November 2012: The Year in Review
This month marks the one-year anniversary of our newsletter. Here’s a review of the important topics we covered over the last 12 months – along with some important updates!
Our newsletter was launched in November 2011 to keep you up to speed with the rapidly changing world of Internet marketing. We’ve touched on a range of subjects over the past year, from Google updates to mobile search. In this month’s newsletter we revisit the important points and give you a look at where things are headed…
In our inaugural newsletter we provided you with a few simple actions that can improve your visibility on Google. Here they are.
First, conduct a test by typing in key search terms to determine where you and your competitors appear. Are you on the first page? If not, current and potential patients mostly likely aren’t finding you. Your practice should appear in a number of places, including the organic listings, directory listings, Google business listings, and PPC ads, among others. Next, make sure your contact information appears prominently. Finally, ensure that your website is giving patients what they want – including before and after photos and patient testimonials – because if you give your target audience what they are looking for, they will have no reason to look elsewhere.
Effects of Google Updates on SEO
Google continually updates the algorithm responsible for its search results, but some of the more recent updates attracted more attention than usual from mainstream media and resulted in significant changes to healthcare-related search results.
The first was the “Panda” update. Websites with highly redundant or duplicate content have been affected by this change. As time goes on and Google further refines its algorithm, duplicate content of any kind is likely to be a target. So if your practice website contains duplicate content, or if you purchased “canned” content that has also been sold to others, it’s time to address it; otherwise, your search engine rankings are in danger of being damaged.
The second was the “Freshness” update. In October of 2011 Google announced that it would favor websites whose content was timely and relevant. This update garnered a lot of attention and inspired much consternation in more than a few medical practices. But fortunately Google’s algorithm is sophisticated enough to recognize that the definition of “fresh” varies depending on the type of website. More to the point, a healthcare website containing information about surgical or dental procedures is not “expected” to have updates on a frequent basis. According to the chief of the Google Spam and Search division, quality links and targeted, unique content on specific pages of a website remain the backbone of Google rankings.
UPDATE: The Panda and Freshness updates were followed by another controversial update. Coined the “Penguin” update, this change has made professional-level SEO more important than ever.
The “Penguin” Google Update
One of Google’s most controversial actions of 2012 was the launch of an algorithm change – subsequently coined the “Penguin” update – which penalized websites for “over-optimization.” This update has been devastating to many practice websites.
The key objective of the Penguin update was to address the excessive use of the same key words, or similar content, on a given website or network of sites. If your rankings have fallen significantly (more than three or four positions), then your site may have been penalized.
To determine if your site is vulnerable to Google’s Penguin and other algorithm updates, it is best to enlist the services of an SEO expert who can look for the telltale signs of “over-optimization.” The difference between “good” optimization and “fatal” over-optimization has become increasingly nuanced; therefore, professional-level skills are more important now than ever.
Google’s changes are likely to continue as they compete with other online players for advertising revenue, so elective healthcare practices that rely on Google to drive prospective patients to their practice websites need to be nimble to weather the storm.
Internet-based Referrals and Directories
More and more patients are going online to locate doctors and other local businesses. Statistics from the Pew Research Center noted this trend and reported that a key cohort of elective surgery patients was (and is) the same age group that is using the Internet to find local businesses. Specifically, people between the ages of 18 and 40 – who account for a significant portion of the elective procedures performed in the United States – are more likely to seek or verify information using the Internet.
As this tech-savvy group grows older, it is unlikely that they will abandon the Internet. As for the younger generations, they already rely on the Internet for just about everything. It is also important to note that there is a growing trend toward Internet search even in the older age groups.
As a result, it is very important that your practice invest in Internet marketing and advertising, including directory listings. In May of 2012 we outlined 5 simple steps to guide you through the process of selecting a directory.
1. Start by searching like a patient. In other words, look for information on procedures. “Cost” and “before and after pictures” are the highest converting search terms, so if a directory doesn’t appear on the first page of Google’s search results for search terms like “dental implants cost” and “mommy makeover before and after,” it probably isn’t worth the investment.
