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Four Pillars of Successful Internet Marketing

Social media and reviews count more than ever before.
By: David Evans, PhD, MBA

Times have changed, especially when it comes to how we make buying decisions. We have effectively ceased making any decisions about major purchases, including aesthetic surgery, without first consulting the Web. This change in buying behavior is cause to reevaluate your practice’s digital marketing strategy.

Success depends on four pillars to buttress your Internet presence: Responsive design; Engaging social media; Positive reviews from third-party sites; Effective search engine optimization (SEO).

Pillar No. 1:

Is your website “responsive”?

Your site must be easily viewed on all desktop, mobile, and tablet platforms; have location and open hours easily accessible; and have clear marketing messaging. Mobile visibility is also important from a search engine standpoint. Google announced in October that it was developing a “Mobile-First” index, which means that rankings for your website will be based on your mobile site, regardless of how good the content, engagement, interaction, time on site and bounce rate of your desktop site are. This ties pillar No. 1 very tightly to pillar No. 4.

Pillar No. 2:

Is your social media strategy effective?

Fully 78 percent of households with incomes in excess of $75,000 per year use Facebook regularly, according to Pew Research. Not only do members of this cohort have disposable income, they are using Facebook to educate themselves about you and your practice. It is important that you regularly post content that is educational or entertaining to keep them engaged. Too many practices go down the wrong path by not posting enough or by only posting about a procedure, a special or a new technology. The best strategies consist of regularly timed but varied posts; the majority specifically for engagement and a limited number for promotion of services. In today’s social environment, the number of followers is much less important than the degree of engagement. Followers can be bought, but engagement must be earned.

Pillar No. 3:

Is your review strategy solid?

Reviews for doctors and dentists are second only to restaurants and travel as the most widely read by consumers during the buying process, says BrightLocal. A negative review can have a devastating effect on your patient flow, while a steady stream of positive reviews can significantly grow patient population and revenue. Your bullet-proof reviews strategy must include an automated and easy way to solicit positive reviews on third-party reviews sites (Yelp!, Google, Healthgrades, Vitals, etc.), as reviews captured only on your website are nothing more than testimonials. You also need an automated way to publish positive third-party reviews on your practice site. You don’t want your prospective patients to leave your site to look for reviews on other sites where your competitors are listed. An automated method of monitoring new reviews is also a must. Review alerts give you a heads-up on how consumers perceive your practice. Once you know what reviews are circulating, be proactive in your responses. As reviews become more important, Google is placing higher importance on these factors for ranking.

Pillar No. 4:

Is your SEO up to date?

Google changes its algorithm more than 600 times a year and evaluates 200 different variables to establish rankings. SEO is no longer a “canned” service that can be applied equally to all practices in all markets. Even if your site ranks well now, dozens of other competitors in your market want your rankings and traffic, and are striving to take them every day. SEO is a battlefield.

SEO must include unique content creation, onsite key word structure analysis and updates, back-link development, and citation management. To learn how good a digital firm is at SEO, check the rankings of their aesthetic clients in other markets. Do they rank well for procedure-related searches? Do the links lead back to correct pages? For example, the tummy tuck page should rank on Google and bring consumers directly to the tummy tuck section of the website. Too often, the homepage ranks, not the information on the procedure or service. This tactic causes prospective patients to bounce and move on, not schedule a consult.

David Evans, PhD, MBA, is the CEO of Ceatus Media Group,
based in San Diego. He can be reached at