Thomas Vecchio

Thomas is a PPC Specialist at Sagapixel, where he works with clients across industries to run Google Ads and paid social campaigns to drive growth.

The Playbook for PPC for Plastic Surgeons

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Now more than ever, plastic surgeons across the country are utilizing PPC advertising to bring in leads for their practices. In 2021, over 90,000 people searched for rhinoplasty…every month. Taking into consideration numbers like that, plastic surgeons across the country have a huge opportunity to bring in patients via paid search with Google Ads.

Unlike social media, which can take months to build a following, or search engine optimization (SEO) which can take months for a website to rank highly in the search results, PPC starts working the month you begin it.

We’ve worked with large and small plastic surgery practices over the past few years and have collected valuable insights we’re going to pass on to you. In this article, we’ll cover the basics you need to know about advertising with Google and our top tips for optimizing your PPC for plastic surgery.

If you would like to schedule a time to sit down with our PPC team to discuss PPC advertising for your plastic surgery practice, click here. 

What is “plastic surgery PPC?”

Pay-Per-Click, or PPC for short, is the advertising model that ad platforms  like Google Ads use to charge advertisers whenever their ad gets clicked. As its name suggests, if someone clicks on your ad, you pay; it’s that simple. You’ve likely seen these ads before, as they typically show in the top 3-4 spots of your search results.

Now, what does Plastic Surgery PPC look like?

Let’s start with a basic search like “rhinoplasty Philadelphia.” For most searches like this, you can expect the first few links on the page to be ads, which you can see are denoted by the “ad” before the URL.

what is involved with PPC for plastic surgeons?

Way down the page from there are the organic results (where you’ll see your investment from SEO come in).

In comparison, a plastic surgeon’s SEO can take anywhere from 4-12 months to get you to rank for certain keywords. If you’re interested in learning more about our SEO services, check out our article about our approach to SEO for plastic surgeons.

How PPC for Plastic Surgeons Works

The Bidding Process in Google Ads

If you’ve never used Google Ads before, more than likely, the idea that you need to bid for your ads may come as a surprise. One of the common misconceptions with Google Ads is that all you need to do to get to the top of the search results is to pay the most; while the amount you’re willing to pay is a factor, it’s not the only aspect Google Ads looks at before placing your ad.

Google Support has a great explanation of how the Google Ads auction works if you’re interested in learning more.

How Google Determines Positions of the Ads

Google looks at a series of metrics when determining your ad’s position on the page (which we’ll discuss in more detail later). That position, also referred to as Ad Rank, is determined by the following factors:

  • Competition
  • Bid
  • Quality Score
    • Landing Page Experience
    • Ad Relevance/Ad Strength
    • Expected Click-Through Rate
  • Context/Keywords

How Much Does PPC for Plastic Surgeons Cost?

When it comes to determining a “cost” for PPC, there is no exact budget needed, however most plastic surgeons spend anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 a month on Google Ads. We encourage a clinic to set a budget they’re comfortable with first; then, we develop a strategy around that.

When most people start with Google Ads, their first thought goes to the “click” part of “pay-per-click,” but focusing on your cost-per-click (CPC) is a mistake; what matters is the cost per acquisition (CPA).

Ultimately, how much does it cost to get a consultation booked with a potential patient? That is your cost per acquisition.

Instead of focusing on CPC, we base our strategy on cost per acquisition. CPAThis metric is significantly better for determining the success or lack thereof of your campaign. Furthermore, this metric will also enable you to gain greater insight into your return on ad spend (ROAS).

Common Issues Inherent to Plastic Surgery PPC

Of all the industries we work with, plastic surgery by far has the most landmines to work around. Google’s policies, first and foremost, tend to generate the most problems in starting and managing an effective campaign. Common issues we see include:

  • If your website offers any kind of cosmetic filler, like Botox, Google Ads will not allow you to send potential leads there. Technically, since Botox is a prescription medication, it is blocked from general advertising without a license, which can be tricky (and expensive) to get. What this means is that in order to run ads for your practice, you’ll need to create landing pages specifically tailored to your services.
  • Restricted medical terms, which Google usually lumps most medications into, also have the chance to either moderately or completely limit your ad from showing.
  • Visitor retargeting isn’t allowed for most “health-related” advertisements.
    • What is retargeting? Have you ever gone shopping on Amazon for something, then seen it on an ad on another website shortly after? That’s retargeting. Google prohibits retargeting for anything health-related. That said, there are ways around this by using custom audiences, which we’ll discuss later in the article as a valuable optimization you can make to your account.
  • Google has recently implemented a strike system for advertising accounts, meaning if your account is flagged for too many policy violations, there’s a chance your clinic can get banned from advertising with Google Ads.

What Are Some Typical Results for a Plastic Surgery PPC Campaign?

