How to Conduct a PPC Audit for Dental Practices

To get the most out your dental practice’s paid search campaigns, it’s important to conduct regular PPC audits. Perhaps you’ve started one but, when you see all the options that exist, you become frustrated and the audit doesn’t move forward.

That’s normal, especially if these audits aren’t a normal part of your job. And, we can help you to simplify the process, keeping a focus on three Rs: Reach, Relevance and Response. Keeping these steps in mind makes it much easier to navigate the PPC audit, and helps you to make better use of your budget and run more effective paid search campaigns.

Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance.

This is a must for campaign optimization, whether that means Google Ads or Bing Ads. Depending upon the complexity of your campaigns, you may decide to conduct two audits a year—or four. Whether you’re managing your own PPC campaigns or using an outside agency, one thing remains consistent: there’s always room for improvement.

Before you start:

  • Put your current campaigns into context, so you avoid misinterpreting settings and metrics; this can include thinking about:
    • why you set up campaigns how you did
    • any changes in strategies and goals
  • Set your date range to at least three months to get enough meaningful data. If you need to expand the date range further, that’s okay.

Now, here’s more about Reach/Relevance/Response.

REACH: How your ads get to their destination.

Options that help you to control your delivery, to get ads about your dental practice to the right patients, include:

  • Settings
  • Targeting
  • Ad Scheduling
  • Ad Budget
  • Ad position and bid prices
  • Audiences & Lists
  • Campaign types
  • Automation

RELEVANCE: How your ads connect to the right audience.

After you’ve targeted the right audiences, then your focus turns to intent, and your goal is to provide the information that prospective patients need to know. This could include information about teeth whitening options, or invisible braces, or something else entirely.

For your paid ad campaign to produce leads, you’ll need to know what dental services people need and then choose the appropriate keywords; craft relevant ad messages; and create the right landing page text.

The more relevant your campaign, the more likely that it will be more visible. Other benefits of relevancy include lower click costs, higher quality scores, and overall better results. Options to help manage your campaign relevancy include:

  • Campaign structure
  • Keyword choices & match types
  • Negative keywords & lists
  • Ad group segmentation
  • Ad copy development
  • Ad Type
  • Landing pages
  • CTR

RESPONSE: How your ads deliver ROI.

You want leads to turn into conversions. This can be as simple as someone signing up for your dental practice’s email messaging or as big as someone becoming a new patient. This happens when you create compelling information that provides value, ending with strong calls-to-action. Options to streamline this part of your prospects’ journey include:

  • Landing pages
  • Conversion types
  • Conversion tracking
  • Call tracking from ads
  • Call tracking from pages
  • Tracking messages & chats
  • Click-Through-Rate
  • Conversions & Conversion rates
  • Cost-per-conversion, return-on-ad-spend (ROAS)

Date range and change history: where your PPC audit should begin

Overall, you want to know how well your PPC campaigns are performing. So, you could compare activity in the current 30-day period to last month’s activity, or to last year. As you compare data points, what trends do you spot? Why do you think that’s happening? Do you see targeting errors? Did you change daily spend?

By using Google’s feature that allows you see changes made to an account, you can see who made the changes; what type were made; and when.

To observe account activity, set the date range to the last 30 option and choose the change history link on the left side of the navigation bar. Here you can see exactly what’s been going on in your account. Take care not to click or undo any recent changes to the campaigns.

REACH

Determine the right network settings:

Here’s a best practices tip: separate display campaigns from display ones.

  • Search Network
    • Where do you want your text ads to appear? Choose that search engine.
  • Display Network
    • This is a huge platform, one where there are opportunities to appear in front of more than 90% of internet users, worldwide. Ad can appear on websites, apps, and social media with dedicated advertising spaces connected to platforms of choice.

Targeting:

You’ll want to direct ad spend to where clicks are more likely to turn into conversions, so laser-targeting your dental firm’s PPC campaigns is crucial. Focus on preventing clicks from outside your service areas and, for local campaigns, geo-target where your offices are and exclude where they aren’t. By targeting ad spend correctly, you could double your conversion production.

Scheduling:

Review your predefined reports screen, (which used to be called dimensions), and you’ll likely see scheduling patterns. What days of the week, for example, show the most conversions? What times of the day? To maximize campaign performance, modify your bid adjustment to take advantage of the best times.

Budget Analysis:

It can be tempting to start with a smaller budget but underfunding a campaign can have a negative impact, including low impression share, clicks, and conversions. So, collect information from your keyword planner to see how often ads will appear and how many clicks are likely at a particular budget point, then determine where your sweet spot exists.

To extend the impact of your dollars, you can:

  • Reduce the target area
  • Exclude specific areas that consume but never convert
  • Pause keywords and match types that never convert
  • Build strong negative keyword lists
  • Lower bid prices
  • Make additional scheduling adjustments and delivery options to further fine-tune and stretch your budget and show your ads more often

With a bigger budget, you can use segmentation or day-parting to get even more benefits from your PPC campaigns. This strategy can work best if your campaign is:

  • Heavily segmented
  • Location-based
  • Shared budget

Ad position and bid strategy:

Review your click-through and conversion rate data, then experiment with various approaches to see what maximizes returns. As one example, you can save your dental firm money while improving metrics by lowering bid price. Once you decide what’s best for your campaigns, optimize rules or scripting usage to hold sweet-spot bids and positions.

