My website traffic didn’t drop overnight, but it was pretty close. From the beginning of April to the end of June 2019, the number of visitors to my website went from 11,800 users to 4,500 users. That’s a 62 percent drop. All thanks to Google, the premier search engine, releasing a wide ranging algorithm update on March 12.

YMYL (Your Money, Your Life)

This Google update affected many healthcare sites (including mine). The update is referred to as YMYL (Your Money, Your Life; searchengineland.com/google-may-use-different-ranking-weights-for-ymyl-type-queries-312525). Google wants to ensure that when it comes to your health, you see the results that are trustworthy, authoritative, and least likely to adversely affect your life. Government websites like the one for National Institutes of Health are considered trustworthy according to Google. They have not come to the same conclusion about my site, which includes weekly blog posts written by a board-certified plastic surgeon, i.e., me!

Does website traffic correlate with practice revenue?

So has this drastic drop in web traffic to my private practice website (realdrbae.com) affected my practice? The best way to quickly and easily assess a correlation between website traffic, ostensibly from consumers considering plastic surgery, and the health of my practice is to look at revenue. When comparing the first half of 2018 (before the Google update, when I had a robust flow of traffic to my website) to the first half of 2019 (after the update) my revenue actually went up 18.5 percent!

I was shocked by this realization! Why didn’t this significant drop in traffic affect my practice? Isn’t website traffic critical to success? Luckily I didn’t put all of my eggs in one basket (i.e., Google/website traffic) but instead shifted my marketing strategy a few years ago by utilizing multiple marketing channels. While it’s not much of a secret, my secret weapon is social media (instagram.com/realdrbae/). And considering that the single greatest source of referrals to my practice thus far in 2019 is social media (social media 28 percent, patient referrals 24 percent, internet searches 23 percent), I made the right decision to diversify my marketing.

Who would have ever thought that Google and a doctor’s website weren’t the most important sources for patient capture? But that doesn’t mean I can rest comfortably knowing that I’ve got social media in my corner and Google doesn’t matter anymore. Just because I was “right” this time in generating leads through social media, I have the same risk of losing engagement on social media if Instagram changes their algorithm. And they will.

So I need to continue building up my traffic on my website as a backup plan. But what if we could reduce our dependence on both platforms when one or both aren’t cooperating?

Email marketing

Patient traffic and engagement with website and social media are cyclical. It’s either feast or famine. But while it’s “feast,” always capture as many leads and patient contact info as possible. That way, when Google or Instagram deserts you (hopefully not at the same time), you won’t be left empty-handed. You’ll have a large email database for future email marketing regardless of how Google or Instagram are behaving.

So how do you capture contact info as quickly as possible? Offer the patient something of value in exchange for his/her name, email address, and phone number. No, that “something” is not an ebook or a subscription to your newsletter. Not tantalizing enough! (See ModernAesthetics.com/2018/10/) Pricing is that something. Provide pricing in exchange for contact information, preferably in an automated way, like on my website at realdrbae.com/pricing, and watch the leads roll in!