Historically, below are the typical cost per acquisition for the most common plastic surgery procedures:

  • Rhinoplasty – ~$81 (Recently, in experimenting with Smart Campaigns, we’ve been able to cut this in half to nearly ~$44)
  • Tummy Tuck – ~$308 (In experimenting with Performance Max, we’ve brought down this cost per lead to nearly ~$27)
  • Liposuction – ~$220
  • Facelift – ~$100

(Note: these numbers are subject to change based on region/targeting)

The 6 Types of PPC Ads

Traditional Paid Search

Search ads are the most common variant of campaigns in use today. These are the ads you see on the top of the search results. Search campaigns, compared to the campaigns below, offer the most control and customization.

Smart Campaigns

Smart campaigns are a relatively new type of campaign from Google Ads, which has proven to deliver exceptional results in some scenarios. As we mentioned earlier, by using a smart campaign, we were able to cut the cost per lead for one of our plastic surgeon PPC clients in half. Smart campaigns can show on all Google properties (i.e., Search, Gmail, Youtube, and Maps), as well as on Google partner sites (Display). In our experience, we generally see the allocation of impressions in these campaigns to be split between search and display.

smart campaigns in Google Ads

Performance Max

Performance Max is Google’s newest PPC campaign variant to hit the scene. These campaigns can show across all of Google’s extended ad networks, including Youtube, Gmail, Maps, Search, Display, and Discovery, all from one campaign.

The main draw of this campaign type is its generally lower cost per click, in addition to its reach. Through the use of custom audiences, which we’ll discuss in more detail in our optimizations section, you can effectively target users who have done specific searches like “rhinoplasty surgeon near me” and so on.

YouTube Ads

While retargeting is prohibited for plastic surgery PPC, YouTube ads can still be a viable option for some practices. Youtube ads show prior to a Youtube video and usually last somewhere between 7-15 seconds before the user has a chance to skip the ad.

Display Ads and the Google Display Network

Display Ads and the Google Display network offer the opportunity to show your ad across millions of Google-partnered websites, apps, and videos. These campaigns are generally good for exposure, awareness, colder leads, and retargeting.

Paid Social

Social media is another great outlet for generating leads in addition to building a reputable online presence. Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have exploded in recent years, especially with regard to plastic surgery.

Discoverability on these sites is huge, and it also grants a degree of trust to those looking into your practice. While they may not be as lucrative in generating leads compared to PPC or SEO but are still monumentally important to the success of your practice moving forward.

What Are the Best PPC Campaign Types for Plastic Surgeons?

Realistically, there is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to a PPC campaign strategy. Our practice has been to split test campaigns to determine which works best for you. In some cases, the standard search campaign may deliver the best cost per lead, but in others not. While we have seen great success with the use of smart campaigns and performance max campaigns, there have been instances where they perform similarly to our control campaign.

How to Optimize PPC for Plastic Surgeons

Below are our top recommendations for optimizing your plastic surgery PPC.

If you would like to schedule a time to sit down with our PPC team to discuss PPC advertising for your plastic surgery practice, click here.

Structure Your Campaigns and Ad Groups Around Keywords

As we’ve referenced earlier, achieving excellent ad strength is essential to getting your ads to show as frequently as possible. The best way to achieve this is by organizing your campaigns and ad groups around similar keywords.

For example, a campaign for tummy tucks should have an ad group for:

  • a standard abdominoplasty
  • one for a tummy tuck
  • one for a mini-tummy tuck

All of these have keywords that are unique to the line of searches for that ad group. This is beneficial because this allows when someone searches for abdominoplasty by name, they’ll receive an ad tailored to abdominoplasty and not mini tummy tuck. In addition, it results in a higher Ad Relevance score and better overall performance.

If you’re interested in more information on the keywords you should be targeting for your plastic surgery PPC or SEO, check out our other article on Plastic Surgery Keywords.

Limit Your Ad Schedule to Times When They Perform Best

When first starting a campaign, we recommend breaking up your ad schedule into chunks. This will give you a greater idea of when specific things are happening. That said, there are some times of the day you don’t need to run your ad. We will usually run our campaigns from around 7 am to around 11 pm. In our experience, we see very few potential leads, if any, come from the hours of 12 am to 6 am.

Below is an example of how most people set their ad schedule:

ad schedule google ads

Versus how we recommend setting up your ad schedule:

ad schedule set in blocks

In the second image, you’ll see we’ve broken up the day into chunks; this helps us greater visualize when the conversions are happening, which makes it exponentially easier to adjust budgets accordingly. By setting the schedule like this, we’re able to conclude that Mondays at 12:00pm are fantastic for conversions, but the same time on Saturday & Sunday are not.

Use Negative Keywords to Minimize Irrelevant Clicks

You should make it a regular occurrence to check your search terms report in your Google Ads campaigns. We recommend checking these at least twice per month, and what you’ll find is that there is a large number of searches that are irrelevant to the service you’re advertising.

For example, we often see searches for creams, oils, and DIY, all of which you’ll need to pay for if someone clicks on your ads from it. More than likely, if someone does click through on one of those searches, they won’t convert to a potential lead, so this process of removing irrelevant searches will also save you money in the long run.