At DAGMAR, we use a combination of manual processes and automation. This allows us to control variables, while avoiding excessive and untimely keyword bid increases that full-on automation can bring about.

Device bid adjustments:

Your dental practice may perform better on mobile devices—or tablets. Or desktop. Experiment with creating device-specific campaigns, with excluding a device, and so forth, then shift spend to device(s) with the best conversion rates. Adjust your landing pages, as needed, to optimize conversion opportunities.

Impression Share:

There are many ways that underfunded-campaigns can be counterproductive. They include:

  • Ads that show less often
  • Slower data collection
  • Slower ad optimization process

Adequately-funded campaigns, though, allow you to:

  • collect critical data more quickly
  • make corrections
  • improve metrics, including:
    • quality score
    • click-through-rate (CTR)
    • conversion rate

Use your keyword planner tool to estimate much impression share you can control, then adjust target areas and so forth.

Audiences, Lists and RLSA (Remarketing List for Search Ads):

Take a look at your audience lists that are based upon traffic going to website pages and paid search landing pages. Then, segment them into organic visitors and paid ones, using them in remarketing campaigns. If, for example, you have a new dental service to offer, you can remarket that to the most appropriate list. RLSAs can help you to improve relevance, and click-through/conversion rates.

Automation:

Effectively using automation can help your PPC campaigns in many ways, including lower click costs, improved production, and more. You can manage bid costs hourly with automation scriptions, and use rule automation to write your own scripts to:

  • maximize ad exposure
  • better manage campaigns

Languages:

Look at geographic areas being targeted. Do people, for the most part, speak English? If so, then that’s the language to select. But, maybe you have dental offices in bilingual metro areas and, in that case, you should experiment with campaign success when you add additional languages.

RELEVANCE

Strategic keyword selection is at the core of relevant ad groups. You’ll need to segment keywords to effectively describe the dental services you provide, and focus on ad groups that meet your targeted cost-per-lead goals.

Then, use these terms in your ad copy and landing pages to benefit from improved quality scores and ad rank. You’ll create a better user experience and prospect journey, streamlining the process to boost conversions and sales.

Keyword counts and grouping:

Check each ad group to see how many keywords are in each one. In general, there shouldn’t be more than 20 in any group. If you have more, then see how well the keywords relate to one another. If they relate well, then this may work well for you. If they aren’t closely related, create a new ad group.

Segment keywords strategically to align ad groups/messages to the search queries being made by prospects. The results? Better quality scores, lower click costs, and improved click-through-rate (CTR) and conversion rates.

Branded keywords and campaigns:

Carefully craft your branded campaigns in conjunction with your dental practice’s organic SEO campaigns, and you can benefit significantly with high visibility and increased traffic. With branded campaigns, you’ll typically need to have a strong negative keyword list. Plus, experiment with device-specific campaigns.

Campaign segmentation and focus:

When you run several campaigns, they may have different structures, geo-specific targeting, and focus. That’s perfectly normal and, what you want to verify is whether each structure dovetails with that particular campaign’s goals. Do any of them require hyper-relevant, niche conversion goals?

Ads per ad group:

The short answer? Google says four but, if that isn’t right for you, then experiment with ad rotations to see what’s optimal. Test success rates and monitor conversion rates as you experiment with variations. If you skip over the testing, that can increase costs of conversion and lower your conversion rate.

Extensions:

Google offers up additional features that, when used well, can result in being rewarded as you boost your ad footprint. Make deliberate choices as you harness extension usage, avoiding any confusing messaging or ones that repeat.

Site links:

These links can offer up more opportunities for clicks; you’ll need at least two to show up for desktop (there can be as many as six) with one on mobile. Make sure the links are relevant to the ads, the ad group, and your overall campaign.

Location extensions:

Connect your Google Ads account to the matching Google My Business listing and show location information to people within the area. This may cause these ads to show in Google Maps, generating additional clicks and conversions. These rules also apply to Bing Ads.

Call out extensions:

These extensions can add valuable additional information within the ad. You could, for example, include “Family owned and operated dental services” or “More than 25 years of experience in [city].”

Structured snippet extensions:

Do you have unique features and offers that you want to share with prospects? You can highlight them and add more info in your ad space through structured snippet extensions, an option that used to be automated. Now, though, you have more control over this extension type.

Call extensions:

Boost engagement by providing a phone number, showing this ad during regular business hours. This strategy provides for quick one-click conversions, but you’ll only want to show this ad when the call can be promptly answered.

TACTICS AND INSIGHTS

Remarketing:

This strategy allows you to share special offers with prospects who clicked but didn’t convert. You can use audience lists you’ve created at the start of your campaign to reach these prospects and convert them into customers through your search and display networks.

