Categories
SEO

The Right Content Architecture For Plastic Surgeons

SEO is relatively simple: if your content is findable, usable, relevant, and helpful to your users, you improve your chances of getting traction and higher rankings on the search engines. But if there's one aspect that can significantly increase those chances, it's your site's content architecture.

I've often talked about creating good content as a foundational SEO strategy (i.e., it's relevant and helpful). But creating good content is not enough. That's why I've also stressed that creating a good user experience in consuming that content is just as important (i.e., it's findable and usable).

In fact, a hot topic in SEO is the upcoming Google update. This May, Google will start looking at — and ranking pages according to — specific user experience signals. These signals, called Core Web Vitals, include load speed, interactivity, and stability. Other vitals include safety, security, and accessibility.

However, those are primarily technical and design-related, and only a tiny piece of the UX pie, let alone the SEO pie. Content structure is another, and it's one that many SEO experts ignore, forget, or pass off as less important.

Disorganization is a Bad UX Signal

When I conduct plastic surgery SEO audits, I often find that the site's content is disjointed, with no apparent theme or structure. It's also hard to navigate, and finding information can be challenging.

Most plastic surgeons have websites that describe their surgical services. But these services are listed randomly and linked in no particular order. Sometimes, pages are tucked away and easy to miss.

Also, some of those sites contain unrelated content, such as the clinic manager's personal blog, pictures from the nurses' birthday parties, non-surgical alternatives (like dermal fillers and injectables), and the doctor's research papers published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

All these things, in and of themselves, are not bad. The issue is that the content is all over the place. There's no clear organization of ideas, or the navigation impedes the user journey, making it hard for the user to find the information they want. Here are some examples:

  • The navigation menu is large and overwhelming with countless links;
  • The menu contains just a few links, missing key sections or pages; or,
  • Navigation is fragmented across the page, forcing users to search.

Sometimes, the content architecture isn't to blame. The issue is poor navigation. Other times (and it's most of the time), the issue is the lack of structure.

Introduction to Content Architecture

Organizing your content architecture is foundational to improving your site's user experience and SEO — both independently and interdependently.

Not only does an organized website offer a pleasant user experience, which sends good SEO signals, but it also creates topical relationships, makes related topics easier to identify, and provides meaningful context, all of which boost those signals considerably.

To explain how content architecture works in helping SEO, let's take a look at the most common ones. There are essentially five types of content architecture:

  1. Flat (single tier) architecture;
  2. Tunnel (sequential) architecture;
  3. Pyramid (hierarchical) architecture;
  4. Silo (topical/thematic) architecture;
  5. Any combination of the above.

Flat Architecture

A flat architecture is where all the pages reside on the main level. All the pages seem to be on one single tier under the root domain. Depending on the situation, this allows for shorter URLs and can be an effective SEO practice.

It looks something like this:

domain.com/page1/
domain.com/page2/
domain.com/page3/

Tunnel Architecture

A tunnel architecture is where there's a home page, and all subpages are only accessible in sequence. Many membership sites, ecommerce sites, graduated learning portals, and applications use this type of linear architecture.

It's also called “strict hierarchy” because there's only one way to access subpages, and that's from the main page. For example:

domain.com/page1/
domain.com/page1/page2/
domain.com/page1/page2/page3/

Pyramid Architecture

The pyramid architecture is the one that's the most common and the one Google has publicly stated it prefers on several occasions. (Although, the “silo” structure is related to the pyramid and better for SEO.) This structure uses a multilayered organization of ideas with multiple tiers like a pyramid.

domain.com/tier1/
domain.com/tier1/page1/
domain.com/tier1/page2/
domain.com/tier1/page3/
domain.com/tier1/tier2/
domain.com/tier1/tier2/page1/
domain.com/tier1/tier2/page2/
domain.com/tier1/tier2/page3/

Silo Architecture

The silo architecture is the one SEOs recommend, including me. The goal is to group content according to themes or topics. You can do this either physically (i.e., using folders and subfolders) or virtually (i.e., the structure is flat, but pages are grouped using breadcrumbs, navigation menus, and internal links).

Each silo represents a topical cluster (i.e., at the top is the head topic and child pages are subtopics), and each silo can have its own pyramid. For example:

domain.com/silo1/
domain.com/silo1/page1/
domain.com/silo1/page2/
domain.com/silo1/page3/
domain.com/silo2/
domain.com/silo2/page1/
domain.com/silo2/page2/
domain.com/silo2/page3/

Using the silo architecture, you can easily create content relationships that:

  1. Make it easier for users to find information;
  2. Make it easier for Google to crawl information; and
  3. Give topics more context, weight, and relevance.