We also have a negative keyword list we add that includes the names of celebrities. This prevents our plastic surgeons from paying for clicks following searches like “did Kim Kardashian get a face lift” if you are bidding on facelift as a keyword.

Use Audiences to See Who is Most Likely to Convert

When running search campaigns, setting audiences is a great way to gain additional information about how your ads are performing. Google Ads has audience segments for a wide variety of people and are broken down into the following categories:

  • Who They Are
  • What They’re Interested In
  • What They’re Researching

Typically, when we run plastic surgery PPC campaigns, we’ll observe audiences that are interested in “health and beauty” or “luxury shoppers.” What we’ve found is if these users are more likely to convert, we can apply a bid adjustment to these users to give our ads a greater chance to show to those Google defines as those audiences.

You can also create custom audience segments to target people based on their searches. This is typically used for display campaigns but has found more use recently with performance max campaigns (PMAX). We’ll usually target searches like:

  1. Rhinoplasty surgeon near me
  2. Best rhinoplasty surgeon (city)
  3. Nose job (city)

Split Test Landing Pages

Landing pages are a must for most healthcare-related, as we’ve discussed prior. Creating these landing pages gives you more control over aspects of the page, like images and calls to action. Using a service like Google Optimize, you can easily (and seamlessly) split test your landing pages to see what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes, something as simple as moving the contact form higher on the page can result in an uptick in potential leads.

Use as Many Extensions as Possible

Extensions are a great way to tailor the ad experience to the end-user by providing ease of access to the information they’d need to become a potential lead. These extensions include:

  1. Phone – Gives the end-user an easy button to click to call your practice.
  2. Sitelink – These provide an instant link to another part of your website that someone may be interested in, like testimonials or a surgeon’s bio.
  1. Location – Places your address within your ad to show people exactly where you’re located.
  2. Callout – These extensions allow you to highlight the selling points of your practice. For example, these extensions work best to highlight features like “free consultations” or “accredited facility.”
  3. Price – This will highlight three services you offer and give the searcher to see the cost of the service.
  4. Structured Snippet – This is simply a list of the services you offer.
  5. Image – Image extensions are being rolled out to a select number of accounts, but if you’re lucky and your account has them, we recommend taking advantage of them. Image extensions will help your ad stand out.

Maximize Ad Score When Creating Responsive Search Ads

As we’ve stated prior, ad strength plays a huge role in getting your ad to show more, and in some cases, for cheaper too. Maximizing the ad score is a crucial part of increasing the quality score of the ad. Ads with a higher quality score tend to show more and will generally have a lower cost per click.

responsive search ads quality scores

To get an excellent ad score, you’ll need to do the following steps:

  1. Create visually appealing, enticing, and unique ad copy that communicates the service you are advertising for and your value proposition.
  2. The ad copy you use will also need to include popular keywords in your headlines. This means if your keyword is something along the lines of “rhinoplasty Philadelphia,” you’ll want to include that in a headline if possible.
  3. Don’t give up 一 As you see below, even if you satisfy the four criteria, there’s a chance the ad strength will remain “good” instead of “excellent.” It takes some trial and error, but you’ll be able to get your ad strength to excellent by modifying your headlines and descriptions when possible.

Target Mobile Primarily

Generally, mobile users will make up over 80% of all traffic you see from your ads, so it’s important to prioritize them. The graph below shows what we’ve come to expect for PPC for Plastic Surgeons in particular:

targeting mobile devices in google ads

With data like this, it’s essential that not only does your ad look good on mobile, but so does your website. Be sure your landing page or website has an easy-to-navigate mobile site, and remove any potential barriers to someone getting in touch with you.

Adjust Bids by Location Through Geotargeting

Geotargeting is essential for plastic surgeon PPC campaigns. When it comes to location targeting, our two biggest tips are as follows:

  1. Be granular – Dive deep into the areas you’re targeting instead of going broad. Target your desired areas by zip code, city, town, or even by county.
  2. Set your location settings to “presence” and not “presence and interest.” By setting your settings as such, you’ll only be targeting people that are in those areas and not those interested in those areas.

In our experience, we’ve been able to effectively cut back on unnecessary spending in areas that simply don’t convert.

For example, in the image below, we found that Waukesha County, which lies just outside of Milwaukee, did not convert, so we limited the ad there:

google ads geotargeting

If we had set the targeting to the entire state of Wisconsin, we’d never be able to draw that conclusion, as Google only provides location data based on the areas you input.

Sagapixel Specializes in Plastic Surgery PPC

At Sagapixel, we’re a digital marketing agency specializing in plastic surgery PPC and SEO. We’ve worked with practices large and small over the years, so our experience in the industry has helped us deliver quality leads for our clients.

If you would like to schedule a time to sit down with our PPC team to discuss PPC advertising for your plastic surgery practice, click here.