Why SEO is Valuable
There are plenty of different marketing channels that you can use to market your plastic surgeon practice, though SEO is perhaps the most valuable for several reasons.
First, SEO produces compounding results.
Unlike paid ads that stop producing an ROI the instant you turn off your ad spend, SEO will continue to produce results years from now with little additional maintenance.
For example, if you write a blog post that targets a keyword like “how to evaluate a plastic surgeon,” that post will still attract traffic years down the road.
In addition, organic traffic is free, meaning that you don’t have to pay a dime when someone clicks on the link to your website.
In fact, there are plenty of plastic surgeons that generate the majority of their patients only through SEO.
Here is an excellent example of this:
So how should you do SEO for a plastic surgery website?
How to do SEO For Plastic Surgeons
When you begin optimizing your website for a search engine, it’s important to think about how Google, Bing, or any other search engine looks at a website and their incentive when ranking websites.
From their perspective, they want to produce the best experience possible and serve the best answer to the user’s search so that more people will use their platform.
Therefore, every aspect of SEO ties back to user experience.
Sure, search engines like Google use certain metrics to determine whether or not your website will provide a quality user experience. So you should use those metrics as a guiding light, but they shouldn’t eclipse the end goal, which is a phenomenal user experience.
In addition, algorithms will continue to change as search engines become more sophisticated at determining user experience, so focusing too heavily on the metrics themselves rather than the user experience will ultimately land you in trouble.
That said, here are some strategies you can use that will help enhance your user experience and ultimately enable you to rank higher on search engines (like Google).
The first step to plastic surgeon SEO is to ensure that your website is technically sound. While having a technically sound website won’t automatically make you rank higher, a broken or dangerous website will make it impossible to rank.
It’s like buying a lottery ticket– while the ticket itself doesn’t mean you’ll win the lottery, you don’t have a chance at winning if you never purchase it.
So, where should you start with technical SEO?
While fixing small technical optimizations can help improve your rankings, fatal errors make it impossible to rank. Therefore, we’ll just focus on the fatal errors.
First, look in Google Search Console to see if your website has any warnings. Sometimes, Google will send you an error message if your website has been blacklisted. Google typically only blacklists websites that are dangerous to the user (say, if your website had a virus) or if the search engine notices that you have done blackhat SEO (purchasing spam links etc.)
However, Google doesn’t always show error messages. Therefore, a sign you have a fatal error is if you search the name of your practice (a branded search), nothing shows up. Ideally, it should come up like this:
While new websites may not immediately show up, it should show up over time. If you don’t have a message from Google and you also don’t see your website for your branded search, you may need to ask an experienced SEO consultant in the plastic surgeon space to help you identify the error, or you can run through this quick checklist:
- Do you have HTTPS rather than HTTP?
- Are there any major indexation issues?
- Is your page difficult to crawl (even if everything is indexed, it might still be difficult to crawl)
- Is your page mobile friendly? (it should have responsive design rather than just a small desktop website)
- Do you have duplicate content across your website?
While I won’t go into full detail on each of these errors, you can read more about them here.
Another common issue is a website that loads slowly. If your website takes more than three seconds to load, statistics show that about 25% of website visitors will abandon a website that takes more than four seconds to load. Therefore, while it might not be worth the cost to improve your website from one second to 0.5 seconds, it is definitely worth it to get your most important pages to load under three seconds
You can check your current website load time by using a tool like PageSpeed Insights.
It will give you an overview of both your overall performance, though more importantly, the exact issues wrong with your website. Therefore, you can hire a developer (even just someone on Upwork) to fix the errors.
Once the technical aspects of your website are under control, the next step is to optimize your website for local searches. For example, if someone searches “plastic surgeons near me” or “plastic surgeon in New Jersey,” you want yours to come up in the map pack by using these SEO techniques.
In addition to the map pack, you can also obtain a local listing for branded searches. Here’s an example of a local listing:
Obtaining a local listing makes your brand more credible, gives you more real estate in the SERP, and is an easy way for people to read reviews.
To obtain a local listing and a place in the map results, fill out a Google My Business listing. Once you submit your business information, it will send you a post card in the mail with a verification code to verify that you really do have a physical address in that location.
Once you have your local listing filled out, generating more reviews will help you climb the rankings in the map results. While the map results are also based on location, plenty of positive reviews will also help improve your rankings.
It’s illegal to fabricate reviews or bribe patients for them, there are a few things you can do to encourage patients to leave more reviews.
First, make it very easy for patients to leave a review. For example, create instructions (for your website and clinic) to leave a review on Google. For SEO purposes, it’s best to leave the reviews directly on Google.