More importantly, silos make navigation more logical and orderly, and they reduce the time it takes for visitors to learn how to navigate the site. Either you group navigation menu items together according to silos, or you can direct people to pillar pages that drill down into more specific content.

Structural Changes = Site Migrations

If you have a small website (up to 100 pages), this will be fairly simple, depending on your content management system (CMS). For example, I've described the process of how to create a simple silo structure in WordPress.

But if your site is large (100 pages or more) or you plan on growing it, or if you need to carry out extensive redesign work to implement the changes, then hire an SEO expert to properly roadmap the switch and oversee its implementation.

Either way, changing your site's architecture is a process that requires careful planning and execution. Regardless of size, follow these important steps:

  1. Research the important topics of interest to your audience for which they are actively searching. (Creating silos willy-nilly defeats the purpose and will work against you from an SEO perspective.)
  2. Define the pillar pages and supporting pages (i.e., head topics and subtopics, or hub-and-spoke content, if you will) based on that research. (At this point, you may have a good idea of pages you need to create.)
  3. Create an inventory of your current pages, audit the keywords for which each one is currently ranking, and define their relevance according to the topical map you've just created — i.e., do they fit within the clusters you've defined, or do they need to be updated, consolidated, or removed?
  4. Connect the pages accordingly and in a way that makes sense to your users' journey (e.g., tiered folders, internal links, breadcrumb menus, navigation menus, landing/entrance pages, and so on).
  5. Finally, implement the changes while preserving existing rankings:
    • Redirect any old pages to their new or consolidated pages;
    • Redirect former URLs to the modified URLs or page locations;
    • Update broken links and redirects to their new destinations;
    • And notify referring websites to update their backlinks.

If you're a nerd and want to get into the nitty-grittiness of data-driven content architectures, I highly recommend checking out my friend and SEO scientist Jim Thornton whose expertise on this is quite insightful.

Choosing Appropriate Plastic Surgery Silos

Most plastic surgeons will have their content grouped (or divided) into five content areas, or what I call the five “Ps” of plastic surgery:

  1. People (e.g., doctors, staff, clinic, patients, postop photos)
  2. Problems (e.g., wrinkles, fat, hairloss, sagging skin, eye bags)
  3. Procedures (e.g., nose job, facelift, liposuction, breast implants)
  4. (Body) Parts (e.g., arms, eyelids, stomach, neck, breasts, butt)
  5. Products (e.g., creams, garments, supplements, injectables)

Silos can be either one or a combination of the above.

Choosing the silos for your specific audience may depend on several factors. For example, a surgeon specializing in facial plastic surgery will have a different approach (let alone audience) than a full-body surgeon who also offers supplemental non-surgical services like Botox® injections.

There's also the question of personal preference.

For instance, do you prefer attracting an uninformed audience and educating them? Or do you want to go after an informed one who's shopping around?

Is your ideal patient someone who has had procedures done before (and they want more or want to fix what they had done)? Or is it someone who has never had anything done at all looking to have plastic surgery for the first time?

Consider Your Users' Awareness Level

So choose silos that present content in a way that matches what your users are searching for and delivers it according to their level of awareness.

I created a formula called OATH to remind me of what type of content will best respond to an audience's search query. OATH is an acronym that stands for oblivious, apathetic, thinking, and hurting. More specifically, OATH means:

  1. Oblivious: they're unaware of the problem or its possible solutions.
  2. Apathetic: they're aware but uninterested in any specific solution.
  3. Thinking: they're interested and considering several solutions.
  4. Hurting: they've decided on a solution and validating their choice.

The oblivious are the hardest ones to go after. They may be unaware of a problem (or the reason they have it), and they don't know how to fix it. They just started their research and will require the most education. They will be the ones who will take the most time until they've decided to approach you.

The hurting ones, on the other hand, are the lowest hanging fruit. They know what they want and how to get it. At this point, they're looking for information that will confirm their choice or disconfirm alternatives.

In terms of SEO and your choice of silos, the awareness spectrum's oblivious end will have a more informational search intent. In contrast, the hurting end will be more investigational or transactional, perhaps even navigational.

To give you some examples, let's take three areas (i.e., hair, eyelids, and abdomen) and the kinds of questions each awareness level will likely ask.

