December 22nd, 2011 Mike Wilton
2011 has been a roller coaster ride for internet marketing. From Google’s Panda algorithm update in February and its eight subsequent tweaks (or twelve depending on your source), the introduction of SSL search and its impact on Google analytics, a number of adjustments to Google Places integration in the search results, and the continued emphasis on the social web with the introduction of Google+, this has definitely been a year to keep marketers and website owners on their toes. There has been a lot to keep on top of and Plastic Surgery Studios has been right there through it all, doing our part to keep our clients abreast of the latest trends and adapting our websites and internet marketing strategies to sustain our efforts through the long haul.
We know our clients our busy, and as the year winds down and our doctors take more time to focus on some downtime with family, we thought we would offer up the opportunity to share with you some of our top posts of 2011 (based on analytics).
Getting Social With Your Patients: Tips For Integrating Social Media Into Your Practice: For the best results in social media, you need to marry your offline world with the online world. Here are some tips on how to integrate social media into your medical practice.
How To Setup Your Google+ Page for Business: As the title states, this is your guide to setting up a Google+ Page for your practice. There are well over 100 plastic and cosmetic surgeons already on Google+, and it’s not too late to stake your claim. Google has been force feeding the world Google+ since it’s launch, making it vital to the internet marketing efforts of anyone with a website.
The New Google: Keywords are NOT Dead and SEOs Aren’t Monsters: My rebuttal to a recent article in PSP Magazine that demonized SEOs and misinformed hundreds, if not thousands, of plastic surgeons about recent changes to Google’s algorithm in regards to freshness of content. This topic was not only hot on the blog, but the original article had many of our doctors calling in for insight.
Doctor Reputation Management: To Sue, To Bury, or To Act: Reputation management is a hot topic among doctors. How you handle negative reviews on sites like Yelp, Google Places, or HealthGrades can make or break your reputation. We explore three common paths and suggest best practices for getting the most out of your negative reviews.
All Your DoctorBase Are Belong To Us: First, let me start out by explaining the title since even the founders of DoctorBase weren’t familiar with it. The title is a play off of the infamous online meme “All Your Base Are Belong To Us.“ This post focused on some misleading tactics that DoctorBase’s sales force was utilizing to try and improve the online reputation of some of the doctors they reached out to. The problem was that in doing so they would have destroyed the doctor’s local SEO efforts. A slew of the DoctorBase team quickly responded in the comments and cleared things up from a policy standpoint. Since then, I have had no negative run-ins with the company and our clients, and would even recommend the service for building up local citations and reviews for your practice.
Build A Better Plastic Surgery Website: Earlier this year, we took to the web and asked people what they would want most out of a plastic surgeon’s website if they were considering cosmetic surgery, and this is what we found people wanted most. If you’re thinking of redesigning your website in 2012, this is a must read.
Recent Updates to Facebook: The Cliff Notes Version: Facebook revealed a slew of updates at their annual F8 conference. If you missed it, here are the highlights, including an introduction to Facebook Timeline – the new Facebook profile.
Successfully Initiate Social Media Tasks By Integrating It Into Your Daily Business Practices: One of the biggest excuses doctors give when it comes to social media is that they don’t have time or no one in their practice has time. Here are some tips on integrating social media into your daily practices and a look at some of the most important tasks to focus on. If you’re looking to get more social in the coming year, start here!
New Google Places Search Results Make Completed Listings More Crucial Than Ever: One of the many changes to Google’s search results in 2011, here we explore why completed Google Places listings are crucial with the introduction of Google Places instant preview.
How To Link Google Analytics To Webmaster Tools: With the integration of Google’s SSL search, many websites were plagued with the (not provided) results in their Google Analytics. Thankfully, the top keyword data is still available in Webmaster Tools. This post shows you how to link the two to regain some of your lost data.
Effective Blogging: Content Creation, Optimization, and Distribution: Though blogging isn’t something new, it’s something we find many of our doctors still struggle with. Here is a look at how to effectively blog by creating quality content, optimizing it, and distributing it among your online channels.
The pace of updates and changes to the search engines and the state of internet marketing show no signs of slowing down in 2012, and I predict we’ll see even more as it pertains to Google+, local search, and the semantic web. As these changes arise Plastic Surgery Studios will continue to do its part to adapt to these trends and share the knowledge with the medical community. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter to keep abreast of the latest from our company and trends in internet marketing. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed and get updates from our blog in real-time.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our content over the last year, and we look forward to engaging with all of you more in the year to come. If there’s something you’d like us to cover more in 2012 or you have any questions, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
December 16th, 2011 Mike Wilton
It’s not news that Google search is ever changing, and as the search engines continue to evolve, personalization and localization are at the forefront. On October 18, 2011, Google implemented SSL encryption on its personalized search results, which prevented Google Analytics from tracking searches by logged in users. Personalized queries that deliver traffic now display as (not provided) in Google Analytics, so I decided to run some of the data on our client sites and find out, on average, the percentage of personalized searches that deliver users to cosmetic surgery websites.
