As a plastic surgeon, you are probably acutely aware of the challenges involved in attracting new patients. While you undoubtedly get some referrals from other medical professionals, as well as satisfied customers, many patients prefer to self-refer. When that happens, the prospective patient usually completes a Google search and starts making her way down the results in order. To ensure that you draw as many new patients as possible, then, you need to find your way to the top of the search results.

SEO for Plastic Surgeons

We will guide you step by step through our proven process to move your practice to that critical top spot. Before we get started, though, let’s take a look at why local SEO is so important for plastic surgeons.

3 Reasons Plastic Surgeons Should Invest in Local SEO

The Yellow Pages Are Out, Google Is In:

At one time, you could find new patients by taking out an ad in the Yellow Pages and waiting for prospects to call. Today, though, a stunning 97% of people search for local businesses online, and Google continues to dominate search.

Free Traffic:

Although its face is changing, advertising remains one of the biggest expenditures for many small businesses. By improving your Google rankings, you will have an ongoing stream of free traffic that you can convert into patients.

Swift Results:

National and international companies must wait, on average, 6 months to a year to see much movement in their Google rankings. As a plastic surgeon, though, you have one major advantage. You are competing only against other plastic surgeons in your immediate vicinity, not those located on the other side of the country. Many of your competitors have not yet begun to harness the power of local SEO. With a targeted campaign, you could reach the first page of Google local rankings in as little as 30 days!

Step 1: Determine Your Keywords

The first step of your local SEO campaign is simple. Make a list of keywords that describe your services. For example, you might try such keywords as “cosmetic surgery”, “tummy tuck”, and “facelift”. When your list is fairly complete, set up a free Google AdWords account.

You do not to start an ad campaign, but the AdWords account will give you access to Google’s free Keyword Planner tool. This allows you to input your chosen keywords and learn how much traffic they get. It also suggests additional related keywords that might not yet be on your list.

With this information in hand, you are ready to select exactly which keywords you will use. All keywords can be loosely categorized into 2 types:

  • Buying Intent: Buying intent keywords indicate that a prospect is imminently ready for your services. For example, a search for “breast reduction New Orleans” likely indicates someone who knows what she wants, and is looking for the right plastic surgeon to perform it.Your local SEO campaign should focus on buying intent keywords, since these produce the speediest results. Feature them on your homepage, and create your service pages around them.
  • Research Intent: Research intent keywords are used when a prospect is just shopping around. He might want plastic surgery in the future, but is not currently ready to have it done. For example, someone searching for “non-surgical rhinoplasty” might be unhappy with his nose, but is just starting to consider his options.Research intent keywords should be a lower priority, as they take a long time to drive conversions. Don’t get rid of them, though, as they are highly useful in blog posts and FAQs. These posts introduce you to prospects who might come to you when they are ready to have work done.

Step 2: Optimize Your Keywords

When you have your final list of keywords, it is time to optimize for them in 2 spots—your Google My Business page and your website. Here’s what to focus on:

Google My Business

Think of your Google My Business page as a sort of mini-website that will appear in the “Map” section of Google listings. It gives new prospects a short overview of your services, and increases your overall online presence. It can also boost your rankings quickly, as it is much easier to achieve high rankings with a Google My Business page than with a website.

For the best results, make sure these elements are accurate and complete:

  • Verification: You first need to claim your page and go through the Google verification process. When you see a checkmark and the word “Verified” next to your business name, you are ready to move forward.
  • NAP: Your NAP, or business name, address, and phone number, must be entirely accurate and consistent across the internet. Let Google know that yours is a local business by listing a local phone number instead of an 800 number.
  • Categories: Google requires categories to focus on services instead of results. Besides Plastic Surgeon, list any additional services you provide, such as Laser Hair Removal Service or Day Spa. Try to come up with 3 to 5 categories.
  • Description: The description is a brief overview of your practice that ends with a call to action. Keep it between 100 and 200 words in length, and use a format similar to: {Name of Practice} offers professional {cosmetic surgery and laser hair removal, or similar} in {Your City}. {Provide some information about your background and/or why patients love you.} Call {Phone Number} today for a free consultation!
  • Hours: Ensure that your office hours are up to date, and are consistent throughout all of your internet listings.
  • Images: Images can dramatically improve patient engagement, and show prospects that you do a great job. Add a few photos of your office, your staff, or your satisfied patients (with their permission, of course!). Your images must have a sharp focus, be sized between 10KB and 5MB, and have a minimum resolution of 720px x 720px. We also recommend replacing the generic Google My Business background image with a branded image.