Educate the Oblivious

Your content will be primarily educational, answering questions like:

  1. “Is baldness hereditary?”
  2. “What causes droopy eyelids?”
  3. “Does skin shrink after pregnancy?

Engage the Apathetic

Your objective is to help them understand the ways to solve their problem.

  1. “Can I regrow my hair?”
  2. “Is there a way to fix my droopy eyelids?”
  3. “How to tighten my sagging tummy skin?”

Nurture the Thinking

Your goal is to provide information about the procedure they're considering.

  1. “Are hair transplants permanent?”
  2. “What are the risks of eyelid surgery?”
  3. “Will I have scars after a tummy tuck?”

Assure the Hurting

Finally, your content aims to help them choose and validate their choice.

  1. “Best hair transplant doctor in Toronto”
  2. “Blepharoplasty before and after photos”
  3. “Dr. Jane Doe abdominoplasty reviews”

Group And Link Content Accordingly

Deciding on the best architecture is easier when you know your ideal audience, what information they need, and how you want to approach them.

For instance, say you want patients looking to undergo their first procedure (i.e., they're aware or apathetic). Your silos may revolve around the problems they're encountering (e.g., wrinkles) or the body parts you treat (e.g., face).

But let's say your patients are more sophisticated or have had plastic surgery done before. Your silos, then, may revolve around the procedures you offer (e.g., rhytidectomy) or the people involved (e.g., before-and-after photos).

Sometimes, your silos can be a combination of both. For example, some of my clients have chosen a procedure-based architecture but include a navigation menu that lists the conditions such procedures treat.

Once you've made your choice, the next step is to define your silos and group your content around them. So if you choose procedures as your theme and mammoplasty as a topic, then your pages might look like this:

/mammoplasty/
/mammoplasty/breast-augmentation/
/mammoplasty/breast-lift-mastopexy/
/mammoplasty/breast-reduction/
/mammoplasty/risks-and-recovery/
/mammoplasty/costs-and-considerations/
/mammoplasty/questions-and-answers/
/mammoplasty/patient-result-photos/

Keep in mind that, with a typical CMS, you have your main pages and your blog section. You can organize your pages under topical silos, set blog categories as silos for posts, and connect them by crosslinking with each other.

The key is to create contextual relationships between your content where it makes sense. Other than menus, choose select keywords in your content as anchor texts from which to link. Think of Wikipedia, where links go to other articles that delve deeper into particular subtopics.

Following the above example, you might have blog posts under the “breast surgery” category that link to/from the above pages, such as:

/breast-surgery/what-size-implants-are-best-for-me/
/breast-surgery/can-mammoplasty-fix-uneven-breasts/
/breast-surgery/12-breast-surgery-speed-recovery-tips/
/breast-surgery/can-some-breast-implants-cause-cancer/
/breast-surgery/permitted-exercises-after-breast-surgery/
/breast-surgery/breast-reconstruction-after-mastectomy/
/breast-surgery/eight-questions-to-ask-your-surgeon/
/breast-surgery/how-to-prepare-for-breast-surgery/

Ultimately, if you have a website right now and want to improve your visibility, authority, and traffic, and if your content is all over the place with little to no structure, consider organizing your content under silos.

Categories
SEO

How to Create Awareness With Your Content Funnel

In marketing, there are different levels of buyer awareness or “marketing awareness stages.” They go from one end of the spectrum where buyers are unaware of the problem they're experiencing (or will experience), to the other end where they are fully aware and intend to solve that problem.

It is critically important to know and understand this about your market so you may build brand awareness. That's why I created an acronym called OATH, which means the buyers are:

  1. Oblivious about the problem.
  2. Apathetic about the problem (i.e., they're aware but don't care).
  3. Thinking about the problem (i.e., they're considering solutions).
  4. Hurting (i.e., they want the problem solved).

When I teach the OATH formula, I tell my students to think of it as, “How prepared is your market to take an oath?” It's a simple way to remember.

In fact, I use mnemonics often. And since learning that I have ADHD and that it affects short-term memory, I now know why I love using acronyms and mnemonics so much. They're tremendously useful tools.

I came up with the acronym to help me remember. But I got this idea after reading Eugene Schwartz' magnum opus Breakthrough Advertising, in which he discusses the five levels of market sophistication. In short, they are:

  1. The Claim
  2. Amplify The Claim
  3. The Mechanism
  4. Amplify The Mechanism
  5. Market Identification

Here's a summary (also, this video explains it well)…

At the first level, the consumer is completely unaware of the product. So when marketing to them, you're going to be making a claim.

