Marketing Your Therapy Practice Using Google Ads – The Ultimate Guide

Last Updated on July 8, 2021 by

Learn how to use Google Ads to bring in a steady stream of new business for your therapy practice.

As a therapist, your focus is on your clients and how you can better serve them. You should not have to think about running ads and building a deeper client base but, unfortunately, you do.

Google Ads is a great solution to a lacking client problem. Luckily, the process of getting started is simple and requires a lot less education than it took to start your practice. With a little research and time, you could have your first ad up and running in an hour or two.

We’re helping you get started by breaking down the basic components of a google ad and what you need to know to get started. Before we dive right into getting your ad set up, there are a few things you need to do first.

Before You Start Running Ads: Take These Steps

So you’re probably wondering how all of this works, but before we get into that, we need to check off a few things on our checklist to make sure your ads will get the job done and actually create more clients for you.

Before running ads here are some things you must do:

Have a search optimized website

Google Ads works by giving you a sponsored listing towards the top or bottom of a page in the search engine based on what keywords you use and how much competition there is. If you do not have an extremely high-quality, optimized website for both mobile and desktop, it doesn’t matter how much money you spend because people will stumble on your site and likely click away. If your site is more than a few years old, most likely it is due for a redesign. It is important to choose a top web design firm that is not only in tune with the latest trends but also has a vision of what is coming next.

For example, if someone clicks your ad and finds something like this.

Horrible Website Design

The chances of them sticking around for long are slim. You want to make sure that you give them exactly what they clicked the ad for as soon as possible. Within a few seconds, potential clients are going to decide if they want to continue moving forward through the webpage.

According to RocketFuel, the average bounce rate for a good website is 49%, so that tells you that if you have an unoptimized website with cut-off images and text that doesn’t display a clear message, you don’t stand a chance.

So how do you know if your website is optimized?

Look at it on mobile and desktop to make sure that everything is legible and nothing is cut off. Pay attention to how long it takes for the web page to load as well; if it’s any longer than 3-4 seconds you need to take steps to get that down.

The last and most important thing about optimizing your website is making sure your message is clear when someone hits the page. If you’re running an ad specifically for people suffering from depression, make sure that is clear as day on the page they land on.

Don’t send them to a homepage or a sales page. Create a specific page that caters directly to the ad you’re running and send them there.

Provide value immediately

The next thing you need to do is fill your website with awesome content that helps the people who land on your page. It can take as many as seven touches with a potential client before they make the leap of faith and pick up the phone. When we’re talking about sensitive subjects like mental health people could be nervous about reaching out so it could take even longer to secure a new client.

You don’t want to sell to them immediately when they hit your page; you want to provide them with something helpful. Fill your website with useful blog posts, infographics, and resources that could help someone dealing with mental health concerns.

Another great thing about putting content on your website is it helps you rank better on Google because you can include relevant keywords in your articles that help Google understand what your site is about.

There are a variety of websites out there like Contentfly to help you accomplish this; you don’t need to write all the posts yourself – you could hire someone to write for you.

Understanding the Basics of Google Adwords for Therapists

If you’re going to have success running Google Ads, you first need to understand the components of the ad, so you know the purpose and goal of each step. In this section, we’ll help by breaking down each portion of creating an ad so you can understand what they do and why they are there.

But first, (sorry there are so many “but firsts”) it’s critical to your success that you understand some terminology you otherwise would never hear. Knowing these terms and how they affect your ads is crucial.

  • Keyword – These are singular words or entire phrases that people type into the search bar causing your ad to appear. When you create the ad, you’ll pick a variety of keywords that are relevant to what you want to accomplish. For example, if you are targeting people with depression in Atlanta, you might use keywords like “Depression Therapy in Atlanta.”
  • Bid – This plays a major role in where your ad shows on Google. A bid is a maximum amount you are willing to pay for a click. With Google Ads, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad and lands on your website. Here’s how you can understand this; a billboard in a busy city will cost a lot more than one out in the country, right? If you are willing to pay more per click, Google will move you to the front of the listings and put you at the top.
  • Quality Score – This factor goes back to why having an optimized and relevant website is so important. Google cares about its search engine, and they don’t want uneducated people advertising on the platform thus bringing down their reputation. As a result, they will score your ad based on how well the copy is and how it relates to the website you’re sending leads to. A good score will help lower your bid and improve your ranking.
  • Ad Rank – Your rank is a mashup of your bid and quality score together. For example, if you are outspending your competition and your quality score is higher, you will always outrank them. It’s important to understand how these factors impact your rank; it’s not as simple as just creating an ad and throwing some money at it.
  • CPC (cost-per-click) – Almost 99% of the time you won’t pay your full bid price for a click, the goal is to pay much less than that, but your cost-per-click is the average amount of money you pay for each click.
  • Conversion – A conversion occurs when your desired action is achieved. If your goal is to get someone to call your office – each time that happens is considered a conversion.