Website Optimization

Start with your “core” pages, which are your homepage and service pages, making sure to optimize them for your buying intent keywords. Later, you can focus on your “content” pages, or FAQs and blog posts, which are optimized for research intent keywords. Here is what to focus on:

  • Homepage: The single most important element on your homepage is the title tag, which serves the same purpose as the chapter title of a book. It should be between 50 and 65 characters long, and formatted similarly to: Plastic Surgeon in {Your City} | {Name of Your Practice}.Next is the meta description, which lists your core services and ends with a call to action. Make sure it is 100 to 150 characters in length, and approximates this format: {Name of Practice} offers quality {cosmetic surgery and day spa services, or similar} in {Your City}. Call {Phone Number} today to schedule your free consultation!

    The H1, or visible headline, should be both concise and descriptive, and should include your primary category. This format works well: {Plastic Surgeon} in {City, State}.

    The last key element is your page copy, which should be 500 to 1000 words long, clear and descriptive, and well edited. Provide some background information about your practice, briefly explain your main services, and close with a strong call to action. Work in your primary keyword in a natural fashion.

  • Service Pages: Each primary service needs its own keyword-optimized page. Optimize each service page exactly as you did the homepage, making sure to substitute the relevant keyword.

Step 3: Collect Citations and Links

Now that the framework is in place, you are ready to collect citations and links. These boost your online reach and help to improve your Google rankings.

  • Citations: A citation is simply an online directory listing of your business NAP (name, address, and phone number). There are general national directories ( and Facebook), general local directories (Chamber of Commerce website), and targeted medical directories. Your NAP must be identical in every listing.Note that some directories charge a listing fee. Before spending the money, check Google Analytics. It makes no sense to invest in a site that does not drive traffic and conversions.
  • Links: Your Google rankings depend heavily on inbound links from authoritative websites. Focus on building relationships both online and in person with those who offer complementary services, from general practitioners to fitness centers, and then ask if you can trade links. Tools such as the Moz Open Site Explorer tool will show you where other local plastic surgeons are finding their links.

Step 4: Gather Reviews

Patient reviews serve a twofold purpose: they convince potential patients to try your services, and they let Google know that your practice is legitimate. All review sites can help, but for the fastest rankings boost, focus on Google My Business page reviews. Send an email to your satisfied patients with a link to your Google My Business profile, and ask them directly to write a review. Doing this regularly will ensure an ongoing stream of reviews.

Step 5: Track Your Results

The only way to know if your local SEO campaign is getting results, and to identify those areas that still need work, is to track your results. There are many different ways to analyze your data, but these 3 core metrics are the most crucial:

  • Rankings: Google customizes the search results that are displayed based on the user’s previous browsing behavior. This means that the only way to know your actual Google rankings is to use a tool. The free Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) is a great place to start. Ask your webmaster to install it, and check your results one or two times per month.If you want to dig deeper, consider a paid rank tracking tool. We like the one offered by RankRanger, which tracks Google My Business pages as well as webpages, and provides automatically updated ranking data from all of your SEO campaigns.
  • Traffic: To track your website visitors, or traffic, you can’t go wrong with Google Analytics. You can view your total traffic, the traffic for each individual webpage, and the percentage of visitors who reach you through Google search. Check your report once a month, keeping a lookout for long-term trends.
  • Conversions: A conversion is a specific action that you want your prospects to perform. For a plastic surgeon, this might be signing up for a free consultation. In Google Analytics, you can track both web and phone conversions, learn which of your services drives the most conversions, and find out which of your webpages have the lowest and highest conversion rates.

Ready to Go?

Now you understand why a comprehensive local SEO campaign is so important in driving more potential patients to your plastic surgery practice. Work through the steps in order, making sure to complete each one before starting the next. Here is a recap of the 5 steps:

  1.    Keyword research
  2.    Keyword optimization
  3.    Citations and Links
  4.    Reviews
  5.    Tracking

Want Help with SEO?

At Main Street ROI, we specialize in helping plastic surgeons attract more local patients through Google. If you’d like help with your SEO, contact us for a free quote.

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