Definitive Guide to Dentist Google Ads


Most dental practices waste money on AdWords because of three simple reasons.  Too often dentist ads are being clicked on by the wrong people for the wrong keywords and the dentist has no idea where or what is being clicked on or by whom.
We can help your dental practice control who sees your dentist Google ads, which dentist keywords trigger your ads and also help give you visibility to how your money is being spent if you follow our Profitable & Easy Dentist AdWords Set Up From A-Z.
Follow our simple, conservative process and you might not get the MOST dental patients possible but at least you can spend your money wisely.


A) Figure out what you want your dental practice to be found for…

Forget about AdWords for a minute…
What are your specialties?
What dental procedures would you like to do more?
What dental procedures are your money makers?
What dental procedures are your loss leaders?
Are there dental procedures you don’t want to be found for? Are there dental procedures you need (want) to refer to other dentists?

B)  Decide if you want to grow your dental practice slowly, fast or steadily…

Dentist PPC campaigns can be very expensive.  However, you can set up  AdWords to be super conservative if you want an occasional new patient without the fear of wasting a ton of money.
Or, if you have big goals of adding new locations, more staff or buying a mansion you can put your dental AdWords campaigns in turbo mode. (broad match keywords)  You will find more dental patients but you will also pay for a lot more unwanted clicks.

C)  Create a simple list of what you want to be found for. 

Two columns.  Stuff I want to be found for.  Stuff I don’t want to be found for.
Add topics.  Don’t worry about keywords yet.

D) Figure out WHERE you want your dental practice to be found.

Are you in a dense city?  How many dental practices are near you?
Are you in a Rural town?  Do you have current dental patients who travel from other towns? Will dental patients travel to your dental practice?
Does it make sense to only advertise within a couple miles of your office?  Does it make sense to only advertise in your town/city?
Does it make sense to advertise in multiple towns?
We recommend you start small and expand when you know what is working.

E) Figure out WHO you want to advertise your dental practice to… 

Do you want to advertise to older people? Younger people? Females? Mothers? Who is your ideal patient?

F) Create your AdWords account

G) Set Up Billing For AdWords Account 

Google makes it super easy to set up Google ads.  Imagine that! They also make it very easy to drain money from your bank account or credit card.
Don’t worry – you can also easily control how much you spend by limiting your daily budget or pausing your AdWords campaign at any time.  Keep in mind, you control both the budget and pausing at the Campaign level.

H)  Create your first AdWords campaign –  “Primary Campaign”

Your dentist AdWords account should include a number of different campaigns and ad groups.   The reason you want multiple Campaigns is because you can control certain things like ‘budget’ and ‘scheduling’ only at the Campaign level.
Think of your AdWords Campaign as a particular category you want to control.  For instance,  Dental Implants might be super profitable with low search volume so you would maybe want those ads showing 24/7/365.
Teeth Whitening might not be very profitable but you might want to run some ads at night (when it is less competitive) and you can limit your budget.

I) Set Up Location Targeting

“AdWords location targeting allows your ads to appear in the geographic locations that you choose: countries, areas within a country, a radius around a location, or location groups, which can include places of interest, your business locations, or tiered demographics.” read more from Google here

Selecting a radius

“When you target a radius, we’ll show a list of locations that are contained within the radius, also known as “Locations within this target”. It’s a good idea to review these locations to make sure that you’ve captured the areas that you expected.

Keep in mind that if you select a small radius, your ads might only show intermittently or not at all. That’s because small targets might not meet our targeting criteria. You’ll also have the option to refine your targeting by individually selecting cities or regions within the radius.

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account.
  2. Click the Campaigns tab.
  3. Click the name of the campaign you wish to edit.
  4. Click the Settings tab.
  5. Click Edit next to “Locations” and click Advanced search.
  6. Click Radius targeting. 

J) Create Your First Ad Group in “Primary Group”

