As a plastic surgeon, you want a steady flow of leads. Since the plastic surgery and cosmetics industries are hypercompetitive, the demand is certainly there and it’s possible to find an endless supply. The issue is who you’re competing with for those top spots on Google, and how to outrank them.
If you want to rank, focus on your users. But if you want to rank higher, focus on your competitors. Because the goal is not to beat Google or its algorithms, but to outrank your competitors.
I’ve often said that SEO boils down to two things, i.e., the quality of your content and the quality of the user experience. But I believe there’s a third important element, which I’ve talked about from time to time.
And if the content and UX are the best they can be, and if all things are equal, then this third SEO element becomes just as important if not more so when it comes to plastic surgeons and medical aesthetics.
Why? Because medical websites, which focus on “your money or your life” (YMYL), need this third element to factor in and heighten the level of E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) that they have.
So to sum up, SEO, for plastic surgeons, boils down to:
- The quality of your content;
- The quality of the experience; and,
- The quality of the signals to both.
So provide good content and a good experience in consuming that content, you’ve got a solid foundation. Next is to develop, optimize, and improve signals that show you have quality content and a quality user experience.
Like a three-legged stool, SEO needs all three. If you miss one of them, the stool will have a hard time standing up on just two legs.
Technical SEO refers mostly to the UX. While the goal is to ensure that your site is accessible, crawlable, and indexable by the search engines, it’s more than just having good code or a good host. There’s also site security, loading times, mobile-friendliness, site architecture, and so much more.
Of course, technical SEO aims to give search engine spiders the best possible “crawl” experience. But if you focus on your users and give users what they want, you will give Google what they want, too. Pretty simple.
Moreover, plastic surgeon and medical aesthetic websites are typically a little more challenging. They focus heavily on visuals, photos, and imagery, and they also focus on good design — after all, a website is often representative of the doctor or the practice behind it.
Remember the “Halo” and the “Horn” effect? Poor website designs often lead to the unconscious assumption there’s a parallel. Users will likely tell themselves, “If they can’t take care of their websites, how can they take care of me?”
From an SEO perspective, these heavy, visual-rich websites can be tricky in providing a good user experience. So a technical SEO expert will need to very cognizant of how this applies to plastic surgeons specifically when optimizing.
On-page SEO refers to the content. And good content means it gives the user the information they want. When they’re researching cosmetic procedures, not every piece of information they come across is the same. They want amazing information — information that’s both relevant and valuable.
The foundation of SEO is good content. It may not be what gets users to take action (although it certainly could). But good content is definitely what will get users to stick around, consume more, come back, build trust, and eventually book a consultation and buy from you.
For example, users want content that:
- Describes the procedures specifically;
- Tells them about the safety of the procedures;
- Answers any questions or concerns they may have;
- Explains who is a good candidate for the procedures;
- And of course, an idea of the investment needed.
Creating good content is relatively simple. If it’s fresh, useful, and relevant, chances are it will rank well. To do that, it obviously needs to be what users are searching for. But it’s less about matching keywords (and stuffing content with them) and more about topical relevance.
Keyword research is not about finding what search terms they use but about discovering what questions people are asking. Your goal is to answer them. If your content does a good job at doing so and a better one than your competitors, you will rank higher than them.
But if you’re not, chances are you’re missing the third element.
If you’ve done a good job at the first two, this is where a lot of the differentiation between you and your competitors can happen.
Off-page SEO refers to those signals that help to amplify the quality of the content and the user experience. I’m referring to E-A-T signals and authority-focused ones specifically. They are external signals that point out the level of authority of the site, the content, and its author (hence, “off page”).
So once you have done everything possible to rank well, such as taking care of technical SEO, having great content, being mobile-friendly, having a secure site, providing helpful information for your users, and so on, the next step is to increase the quality of the signals to the site and its content.
The most effective way is by promoting and sharing the content so that the world knows about it, talks about it, passes it around, and links to it.
Naturally earned and occurring backlinks and brand mentions are the strongest signals. But there’s also reputation management (like patient reviews) and local SEO (Google maps and directory listings).
Many doctors find online reviews frustrating because beauty is subjective, so negative reviews are common. They’re often hard to manage and remove, too.
But capturing all the citations possible and creating local accounts in key locations (such as RateMDS, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google My Business, Facebook Business, Bing Places, and others) provide an opportunity to:
- Get verified (possibly earning a trust seal and signal);
- Manage and proactively respond to reviews; and,
- Flag inappropriate ones more quickly and effectively.
So there you have it.
Some SEO experts tend to focus on one of these areas. Some are technical SEO experts (like web developers and coders). Others are on-page SEO specialists (many are content strategists). And some are off-page SEO experts (they do link building and content promotion among others).
A well-rounded SEO expert, or as I call them a 360° SEO expert, will focus on all three areas. Not all plastic surgeons need all three. Some already have great content, for example. But that’s where an in-depth SEO audit can help.