2. Next, read the content. Is it credible and informative? If not, it will not help you convert potential patients.
3. Now analyze the directory. Is contact information easy to find in the listings? Are other top doctors listed?
4. Avoid long-term contracts. It shouldn’t take more than four to six months to determine if a directory is working for you, so there is no need to sign up with a company that requires a long-term contract.
5. Track performance. To assess the effectiveness of your listings, you need to have the ability to monitor visitors to your profile/website, as well as email leads and phone call leads. Directories that fail to provide this tracking data make it difficult to evaluate the return on your investment, so look into this before you sign up.
Back in February we introduced many of you to Google Places and gave you tips for setting up your account. By now, hopefully, many of you have done so.
Google Places listings now occupy much of the real estate at the top of the search results pages for search queries that affect doctors and dentists, such as “Seattle cosmetic surgery,” “cosmetic dentistry Los Angeles” and “Dallas LASIK.” This makes Google places a potentially great source of new patients and means that a properly established Google Places page is more important than ever.
Another program our newsletter touched on was Google Authorship. This tool, which allows website owners and the authors of articles to have a photograph next to their listings in the search results, gives you the opportunity to gain increased face time with prospective patients. If you’re lucky, you may even be the first doctor in your area to sign up for Google Authorship.
Google Authorship is an outstanding opportunity for practice branding. What could possibly be more important to your brand than your own image? If you are a Ceatus client, we have already begun the process of signing you up for this exciting program.
Social media has been called the 21st Century’s word of mouth. It is a great tool for engaging current patients, in turn increasing loyalty and encouraging them to refer their friends to your practice. Though Ceatus’ research shows only a small percentage of patients arriving directly from social media, there’s no denying that it is a growing means of communication. When it comes to visibility, it’s important to be where potential patients are, and this now includes social media platforms.
Perhaps the best news about social media is that it doesn’t take much to realize the maximum benefit. By simply establishing a quality presence on Facebook and Google+, you place your practice in front of millions of people — and thousands of potential patients.
Mobile search is an important part of the search community, and it’s becoming even more important as time goes on. A large percentage of local searches performed on mobile devices are accounted for by people in need of directions, phone numbers and quick recommendations for restaurants, bars, hotels and entertainment venues. But this doesn’t mean that people aren’t looking at elective medical practices on mobile devices. Mobile users are clicking through the websites of our clients and they are spending a similar amount of time on the sites and visiting a similar number of pages as they do on their PCs.
But though mobile search is on the upswing, Google may have something to say about it. Currently, Google does not recommend mobile websites, because these websites are placed on separate URLs (e.g. m.yourdomainname.com), and these additional URLs create significant clutter in the search database. Instead, they are recommending “Responsive Web Design,” which utilizes modified CSS code to display a website using a different configuration depending on the device, but using the same URL.
At present, we are following Google’s recommendations regarding mobile websites and therefore we are not recommending them to our clients. However, we do recommend that you determine if your regular website is mobile friendly. It’s relatively easy to check; go to your Google Analytics account and see if mobile users visiting your website are leaving your site because your design is incompatible with mobile devices. Feel free to contact Ceatus for help with this.
Content is still the key to both SEO and conversion.
Consumers turn to Google for information because they believe that Google’s search results will give them quality sources of information. The best way to become one of these sources is to “optimize” your site with unique content, because this is what Google rewards. Unfortunately, to this day there are still plenty of Internet companies selling the exact same website content to hundreds of clients! If you have been caught up in one of these scenarios, your website may not rank higher than the ninth or tenth page of search results.
The ultimate goal, of course, is to convert the people visiting your website into patients visiting your office. Unique content plays a vital role in this process, too. Unique, educational, well-written content keeps your visitors engaged; content that is generic, boring or “over-optimized” with keywords does not. Potential patients who are engaged by your content are more likely to contact you, and people who are well-informed when they arrive at your office are more likely to schedule a surgery.