Here’s an excellent example of a page dedicated to review generation:
In addition, ask the doctor to take a moment to inform patients how reviews help and remind them to leave one. In many cases, simply asking patients to do so is enough to improve your review quantity (and quality!).
If you have unflattering reviews, rather than reporting them (which won’t work unless you have proof the person isn’t a patient), respond to the review with a way for the patient to contact the office and resolve the complaint. Even if the person never does so, it’s a positive sign that you are responsible for anyone reading through the reviews.
As you generate more reviews and improve the rest of the plastic surgeon SEO suggestions below, you should see your rankings begin to increase.
Keywords like “plastic surgeon in (city)” and “plastic surgeon near me” are excellent keywords for your homepage to target. To optimize them, be sure to include the keyword in the title tag and H1 and build plenty of relevant links (which we will discuss below).
However, location searches aren’t the only keywords that potential patients are searching daily.
For example, many patients will search for service-related keywords before looking for a surgeon in their area. Therefore, ranking for keywords like “liposuction vs. coolsculpting” or “breast augmentation recovery” is an excellent way to generate more potential patients.
So how do you rank for these keywords and further build your SEO?
The answer is content marketing.
For keywords like this, the search intent is clearly to learn more about the procedures and indicate that they are in the early stages of learning about plastic surgery and finding a surgeon.
Therefore, create blog posts that target these keywords and bring people to your website.
From there, you can educate them and build trust to eventually convert them into customers.
However, finding the right keywords is an essential step in succeeding with content marketing.
So how do you find the right keywords?
Ideally, source them from your patient conversations. The questions patients ask in consultations are also likely the questions they are searching for in Google.
Once you have a list of the most common questions asked in consultations, you can head over to a keyword research tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush.
Type in variations of the most commonly asked questions until you come across a few keywords that match the questions.
For example, if you know that one of your most commonly asked questions is if liposuction is a good choice, you can type that into Ahrefs and see various commonly searched questions:
Then, create content for these search terms and add a CTA at the bottom to schedule an appointment.
The only catch with content marketing is that plenty of other surgeons have probably already written about the topics you’ve found.
Optimizing Your Posts
So how can you optimize your post to show up first?
First, ensure the content itself is authoritative. You may choose to have your writer interview the surgeon for each topic and publish it in the doctor’s name to ensure that the post conforms with Google’s EAT guidelines (also known as the “medic update”). This update cracks down on all websites that provide financial and medical information to ensure that users aren’t consuming bad advice.
In addition to providing an expert answer, it should also be more thorough than any of the other posts.
While word count isn’t a ranking factor, you should be concerned if your post is only 500 words whereas the top-ranking posts are all 2,000 plus words.
In most cases, it simply isn’t possible to be as thorough with 500 words as it is with 2,000 words.
Finally, be sure that you tie in a CTA to talk to the doctor in person.
Here’s an example:
In addition to writing new posts, you can also update older posts. For example, if you already have a post on “Is liposuction right for me,” but it isn’t ranking, consider updating it. To update it, look at the thoroughness of the top-ranking posts and analyze where you lack. For example, could you add images of ideal liposuction patients in addition to expertise from the doctor and real examples of results?
Once you’ve done this, the next step is to build links towards your content, as this will also give your content a boost.
When one website links to another, it’s called a backlink. Here’s an example of Harvard linking to a study. Therefore, the study essentially gets points for credibility because a credible source like Harvard is willing to send its readers there.
However, not all links are valuable. In fact, if you build low-quality links, it can even harm your reputation.
Therefore, only build links from websites that meet these two criteria:
- The website linking to you is in the healthcare industry
- The website linking to you is credible
For example, let’s say you earn a link from Apple.com. While Apple.com is a credible source, it has nothing to do with healthcare, so you won’t earn much credibility from it.
Similarly, earning a link from a website that is trelated to healthcare though not authoritative will also be useless.
While Google realizes that you can’t necessarily control who links to you, don’t put your time and effort into building links from websites that don’t match this criteria.
So, where can you find quality backlinks, and how can you earn them
To find quality backlinks, look for blogs in the healthcare space as well as industry publications. A great way to find inspiration is to plug a competitor’s URL into a tool like Ahrefs and look up all of the websites linking to them.
For example, the backlink below is an excellent example of a prime backlink target. The website Healthfully is clearly centered around healthcare, and the website’s authority score is 81 (very high).
Therefore, you can reach out to them with a pitch to write a guest post for their blog.