Now let’s get into the steps you need to take to create a Google Ad.

Step 1: The Campaign

The first thing you’ll do when you create an ad is generate a campaign. This is like the umbrella that will hold all of your ads together underneath it. In this section, you will also set your budget and choose where you want your ads to show. In addition to the traditional “search engine” ads you have the choice to display your ad as a banner on websites, and also as a video on Youtube (of course that would require you to make a video).

Step 2: The Ad Groups

Here is where things get interesting. So, you created a campaign to keep all of your ads in; now you need to create the ads themselves. Within your specific campaign, you can have a bunch of different ads that target different things. Experts recommend testing out many different ads under one campaign so you can see what works and what doesn’t.

To better understand how a campaign and ad group relate to each other, take a look at the campaign examples below.

Campaign 1: Depression

  • Ad group 1: Post Partum
  • Ad group 2: Military PTSD
  • Ad group 3: Widow/Widower

Campaign 2: Child Therapy

  • Ad group 1: K – 3rd Grade
  • Ad group 2: 4th Grade – 8th Grade
  • Ad group 3: 9th Grade – 12th Grade

If you look at these examples, you can see that your campaign caters to an overall group of people with specific ads underneath that target a more narrow audience. Ideally, this is similar to how you would want to structure your ads.

Within those ad groups, you can then test out different ads targeting those specific audiences to figure out what works best.

Step 3: The Keywords

Choosing the right keywords and keyword match type is incredibly vital to the success of your ad. If you have the best ad copy, targeting, and website, keywords will help show your ads to the right people.

First, let’s talk about choosing the right keywords.

Use the right keywords

If you look at the diagram above, you’ll see how the competition gets determined for keywords. If you tried to use the keyword “Depression” to rank your ad, you would have to spend a ton of money and have a spotless ad to outrank your competition because the search volume for that keyword is incredibly high.

The best way to rank your Google Ads quickly is to choose what is called “long-tail” keywords. These are phrases rather than singular words, and they are four words or longer. For therapists, you might want to target “Best therapist in Atlanta” or “Couples Therapy in Atlanta.” A great way to get an idea of what keywords get searched most frequently is to type the beginning of phrases into Google search and see what comes up. Check out the example below.

long tail keywords

We typed in “therapy for” in Google and let it do the work for us. Doing this gives you an idea of what is searched most often so you can figure out what the need is in the marketplace.

Choose a few of these keywords that relate to what services you provide and test, test, test.

Keyword Match Types

Luckily, people searching for your services on Google do not need to always type in that exact phrase to find you. If you get too specific you might not get any traffic because people are matching the phrase exactly, if you’re too broad, you might find yourself paying too much for each click and falling behind the competition.

There are a couple of different ways you can match your keywords.

  • Broad Match – If you choose a broad match that means that your ad will display for any search that contains your keywords in any order. For example, if one of your keyword phrases is “Atlanta Therapy for Young Children,” a search of any of those keywords in any order will display your ad.
  • Broad Match Modifier – This setting allows you to use certain words plus other words to display your ad. You do this by adding a plus sign in front a specific word to match more searches. For example, if your keyword is “Depression Therapy in Atlanta for Teens” and you wanted “Therapy in Atlanta” to always appear because that is your target market you would use “ Depression +Therapy +in +Atlanta for Teens.”
  • Phrase Match – For this keyword strategy you can qualify your ad for searches that contain a specific phrase plus other words before or after it. Here you would put quotations around the words you always want to appear and then google will allow anything with that phrase to display your ad.
  • Exact Match – This works exactly like it sounds, for this strategy you’ll put brackets around the phrase and Google will only show your ad to people who type the phrase exactly as it reads.
  • Negative Match – There might be keywords that you never want to display for so as an example, if you are an adult therapist only, you might want to exclude keywords like children, teens, youth, etc. To do this, you would put a minus sign before those words and Google will not show your ad to those demographics.

