As a busy aesthetic professional, you probably have neither the time nor the inclination to delve deeply into the technical factors that influence how well your practice website ranks when people are researching cosmetic surgery. And that’s okay. As discussed last week, the good news is that there are some simple things you can do to generate a higher profile (and more traffic) that don’t require an intimate understanding of SEO.
The bad news is that generating more web traffic is only half the battle. If people do actually visit your website but then quickly click back to their initial search results, the most likely reason is that they didn’t find what they were looking for. In SEO-speak, their “dwell time” is low, which the search engines consider a sign of a poor user experience. The poorer the experience, the lower the rank going forward.
So how do you get visitors to your practice website to stick around? The short answer is content, content, content but the fact is that not all content is created equal. The following types, for example, are among the most likely to generate more engagement, longer dwell times and, ultimately, more patient contacts:
Before and after photos: Nothing invites more clicking than a great gallery of before and after images. (On RealSelf, approximately 50% of all pageviews are of photos.) When building your gallery, shoot for volume (our data suggests 10 as a minimum, with more images netting more patient contacts); shoot for diversity (potential patients like to see patients who look like them), and, of course, shoot for quality as images that are blurry, poorly lit, etc., offer a fast-track off your website.
Informational videos: It’s estimated that U.S. adults will spend an average of 1 hour, 16 minutes each day with video on digital devices this year. For aesthetic consumers, doctor-produced videos help make sense of complex subjects which, by definition, encourage spending more time on site. And, as with photos, the more, the better: On RealSelf, doctors who posted five or more videos saw 68% more patient contacts than those who posted four to five and more than double those who posted two to three.
Online reviews: By the time consumers get to the point of reading reviews, most have already established their need, says Myles Anderson of BrightLocal, so they’re essentially looking for positive signals to help them determine which business is the best. The company’s latest report also shows that consumers are reading more reviews than ever — 85% read up to 10 — so having as many as possible can have a major impact on dwell time.
Blogging: Chances are you don’t update your procedures or credential pages very often so why would potential patients visit them more than once? Blogging, on the other hand, is designed to provide fresh content on a regular basis, which Google considers better than “stale” content, an important factor in determining quality. Whether you write it yourself or delegate the job, blogging also invites extended reading (and increased engagement when you include links and sharing buttons).
Special offers: Ideally, the content on your practice website will leave visitors wanting to know more. Offer it — an e-article, a free consultation or invitation to a special event, for example — by way of a form that collects their contact information. The time they spend inputting it is a great indicator of their intent even as it provides the information you need for follow-up messages.
The right content creates a virtuous circle
The time visitors spend on your practice website may not be one of Google’s official ranking factors but whether or not people stick around still sends signals about those visitors’ on-site experiences. If they stick around, the assumption is they found what they were looking for, data that can be factored into subsequent searches. The result is a virtuous circle where good content leads to better rank, which leads to more traffic that gets exposed to that content.