The second level is where they're aware of your claim. But they're also aware of your competitors' claims, too. So now you need to elevate your claim and make it better than the competition.

At the third level, you need to more than just better. You need to differentiate and make your claim stand out. You need to educate your market about your “unique mechanism,” according to Schwartz, or your USP.

Level four is where competitors are all doing the same. Everyone has a USP or unique mechanism. So now your goal is to prove the superiority of your mechanism and elevate it over others.

At the fifth and final level, this where a saturated market becomes skeptical, jaded, and numb. Your goal is to identify with your market, to create relationships with them, so they buy, remain loyal, and even evangelize for you.

These five levels are essentially the stages through which new products and services enter the market and become adopted.

But I prefer to be problem-centric than product-centric.

The reason I specifically created my personal formula was not just for helping me remember but also for helping me strategize how to approach, educate, and persuade audiences based on their awareness stage.

Not to boast (well, maybe I am a little), but I created this formula back when I taught marketing management in college, circa 1999-2000. The concept of “marketing funnels” wasn't as popular back then.

But I can't take credit for the idea. Remember, Schwartz wrote about it in 1966. Some even contend that the AIDA formula predates it when Elias Lewis first mentioned it in 1898 (i.e., Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action).

Whether it's AIDA, sophistication levels, OATH, levels of buyer awareness, or marketing awareness stages, or whether it's marketing funnels, content funnels, customer journeys, or sales pipelines, it's all essentially the same.

You're breaking down the buying journey into distinct stages and moving the buyer through them. It doesn't matter what you call them.

Today, the common marketing lingo, especially in SaaS circles, is “top of funnel” or TOFU (not the soybean curd kind), “middle of funnel” or MOFU, and “bottom of the funnel” or, you guessed it, BOFU.

(I'm French-Canadian. “BOFU” sounds like a clown's name to me.)

I like this explanation a little more because funnel sections often describe the four types of content that will serve as catalysts throughout the buyer's journey.

Before people hit the funnel — let's call them “out of funnel” or OOFU (I'm creative, I know) — they are oblivious, completely unaware of the problem. At TOFU, they are now aware of it. At MOFU, they are aware of the solution, too. And at BOFU, they are now product or service aware.

Therefore, the goal of your content should be to take your audience from being unaware of the problem (i.e., they're oblivious) to being fully aware and in need of the solution (i.e., they're hurting). To take them from unaware, to problem aware, to solution aware, and eventually to product aware.

What does this mean to you?

It means that, when you're creating a content marketing strategy, particularly thought leadership, remember that each piece of content has a goal and serves a purpose, which is to raise awareness and, ultimately, drive actions.

If you have funnelized your marketing, which you should, then you know what content you need. If not, here's an example to give you an idea.

OOFU (Oblivious) Content

This is content that invites your audience to come forward and enter your funnel. They want to know more about the problem they're experiencing.

By now, if they're not aware of the problem (the real problem), it makes no sense to hit them over the head with your solution right away. They're not hurting yet — or better said, they're not aware they're hurting.

For example, if you want to specifically target people with hairloss, saying you're the best surgeon will fall on deaf ears — particularly if they're not interested in doing something about their hairloss. (Remember, hairloss is not the problem.)

When I wrote ads for these doctors, the best headlines were not the ones that said, “we offer advanced hair transplant procedures” or “the most natural-looking results.” The best ones more often than not said, “Do you have hairloss?” Or better yet, “Are you suffering from hairloss?”

As a doctor, I would recommend writing articles about the causes of hairloss and helpful tips on how to treat it — including all the solutions possible. The goal is to get those who are interested to raise their hands and ask for more information (i.e., to enter your funnel).

TOFU (Apathetic) Content

This is content that, once inside your funnel, teaches your audience about why they need to do something about their problem. You're exploring the problem in depth, the risks involved, and the gravity of the problem (or of ignoring it).

You can write an article such as:

  • “10 reasons to consider hair restoration,”
  • “7 factors that make you a candidate for surgery,”
  • “The risks and costs of hair transplant procedures.”

Remember, hairloss is a problem but not the real problem. In this scenario, they've entered your funnel so they've admitted their hairloss bothers them. Outdated procedures with less-than-desirable results are the problem.