Targeting inclusion and exclusion:

As you review conversions, you’ll almost certainly notice some areas that consume budget but don’t convert. So, take a good look at how each of your areas are contributing to your CPA and ROI. What areas can you exclude? If you do this well, you might find that you’ve doubled your conversion rate while slicing CPA in half.

Geo-targeting your campaigns can salvage ones that have been underperforming.

Search terms:

Review your search terms report, scouring it for terms that you’d overlooked when conducting your keyword research. Which of these would fit in well with existing ad groups? If they don’t fit in well, would they work as negative keywords to block unwanted clicks?

Match types:

When aligning keywords with your goals and budget, you might find exact and phrase match types to be the most cost effective for your dental firm’s campaigns, and you’ll probably appreciate how they’re easier to control. Don’t overlook broad and modified broad terms, though, because you might miss out on traffic and conversion opportunities if you do; be sure, if you use broad terms, to also use strong negative keywords to control waste of ad spend.

Negative keyword lists:

You can apply negative keywords individually at the level of an ad group or as lists shared across multiple campaigns. With the first method, you can select a campaign for your PPC audit, and then choose keywords and negative keywords from the navigation. Are you satisfied with what you see? To view lists shared across numerous campaigns, pick the tools icon and then the negative keywords list link. Should you make any changes?

If you aren’t using negative keywords, address this as part of your PPC audit. That’s important.

KEY METRICS TO REVIEW

CTR (Click-through-rate):

When you review your CTR as part of your dental PPC audit, you’ll see how successfully you’re aligning keywords with your ad messaging. You’ll be able to see how relevant your campaigns are. And, if you aren’t pleased with results, check the quality of that alignment.

Quality score:

Ideally, your score should be at least 6 so, if it’s 5—or even lower—then review your keyword set. What similar keywords can you find to create a new ad group?

Low search volume:

By looking through your status column, you can check the statuses of your keywords. Some of them may be shown to have low search volume. This doesn’t mean they aren’t getting any impressions and clicks, but they may be getting so few that your ad performance and rank is being negatively impacted. Test to see what happens if you pause them. What if you remove them?

RESPONSE

Alignment of goals:

What are your campaign goals? Are you crystal clear about your answer? If you aren’t, take a step back to make sure you know exactly what you want to happen. Then, and only then, can you successfully assess how well you’re doing or make the right targeted improvements.

Conversion tracking:

To accurately determine cost-per-lead or acquisition, it’s crucial that all conversations are tracked. If you share goals with the dental practice’s SEO team, then work together as you attribute them in Google Analytics or Google Ads.

What’s also important: that every landing page has the right conversion devices. This could include an online contact form where people can request a dental appointment, phone numbers for each of your locations, and so forth.

Take a second look at conversion goals in Google Ads and Google Analytics as part of your PPC audit. What ones did you import into ads? Are you accidentally doubling up on any conversion numbers?

Category:

These are mostly used for organizational and reporting purposes. You can see whether a conversion pixel is current, inactive, or unverified.

Count:

You’ll want to track all conversions, while also knowing whether one person is completing a conversion multiple times, or if a conversion is a unique visitor.

Conversion window:

Set this window in a way that matches your sales cycle length. This might be a certain number or days, or months. What matters is that it’s the timeframe in which a conversion can be attributed to a first click via PPC.

ROI/ROAS:

This is the gold standard metric! At the core of your PPC audit is your return on investment/return on ad spend. If you’re happy with yours, what can be your new, more ambitious goal? If you aren’t satisfied, how can you experiment more to boost your ROI? Or does it make sense to spend marketing dollars elsewhere, on channels that bring about a good return for your dental practice?

Conversion volume:

How many conversions do you typically get? What are the more successful channels? If numbers aren’t going up enough, you can try A/B testing, landing page testing, or using special offers.

Cost/conversion:

What is the value of a single lead? Is your campaign offering up a quality cost-per-conversion performance?

Creating your game plan

By now your PPC audit has probably led to a list of items for you to fix. First, address those that are creating the most wasteful spending, those contributing to high costs per lead. Once you’ve fixed those, consider other items on your list that, overall, will help to streamline your campaign. Is this enough to make your PPC channel profitable enough for you?

It isn’t unusual to need to also address more complex issues. These can include regrouping of keywords to refreshing ad messages and reworking landing page text. To make these significant fixes, you’ll need to create and execute a methodical plan. Then, measure results and continue to tweak, as needed. Sometimes, you may decide that a complete overhaul makes the most sense.

We’re here to help you with your Dental Practice’s PPC Audits!

If you’ve read this far, you understand the potential that paid search has to efficiently deliver new, qualified leads that can change your business.

Auditing your PPC campaigns is a time-consuming prospect, but it can be a time-wasting task if you’re not well-versed in the new interface. The good news is that we can do all of the heavy lifting for you and it won’t cost you a dime for us to get in there and have a look around.Just send us a quick message or give us a call at 904-270-9778


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