Cosmetic Surgery and Organic Search: For Both, It’s the Results that Count

SEO SERP page rankIt’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.

Doctor Takeaways

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.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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  • http://www.mikewilton.com/ Mike Wilton

    On one hand, I want to thank you for this post, mostly because your doctor takeaways are spot on.  On the other hand, I want to cry a little because this post like so many in the elective surgery marketing realm help fuel the doctor obsession with #1 rankings.  Which is frustrating because I think everything you guys have been putting out on this blog has been stellar and goes against the grain of what most marketers in our niche are filling doctors’ heads with these days.

    The fact of the matter is, rankings are a dying metric.  Personalization, localization, social media, these all impact what we see in our search results.  And in a recent study we found that at least 8% of all cosmetic surgery related searches are personalized (http://www.plasticsurgerystudios.com/blog/seo/8-percent-of-cosmetic-surgery-searches-personalized/).  Rankings can help you gauge how your content is seen by the search engines to a degree, but ultimately it’s a less reliable metric to chase when compared to traffic and your overall online presence.

    Will #1 rankings drive traffic to your site? Sure, but oftentimes doctors obsess over this so much that they fail to focus on any other means of generating traffic to their site.  This is caused in part, I believe, by the fact that for some reason this little niche we work in is still beating them in the head with rankings, rankings, rankings while the rest of the SEO world is putting more emphasis on the bottom line and building traffic to a site with the aid of an overall online presence.

    Rankings aren’t dead, SEO isn’t dead, but I think it is a disservice to doctors to continue to preach to them about rankings when the world surrounding rankings has changed so drastically over the last few years that it makes rankings so much less reliable.  Not to mention I have seen doctor sites live and die by the search engines since they care only about being #1 for said term only to be wiped off the face of Google with an algorithm update and no other means of referral traffic to support them while they try and fix whatever issue caused them to get hit in the first place.

    Again, I LOVE the doctor takeaways.  They address everything I mentioned above, but sadly the part about making SEO and rankings just one piece of your overall strategy comes toward the end of the article instead of in the meat of the article that is so heavily focused on rankings.

    • Roblovitt

      You raise very valid points, Mike, thanks for sharing them.

      Truth is, I think we’re more or less in agreement. Social media is changing the digital landscape so quickly, it’s all but impossible for any single strategy to succeed. I found the Slingshot study interesting for its analysis of the particular channel it addressed (SEO) but didn’t mean to suggest it should dominate doctors’ (or anyone’s) approach to online marketing.

      Of course, it’s equally true that some people will view this post as an endorsement of the idea that a high ranking is Job #1, which, of course, was not its intent. Hopefully, they, too, will, read on to the takeaways to get the larger point.

      Bottom line, we’re in the midst of huge changes in search, social media, etc., and it’s going to take time for the “dying metric” of SEO to succumb to its infirmities. Until it does, that first page — and the positions above the fold — are still going to hold some sway.