Mobile or Desktop… or both?

A familiar debate in the digital marketing space is where you should focus your ads, mobile or desktop. In recent years mobile surpassed desktop in terms of usage and ad success.

Mobile or Desktop


If you take a look at the photo above, you’ll see that traffic on mobile has grown past desktop which means we should put a majority of our focus on mobile visitors.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t advertise to people on a desktop because the cost-per-click could be lower, but the amount of traffic will also be lower. The only way to know what will work for sure is to test both and find out for yourself.

Writing Your Ads

Finally, you are at the point where you need to write up your ads and get things running. The most critical thing to remember when writing your ads is the message you want to communicate to a potential client.

Think about the keywords you chose and make sure your ad copy directly speaks to the people who will be searching for that specific phrase. This will help your ad score, rank, and bid in the long run.

If you are doing online advertising to child’s depression clients, think about who might search those types of phrases. Probably parents who are concerns about their kids and are looking for someone who can help them and provide guidance, right? If you are that person make sure you speak directly to them and cause them to feel something when they read your ad. They should feel safe and relieved when they read your ad and land on your webpage, that will increase the likelihood that they’ll call you.

Remember when we were talking about the Campaigns and Ad Groups? Now you can create multiple ads within a specific ad group to target a hyper-focused audience. That might sound complicated, but it’s not, let’s break it down again.

Campaign 1: Depression

  • Ad group 1: Post Partum
    • Ad 1: Moms depressed from weight gain
    • Ad 2: Moms depressed from life changes
  • Ad group 2: Military PTSD
    • Ad 1: Suffering from hallucinations
    • Ad 2: Suffering from the loss of a friend during the war
  • Ad group 3: Widow/Widower
    • Ad 1: Wife who lost a husband
    • Ad 2: Husband who lost a wife

As you can see above, within the campaign you have one campaign that focuses on depression as a whole. Within that, you have different ad groups that target specific depression concerns. Deeper in, now you have unique search ads that cater to a direct symptom of the type of depression.

Focusing in so narrow like this allows you to speak to an audience and get your best cost-per-click. Testing these different audiences and concerns also helps you determine what works best. You would test all of these ads and find out what gets you the most conversions for the lowest amount of money.

The Keys to a Successful Google Ad

Now that you understand everything you need to know to create a Google Ad including, ad structure, terminology, keyword selection, and where to display your ads; let’s talk about some expert tips and tricks to improve the success of your ad campaigns.

Your Budget

Having the right size budget is essential to having success on Adwords because a low budget will only give you a few clicks a day before running out and stalling your ad for the rest of the day.

Ad budget


One thing you want to understand about Adwords is that the click-through rate is incredibly low even with some of the most successful ads. You might only get a 3-5% conversion rate which is still good, but it requires a lot of eyeballs to see your ad before anyone clicks.

At a 3% conversion rate you would need 100 clicks per month to get three phone calls and who knows if those calls will even turn into paying clients. The bottom line is, it’s important to play around with your budget but make sure you have enough money in it to make an impact.

Test and Have Patience

Most people who use Google Adwords stop their ads before they have a chance to see any results because they don’t give it enough time. It takes time for Google to learn and understand what you are trying to accomplish so let your ad run even if you do not see any results right away.

At the minimum, you should give your ad two weeks before making any adjustments or shutting anything off. This gives Google time to learn more about you and gives you a place on the search engine. Make sure you don’t tweak anything in these two weeks because every time you change something the algorithm that ranks you start over again.

In regards to testing, you want to have as many ads as possible in your campaign so you can find out what’s working. Test different ad copy, targeting, and even web pages. Pay attention to the results you’re getting. For example, if you find that you have a high click-through rate (people who click the ad and land on your website) but you’re still not getting and phone calls, it might mean that something is wrong with your website; not your ad.

Do Not Overthink

The last thing to cover is your mentality – don’t worry about getting everything perfect right off the bat. Follow all of the steps and methodology included in this article and get your ads running so you can see what happens. So many therapists overthink their ad campaigns resulting in procrastination and lack of action. Put your ideas into the ad and let it run.

Reach Out to Us

If you’re looking to set up a google ads campaign to reach your target audience and generat more brand awareness, book a call with us today! As a full-service digital marketing agency, we also can assist with a social media marketing strategy that can help boost your LinkedIn and Facebook pages.