Many consumers begin their healthcare research with large educational websites, so establishing an affiliation with a credible educational website is beneficial to you and your practice. The question is how to ensure that consumers will associate you with the site’s content, especially consumers who are not yet looking for a doctor. The answer is Geo-Targeting.
Geo-targeting is a technology that detects the location of a website visitor and displays local information to him or her. In 2011, Ceatus was the first company in the elective health care industry to “geo-target” its clients in all sections of its educational portals. Profiles of local doctors (Ceatus clients) were (and are) displayed on hundreds of consumer education articles relating to a vast array of medical and dental procedures. So, as consumers read about the procedures they are interested in, they also see doctors near them who can perform these procedures. This has led to a sizable increase in leads from prospective patients.
Ceatus has since also expanded its geo-targeting strategy to our before and after galleries and testimonials pages – the most heavily-visited pages – which has led to even more targeted leads for our clients.
It’s been a big year for the Internet industry, with many changes and also some challenges. So what are we to conclude from all this? The constantly evolving nature of the Internet landscape continues to create opportunities to brand your practice, as well as increase patient volume and revenue from the treatments your practice offers.
Read about our Case Study of the Month
Ask the experts
Q Should my website and SEO company have experience in my specialty?
A Yes. A firm that understands how your potential patients search online — as well as which website design and content factors drive patients to schedule consultations — provides the targeted approach you need, with the shortest possible timeline. No need for you to constantly monitor their activities — they already know how to market to your potential patients. As a result, you can focus on treating patients and running your practice. Most importantly, hiring a firm with experience in your specialty greatly lessens the chances of going the wrong direction with your website, and having to start all over one or two years down the road.
Events: Maximize Your Internet Strategy
Come by the Ceatus booth for a FREE website evaluation!
Greater NY Dental Meeting (GNYDM)
This year’s 88th annual Greater New York Dental Meeting (GNYDM) features an extraordinary and unparalleled educational program and is the largest dental event in the United States. With over 53,789 attendees from all 50 states and 132 countries, this event has attracted some of the most highly recognized educators in the dentistry field.
Ceatus CEO David Evans, PhD, will be giving a one-hour presentation titled “Perfect Your Online Presence” on November 27 at 12:45 p.m. in the Dental Tribune Pavilion, booth 523. Speak with one of our Internet marketing experts at booth 4810 and learn how you can increase conversion and bring new patients to your door!
The Cutting Edge Aesthetic Surgery Symposium
November 29, 30 & December 1
Ceatus Media Group will be exhibiting at this year’s The Cutting Edge Aesthetic Surgery Symposium, taking place in New York City on November 29, 30 & December 1, 2012 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The attendees at this symposium will include plastic surgeons, facial plastic surgeons and otolaryngologists from around the world. Ceatus Internet marketing experts will be available throughout the event to provide free SEO evaluations of your website’s Google potential.
CEATUS Case Study of the Month
Overview: Premiere Center for Plastic Surgery is a high-end surgery center in Tampa, Florida. Their comprehensive website offers information on the full range of plastic surgery procedures. Although the center was performing well financially, they wanted to enhance their financial performance by generating more patient leads.
Challenge: Specifically, Premiere Center for Plastic Surgery wanted to build more surgical revenue from its primary website, and to expand other online sources of patient leads for the high-end body and breast procedures. At the time Premiere contacted Ceatus, their website and SEO were being managed by a talented local Tampa firm. But because the firm had limited experience in plastic surgery, its ability to develop effective marketing strategies in the plastic surgery arena was limited.
Solution: Ceatus took over Premiere’s SEO and website maintenance and immediately began making changes to the site and building back links. Within several months of launching Premiere’s SEO program, the center achieved top-five rankings for the search terms “plastic surgery tampa” and “breast augmentation tampa” on Google — and online patient leads jumped.
