If you own a plastic surgery clinic, you know that one of the most challenging aspects of the business is ensuring a steady pipeline of new patient consults.
There are, however, many plastic surgeons that have figured out plastic surgery marketing, enjoying a calendar filled with patient consults that came in through organic and paid channels.
There is one major difference between organic traffic and paid traffic – the organic traffic plastic surgery SEO can deliver generates lower costs per lead compared to paid traffic.
Ultimately, if you can get your plastic surgery practice’s SEO strategy right, you should enjoy long-lasting , predictable leads at a much lower cost than you would ever be able to get from Google Ads.
In this article, I’m going to share what we have learned over the last several years handling plastic surgery SEO throughout the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.
Whether you decide to optimize your own practice’s website or you simply want to be better informed to properly choose a search engine optimization company, this article should be a good primer.
If you would like to schedule a time to speak with me about your SEO or general digital marketing for your plastic surgery practice, click here to book a time.
What is Plastic Surgery SEO?
Plastic surgery SEO is a marketing channel that aims to drive plastic surgery patients through organic search. It involves a large number of activities, all of which fall into one of three categories:
- Optimizing a websites technical SEO, enabling Google to optimally crawl and index your plastic surgery practice’s website
- Maximizing the relevance of your cosmetic surgery practice website’s content to the searches prospective patients are performing
- Maximizing the authority and trustworthiness of the website by producing expert content and earning backlinks from other websites
It is important to note that all SEO—including plastic surgery SEO— is a lot more than “getting the right keywords on the page.”
It involves many activities that require a experts in number of sub-specialties and specialized skills that are very rare, if not impossible, to find in one digital marketing specialist.
This is why it can be advantageous to work with a plastic surgery marketing agency over a one-man shop.
Work on Your Google Business Profile
In most cases, plastic surgery SEO is largely local SEO.
This means that getting your Google Business Profile ranking in Google Maps and the local map results will be a critical part of your search engine optimization efforts.
When someone performs a search such as “facelift Virginia Beach,” the first thing they see after the paid ads are the map results:
Aside from being the first thing your patients see in the organic search engine results, your Google Business Profile will be home to a key component in the patient’s journey — your reviews.
The quantity and quality of your reviews will have a critical impact on whether a prospective patient clicks through to your website to explore further.
In other words, successful plastic surgery SEO is not just about getting your website to show up at the top of the search engine results. It also needs to get you into the local map results and it needs to earn the click.
Here are a few things you can do to increase the likelihood of getting your plastic surgery practice’s Google Business Profile into the map results.
1. Make Sure Your Clinic’s Google Business Profile Is Completely Filled Out
Add high-quality photos to each of the sections of your profile.
People want to see who their plastic surgeon is going to be. They may want to see the inside of your office as well.
If you have permission from your past patients to share “before and after” photos, include them in your Google Business Profile as well.
(As a side note, learn how to take good photos. 99% of plastic surgery before and after photos feature hideous photography. $200 worth of lighting from Amazon and your iPhone should be able to get you almost professional-level photos. Just make sure to turn off the unflattering fluorescent lights in your office).
As for the rest, ensuring your Google Business Profile is completely filled out is not a difficult task.
Do be sure to adhere to the Google Business Profile guidelines:
- Make sure your listing matches the name on your signage
- Do not open up a listing for an address or office that is not staffed during the day
Failure to follow these guidelines could result in a suspension of your profile and the loss of all your reviews. Make sure you adhere to these guidelines.
You can read the Google Business Profile guidelines here if you are interested in looking them over.
2. Maintain a Consistent Name, Address, and Phone Number for Your Plastic Surgery Practice
As you fill out your Google Business Profile, be sure to establish a consistent name, address, and phone number for your plastic surgery clinic.
In SEO, this is commonly referred to as NAP consistency.
Whatever format you use for the address needs to be used:
- On your website
- In the schema markup on your website
- On any social media or directory listings you open up for your clinic.
In other words, don’t set “rt70” as your clinic’s address on your Google Business Profile, but “NJ-70” on your website or Facebook page. Google may not be able to understand that this is the same road, and therefore will be unsure about your actual address.
In addition, make sure the name and phone number you use on your Google Business Profile match the information on your social media profiles, website, and website schema.
3. Establish a Routine for Asking for Reviews
It can be difficult to get reviews for your plastic surgery practice.
Many of your patients are not eager to announce that they “had work done.”
Don’t give up, though. Your competitors are facing the same exact problem. This simply means that you need to put forth a little bit more effort than the clinic down the street to accumulate reviews.
Aside from the fact that prospective patients will likely trust your clinic more if it sees it has dozens of reviews, the keywords used in reviews by your patients will impact the keywords for which you appear in the map results.