Ad Groups control which Google Ads will be triggered for different keywords.
You want to make sure your Ad Groups have closely related keywords so relevant ads show up prospective dental patients.  For example,  if someone searches for “dental implants” you want to make sure that person sees a Google ad that emphasizes dental implants.
K) Add keywords that you want to trigger particular ads. (Start with Exact Match & Phrase Match only” 
Here are some ways to find keywords.  a) Imagine what you would search for if you were searching on Google b) Think about calls that typically come in. What are they asking for?  c) using Google’s Keyword Planner tool in AdWords d) use 3rd party keyword tools like
What are ‘phrase match’ dental keywords?
What are exact match dental keywords?
Examples of exact match keyword would be simply “dentist” or “dental practice”
L) Create Multiple Ads with multiple headlines 
Try writing a few ads.  Try different headlines.  Guess what dental patients might click on.  You will be wrong but that’s OK.  If you try different headlines you soon be will able to see what works and what does not.
For instance, you might try the following ads for keywords related to Root Canal.
Best Root Canal Dentist
Root Canal Help Now
Root Canal Experts
Here’s where CTR (Click Through Rate) matters.  CTR measures how often someone clicks on your dental ad.  For instance, if an ad has a 2% CTR that means 2 out of 100 searchers click on your Google ad.  If an ad has a 10% CTR that means 10 out of 100 searchers click on your ad.
Over time, you will be able to see which ads are the winners (high click-through rate) and the losers (low click-through rate.  It is your job to get rid of the losers and improve the winners by tweaking your ads.
Our Dentist AdWords Blog is loaded with examples of good and not great dentist Google ads.
Just start making sure your ads…
1) are highly relevant to the search query
2) are very clickable with a call to action / reason to click now
3) build trust/credibility (10 years exp / great reviews etc)
4) take all space available – if you are leaving any space blank in your dentist Google ad you are leaving money on the table.
5)  DOES NOT LOOK look like every other ad on in the Google search results

M) Create Negative keywords At The Campaign Level 

Think about who will never buy from you.  Think about keywords that might relate to your keywords but will never attract new dental patients.
Google allows you to add negative keywords so you can ensure unwanted searches never trigger your ads.
Here are some examples of keywords that usually make sense for most dental practices.
You can learn more about negative keywords here.  Keep in mind, AdWords will allow you to create negative keywords at the ad group & campaign level.
We recommend you add negative keywords at the campaign level so you don’t need to add new negative keywords for each of the different ad groups with a campaign.  There is rarely a time that you discover a negative keyword that shouldn’t apply to all keywords in all of your campaigns.
One exception is the negative keyword “Free”.  A dentist might theoretically want to advertise that they offer a “free dental exam” but would never want to trigger for the term “free dental implants”.
In this case, the dental practice would need to add the “free” negative keyword at the ad group level rather than the campaign level.  For instance, the dentist would add  “free” as a negative keyword to ad groups like “teeth whitening” and “dental implants” but not to the ad group “dental exam”

N) Create Ad Extensions 

AdWords ad extensions are critical for dentists.
Here are a few reasons why your dental practice MUST use ad extensions.
1) A Google ad gives you very limited space to advertise your dental practice. Google ad extensions allow you to have more lines of text so your ad stands out and you have an opportunity to say more.
2) Click through rate is the holy grail of AdWords success.  Site extensions give your prospective dental patients more reason to click and help you increase your Click Through Rate.
Sitelink Extensions – Show links to specific pages on your dental practice website.
Callout Extensions – Show descriptive text. Ex. Free Shipping
Structured Snippet Extensions – Highlight specific aspects of your dental services.
Call Extensions– Encourage calls to your business.  (This is a great strategy for dentists during business”
Message Extensions – Encourage dental patients to send you text messages.
Location Extension – Show business information. Locations, hours etc.
Affiliate Location Extensions – Show affiliate locations.  (learn more about location extensions for dentists in our blog (Google maps advertising cost)
Price Extension – Show prices for your prices dental services.
Review Extension – Highlight 3rd party reviews for your dental practice.
Promotion Extension – Show special sales and offers.  Example: Free Dental Exam

O) Add Some Modified Broad Match Keywords 

OK now you’re going a little crazy.  The training wheels are off.  Modified Broad Match allows you be found many more queries than you could think of on your own.
With phrase and exact match keywords you are ensuring you don’t get found for the “bad searches” like “dentist from that Christmas movie” but you are also guaranteeing you won’t get found for some wonderful searches like “dental practice Toledo”.
With modified broad match you can include the keywords “+dental + practice +toledo” and you dentist Google ad will show up even if you the Google searcher searches for  “Toledo dental practice”.
In fact,  your dentist ad might even show up for “Toledo dentist practice” because will likely consider “dentist” is a close variant for the Google search term “dental”.
According to Google “Close variants include misspellings, singular/plural forms, abbreviations and acronyms, and stemmings (such as “floor” and “flooring”). Variants don’t include synonyms or related searches.”
Using modified broad match keywords can increase campaign clicks & conversions.  At the same time, modified broad match provides more precise control than broad match. Modified broad match allows an AdWords manager to specify that certain broad match keyword terms, or their close variants, must appear to trigger the dentist ad.
What is modified broad match?
According to Google “Broad match modifiers help control when your ad can appear for closely related keywords. Broad match modifiers can help your keywords achieve a higher clickthrough rate (CTR) with a more targeted audience, which in turn can help your site get more paying customers or other conversions.” This Google article explains how to set up broad match modifiers.
Modified Broad Match is much safer than Broad Match but you still need be careful.
For instance,  if someone were to bid on the term +school +management looking to attract school principals they might accidentally get clicks for students looking for “management schools”.
The point of the modified broad match is the order does not matter – if the keywords match the query the Google dentist ad should trigger.