After Ceatus’ success with Premiere’s primary site, the center strategized with Ceatus personnel to develop a plan to promote additional surgical revenue. Because the Ceatus staff has years of experience in marketing for plastic surgeons (many of whom are in Florida), Ceatus was able to quickly perform an analysis of the competitive online landscape for the body and breast procedures and develop a strategy to leverage the center’s strengths, including their profit centers. Ceatus suggested a focus on mommy makeover, a strategy that would combine two or three of their more profitable procedures.
Results: A striking new mommy makeover site was launched in the spring of 2012. This site immediately catapulted to the top of the rankings for the search term “mommy makeover tampa,” and related terms. This strategy, too, was a complete success.
It’s holiday season, and that means it’s time for friends, family, and parties! To help make your next holiday bash sparkle, pick your liquor and shake it up with your favorite vintage cocktail recipes! Below are a few to get you started.
1.5 oz vodka
3 lime wedges
1. Combine vodka and ginger beer in an iced glass and squeeze both lime wedges into the drink, discarding one and dropping the other in the drink.
2. Shake and strain on fresh ice into rocks glass.
3. Garnish with a lime wedge.
1.5 oz brandy
1 oz dark crème de cacao
1 oz half & half
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
1. In a shaker, combine the brandy, crème de cacao and half & half.
2. Add ice and shake well.
3. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with nutmeg.
1.5 oz gin
½ oz simple syrup
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
2 dashes of raspberry syrup or grenadine
white of one small egg
1. Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. (Note: Drinks with egg must be shaken more in order to blend the egg.)
2 oz bourbon or rye whiskey
1 oz simple syrup
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
1. Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an “old-fashioned” glass.
2. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.
1 oz vodka
1oz heavy cream
1. Combine in a cocktail glass and shake. Serve over ice.
1oz V.S.O.P. Cognac
1oz simple syrup
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
1. Shake the brandy, lemon juice and sugar with ice.
2. Strain into a champagne flute and fill with champagne.
1.2 oz grenadine
1.2 oz dark cacao
1.2 oz green crème de menthe
1.2 oz white crème de cacao
1.2 oz apricot brandy
1. Pour grenadine on the bottom, followed by dark cacao, green menthe, then white crème de cacao and finally brandy on top.
2. Pour carefully over the back of a spoon into a cordial glass.
3. Follow the ingredients in the order listed, layering one on top of the other: grenadine, dark cacao, green menthe, white cacao, apricot brandy.
Read about our Case Study of the Month
A picture is worth a thousand words…
Your practice website has roughly two to three seconds to make a lasting impression. These few critical seconds can mean the difference between someone contacting your practice or contacting your competitor.
Even people who learn about your practice through other means, such as word of mouth, turn to the Internet to verify and validate what they have heard – and to learn more about you. At Ceatus, we understand that at the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to convert online visitors into consultations, and we have an excellent track record of success achieving this goal. How do we do it?
The Focus Is on You
We understand that your website is a direct reflection of your practice, so we begin the process with a comprehensive discussion of your vision and objectives. With your vision in mind, our design team carefully crafts a website that captures your target demographic and conveys the message that your premier practice is better than your competitors.
Internet users associate a good website with good quality. At Ceatus, a good website is one that has an aesthetically pleasing design and drives potential patients to your practice. Our experienced designers combine design and search engine friendly coding to create the perfect fusion of beauty and function. And by including educational content on your website, we ensure that your prospective patients have the information they need to understand the surgical procedures you offer. It also ensures that they view you as the expert. Many of our clients have experienced a threefold increase in lead volume!
How We Do It…
Our design team is focused on ensuring that your website is aesthetically pleasing and creates a strong rapport with prospective patients. Visitors will find sections that highlight your areas of expertise while presenting an inviting welcome to your office.
And while an eye-catching design is important, having an attractive website is not enough to keep your visitors engaged. Even the most beautiful practice website is not valuable if no one sees it. At Ceatus, we understand the key elements of a successful practice website. Our award-winning design and SEO team ensures that each Ceatus website is search engine friendly, highly educational, easy to navigate, and visually attractive.
Contact Ceatus today to learn how we can make your premier practice website leave a lasting impression and drive prospective clients to your practice!