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What is Dental PPC? Great Dental Websites

Updated Sep 25, 2023.

Navigating the world of dental marketing can be challenging because there’s a lot to it, and it all is changing at a dizzying rate. With so many ways to market your dental practice online, it can seem overwhelming.

One of the options you may choose includes PPC, which stands for pay-per-click. But what is PPC, and as a dentist, is pay-per-click right for your business?

What is Dental PPC?

Dental PPC is a form of online marketing where businesses pay Google (or other search engines) for clicks to their site. Essentially, you’re bidding to get your ads in front of your target market. If a user clicks on the ad, you pay for that traffic to your site.

PPC is different from SEO, where you attempt to drive traffic to your site organically. SEO can take a lot of time, effort, and requires creating great content to get the top few spots on Google’s first page. With PPC, you bid on those top spots that appear in search results when potential patients are looking for your services.

How PPC Works - Search Advertising

The User Searches a Term Targeted by Advertisers

To put it another way, this is the process of getting your ads to show up for your target audience, and it’s crucial to nail down what services you want to target, and more specifically, which keyword terms are popular. Then, using these strategies, you will ensure that your ads display for your target market.

For example, maybe you want to let patients know about your comprehensive services in the field of implant dentistry. If your ads target dental implants, we want to make sure anyone within a defined radius Googling anything about that service sees your practice front and center.

Let the Bidding Begin!

Google assesses the advertiser’s quality scores and bid caps to determine ad rank.

Once a user has searched for something on Google, it’s time for the bidding to start. Google is trying to find the most relevant ad for whatever the user is looking for. This is how it decides which ads will display for a given search and limited ad spaces.

One of the most important things Google looks at is your quality score which, according to WordStream, is defined as “The rating of the quality and relevance of both your keywords and PPC ads. It is used to determine your cost per click (CPC) and multiplied by your maximum bid to determine your ad rank in the ad auction process.”

Your quality score depends on multiple factors, including:

  • Click-through rate
  • Relevance of each keyword to its ad group
  • Landing page quality
  • Relevance of your ad text
  • Your historical AdWords account performance

Your quality score is Google’s way of deciding which ads make the most sense for the given search result.

Unfortunately, only Google knows the weight of each factor, so it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what causes a low-quality score. However, it is generally assumed that the click-through rate has the most significant impact on your quality score.

Like most digital marketing efforts, a solid rule of thumb is to make sure you’re going after the right target audience with content and ads that actually match what they’re looking for.

BAM! Your Ads Are Displayed to the User

If your quality score is high enough, Google rewards your efforts by prominently featuring your ads at the top of search results. At this point, users will either click on your ad and be directed to your landing page or opt to scroll past your advertisements and navigate directly to the organic search results. The significance of a well-executed SEO strategy shines through in this latter scenario. Even if users scrolls past your ads, your digital presence can still guide prospective patients to your practice. Effective search engine optimization ensures that your website ranks favorably among the organic search results, increasing the likelihood of users discovering your practice even without clicking on your paid ads. 

Other Forms of Paid Advertising for Dentists


We’ve all seen these ads before. Have you ever clicked on a product at Walmart.com, decided you don’t need that adult-sized Slip ’N Slide after all, and then left the site? Then, after going to a new website, you notice an ad for the same Slip ‘N Slide?

This is called remarketing, and it’s a form of advertising you’ll generally see from companies that sell physical and service-based products. Suppose you go to their product page and navigate elsewhere. In that case, they’re able to place what’s called a “cookie” on your browser, which allows their remarketing ads to show up on other sites or social media platforms you visit later in the hope that you’ll change your mind and purchase their product or service.

Display Advertising

Display advertising is simple. Choose your demographics (for example, men, age 25-35, works in tech, etc.), pick where you’d like to advertise, and voila! Display campaign!

Like remarketing ads, you’ll often see these over to the right on specific web pages; however, this type of ad is not always practical for small businesses, such as a dental practice.

In most cases, as a dentist, you’d be better off buying ad space on local sites that you know your target market frequents.

Local Services Ads

Finally available for dental professionals, Google's Local Services Ads are a entirely new way to promote your practice on Google. LSAs only show to people who are searching for a specific service that you offer in your local area. The best part: You'll only incur charges when a customer contacts you through the ad by calling, booking, or sending a direct message.

Important Terminology

Here are some terms related to pay-per-click for dentists that are important for you to know and understand.


Click-Through-Rate, or CTR, refers to the number of clicks relative to the number of impressions of an ad. CTR is an important concept to understand, as it is a valuable metric of the efficacy of an ad. At GDW, we consider a two percent CTR decent, though ideally, we’d like the highest CTR possible.

Impression share

Impression share refers to the number of search queries in which an ad was eligible to appear relative to the number of times it appeared.

If your impression share is low, it could be an early warning sign of a deeper issue. You’re likely targeting keywords that are too competitive. 

For example, if you’re targeting “dentist,” it could mean that many other practices are doing the same. So, it’s more effective to target more specific keywords like “your neighborhood dentist.”

A few other reasons an impression share may be low is if:

  • The market is very competitive
  • The bid cap is too low
  • The quality score is too low
  • Targeting super-high volume keywords
  • Targeting too large of a region


Pacing is a relatively simple concept; it is the amount of time spent in a budget cycle relative to the amount of money spent.

Pacing is an essential indicator of how well a campaign is spending money and how an automated bidding algorithm performs its job. Using pacing data, we can tell when the most profitable times are to advertise and whether we should be managing bids manually or via automation.

Quality score

Quality score is Google's rating of the quality and relevance of both your keywords and PPC ads. It determines your cost per click (CPC) multiplied by your maximum bid to determine your ad rank in the ad auction process.

In essence, the quality score is a letter grade of the targeted keywords, ad copy (relevance), and user experience. We want this to be as high as possible.

Other noteworthy terms:

  • Leads - Leads are any click that is followed up with either an email or a phone call.
  • Conversion rate - This is the number of leads that convert into patients. So, for example, if 30 leads result in 15 patients, our conversion rate is 50 percent.
  • Cost per acquisition - This is the number of patients acquired in a month divided by their spending. If your dental practice got ten new patients and spent $1000 on your campaign, your CPA would be $100.
  • Goal completions - This refers to contact form submissions on your website.

Part of a Greater Whole

There’s no doubt that with a well-optimized dental pay-per-click campaign, you could see more new patients coming through your door each month.

However, it’s important to remember that digital marketing is usually most successful when diversified. Optimizing and targeting multiple channels will typically yield the highest results.

So, before going all-in on PPC, consider other marketing options like search engine optimization (SEO) for your website or marketing on social media, and use multiple strategies to create a well-rounded and balanced digital marketing campaign.

Furthermore, there’s something to be said for a mix between digital and traditional marketing channels. For example, a tandem between online marketing and community engagement marketing (like direct mail) is a reliable approach.

If you need help keeping up with marketing your dental practice, consider utilizing a marketing agency to help you strategize and implement your marketing campaign.