Smart Marketing: Supercharge Your Search Rank by Answering Questions Online

realself, search rank, answering questionsHonolulu plastic surgeon Larry Schlesinger, MD, FACS calls RealSelf “the 800-lb. gorilla of aesthetic searches” — and he means that in the nicest way.

In fact, he uses site’s Ask a Doctor feature — and the SEO juice it provides — as a way to rank higher for procedures and services he knows he wouldn’t rank as well for otherwise.

“Let’s say someone asks what the best treatment for gynecomastia is,” he says. “RealSelf already owns the best position for that so if I answer the question on RealSelf, then I also come up in the search results.”

The key, says Schlesinger, is to first analyze your doctor dashboard to see how you rank relative to other doctors in terms of answering questions on particular topics and then click on the appropriate links to answer additional questions: “You can hone in on the questions you need to answer in order to raise your position.”

Take, for example, a recent search for “breast augmentation Hawaii,” which returned the results in the screenshot above. Given RealSelf’s dominance in aesthetic searches, it’s perhaps not surprising that the site outranked the websites of individual practitioners, including Schlesinger’s.

The kicker, though, is what happens when a user clicks on the “Oahu Island Breast Augmentation Doctor Reviews, Cost …” link, which brings up the RealSelf page that lists local providers, along with the number of consumer questions they’ve answered and a handful of reviews.

In this case, it brought up the screen shot below, which shows Schlesinger atop the list because he’d answered the most questions on the subject. But, as he notes, the results would’ve been different just a day earlier.

answering questions, realself, search results

“Yesterday, I had 120 answers and I was in the No. 2 spot,” he says. “I now have 128 and I shot up to #1.”

In a nutshell, taking advantage of a tool like Ask a Doctor serve as an SEO multiplier. It not only provides an opportunity to appear in multiple positions — i.e., both your practice website and as a member of the RealSelf doctor community — but, handled strategically, can also help you appear higher in the SERPs than you would on your own.

“There are two things you have to do,” says Schlesinger. “You have to get reviews and you have to answer questions. If you do those two things, it increases RealSelf’s position, which then increases yours. It’s a symbiotic relationship.”

Doctor Takeaway

Place your content where it counts

Great content helps consumers make confident choices — but only if they can find it. And when it comes to organic search results, pages and pages of information buried on your practice website are unlikely to help since they won’t rank high enough to be seen. Better instead to take a more strategic approach to how and where you contribute your content: Look to see what sites are ranking well for the subject at hand and be present there.

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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