Main Menu

Fathom's Blog

A Sales Acceleration & Digital Marketing Blog

Archive for the ‘Online Advertising / SEM / Display’ Category

Page 1 of 3612345...102030...Last »

How Much Do Hospitals Spend on Google AdWords?

By | March 20, 2015

Cover_SEM benchmarksAs a follow-up from my previous post “How Much Should Health Systems Spend on Search Advertising?” I wanted to provide statistics and potential benchmarks for healthcare marketers to compare against their own paid advertising performance.

That said, I am pleased to announce the release of our latest guide, “Search Advertising Benchmarks for Health Systems.” It packs a lot of useful information into just 7 pages … and one’s the cover! My intention in writing it was to give marketers a better idea of how health systems and hospitals are investing their advertising dollars online.

All data points in this report are from U.S. health systems and hospitals that conducted Google AdWords advertising with Fathom in 2014.

What’s included?

  • Annual spend by health system
  • Top service lines promoted by health systems
  • Performance by device
  • Average cost-per-click by health system and service line
  • Average click-thru rate by health system and service line
  • Emerging service lines being promoted

Download the guide today to see how your paid search campaigns stack up.

No Comments


Hospital Search Implications of Google’s Healthcare Knowledge Graph

By | March 9, 2015

shinglesA month ago, Google announced that health information will now be shown in the Knowledge Graph, as the company says 1 out of 20 (5%) Google searches is health-related.

The goal of this update from Google was to help users find health information quickly and easily. The Knowledge Graph box is typically displayed near the top of the search results. In the case of the new healthcare searches, the information on commonly searched conditions was compiled and reviewed by a team of medical doctors both from Google and the Mayo Clinic for accuracy.

So, other than Google providing relevant to users’ search queries, how might this impact a health system or hospital’s search traffic?

Here are some things to keep an eye out for:

  • Drop in total visitors and clicks
  • Lower click-thru rate on broad match/general keywords
  • Fewer ads and therefore, fewer impressions on Google SERPS (paid advertising)
  • Fewer goal completions and visitors

Think about it: If a hospital website was previously pulling in visitors and clicks from general health condition searches, it might now miss out on some of this traffic because users are now able to get that same information right on Google without having to make that extra click.

However, the sites that may be most impacted by the new update to the Google Knowledge Graph may be those that focus on health conditions and diseases, such as and Below is a screenshot from that shows approximately how many visitors these sites have received up until January of 2015. I am interested to see if there’s a significant decrease in unique visitors since the knowledge graph started showing health-condition searches in February 2015.

everyday health unique visitors

According to, 87.46% of WebMD’s unique traffic comes from search. Just imagine what type of hit WebMD could take in terms of overall traffic if just 5-10% of users now find the information they are looking for directly on Google SERPS.

Traffic sources

If you are a health system or hospital, you might want to tweak your search marketing strategy in the following ways:

  1. Long-tailed keywords first. Optimize and bid on keywords that focus on treatment, surgery and doctors. Typically the knowledge graph only shows up for general condition-related queries. Also, these longer-tail searches imply the user is past the research phase and looking to find an actual place for treatment.
  1. Engagement and unique content. With the same basic information available on most websites and now directly on Google, the way a hospital website can differentiate itself is by providing an experience that competitors aren’t. For example, if someone is searching about weight-loss surgery or obesity, you can feature a BMI calculator and testimonial videos (preferably showing side-by-side before-after shots). Or, if a woman is researching pregnancy/maternity, perhaps you can offer a customizable birth plan.
  1. Differentiators. Remember, with a very educated audience that is able to get health-related answers even quicker now, explaining why your health system is the best for treating a particular condition could be the deciding factor.