P) Set Up Conversions 

It is super duper fun to pay to spend lots of money on Google AdWords and hope that the money was well spent.  Hope you are getting more phone calls from new dental patients.  Hope you are getting more dental web leads because of Google AdWords.  Wait. No. That’s not fun!
You can’t hope you need to know.  You need to be able to see in black and white what is working and what is not.
That’s the wonderful thing about dental AdWords campaigns.  Unlike a billboard, mailing or radio ad that is super hard to track dentist ads are super easy to track.
You simply need to add a little snippet of AdWords conversion code to your dental website and Google will do the rest.  OK, maybe you won’t personally add the code – you don’t have to.  In fact, you can have Google email the code directly to your web design company, IT guy or whoever.
AdWords conversion tracking, will allow you to see which ad clicks lead turn into phone calls,  newsletter sign-ups, form fill etc.   This article from Google walks you through the gory details.
 With AdWords conversion tracking, you can see how effectively your ad clicks lead to valuable customer activity, such as website purchases, phone calls, app downloads, newsletter sign-ups, and more.

Q)  Set Up Phone Tracking

A great dental AdWords Campaign should generate lots of phone calls.  Fortunately, Google allows you to track ads that turn into phone calls to see which ads are generating phone calls and which Google ads are generating “good phone calls”.
A bad ad could get someone to click on an ad but if only it generates a 10-second phone call that is a “bad phone call” and a waste of money.   For instance, you might try bidding on “Dr. Zwicker’s Dental Practice” but if most people who click and call are disappointed because they did not reach “Dr Zwicker” your dental practice has just wasted money on bad ad clicks.
However,  Google call tracking allows dental offices to track a conversion based on the length of the phone call.  Essentially, the dentist can decide how long a phone call needs be for it to be worthwhile and should be counted as a conversion.
With Dentist AdWords call tracking, you can set a minimum call length so all longer callers count as conversions.
You can learn more about AdWords call tracking here.
Here’s how to set up call length minimum “Click Call length. Enter the minimum length, in seconds, that a phone call needs to last to be counted as a conversion. Click Done.”   Phone tracking works with “Calls from call-only ads or ads using call extensions.”

R)  Set Up Dentist Call Only Google Ads

Call only ads from Google can be a dentist best friend.    There are still LOTS of people who have no interest in filling out a web form or scheduling a dentist appointment online.   These people are callers and they could be great profitable dental patients for years or decades to come.  Thankfully, Google provides an option to run Call Only ads.
Call only Google ads are designed to encourage people to call your dental practice and only appear on devices that can make phone calls. Clicks on these dentist ads allow potential patients to call you directly from their smartphones.
Here’s an example of what a Call Only Dentist Ad might look like…
Call: (555) 123-4567
12 Year Experience.  Super Friendly Staff
25% Off Dental Exam.  Call Now!
 Of course, with Call Only Google ads you want to make sure those dentist ads run mostly when your dental practice is open and are actually ready to take calls.
If you want to test call only Google ads off hours you need to make sure you have a great voicemail that assures prospective dental patients that they are your top priority.  (see our article Why You Should Talk To Your Staff About Your Dentist AdWords Campaigns  about sharing the importance AdWords with your dental staff)

S) Create Dentist Landing Pages That Convert 

If you are running dentist AdWords campaigns and sending dental patients to your main page that doesn’t have a form, you might as well cancel your AdWords account now and give the money to charity.  Seriously.
The only way AdWords works well is if your dental practice can actually convert a click into a new dental patient.   Once the prospective dental patient clicks your dentist Google ad, it is the job of your landing page to tell the person that you have what they want.
For instance,  if the person is looking for dental implants, your dental landing page better talk about “dental implants”.   The Google AdWords system is also checking to make sure your landing page is relevant to the keyword search and your dentist ad.  If your landing page is relevant your Quality Score increase.
The better your Quality Score the better chance you have of getting a great ad position and a lower price.   You can learn more about Quality Score directly from Google here.  AdWords Quality Score Definition
Often times the big difference between a successful dental AdWords campaign and failing dental AdWords campaign is the attention to detail the landing pages.
T) Monitor Your Campaigns & Ad Groups 
 If you are spending money on AdWords, you owe to yourself to regularly review campaigns, ad groups and keywords.    You should be looking for opportunities to improve click through rates and reduce ‘spend’.
Do you see keywords that not getting clicks?  Consider increasing how much you are bidding for those keywords.
Do you see ads that are not getting clicked often?  Create new Google to see if they resonate more with prospective dental patients.
Do you see keywords that are getting lots of clicks but are not getting you conversions? If that’s the case,  consider pausing keywords that don’t work or making improvements to your dentist landing page.

