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If your urgent care leverages Google Ads to connect with patients, you’ve probably noticed that clicks and conversions are getting more expensive this year. We started to see this trend in late January in some parts of the country, and by March this was affecting virtually the entire industry. If you understand how the ad rates are established, along with the context of the past few months, this is all very logical. 

Cost per click ads are priced based on an “auction” that is held every time a search is performed. When there are more searches and less advertisers, click costs go down. When there is a greater demand for those clicks, costs go up.

During the pandemic, we saw historically high interest in urgent care. As the public began to associate urgent care centers with the place to get a Covid test, the volume of people searching for urgent care related terms reached unprecedented levels. And that doesn’t even take into account the search volume for Covid related terms that didn’t exist a few short/long years ago.

After the holiday/Omicron surge this past December and early January, search volume dropped. This followed similar patterns from the previous holiday season, but the timing of Omicron brought peak search volumes in most parts of the country. Then, the holidays were over. Omicron began to run its course. Availability of at-home tests expanded. Life started getting to what is starting to actually feel like a semi-stable new normal. As a result, the search volume for testing, and urgent care in general, began to drop – drastically in most cases.

At the same time, many markets have seen an increase in competition from new urgent care centers. Also, many urgent care brands who have had very lucrative testing volumes over the past 2 years are now investing in increased advertising budgets.

So, at the same time that we are seeing demand for urgent care go down, there are more advertisers than ever. The auction for each click is more competitive, leading to higher prices. If you maintain a steady budget, this means you’ll be buying fewer clicks than you were able to a few months ago. Note the image at the top of this post, which shows the search volume trends for “urgent care”, “urgent care near me”, and “covid testing” over the past 5 years.

How Should These Changes Be Addressed?

Every account is unique, but if you are experiencing cost increases on your urgent care PPC ads, here are some general suggestions to consider.

First of all, don’t just focus on your costs per click. You should be measuring conversions, such as people who check in online for a visit, call your practice, or search for directions to your practice. Cost per conversion is measured by dividing the total budget spent by the number of conversions. As long as you have a reasonable correlation between conversions and actual patients, this metric will give you much better information.

Next, make sure you aren’t overpaying for certain groups or keywords. In many situations, prices for Covid Testing keywords have gone up so high that unless you are converting 30- 50% or more of your clicks, the cost for conversion may be too high. On the flip side, searches for non-covid urgent care visits are also tending to be more expensive, but the conversion rates are likely better. 

Finally, make sure to diversify your keyword targeting. This is an area where your result will tend to vary based on where you are located, so you’ll need to experiment. Consider building campaigns to promote services that people tend to search for, such as x-rays, STD testing, or specific types of physical exams that you offer.

Need help or have questions? Let us know, we’d be glad to help!