Guest Post Pitch
Here’s an example of a pitch you can send:
While most response rates are quite low, it still works if you really personalize the pitch. Therefore, avoid sending out mass pitches.
If you don’t want to guest post and prefer to earn backlinks naturally, you can also create original research, write about new research, or curate lists of updated statistics.
As other writers look for sources to support their claims, they will frequently link to websites with statistics and research. Unfortunately, most of these link-worthy posts don’t drive a lot of organic traffic, but you can internally link from pages that have accumulated lots of links to other blog posts that are lacking backlinks.
This way, the “link juice” is still somewhat passed on to your other important pages.
Troubleshooting Common SEO Issues
In many cases, plastic surgeons give up on SEO as they don’t see results within the first several weeks or months. While the good news is that SEO compounds over time, the bad news is that it does take time to start seeing results.
Therefore, if you think that your SEO efforts aren’t paying off, yet it has only been a few months, give it a little more time. Ideally, you should start seeing your posts ranking for lower difficulty keywords first, and then you’ll eventually rank for broader keywords.
Another common issue that many plastic surgeons face with SEO is that their content is optimized for a keyword, yet it isn’t optimized for the search intent.
In other words, you may have an article with the keyword in the title and sprinkled throughout the text. However, if the article itself doesn’t offer some form of originality and it isn’t written with an expert’s advice, it still likely won’t rank as it, therefore, isn’t optimized for the user.
Speaking of the user, the final common issue that most people struggle with when it comes to SEO is shifting from a search engine-first perspective to a user-first perspective.
In other words, if your website is difficult to navigate and doesn’t provide valuable information, your users will bounce, and search engines will demote your rankings.
How to Find an SEO Partner
While the strategies in this post will help you achieve SEO success, you can also hire a partner to execute the above strategies for you. This can be beneficial as a quality agency has many years of experience executing SEO strategies for plastic surgeons and will understand the nuances of executing an SEO strategy.
However, determining the quality level of an agency can be difficult.
Therefore, here are some guidelines that will help you choose an agency.
They Set Expectations
A quality SEO agency will never tell you that they will start producing results for you in days or weeks. Sure, they might be able to help you lift some pages in a few weeks, though it likely won’t be anything dramatic.
Therefore, if an agency promises dramatic results or overnight (or guarantees any results really), it’s a definite red flag. A much more realistic estimate to see results is about 6-18 months, depending on where your website is right now.
They Have Plenty Of Concrete Results
Another sign of a solid SEO agency is if they have concrete results. For example, they should have a portfolio of other websites in healthcare that they have helped rank higher for relevant keywords.
The essential aspect of this statement is relevant keywords.
For example, if they show you that they helped a plastic surgeon rank for keywords like “paleo tips for weight loss,” they likely are capable of creating quality content and ranking it, but they are missing the ROI aspect.
Sure, some people looking for paleo weight loss tips might be interested in plastic surgery, but it’s still a much less relevant keyword than ranking for something like “plastic surgeon in new york” or “liposuction recovery.”
They Welcome Other Marketing Strategies
Many SEOs become so obsessed with their work that they lose sight of the real business impact of SEO. For example, they may tell you that SEO is the only strategy you will ever need.
Unfortunately, this is a red flag. While a quality may recommend that you start with SEO, they should be open to incorporating other marketing strategies into the plan. For example, they should recognize that email marketing and PPC can also work in tandem with your SEO. SEO can still be the main focus of your strategy, though it shouldn’t exist in a silo.
Therefore, it can be a good idea to choose a full-service agency, as they will better direct the kind of marketing you should invest in.
They Have a Process
If the agency you speak with has a process for execution yet still creates a customized plan that fits your KPIs, you’re likely dealing with a quality agency.
On the other hand, if they don’t have a set onboarding process, a dedicated account manager, or a reporting process, it may be a sign that they don’t have processes in place. This can lead to late or missed work and an overall lack of strategy, which impacts end results.
They Aren’t a Huge Agency
Ideally, the agency you work with shouldn’t have more than 20 full-time employees.
If the agency is larger than that, much of your monthly contract will likely be devoted to paying for managers while the work itself is done by junior hires rather than experts.
Therefore, you can simply look them up on Linkedin to see a rough idea of how many employees they have.
Schedule a Consultation Today
If you are interested in having a marketing agency execute these SEO strategies for your plastic surgery clinic, Stodzy has helped plenty of other healthcare clinics achieve results just like yours.
We offer customized plans for each client depending on their goals. In addition, each person working on the account is a true expert in their field as we don’t have any junior hires.
If you’d like to see why your SEO strategy isn’t performing as well as it could be, schedule a free consultation today.