Any new aesthetic surgeon must develop an effective online presence. This is just as important as a brick and mortar location, and can be every bit as challenging to build.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to have a website with great content. Any attempt at online presence must account for the role of the search engines. In other words, you need SEO. Short for Search Engine Optimization, SEO is activity that helps potential patients find information about you online. Data from both PEW Research Center and CareCredit show that prospective patients rely heavily on search engines for information about procedures and the surgeons who offer them.
Here’s a checklist of the six essential elements – from an SEO standpoint – of any website:
Your website needs to be easily viewed on mobile platforms. More than 60 percent of Google searches about aesthetic procedures and surgeons occur on a smartphone or tablet. The search giant has vowed to make it much harder for non-mobile-friendly sites to achieve high rankings and traffic.
If your content is similar to or a duplicate of content on other sites, it will never get out of the search engine cellar. When starting out with a new website and SEO strategy, take the time to write content that uniquely reflects your practice philosophy and vision, or hire a company with writers who are experienced in aesthetic medicine. SEO has to be much smarter and savvier to keep pace with changing algorithms and consumer trends. It’s not just about key word density anymore – your site has to be a UNIQUE resource.
Reviews are a key piece of SEO today for two reasons. First, when you receive a word-of-mouth (WOM) referral, the referred prospective patient often searches for you online by name. When a WOM search occurs, it is not uncommon for 5 to 7 review sites to jump out at the searcher on the first page of Google. A top star rating on these review sites makes a great impression. A now-famous Harvard study shows that reviews can affect business revenue by up to 18 percent, depending on whether your ratings are positive or negative. Second, Google and the other search engines now use consumer engagement to rank your website. When consumers write reviews about you, it shows Google that the consumers are engaging with your practice; as a result, your rankings will increase. Develop an action plan for soliciting and prominently posting all reviews.
Citations are places online that automatically list your name, practice name, phone number and address, a set of data also known as NAP (Name, address phone number). Consistency is everything here. The accuracy of citations greatly influences your SEO and rankings. Unfortunately, this information is often inaccurate for new surgeons and/or practices because it is pulled automatically from a nationwide database of doctors. These databases often show your previous position, like your residency, fellowship or the first practice you joined. Take time to ensure all citation information is current and accurate, and correct it when necessary. To do this, simply search your name on Google and review the sites on the first three or four pages of the search results. When you find inaccurate information, update the NAP on the sites to the correct information. Some require log-in information before you can make any corrections to your page.
Social Media Mojo
Potential patients, particularly millennials, look to social media to make judgments and decisions about you. Decide which social media platforms make the most sense for your practice demographics. If you are targeting millennials as a substantial part of your practice then Instagram and Snapchat may make the most sense. Facebook is always a sure bet as it is the go-to platform for 65 percent of Americans age 12 to 80 (and older). Social media isn’t a hobby anymore. Creating and maintaining your presence and following takes time and dedication. Keep your pages fresh with cool visuals and shareable copy.
(Constantly) Updated WordPress software
Most websites are now built in WordPress. The good news is that the software is open source, meaning you don’t pay anything to use it. The software makes it easy for virtually anyone to update your site and there are a variety of plug-ins that automatically offer advanced functionality, such as for photo galleries and security. The bad news is that new versions of the core software and plugins are constantly introduced. When websites are not kept updated with the most recent software versions, the search engines can drop your rankings, or worse yet, your website can crash. To protect your site, update your WordPress regularly.
What Are Your Internet Marketing Pain Points?
We are here to help. Email any questions for David Evans to email@example.com. Your questions and their answers may be featured in an upcoming issue of PPMD.
David Evans, PhD, MBA, is the CEO of Ceatus Media Group, based in San Diego. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.