In other words, if you can get some of your patients’ reviews to go the extra mile and mention they had a rhinoplasty, facelift, or other cosmetic procedure, it will pay dividends in visibility in the map results.
Make sure you ask for those reviews, and that you follow up if you don’t get them right away.
4. Get Backlinks that Will Help You Rank Higher in the Map Results
Google uses links from one website to another as a sort of vote of confidence. When another website links to your website, it helps your Google Business Profile rank higher.
I will go into the topic of link building later in the article, so for now I will just share that it is a critical component of ranking, both in the map results and the blue link organic results.
It’s hard to do SEO for a plastic surgeon without backlinks
Get Your Technical SEO Right
If Google cannot properly crawl and index your website, it doesn’t matter if you have the greatest content in the world – Google will not be able to show it in the search engine results.
It is important to get your technical SEO right.
Making technical SEO improvements to a website is often the source of fast improvements in search rank, sometimes resulting in increases within days of making them.
The good news is that plastic surgeons tend to have rather uncomplicated websites, with most opting for WordPress, making SEO much easier than with other content management systems.
Despite this being the case, there often are technical SEO improvements that can be made.
These technical improvements should facilitate Google’s crawling and indexing of your clinic’s website, as well as help it to understand the importance of specific pages and the meaning of their content.
This is far from a comprehensive article on technical SEO, but here are some of the important technical improvements that can often be made to a plastic surgery website.
5. Noindex Low-Value Archive Pages
It is advisable to Noindex automated archive pages created by WordPress, such as tag, author, category, and other similar archives. These pages seldom provide any value to search engines and prospective patients, so it is usually beneficial to omit them from the search results.
Usually, we will “noindex, follow” these archive pages, which will prevent them from showing in the search engine results, but still allow them to pass link equity and help create a cluster of content around specific topics through internal linking.
6. Ensure Breadcrumbs Are on All Procedure Pages
Breadcrumbs help your website visitors navigate between the pages they are currently on and other pages higher in the website’s hierarchy. They also help Google understand the architecture of your website.
This can be of particular importance when executing a location page strategy, in which you may create procedure pages to target “procedure + city” queries.
Using breadcrumbs and establishing a strong internal linking structure between all of these pages can help your plastic surgery practice start showing up on page 1 of Google not only in the location where you are physically located, but in any market you wish to target. We’ll go more into detail on this later.
7. Ensure Your Clinic’s Website Passes Google’s Core Web Vitals
Google includes in its ranking algorithms something referred to as Core Web Vitals.
Core Web Vitals collect user data measuring the real-world experience of the users on your website.
You can measure the performance of your website here.
Core Web Vitals measure three aspects of the user experience:
- Largest Contentful Paint: how long it takes for the largest element on your page to load
- Cumulative Layout Shift: how often items such as buttons move around after the page has been loaded
- First Contentful Paint: how long until the browser starts showing the first elements of the page
8. Make Technical SEO Decisions that Help Your E-E-A-T
Plastic surgery is what Google refers to as a “your money or your life” category.
The last thing Google wants is to have authors espousing fringe medical views ranking highly in the search engine results. This is where E-E-A-T comes into play.
E-E-A-T is an acronym Google includes in its quality reviewer’s search guidelines, an acronym for Experience – Expertise – Authoritativeness – Trust. Google has spent tremendous resources training its machine learning models to determine the level of authoritativeness of a piece of content, of which the authorship plays a part.
For this reason, it is beneficial to do all that you can to help Google understand who wrote the articles on your website.
This usually involves including the author’s name in all articles, as well as including Schema markup linking to other websites citing their credentials. This can be a Linkedin, Realself, or any website sharing information about an author’s bona fides.
9. Make Basic Technical SEO Fixes — They Can Go a Long Way
There is a long list of technical improvements that can really help you rank better on Google, including:
- Ensuring that your website employs best practices in the HTML markup of headers
- Create and submit sitemaps to Google
- Be sure you’re using your robots.txt correctly
- Make sure the website is free of technical blunders such as accidentally including canonical errors
- Link to important pages using descriptive anchor text
Again, this is far from a comprehensive guide on technical SEO, but you should be pleased to know that even mid-level associates at a plastic surgery SEO agency like ours can usually uncover and address technical SEO errors fairly easily.
Get Your On-Page SEO Right
Plastic surgery SEO involves content creation more than any other activity.
The goal is to ensure that the content on your website is relevant to as many patient searches as possible while also being more comprehensive and authoritative than your competitors.
You will be able to identify the types of keywords and topics your plastic surgery clinic should cover through keyword research.
