting decisions.

Common healthcare paid search mistake: Conversion tracking implementation

Once your healthcare paid search efforts are aligned with organizational goals, conversion tracking is absolutely the next top priority. It will allow your marketing team to prove beyond speculation that your hard work is contributing to the bottom line. Too often, though, healthcare marketers don’t track any conversions–or they track too many conversions.

Either way, if you’re doing one of these you’re going to have a difficult time proving the value of your work.

Solve this by first setting up conversion tracking if you don’t already have it set up. If you’re in the ‘tracking too many conversions’ camp, know that it’s okay to want a lot of data and the resulting insights into your performance. Still, you’ll at least need to prioritize what types of conversions you’re tracking and keep tabs on how many conversions you’re tracking. That way, you’ll be able to sift through the data to show which efforts are making the most impact.

Common healthcare paid search mistake: Match type and search queries

Broad match can be an effective tool in healthcare paid search. It increases reach and brand awareness. Sometimes it increases the scope too much, though. Broad match without the sufficient use of negative keywords will result in your ads being served to those outside your target audience and, ultimately, wasting your money.

Solve this by reviewing your search queries and ensuring that:

  1. Messaging and landing pages are relevant
  2. Audience queries relate to something you offer
  3. Audience queries are relevant to what you are promoting

Common healthcare paid search mistake: Targeting too large of an area

It’s no mystery that people typically visit health systems that are proximal to them. There are sometimes exceptions for quality and price of care as well as services offered. Still, location is king when it comes to selecting healthcare services. It follows that healthcare paid search strategies should use location targeting wisely. Unfortunately, many healthcare marketers set their location targeting far too wide, wasting money and effort on individuals that are simply too far away.

Solve this by prioritizing location targeting according to where the majority of your patients come from and/or where you are hoping to acquire more patients. Pair this with optimizing campaigns based on performance by location, and you’ll strike a balance of capitalizing on what works while expanding reach in new, strategic locations.

Common healthcare paid search mistake: Campaigns lack ad extensions

Ad extensions are a simple way to increase your real estate on Search Engine Results Pages, catch the attention of your audience, and help you stand out against competitors. They also offer the ability to express your health system’s value propositions before your audience even clicks through to an ad. On the other hand, lacking ad extensions can lead to a much lower click-through rate and lower average position.

Still, many healthcare marketers don’t include the use of these effortless but valuable ad extensions in their paid search strategy.

Solve this by testing different types of campaign extensions: call extensions, site links, call out extensions, mobile app extensions, and review extensions.

Continuing Your Healthcare Paid Search Success

If you took the time to read through this article and start implementing our solutions, you’re already ahead of most healthcare marketers. Plus, these fixes will boost your performance, keep stakeholders across the organization happy, and contribute to hitting vital organizational goals.

Still, healthcare paid search simply isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’ channel. You’ll have to check in on performance regularly and continue to optimize over time. Not sure how to do this? Watch our webinar now.



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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