Final thoughts
Although I do think that providing healthcare information quick and easy through the knowledge graph is a great idea, I can also see it negatively impacting Google’s revenue. If PPC ads show up less often or are clicked less frequently, that means less money for Google. In addition, if fewer users go to WebMD,, and other health resource sites, that means fewer users are clicking on Google’s display ads and again, less money for Google. I’m sure in the long run, Google figures updates like the knowledge graph will increase visitor loyalty and retention, plus potentially take market share from competing search engines like Bing and Yahoo. Time will tell …


Learn how to bid better against competing local, regional and national health systems: “Health Systems & Paid Search: A Study of Service-Line Competition.”

Hospital PPC Report

No Comments


Rebranding the Company Name? Tips for the Digital Side

By | February 27, 2015

Companies change their names and website domains for a number of reasons, including right after a merger, completing an acquisition or just to re-launch their brand and identity. What is oftentimes overlooked, though, is how do you let the digital world know you changed your name?

Changing your legal name is usually a one-step process, albeit maybe a painful one, involving a day at your local Social Security office. But, it is the aftermath—new driver’s licenses, updated credit cards, changing bank accounts, cell phone and health insurance billing, even your email and social profiles—that causes the most chaos.

The exact same scenario plays out on the digital front when your company blasts out that presser: Your name now is changing from Widgets to Cash Craving Extraordinaire. Whoo-hoo!!! You are done. Everyone is now aware of what you’ve secretly been plotting for months. Let the money roll in.doh

But in reality… D’oh! This is just the beginning of a process that can be very painful if you have not planned for it in advance and started the ball rolling.

Here is a list of major initiatives you should have considered first:

  1. Create a New Website Domain
    • Create new URLs for your site and landing page
    • Create new tracking codes
    • Update your inbound links
    • Update your Analytics & Webmaster tools
    • Rethink your keyword focus
    • Set-up appropriate redirects
    • Make annotations in your analytics the day of the switch
  2. Refresh Your Digital Content
    • Update your logo to match your new name
    • Update this logo on all PDFs, videos, white papers, spec sheets, success stories
    • Comb through your web content and appropriately update all copy with company name. Note: This is easier if you have created a new website for the rebrand.
    • Update your content to promote and describe any potential new offerings or target audiences
  3. Update Your Paid Advertising Campaigns
    • Implement all updated URLs
    • Create campaigns for new branded keywords
    • Make updates to the content on your landing pages
    • Revise your image ads for display and remarketing initiatives
  4. Email
    • Update the server your internal/business emails are sent from
      • Update the content in all your campaigns, including nurture tracks, newsletters, and promotional emails
    • Make appropriate changes to signatures and internal links
  5. Social / Offsite Properties
    • Update your company profiles. Note: You have to petition the various social networks that host your company profile (some have a very involved process)
    • Make sure that all your employees update any reference they have from you to your corporate mark
    • Update your blog and the content in old posts
    • Manage your existing directory listings to comply with the new URL and name
    • Work with any partners to make updates to their digital content where your old company mark and domain are referenced

While this may seem very daunting, it is a fact that updating your digital presence is just as necessary as your personal identity. Plus, name recognition is a powerful tool for many companies, so a name change shouldn’t be taken lightly. The key is to prepare in advance and map out all the digital properties and assets that need to be updated before you make the switch. That will allow your process to be much more manageable and smooth.

Changing your name is just one of many reasons to update your website—read 9 signs that it’s time for a new website and find out if your site is due for a refresh.


You might also like Fathom’s essential guide to tradeshow marketing.

No Comments


Health Systems’ 5 Most Common Digital Advertising Mistakes

By | February 24, 2015

In the course of doing digital marketing consulting and management for several different health systems nationwide, Fathom has found their digital advertising accounts typically have several common problems. (We’ve even graded the paid search performance of the Truven 15 Top Health Systems.) Hospitals can make better use of advertising dollars and increase return on paid search by avoiding the following pitfalls.

1. Geo-targeting too large of an area.

Geo-targeting is such an important aspect of driving new patients and service line growth for a health system. When working with limited and sometimes shrinking marketing budgets (true of most health systems), saturating the market closest to where you provide care is imperative. Many times, advertising campaigns are targeting several designated marketing areas (DMA’s) or even multiple states and therefore limited by budget. When campaigns are limited by budget, ads do not appear every time a user performs a relevant search query in the core market. By honing in on the core market, a hospital’s ads can show up more often.

