The Massage Therapist’s Guide to Google AdWords

google adwords overview-resized-600Google is the number one search engine in the world with more than 2 billion searches a day. Chances are, your potential customers are probably “Googling” a search term that applies to your massage therapy practice right now! The question is, are they going to find you in their search?

If you’re already creating content on your website and social media as part of your strategy to gain organic search, then you might be interested in upping your game with a little paid search advertising. If you’ve ever thought about it but felt intimidated about getting started, then you’re in the right place. We’ll help you figure out if Google AdWords is a good idea for you and how to launch your first campaign.

So, let’s start with the basics. What is Google AdWords?

Google AdWords is a pay-per-click advertising program by Google. With AdWords, advertisers can promote their website’s products and services on’s search results in the “sponsored links” section. Quality ad text and relevant keyword buys will give you an edge over your competitors. You can set your own budget and change your campaigns at any time -there are no commitments or spending requirements of any kind.

Surely you’ve seen these ads pop up in your Google searches like so:



Organic SEO vs. AdWords

So which method is better for marketing your massage therapy practice?

First of all, it doesn’t have to be either/or because doing both cerainly won’t hurt! That said, there are a few factors to consider. Organic SEO, while it can definitely lead to a huge return on investment, is typically an expensive and time-consuming process. Hiring an SEO firm is generally going to be cost-prohibitive for an independent massage therapist. Doing organic SEO yourself often requires many hours of careful planning, analysis, and labor.

Additionally, organic SEO takes time to bear fruit. It’s not uncommon for an organic campaign to start delivering results only after six months (or more) of hard work. An organic campaign is a marathon, not a sprint. That said, if you have a knack for blogging and engaging in social media, then organic SEO is a good choice for you.

The AdWords program, on the other hand, has some distinct advantages of its own. An AdWords campaign can be up and running in 24 hours. Additionally it can be started with a much lower budget. For this reason, AdWords can be an excellent program for smaller organizations or individuals. AdWords is also a very nimble program. It allows advertisers to quickly tweak, experiment with, and optimize campaigns on-the-fly.

This can also make it a valuable program for short-term campaigns or for therapists with a lower advertising budget.

Once you’ve decided to make the leap and try Google AdWords out for yourself, it’s time to dive into keyword research!

Make a Keyword List

The first step on your AdWords journey is to brainstorm a keyword list. Keywords are just the kinds of search words and phrases your customers might be using to find services that you provide. If you’re in a smallish town with a limited market, you might just focus on broad phrases like “massage therapist in Smallsville” and variations of that.

If you’re in a bigger city with more competition in the massage therapy industry, then start with your specialty area. For instance, if you specialize in aromatherapy then start building a keyword list with those terms.

Don’t stop with just a few general keywords. Get specific and work on a list of long-tail keywords. Wait, what’s that? Long-tail keywords go from very generic words to more specific phrases, like this:

Keyword Chart


The goal is to get as targeted with your keywords as possible, in order to tailor your message to the particular need of your client. If you use general terms like “massage” you’re going to get traffic from searchers looking for massage anywhere in the country, or massage oils to buy, or massage schools to apply to, or a recipe for massaged kale (yes, it’s a real thing), or massage therapist in Atlanta, Georgia. But maybe you can only serve that last market.

Select your list of keywords based on location, as well. You can geo-target in AdWords so your ads only pop-up to searchers who are in your area.

Login to your Google AdWords account and start using the Keyword Tool to get a list of keywords based on real searches that people are doing every day.

The Keyword Tool is great because you can see how many local monthly searches are conducted for a particular phrase, and you can also see how “competitive” that keyword is. As you can see with the example below, “female massage therapist” gets about 1,600 local monthly searches and has a Medium level of competition. Medium to Low competition keywords = cheaper for your budget, and probably more targeted to your market too.


adgroups chart

Now that you have your list of keywords handy, it’s time to fire up the Traffic Estimator Tool.

Make sure you’re signed into your Google account to get access to this tool. The Traffic Estimator Tool can help determine your optimal budget and cost-per-click (CPC) to get the best results from your ad campaign. Type in your keywords and click “Get Estimates”. You’ll need to put in an initial Max CPC and Daily Budget amounts to get data. Check out this example for the keyword “find a massage therapist” with the location of Indianapolis, Indiana:

traffic estimator

In the example above, you can see that I’m spending a max of $20 a day on my budget, just as an initial estimate as I begin to draft my campaign. The tool shows how many daily clicks, impressions (how many people see my ad), average position of the ad, daily cost, click-through-rate, and average cost-per-click. Now this is just one phrase, but I can go ahead and draft a campaign from here and start experimenting to see what is most effective in capturing clicks!

Creating Your Campaign

AdWords lets you set up as many campaigns as you want and each campaign has it’s own ad groups. Each ad group has it’s own set of keywords. Here’s a handy chart I grabbed from HubSpot:

adgroups chart


Once you’re in Google AdWords, click “Create your first campaign”

welcome screen-resized-600

There are a few different options for selecting where your ads appear. There are many options and you can read through the descriptions of each, but for independent massage therapists these are your two best options starting out:

Default: Ads will appear on both Google Search Network and Google Display Network on all devices. This may be a good option if you are looking to increase CTR quickly, as your ad will be visible to the most number of potential customers.

Search Network Only: Ads will only appear on Google’s search results and relevant sites that are part of the Search Network. These include Google Maps, Images, Shopping and AOL. This gives you more control as to where your ads are placed because of the limited number of sites that are part of the search network.

You can change these at any time. It’s probably best to start with the Default or Search Only setting, and then start tweaking after seeing some results.

Next, make sure you select your location so that you’re ads are only getting the most qualified traffic from potential clients in your region.

