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PPC and PT: Developing a Google AdWords Strategy for Your Physical Therapy Clinic

Get your PT practice on the path to paid search success. This guide will help you develop a Google AdWords Strategy for Your Physical Therapy Clinic.

Josh Golden
5 min read
August 23, 2016
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Attention, everyone: You may want to sit down for this. WebPT is providing you all with a series of posts we’d like to call, “The Digital Marketing Series.” This comes on the heels of our original post about the Dos and Don'ts of PPC—which received tons of positive feedback and opened the door to a lot of questions about the basics of PPC. For example: What is PPC, and how do I get started? So, let's take a few steps back and start from the beginning. We hope you walk away from this article with a new understanding of how you should go about building your PPC strategy—along with some helpful tips and tricks to ensure the success of your local digital marketing campaign.

Before you get going on your PPC adventure, you’ll need to set up a Google AdWords account. Google currently holds roughly 70% of the search market share over competitors like Bing/Yahoo. Although Google’s continued dominance is up for debate, the majority of searchers still go to Google first—which means Google AdWords gives you the best possible chance of reaching those who are searching for your services.

Developing Your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Strategy

If you’re a local physical therapy clinic, your goal for PPC is going to be increasing your client base. To do that, you have to entice potential new clients to click on your ads as well as increase conversions from your website. Here’s how:

Stay Organized

Don’t just set up your AdWords account all willy-nilly. As you build your strategy, let your account setup stages act as your guide. In other words, you should develop your strategy in the same order that you will eventually use to set up your Adwords account, as represented by this handy flowchart (it’ll make more sense are you read through the article):

Stay Organized

Create a PPC-Friendly Website

First and foremost, you’ve got to have a quality website that is engaging for searchers and potential clients. When you start running PPC ads, you’ll see an influx of traffic coming to your website (that is the point, after all). Just keep in mind that the size of that influx depends on the amount of money you can spend. Regardless of your budget, though, your website is where your searchers convert into clients—which means it needs to appeal to your visitors by looking nice, being informative, and giving them a clear path to conversion.

Landing Pages

A landing page is simply a web page that a searcher lands on after clicking your ad. Landing pages should focus on a single service—preferably, one related to the ad the searcher clicked on. Everything on the landing page (e.g., images, titles, and copy) should support that one service and should not distract from the potential client converting. In this case, simplicity is key.

Your website should have multiple landing pages that appeal to the types of clients you are trying to obtain and align with the PPC campaigns you are running. Physical therapy clinics can offer a wide array of services in many different areas of specialization—like back physical therapy, neck physical therapy, arm physical therapy. It’s important to create a landing page with relevant content for each type of service/specialty your clinic offers.

Responsive Design

There are now more searches on mobile than on desktop, which means it pays to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. You don’t want to have great ad copy and pay for a searchers click, just to have them leave your site immediately because it doesn’t function well on a mobile device. As the volume of mobile searches continues to increase, this is an absolute must!

Path to Conversion

If someone clicks on your ad, he or she likely has some sort of interest in what you have offered to them. So, once he or she is on your website, you should make it as easy as possible for him or her to get a hold of you. To do this:

  • List your contact information at the top of each page of your website (as well as on your “Contact Us” page).
  • Add a “Contact Us” button in a noticeable location. This might be at the top of your page content or in the header of your website, near the phone number.
  • Put a contact form on each page. This is especially convenient for people who are using their phones to browse your site—which means it’ll help increase conversions for those site visitors.

Choosing Your Campaigns and Ad Groups

There are many different ways to create a useful account structure. Keep in mind that this structure is flexible and can be tailored to your personal organization preferences. Your campaigns should be segmented by higher-level services you offer. Ad groups allow you to drill down from a top service into more tightly themed ad groups. I would recommend the following approach to organization:

Campaign: Services you offer. Example: physical therapy services

Ad Group: Specific sub-services. Example: back physical therapy, neck physical therapy, arm physical therapy

Make sure your ad groups are consistent with the campaigns you have chosen. For example, having a campaign about Physical Therapy Services and then making the associated ad groups focused on Physical Therapy Clinics wouldn’t make sense. The point is to make your campaigns, ad groups, keywords, and ads all align with each other.