U) Check Your Search Terms Reports 

Many dentists are fooled by focusing on keyword clicks.  For instance, let’s say a dental practice bids on the phrase match keyword term “dental office” and gets 8 clicks.
That’s great, right?  Not, necessarily.  With phrase match, the dentist might have gotten clicks for search queries with the keywords “dental office” plus all kinds of unwanted keywords.
For example, people might be searching for “dental office for dogs”, “dental office free for poor people” or “how to open a dental office”.  The only way to see these unwanted, real-world queries is to review your search terms report.
To see your search terms report,  simply click on Keywords on the left side of the AdWords interface.  Now that you are in the Keywords section you should see you are in the default view of Search Keywords.
At the top of the page, you will see there is also a tab for Negative Keywords and Search Terms.  Click on Search Terms and you have reached the holy grail of AdWords reporting.   From here, you can easily change the date to look at search terms for today, this week, this month or whatever you want.
It is critical to review your search terms frequently if you do not want to waste money on AdWords.    Even better, you can set up an automatic email so you can get a “search terms” report that is sent to you regularly.

V)  Get The AdWords App 

We get it.  You are running a dental practice.  You are treating dental patients. You are (hopefully) enjoying the profits of your dental practice in your free time.  You don’t have a lot of time for dealing with your AdWords campaign.
Fortunately,  the AdWords App is a great way for you to check up on your AdWords campaign occasionally.
Waiting for an elevator?  Take a minute and check your dental AdWords campaign!  Waiting for the microwave?  Open your AdWords app and make sure everything is going OK.
The AdWords app is built for executives and is wonderful to spot big problems or big opportunities in your AdWords campaigns.

W)  Make Sure Your Dental Staff Helps Convert Leads 

The job of dentist AdWords campaigns is to help find dental patients that are actively looking for a new dental practice.  However,  Google can only do so much.  AdWords can bring dental patients to a form or can make your dental practice phone ring but it is your job to turn those AdWords clicks into new dental patients.

X) Get Dental Practice Positive Reviews To Improve Conversions 

Make sure your dental practice is actively (and always) soliciting positive reviews from your dental patients.   The first thing many people do after they click on a dental ad is go to Google, Yelp or the front page of your website to check reviews.

Lots of people are surprisingly willing to provide a positive quote or even shoot a quick “dental patient testimonial video”.   The difference between your website and the dentist across town with a dental website that is loaded with quotes and videos is they are willing to ask the patients for help.   You can also use testimonial quotes and videos directly on your landing pages to improve conversion rates.

Y) Use Email Marketing & Mailing To Get More Conversion Over Time 

Keep in touch with all dental leads.  Your dentist AdWords campaign is a big investment and you want to squeeze every bit of profit out of it.
Anyone who has clicked on your dentist Google ad has essentially raised their hand and said they are interested in learning more about your dental practice.   Use mailings and email marketing to make sure your dental practice is not forgotten.
You’ve done the hard part of finding the prospective dental patient – you should have systems in place to make it easy to consistently stay in touch with anyone who has expressed interest in your dental practice.  Some of your AdWords clicks may have chosen the wrong dentist or might be just procrastinating going to the dentist. Go get ’em.

Z)  Schedule Dentist Ads During Business Hours 

Google allows you to schedule your dentist AdWords campaigns for times that make sense for your dental practice.

When starting AdWords, until you are confident you can consistently get clicks that convert into new dental patients.  You should only run your Dentist Google ads at times when your dental office is open and able to immediately take calls and help new dental patients.  You can schedule your Google ads at the Campaign level within the AdWords interface.  (find some examples of great dentist ads here)

You can learn more about scheduling Google ads here.

We hope this page, Profitable & Easy Dentist AdWords Set Up From A-Z is beneficial to your dental practice.  It is not meant to be all-inclusive but instead is meant to be a helpful guide so dental practices new to AdWords can avoid some costly, typical pitfalls.


ConversionSmiles is a Dental PPC management company.