I ran the data from the launch date of secured search on October 18, 2011 through December 15, 2011 on over one hundred websites and found that personalized search results ran as high as 33.3% of the total queries for a website and as low as 0.6%. The average total of visits that were generated through personalized results was 8.37%. The data also revealed that larger cities such as New York and Los Angeles seemed to deliver a higher percentage of personalized searches in comparison to some of the smaller markets.
What it Means for Doctors
If you’re chasing after #1 rankings as your end goal, the only thing you are helping is your ego. What you see in your search results in comparison to what your patients see in their search results can vary significantly. The days of “one size fits all” search results have come and gone. A search for a plastic surgeon from someone in Beverly Hills 90210 versus a search for a plastic surgeon from someone in Beverly Hills 90211 will provide two totally different sets of search results based on locality alone. Factor in the social element from people you are connected to on Google+ and your results will change even more.
While only impacting an average of 8% now, personalization is sure to grow, especially with the push of Google+. If you’re not localizing and socializing as part of your internet marketing strategy, you are falling behind.
December 15th, 2011 Mike Wilton
This morning I came across four different articles dealing with physician reputation management, all of which look at different angles and approaches to dealing with patient complaints and negative reviews. The first article focused on how to manage your reputation leveraging Google, the second focused on “legal remedies” doctors can use to fight derogatory comments posted on the internet, the third discussed “burying” bad doctor reviews, and the last post focused on how patient complaints create an opportunity. Each method discussed is effective, but it’s a combined effort of these strategies that will make your labors most successful.
It’s important to establish a home base when it comes to reputation management. Identify where conversations are happening about you and your practice, and take inventory of what’s already out there. As Dr. Jeff Livingston, an OB/GYN out of Irving, Texas, points out in his article “Doctor, Google thyself” it’s as simple as Google-ing your name. Once you identify where conversations are happening about you or your practice you can help guide patients and address concerns that may be out there. You can take this effort a step further and setup a Google alert, Twitter Alert, or Facebook alert to find out where and when conversations are happening around your practice.
Legal action against patient complaints is a growing trend . This is often the knee-jerk reaction to a negative post as opposed to working towards a solution with the patient. But as an article in American Medical News points out, taking legal action against internet posters is not always ideal and can oftentimes be more costly and time-consuming than they are worth. Before taking legal action, it’s best to exhaust all other options and assess whether you are facing opinion or defamation.
Bury the Bad
Another popular solution to reputation management is burying the bad reviews. This is effective; doctors who don’t have the time or resources to take legal action oftentimes perceive this as the easiest way to get rid of the problem. By burying the bad with the good, doctors feel as though they have solved the problem. However, what they fail to realize is that they are just publicly ignoring a patient concern, which can backfire.
Another issue with burying the bad is that many doctors are turning to reputation management companies that handle the burying for them. In doing so, they inflate reviews and use spam tactics that in many instances are against the law.
Patient Complaints Are An Opportunity
In a recent article by Mary Pat Whaley, a fellow in the American College of Medical Practice Executives who is board certified in healthcare management, she explores the opportunity that patient complaints create for a medical practice. Although her article focuses on offline complaints, I recognized how easily it could translate into the online world.
As we’ve pointed out in the past, the best solution to reputation management is fixing the problem, not hiding it. If a patient walked in to your office to complain or called you on the phone, you would not turn your back on them or hang up on them. You would listen to what he/she had to say and try to come up with a solution; the online world is no different.
Complaints are an opportunity “to understand the patient’s experience and hear in their own words what went wrong for them.” She goes on to explain what can be gained by listening to and addressing patient complaints:
- You can heal the patient’s complaint, first by making sure the patient feels heard, and second by addressing the problem if something needs to be done.
- You can gain insight into an experience in the practice and dissect it to see why the problem occurred and what can be done to fix it.
- You can model to the staff how important patient complaints are and how seriously you take them.
- You can retain the patient for the practice, and hopefully make them a fan who will recommend your group to friends and family.
The same can be gained from an online complaint, it just takes place through a different communication channel. Whaley outlined a series of steps for doctors to take when addressing patient complaints. Below I have adapted these steps and added a few of my own for the online world:
- Make addressing online concerns a priority. If you can’t manage them yourself, delegate the task to someone in your office who can.
- Reach out to patients with concerns through the various channels they have used and offer to address their concern through email or over the phone. This shows other patients you are attentive to patient concerns, but does not force you to publicly display the entire dialogue.