Bidding and Budget

There are many options for how you set your budget and how you “bid”. Quickly, bidding works like this: you can decide if you want to set the bids for each click, or if you want AdWords to set bids to help maximize clicks within your budget. In Google AdWords, the cost of a click can change throughout the day depending on the volume of advertisers bidding on a specific term. So, it’s variable and that’s why you bid on the cost of the ad.

Here again, there are several options for bidding but for licensed massage therapists getting started in pay-per-click advertising, I would recommend using one of these below:

CPC: This option, cost-per-click, only charges you when someone clicks on your ad. This is a good option if you are focused on increasing traffic to your website.

AdWords will set my bids to help maximize clicks within my target budget: This option allows AdWords the freedom to set the CPC for your keywords while staying within your budget in order to get the most clicks each day. This option is good if you had an advertising budget you constantly want to reach, and don’t want to spend the time monitoring and adjusting your campaigns.

As for your budget, set it according to the optimal amount determined in the traffic estimator.


Advanced Settings

Reading through all of the advanced settings options at this very moment could possibly cause your head to explode. So I’ll do a very quick overview and let you dive into advanced settings in more depth after you’ve gotten a handle on the basics, ok? For everyone’s sanity.

In Advanced Settings you can tinker with scheduling capabilities, ad rotations and the frequency of ad delivery, demographic settings, social settings, keyword matching options, and automatic campaign optimization.

Basically, you can control for many many factors and get your targeting down to a laser focus if you so choose. It’s pretty cool.

Create an Ad Group

Once you have all of your settings in place, and it really doesn’t take as long as it may seem since you can click defaults to your hearts content and save the tweaking for later, THEN you can start the fun part of slicing up your keyword phrases into different ad groups.

The important thing to remember here is to keep each keyword phrase and variations of that phrase in separate ad groups.

Here’s an example of two different ad groups.

Ad Group 1: Licensed massage therapist


  • find licensed massage therapist
  • find a licensed massage therapist
  • how to find a good licensed massage therapist
  • find a massage therapist

Ad Group 2: Aromatherapy massage


  • aromatherapy massage
  • massage aromatherapy
  • aromatherapy massage benefits
  • what is aromatherapy massage
  • aromatherapy and massage

Creating Ads

After you set up one or two ad groups, it’s time to start writing the ad copy–finally! Ads options include a text ad, image ad, and a mobile ad. If you want to go above and beyond a basic text ad, you can use the Display Ad Builder, a tool on Google that will help you build your ad and pick from their library of templates and images. You can also create specialized ad content such as a video ad.

To create a text ad, you must have a title that is no more than 25 characters, and two lines of text that are no more than 35 characters each. The best ads include:

Keyword Relevance – The more relevant your ad copy is to your keywords and landing pages, the higher Quality Score it will have. This will make your ad rank higher on search results than those with lower quality scores.

Call-to-action (CTA) – Does your ad tell the viewer what you want them to do? Examples might include “Book now,” “Schedule today,” or “Learn more.”

Value – Your ad needs to show the customer what the value is in your service. This could include a discount, free offer, higher quality, or anything that will make them want to know more about your treatments and services.

Landing Page – make sure that your ad is linking to a specific landing page designed to capture a sale, booking, or a contact form so that your potential client can take action and submit their information to you. Do NOT simply link to your homepage.

Google makes it pretty easy to input the actual copy of your ad, giving you labeled form fields that walk you through the copywriting process.

Testing and Revising

Once your ads are up and running, it’s time to let things simmer for a few days so that your Google Ads can start generating some data to analyze. Some people will monitor their ads and tweak them on a daily basis. It’s up to you. The more time you spend diving into the data, seeing what works and what definitely does not work, which keywords are most effective at bringing you qualified leads and actual customers, …the more time you spend doing testing and revising, the better your ads will perform. Eventually, you’ll be such a pro that a few minutes a day might be all you need to keep those conversion flowing.

Here’s an example of a generic AdWords dashboard.

adwords screen sho-resized-600


You can track the performance of each campaign, ad group, and individual ad. Here’s just a few of the metrics you’ll want to keep a close eye on:

  • Clicks (when a user interacts with your ad by clicking on it)
  • Impressions (how many times your ad shows up on someone’s screen)
  • CTR (click-through-rate, number of clicks your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown.
  • Average CPC (cost-per-click)
  • Cost (total spend on that campaign or ad)
  • Average Position (where the ad appears on the page)
  • Conversions (clicks that directly turn into a conversion/sale)
  • Cost/conversions (what it costs to get a conversion)
  • Conversion rate (number of conversions divided by total clicks)

In the dashboard, you can see just how effective your ads are. You’ll get to know exactly how much you should spend to be profitable. If you know that a particular ad gets 50 clicks a month, and of those clicks an average of 2 people will book a massage, then you can figure your budget appropriate to your profit margin on gaining two new clients a month.

On the other hand, you can quickly see what ads or keywords are not performing well, and either ditch them or tweak them to see if results improve.


Depending on your disposition, you might be feeling really jazzed to start a campaign or perhaps you’re feeling a little woozy with information overload. Totally understandable. It’s a lot to take in. Here’s my advice: “Start small!” Set up one ad group with a few keywords to get your feet wet. As with learning any new skill, take it one step at a time and keep practicing.

AdWords might be just the thing you need to set your practice apart from the competition and directly target those people who are searching for your services! You can’t buy that kind of advertising with billboards and pamphlets.

source: graphs and help from HubSpot

Let us know if you get inspired to start up a campaign! Also, any massage therapists out there already using Google AdWords? Drop us a line in the comments and let us know how it’s going!