Developing your Keyword Strategy

Keywords are the words or phrases potential clients use when searching for a service you offer. When a searcher types in a keyword you are bidding on, your ad will be shown. You’ll want to start with the terms that best describe what you do as a practice. The size of your keyword database is largely dependent on the volume/variety of services your clinic offers and the amount of money you are willing to spend. The longer your account is running, the more keywords you can add or delete from your account (based on performance).

There are four different match types for search engine keywords. Here’s what they look like (using the term “physical therapy” as an example):

  1. Broad Match: physical therapy
  2. Phrase Match: “physical therapy”
  3. Exact Match: [physical therapy]
  4. Broad Match Modifier: +physical +therapy

Broad match modifier, phase match, and exact match keywords are the most highly recommended keyword matches. These three keyword types will help match your keywords to the most qualified searches. Broad match keywords,  on the other hand, tend to bring in a lot of unwanted searches due to poor matching, and your goal is to keep bad traffic to a minimum.

Term-Specific Keywords

As you develop your keyword list, keep in mind that you’re a local business and that you want to capture all the searches in your area. So whatever keywords you choose, be sure to include one that focuses on the city in which you are located. Location-based keywords provide an effective way to connect with the searcher. Plus, there will most likely be less competition, which means that the click will cost less. Here’s the easiest way to differentiate between broad keywords and term-specific keywords:

  1. Add a term (or city) to your regular keyword campaign.
    NOTE: Be sure to provide modifier, phrase, and exact match keywords.
  2. Use your broad match modifier, exact match, and phrase match keywords to your radius targeted campaigns. Here are some examples:
Term-Specific Keywords

If you’re looking for help with developing your full keyword list, check out the Google Keyword Tool. It will provide you with information about average monthly searches, what the competition is like, and suggested bid prices. You will also be able to pick your targeting if you want to see all of that information in your city.

Negative Keywords

As you start to receive clicks on your ads, you may see bad traffic (i.e., traffic from people who aren’t actually interested in your services) matching to some of your keywords. This is normal. You can block certain keywords by adding negative words to your campaign. Google provides in-depth instructions on how to add negative keywords here.


Physical therapy clinics generally won’t see clients coming from too far away. So if, for example, you are located in Phoenix, you’ll likely want to target people in and around Phoenix only. Geo-targeting limits the regions in which your ads display. That way, they only appear for searchers in your specific geographic area. You can set your area using a radius targeting—something you’ll find this within the settings tab of a campaign.

Creating Strong, Appealing Ad Copy

Google recently made an update to its ad copy format. The new format is much more robust and allows for more characters. Stay within the character limitations; otherwise, your ad will be  disapproved (i.e., Google won’t run it). Here’s how the new ad copy format looks (the character limitations are in red):

Creating Strong, Appealing Ad Copy

And here’s my advice for filling in each field:

  • For headline 1, I’d recommend using a keyword from your ad group as well as your geographic location.
  • For headline 2, I’d suggest incorporating a unique selling proposition (e.g., a promotion or other money-saving opportunity for new clients).
  • Include your top keywords in the two URL path fields.
  • Use the 80-character description to tell the searcher something that sets you apart from all other PT clinics.

Ad Copy Best Practices for Local SMBs

The goal of good ad copy is to sell a click to your website. From there, your website sells the conversion. Here are some quick tips:

  • Generate some unique selling points (USPs) so you stand out to searchers.
  • Use your website copy as inspiration for your ad copy.
  • Understand what your searchers care about most.
  • Maintain accuracy. Most PT clinics are stationary, so try to use your specific location within your ad copy so searchers know exactly where you are.
  • Leverage promotions (e.g., “$25 off for new customers” or “free consultations”).
  • Use effective calls to action (e.g., "book your appointment today" or "call now").
  • Create two to three copy variations per ad group.
  • Write your ads to apply to searchers on all devices (e.g., mobile, desktop, or tablet), as any of your ads could show up on any of these devices.

Now that you’ve created a PPC strategy and laid out your plan, Google can walk you through the setup process so you can get started ASAP.

If you have any further questions regarding local pay-per-click marketing, ask ’em in the comment section below, and we’ll be sure to answer them. Until next time—happy AdWordsing!


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