- Once you’ve made contact, listen to everything a patient has to say. Apologize and let him/her know that his/her experience is not what you want for patients. Go back over the complaint and ask questions to make sure you understand what happened
- Tell the patient you will investigate the complaint further and then schedule a date and time to call him/her back to report what you’ve found.
- Talk to any other parties that may be involved and gain as much insight as possible, and then call the patient back with any information that is appropriate. For many patients, knowing that the issue was simply discussed will be enough to appease them.
- If the issue is resolved and the patient appears to be content with the results, ask him/her if he/she would mind removing the review or at least update the review to let other users know that there was a resolution.
The above method is by far the best for dealing with negative reviews. It shows existing and future patients that you care and are willing to listen to their concerns, if they should arise. However, not every reputation nightmare ends with a happy ending. A strong reputation management strategy can include a mix of everything outlined in this post – from rigid legal action to the slightly less ethical burying of negative reviews. Whichever road you take, remember that everything you do online happens in front of an audience. How you react to negative reviews could make or break your practice.
December 5th, 2011 Mike Wilton
We’ve talked a lot about blogging in the past and stressed the importance of moderating blog comments , keeping your blog software up to date, and ways to come up with new blog topics, but we’ve never really touched on how to create that content, optimize it for visitors, and make sure it can be found.
The Blog Title
When I read blogs posted and written by doctors they tend to follow a similar formula. The vast majority of them see blogging as an extension of their SEO, so they simply stuff their titles with keywords (e.g. Beverly Hills Breast Implants), but fail to realize that they aren’t actually helping their SEO. In fact, in most cases, you are hurting it. A keyword title isn’t eye grabbing, it doesn’t show any depth, and is likely to now be competing with another page on your website.
As Problogger Darren Rowse states in the opening paragraph to his post, “How to Craft Post Titles that Draw Readers Into Your Blog,” “Those few words at the beginning of your blog post can be the difference between the post being read and spread like a virus through the web like a wild fire and it languishing in your archives, barely noticed.” It’s ok to incorporate keywords when coming up with blog posts and titles, but they do not need to be in every title. A good rule of thumb: would the title make sense if this was published in a magazine or newspaper, or was the title written for the search engines?
The Blog Content
The content of your blog post should be original, informative, and well written. You should be writing in the interest of your site visitors and not in the interest of the search engines. For tips on how to identify if your content is of quality, be sure to check out Google’s content quality guidelines.
When it comes to content length, it’s important to remember that the search engines are looking for well written and informative content. A lot of people write short, shallow posts that are only about 200 to 300 words; however, after Google’s Panda algorithm update, it might be wiser to aim for 500 words or more to ensure that your content doesn’t appear shallow and un-meaningful.
Including Links In Your Blog Posts
Another element to consider when writing content is the ability to reference and link back to other articles you may have written on a similar subject. By doing this, you pass potential link value from this article to other articles on your site, and give the content new life not only by having them crawled by the search engines, but by introducing, or re-introducing them to your readers.
You can also link out to other websites or sources if they are relevant to the subject matter. Don’t be afraid to link out, it will not kill your SEO efforts and in many instances it can increase the conversation around your blog post. This may also help your blog gain links or social media referrals if the blog owner discovers you linked out to them and wants to share your post.
Using Imagery To Enhance Blog Posts
Plain text is boring. You can liven up a blog post and break up your content a bit for readers by adding imagery to each of your blogs posts. The photos should be relevant to your topic and can be pictures of your own, or you can use free images available through Creative Commons licensing. Remember, just because photos are available on the internet it does not mean that they are free for your taking. Always use your own images or those that are legally open to use. A quick resource for this is flickr.com, where you can run an advanced search for user photos that are available for use via Creative Commons. Just make sure that you follow the rules of the image license. In some instances, you may need to credit the user for the image.
Distributing Your Content to the Masses
Remember, just because you wrote an awesome piece of content it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be found immediately. Sure, ping services setup in your blog software will help turn websites and search engines on to your content, but it’s you who can push your content to the masses directly.
After writing a new blog post, hit your favorite social network and share your content with others. Post your content on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. If you belong to groups on LinkedIn and the content is relevant to its members, share your content there as well. Where possible, add some additional insight in your comment section when posting to encourage clickthrough and conversation. You might also consider timed distribution using social media management services like Hootsuite, which allow you to schedule posts so that you can make sure you get your morning and evening audiences.
A blog is your personal platform to display your expertise, ignite conversation, and help build your reputation, and it’s important to treat it as such. If you are just filling it with useless regurgitated content about the procedures you want to rank for in the region you work in, you may as well just stop blogging all-together because it isn’t benefiting you. If you need help with developing your blog content, Plastic Surgery Studios offers blog writing as one of its many internet marketing services. If you need help blogging, contact us or give us a call at (909) 758-8300.