The goal is to get them to care about it. It's to take them to the next level where they're aware your solution, which is more advanced, more natural-looking, less risky, etc than the alternatives.

MOFU (Thinking) Content

Your content introduces the solution, makes them aware of the benefits, and motivates them to consider solving their problem.

Essentially, they want to do something. While they're considering the solutions, the goal is to get them to think about your solution. Therefore, your content needs to point out what makes your solution the ideal solution for them.

Using the same example above, you can educate them about your procedure, what makes it better than others on the market, and what are the specific results it produces. This is your “unique mechanism,” a la Schwartz.

For example, if you use powerful microscopes to transplant microscopic follicles instead of traditional, unsightly plugs, this is where you can discuss it and offer more detail in order to differentiate yourself.

BOFU (Hurting) Content

They're hurting and want to solve their problem. So your goal is to move them into action. You want to provide them with enough information to help them decide (e.g., case studies, social proof, ROI, etc).

For example, that doctor can explain pricing, share before-and-after photos, answer objections, describe what to expect, offer financing options, and discuss next steps — such as how to book the surgery.

A final point and a caveat.

In the end, remember that these are just examples and not the example. Plus, these stages are not perfect. The lines between them often blur, and they're not meant to fit people into neat little boxes or put labels on them.

A common objection I get is, “Where does my client fit in?” Or, “What if [this] or [that] puts them in one category when they should be in another?”

The thing to remember is, knowing your audience's different marketing awareness stages does not mean you must define your audience according to one specific stage or to fit them neatly into one stage more than any other.

It's to understand what they need in terms of information to help them get to the next level and eventually solve their problem — and to give it to them.

Categories
Copywriting

Remember These 5 Copywriting Formulas

I used to teach marketing and selling at a local college here in Ottawa. And one of the things I used to help teach with — I also use them all the time when I want to learn and remember new things, too — was mnemonics.

Mnemonics are tools or devices that aid retention.

Do you remember the little ditty to remember all the planets' names, taught mostly in kindergarten? It goes, “My very eager mother just served us nine pizzas,” where the first letter of each word represents the name of each planet in our solar system (i.e., Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto).

Songs, rhymes, formulas, pictures, alliteration, etc are often used as mnemonic devices. But my favorite form of mnemonic are acronyms. You've probably seen a few of them on this blog. That's because I often use acronyms to teach about copywriting.

I do this to help you remember, appreciate, and understand the process I go through when I write copy. Here they are, with their meaning (plus, each mnemonic is linked to its respective article on this blog, covering the formula in more detail):

1. UPWORDS Formula

“Universal picture words or relatable, descriptive sentences.”

“Up words” are picture words, mental imagery, metaphors, analogies, examples, allegories, etc so that all people in a given target market can quickly, easily, and intimately relate to and grasp, in their minds, your message and its meaning. More »

2. QUEST Formula

Qualify, Understand, Educate, Stimulate, and Transition.

As if your readers are going “on a quest” so to speak, it's the process your prospects go through when reading your sales copy. In addition to the famous AIDA formula used in advertising (i.e., attention, interest, desire, then action), it guides people as they progress through your copy until they take the prescribed action. More »

3. FAB Formula

Features, Advantages, and Benefits.

Simply, this one is to not only help remember but also understand what true benefits are. Features are what products have. Advantages (what people often mistakenly think are benefits) are what those features do. But benefits are what they mean — at a personal, intimate level. They are real benefits. You can also call them “end-results.” More »

4. OATH Formula

Oblivious, Apathetic, Thinking, or Hurting.

It's like asking, “Is your prospect ready to take an oath?” They are the four stages of your market's awareness. From not knowing they have a problem at all, to desperately seeking a solution, your market falls in either one of these. Knowing this helps to determine not only how to write your copy but also how much copy is warranted. More »

5. FORCEPS Formula

Factual, Optical, Reversal, Credential, Evidential, Perceptual, and Social proof.

Finally, these are the various proof elements you can include in your copy. While proof is always important in building trust, credibility, and believability, this is particularly helpful when your product is new or unheard of. Proof is the single greatest requirement in all sales copy, especially online — the lack thereof is the biggest killer of sales, too. More »

Of course, these are not the only mnemonic devices I've used on this blog. I'm sure you've seen a few more from time to time. But take some time to read them, perhaps even print them out and have them handy as you're writing your copy.

How about you? Do you have any formulas, mnemonic, or even acronyms you refer to to help you write your copy? I'd love to hear about them, and why you use them.