2. Keeping keywords primarily in broad match.

Broad-match keywords are great for increasing reach and showing up for many different search queries that are not bid on directly. However, broad-match keywords are extremely susceptible to wasting money on irrelevant keywords. By using those keywords with broad-match modifiers, you can control which are in the actual search query and therefore ensure relevancy. This will help make the daily budget last longer, generating more relevant clicks and ultimately, patients.

3. Lacking negative keywords.

In addition to having mostly broad-match keywords, many health systems’ paid advertising accounts lack a robust negative-keyword list. Having both plenty of broad-match keywords and very few negative keywords is a very bad combination. Therefore, make sure you create a negative-keyword list that gets added to each campaign and new campaigns in the future.

4. Forgetting ad extensions.

Ad extensions are free to add to ad copy and have the potential to significantly enhance ads. The cost of clicking an ad extension is the same cost of clicking the headline of the ad. Ad extensions also provide a significant increase in click-thru rate, which is a very important factor in determining quality score, cost-per-click. Just as importantly, ad extensions help increase the chances that a prospective patient chooses your health system over your competitors. We have seen significant performance improvements with ad extensions such as sitelinks, call extensions, review extensions, call-out extensions and location extensions.

5. Not using custom landing pages.

Many health systems send their paid advertising traffic to pages within the normal website navigation. This is not necessarily bad, but if you are looking to generate new patients and grow the service line, you need to invest in custom landing pages that are designed to facilitate direct communication. This means having clear calls-to-action, content specific to the search query, and a responsive page that is suitable regardless of device.

Hospital PPC Report

Start maximizing your digital advertising budget and growing your service line revenue by avoiding these traps.


Learn how to bid better against competing local, regional and national health systems: “Health Systems & Paid Search: A Study of Service-Line Competition.”

No Comments


How Much Should Health Systems Spend on Search Advertising?

By | February 4, 2015

The title of this post is a pretty common question we get from digital-marketing and service-line managers who want to know how best to promote their health system through paid advertising. Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer because so many factors can determine the “right” amount to spend.

That said, here are some things to consider when budgeting paid advertising for a healthcare organization:

1. How many service lines would you like to promote? Will you be promoting specific doctors?

2. How big is your designated marketing area (DMA), and where to you want to target? Are you just local, or do you have any national presence for a particular service line?

3. What are your goals from paid advertising? Are they simply patient acquisition and service-line revenue growth, or do you also want to generate some awareness for the health system as a whole?

4. How competitive is your market? How many competitors are using paid advertising themselves? Learn more about how to spy on your paid advertising competition.

5. Are you running this on your own or hiring an agency for support? Make sure you budget for management fees if you are paying an agency.

6. What is your overall marketing budget? How much are you investing in other channels such as radio, TV, billboards, etc.? How are those channels performing compared to your digital marketing (if applicable)?

Fathom’s experience running digital advertising with several different health systems across the U.S. shows that in general, health systems allocate anywhere from $10-$40k/month on media spend, again depending on the factors listed above. Typically, they run at least 5 service-line campaigns where budget can range from as low as $2,000/month to as high as $5,000/month when targeting a local area.

If you are just starting out in online advertising, we would recommend first prioritizing your service lines. Then, test out 3-5 of them to start, gradually expanding your advertising footprint from there. If you’ve been running paid advertising for some time and are not sure how much more or less you should spend, compare your online advertising budget and performance to other advertising channels and see which ones are providing the most bang for the buck.

If nothing else, at least now you know what questions to ask.


Download “Search Advertising Benchmarks for Health Systems” to see how your paid search campaigns stack up to your peers.

No Comments

Page 1 of 3612345...102030...Last »

Request an Assessment

Let us take a look at your current online presence.


Get Blog Updates


Interested in Writing for Our Blog?

Tell us your idea.

For Us

Like Us On Facebook