It’s often said that rank has its privileges — and nowhere is that more true than in the results Web users see when they conduct online searches. Simply put, when your practice website appears higher on search engine result pages (SERPs), you’re more likely to enjoy the “privilege” of having patients click through to your site.
Sounds obvious, right? In a way it is but a study conducted by Slingshot SEO has quantified just how much impact a page 1 ranking can have. Analyzing the behavior of more than 170,000 visitors across more than 600 non-branded keywords, the company found that, on Google, the clickthrough rate (CTR) for a Position 1 ranking was 18.2% vs. 10.05% for Position 2, 3.09% for Position 5 and a measly 1.04% for Position 10.
For searches on Bing, the comparable results were 9.66% for Position 1, 5.51% for Position 2, 1.85% for Position 5 and 0.45% for Position 10. While the numbers for Bing are significantly lower than those for Google, the study goes on to point out that the demographics for those who use the former skew older and female — valuable marketing information for an industry with a similar target market.
Either way, the study provides compelling evidence that even at a time when the use of social media is skyrocketing, search still plays an important role in how patients pursue their cosmetic surgery research. And if those results are influencing their decisions, your practice website should be right there among them.
1. SEO isn’t the answer but it is part of the solution
Given the complexity and shifting calculations that go into search engine algorithms, it’s all but impossible to beat the system — and beware “experts” who suggest they can. Instead, consider SEO part of a larger effort that includes email, posting on social media sites and engaging with potential patients on sites like RealSelf.com.
2. Own your name everywhere it appears
Whether you use Facebook or not, tweet hourly or not at all, it’s still a good idea to stake out space on all the major social media platforms with your name and/or that of your practice. When someone searches on your name, owning @yourpractice, facebook.com/yourpractice, etc., will fill those precious spots at the top of Page 1. As a bonus, it may also push any negative results further down in the rankings.
3. Support your SEO with quality content and clean design
The highest SERP position in the world isn’t worth a thing if consumers click through to your practice website and are greeted with slow load times, sloppy design and content that puts them to sleep. Fresh content, timely information and social pages will not only deliver the relevance that search engines factor into their rankings but also build trust among visitors and encourage them to stick around.