Does Google Adwords Really Bring in New Patients

Is Google Adwords an effective way of doing chiropractic marketing? And if so why aren’t more chiropractors using it?

Before we go in depth with this question, let’s look at some basic terms. Adwords is a program by Google whereby you can place your ads on their search engine. When people type in certain phrases, called keywords, your ad will show up. If the person clicks your ad, they are taken to the site you have linked up with the ad. You only pay if someone clicks your ad (hence the term “pay-per-click advertising” is sometimes used) and do not pay if your ad only shows up but is not clicked. You bid a certain price for your ad to show for a certain keyword. So I might bid $2 for the keyword “back pain”. To keep it simple, we’ll say that if I’m the highest bidder my ad will show first. If the second highest bidder, my ad will show second, etc. (It’s actually a bit more complex than this, as you can beat out the highest bidder by having a higher click-through rate.)

So with that introduction, let us discuss the use of Adwords for chiropractors.

Fact #1
It’s a proven that your potential patients are on the internet, looking for solutions to their problem. Just look at how many searches Google’s keyword tool show occurred in the last 30 days in the United States:

chiropractor = 450,000 searches
back pain = 1.8 million searches
sciatica = 301,000 searches
neck pain =368,000

These are just a few general keywords. I haven’t even included all the specific keywords like “herniated disc back pain”. If we included all these specialty keywords, you could probably double or triple the categories listed above. Just click on this picture and you’ll see there are over 800 related terms just to back pain.

Now some chiropractors might say, “None of these searchers in my town!” Depending on how big of a city or town you live in, there may be only a few searchers for each keyword. But when you market to multiple keywords, you can bet all those keywords added up together make up some serious numbers. For example, an average Chiropractic Marketing Web client has 798 keywords in their account.

Fact #2
Adwords does work to bring in more revenue. Google’s recent earnings report shows they made $7.29 billion last quarter, up 23% from this quarter last year! And guess where 99% of Google’s revenues come from? Their pay per click advertising. In addition to ads on their site, they also manage (or serve) ads on other large websites like Ebay,, Youtube, and many more. So the question is why are more and more people spending money on advertising if it doesn’t work? Sure there are a few people out there who will spend money every month regardless of if they ever see a return. But in this economy, no small business is going to shell out tons of money on something if it proves to be a waste of time. And most of Google’s advertising clients are small businesses.

So given these two facts, why aren’t chiropractors making better use of Google Adwords? One of the biggest reasons is due to “bad experiences” with Adwords in the past. (Which sort of reminds me of the patient who’s uncle had a “bad experience” with a chiropractor, so he’s really scared to come in.)

Let’s look at some of the mistakes doctors have made:

1. Using XYZ yellow page company to send you “clicks”.
Clicks in general mean nothing in the broad picture. What you want is quality patients coming to your website and scheduling appointments. So these guys who promise “300 clicks a month” are really not doing much at all for you. You can hire a person in the back room to click your ads just as easy as they can. 🙂

2. Not setting a budget.
Some doctors will try Adwords a time or two, but forget (or not know how) to set a budget. Next thing they know Google is charging them $5000 for 1 days worth of clicks from China. Which bring us to the next mistake…

3. Not setting a geographical radius.
I usually set a 10-20 mile radius around the doctors practice. This means only people searching from computers inside that area can see the ads. If you’re in Paris, TX you don’t want your ad showing up in for people in Paris, France or Paris, Idaho. Plus there are bad people who will hire guys in India or Pakistan to just sit there and click your ad all day, running up your bill, which makes you stop advertising. This is called click fraud and Google will catch it most of the time, but some slip by.

4. Not cutting out bad keywords.
Sometimes you put in words like “chiropractic” but Google keeps showing your ad for searches on “Parker College of Chiropractic”, or some similar keyword. So now you’ve got to tell Google not to do that anymore by labeling that as a negative keyword. This will lower your costs since you won’t be wasting bad clicks anymore.

5. Not testing ads
Just like when you test offline ads, you should be testing Adwords ads too. In most campaign ad groups I’m testing two ads against each other. I’ll then pick the winner, delete the loser and write a new ad to start testing. This will gradually increase the number of people clicking on the ads over time, and lower your costs per click (due to complex algorithms we don’t have time to address here.)

6. Having an ineffective website.
Having a bad website is not a subjective term. Google has a complex system of analyzing your website to see if it will be pleasing to the visitor. Even if you’re not using Adwords, if you have a website they have measured it according to their standards called page rank, quality score, incoming links, internal links, number of pages, content, keyword saturation, and more. So the quality of your site can rise or lower your prices per click.

But more than Google liking your site, you want your site to convert visitors to patients. This can only be done by what’s called a landing page. A landing page will educate the visitor on why they should pick up the phone and call you to schedule now. Most landing pages are designed to fit the specific keyword the person was searching for on Google. So it works like this: person searches for “back pain” on, they see your ad that talks about back pain, they click the ad and land on a page that tells them why you are the doctor they should see for back pain. One of the biggest mistakes people can make with Adwords is by sending them to a non-specific web-page, like your homepage on your site.

Why aren’t you using Google Adwords? Leave a comment below.

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  1. Google will optimize your adwords campaign for you for free. I had them set up several campaigns to begin with and once I saw which had the best conversion rate, I dropped the others. I have slowly decreased my cost per bid and still show up within the 1st 3 results, freeing up ad budget to be spent elsewhere.

  2. drbeck at

    Yes, Google does an an optimization tool. And it’s not a bad place to start for most people. But in my experience it does not always do what’s best for the customer’s pocketbook. I think Google’s goal for my campaign and my goals are usually different.

  3. I think Google Ad Words does help. But like you said, you need to have a decent relevant landing page or Google will charge you more from a low quality score.

    I also really love Googles Keyword tool.

  4. And Microsoft Adcenter? Do you see Yahoo and Bing being serious challengers to Google?

  5. drbeck at

    Yahoo and Bing are no combined, but even then I think they are together only 10-15% of the market. I think it’s important to advertise there, but only after you have been successful on Google.

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This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.