Google Ads For Therapists, Counsellors and Psychologists Explained


Welcome to this brief overview of Google Ads. I’ll run through the different campaign types available and how they work. I’m also going to highlight the campaign types that I feel are most relevant (how to build these out will be covered in a more detailed article later on). But first, let’s cover some of the terms and acronyms used and a bit of the platform’s history.


PPC is an acronym that stands for Pay Per Click. In the early days of Google Ads, the main way that you worked was to pay for every click on one of your ads. This has now changed, and you can bid based on impressions, views (on YouTube), or you can allow Google’s AI to take over and spend your money for you.

Google Adwords

Google Ads was previously called Google Adwords. When it started, it was about search, and specifically, the words people searched in Google. Now there are more ways, from Demographics to Interests to YouTube channels, that you can use to target potential clients.


SEM is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Marketing. In its broader use, it could relate to any way of appearing in Search Engine results including Search Engine Optimisation. More specifically, it refers to Paid Advertising in the search results such as Google Search Ads.


Google Ads isn’t the only player in town. Microsoft also has a search engine called Bing and provides a very similar though not quite identical platform like Google Ads. It doesn’t have the reach of Google Ads, but shouldn’t be dismissed as it can provide some cheaper leads with minimal work.

Google Search Ads

Let’s start with and have a more in-depth look at Google Search Ads as I believe this is the primary and most important Google Advertising product for you to use as a therapist to grow your client base. It can be a very effective marketing technique if you know what you’re doing, but it can also be a costly mistake if you don’t.

Getting on the first page of Google search results for words and phrases relevant to your business can be done using SEO. However, this is a longer-term strategy that requires a lot of work before you get results. Google Search Ads allows you to get there in one day but does come at a cost.

The basic principle of Google Search Ads is that you bid on Keywords or Phrases which are relevant to your business. This allows your ad to appear in the top four places on Google search results. How much you have to pay depends on how many people are bidding on these Keywords or Phrases. As we mentioned earlier, historically, Google Ads was based on PPC (pay per click), which means every time a person clicks on these ads you pay Google.

You have the ability to make these campaigns very targeted or much broader in scope. For example, some factors you may want to consider when running these ads are:

  • What time of day do you want to run the ads?
  • Are you targeting in-person therapy (best to target locally), or are you conducting online therapy sessions (best to target a wider geographical scope)?
  • Do you have a specific group of people you treat? Children, LGBTQ, Couples, Veterans, etc.
  • Do you specialise in certain issues or disorders?
  • What are your qualifications/certifications for specific therapy types, such as CBT or Solution-Focused Therapy?

These factors and more should be taken into account before even starting to build out your Search Campaigns.

Google Smart Campaigns

Over the years Google has embraced AI resulting in an emphasis on “Smart” campaigns. These are campaigns and bidding strategies that use AI and machine learning to automate some or all of the setup and management of the campaigns. There are some areas where this can work really well. For example, I have seen some really good results with Performance Max. However, with accounts that don’t have a lot of history or data, I’ve found that these Smart campaigns tend not to be very smart at all.  As an example, targeting the word “therapist” can bring in all kinds of  searches, such as physical therapy. By the time Google’s AI works this out, you’d have already spent a lot of money.

My advice is to be smart when using Smart campaigns or AI-driven bidding strategies. They can work, but it’s always worth noting that Google is a business and wants you to spend as much money as possible on its services.

Performance Max

This is a fairly new campaign launched in December 2021. I have seen some good results from this, but it does take 3 or 4 weeks to be effective. It also works better on older accounts with extensive data available.

Performance Max uses Google’s AI and targets Google’s entire network – Search, Gmail, Discovery, YouTube & Display.


YouTube Campaigns

YouTube Ads are used on YouTube and are associated with video channels. The targeting methods are very similar to Display ads, except here you target specific videos or channels rather than specific websites.

Display Campaigns

As the name suggests, this uses images to advertise across the internet. You often see this type of advertising on news sites, and you might see some of these ads follow you around the internet whilst you are browsing.

You can target people via demographics as well as interests or their browsing history or specific websites. There is also remarketing, which targets people who have visited your website previously.


Discovery Campaigns

Google Discovery ad campaigns were originally planned to run on Google’s Discover app, but have been expanded to also run on YouTube and Gmail. In our opinion, Performance Max is a better option at present.

Other Google Ads Campaigns

Local Campaigns

This is a campaign type that is specific to targeting certain services within a given location. Unfortunately, “Therapy”, “Counselling”, or “Psychologists” are not included in the service at present.

Shopping Campaigns

Shopping campaigns are amazingly powerful campaigns for e-commerce stores where someone is buying a product or service directly from the website. Unless you are selling specific products, it’s not relevant.

App Campaigns

App campaigns are all about promoting and getting people to download your app. Think of advertising on the PlayStore. Unless you’re developing a mental health or therapy app, it is unlikely to be appropriate.

I hope this overview has given you an idea of what Google Ads are and how they can be useful for your practice as a Therapist, Counsellor, and/or Psychologist, specifically in driving traffic to your website. Feel free to get in touch via email or the contact form, and please subscribe to get regular updates below.

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