10. Create an SEO Content Plan Supported by Keyword Research
What are prospective patients researching on Google?
How can you get in front of them as they perform these searches?
These are critical questions that can drive organic traffic to your website and grow your clinic if you answer them correctly.
Keyword research will allow you to do this.
There are many data sources that can be used for keyword research, all of which provide varying levels of accuracy. Here is how we rate the different keyword research tools available to SEO professionals:
- Google Ads Search Queries Reports (by far the most accurate source for keyword data)
- Google Search Console (a close second)
- Ahrefs or Semrush (a distant 3rd)
- AlsoAsked (free, good for blog topic research)
- Ubersuggest (if you have no other options)
Once you select the keyword research tool, the next step is to find out what people are searching for.
In the case of your procedure pages, you want to learn how prospective patients are searching for the cosmetic procedures you offer.
In other words, are they looking for “rhinoplasty surgery” or “rhinoplasty surgeons?”
Are they looking for “neck lifts” or “chin lipo?”
In the case of your blog content, the goal is to uncover opportunities to answer questions about the types of procedures in which you have particular expertise. More times than not, this will help you to identify “long-tail keywords” that will get you in front of the prospective patients you wish to serve.
For example, a facial plastic surgeon may want to rank for searches such as “rhinoplasty for bulbous nose.” A patient may be willing to fly across the country to see a plastic surgeon they believe can do a better job due to a particular expertise or specialty. Your blog is your opportunity to exhibit that expertise.
11. Optimize Your Procedure Pages for “Procedure + Location” Searches
The procedure pages on a plastic surgeon’s website are the pages that will appear in the search engine results when patients perform searches such as “facelift + city.”
It is critical to have well-optimized pages dedicated to all of the cosmetic procedures you offer in all of the locations from where you would like to attract new patients.
Let’s take a look at the search engine results for “rhinoplasty surgeon near me:”
You will notice that Google has correctly identified this as being a local intent search. It is showing me rhinoplasty surgeons within a reasonable driving distance from my office in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
It understands the distance someone is willing to travel for a rhinoplasty and is showing results within that geography.
At the same time, notice that all of the results are either directories for people to read reviews about surgeons that do rhinoplasty, or dedicated procedure pages.
You don’t see any homepages or catch-all “our procedures” pages in the search results.
The reason for this is relevance.
A catch-all procedures page will not be as relevant to a search such as “facelift Tampa” as a dedicated page that only talks about this procedure in this location.
12. Write a Compelling, Well-Optimized Title Tag for Your Procedure Pages
A page’s title tag will be what appears in the search engine results when someone performs a search. They usually look something like this:
A page’s title tag arguably has the largest impact on its search rank of any single on-page factor. It is critical to include a close variation of your target head term when writing your title tag, while still making it compelling to click on.
The best title tags are the ones that not only include the target keywords, but also include a compelling reason to click on them. Here is an example of a title tag we wrote for a client:
This title tag accomplishes three things:
- It includes the target keyword at the start of the title tag
- It communicates a unique value proposition about the clinic
- It includes the surgeon’s name, who is very well respected in the local market and in the industry overall
Not only is this likely to result in more clicks, but Google may very well notice the higher clickthrough rate for your result and rank it higher in the search engine results.
Write Comprehensive, Information-Dense Content About Each Procedure
Once you’ve got your title tag right, the next step is to provide value to potential visitors.
Think about what Google wants — it is incentivized to deliver information-rich search results about the topics people are researching online.
It has crawled most of the Internet and it has a good idea of the kind of information that should be present on a page about breast augmentation, for example.
Your goal is to provide concise, information-dense content about each one of your procedures.
Typically, this involves researching what is already ranking on Google not only in your market, but also in competitive markets such as Beverly Hills, Miami, or New York City.
Here’s a video I shot where I give the example of how this is done in practice:
In other words, we want to know what high-performing pages include in their outlines. We can then take this information and produce an outline that should result in a richer experience for your visitors.
A page targeting a query such as “BBL London” should include sections discussing the techniques, recovery times, costs, and procedures that can be performed in conjunction.
A competing page that omits a subtopic such as recovery time would naturally not be considered as information-rich as one that does.
There are several tools on the market that leverage natural language processing to extract the entities present in top-ranking search results, allowing us to edit our content to better include them. Some of these tools also provide insights into how artificial intelligence may interpret and categorize them. At Sagapixel, we tend to use Google Cloud’s natural language processing tool for this.
13. Establish Strong Internal Linking to Your Procedure Pages
Solid internal linking will distribute link equity throughout your website and help your procedure pages to rank better.
First, make sure to use breadcrumbs.
Breadcrumbs not only make it easier to navigate between your location pages and higher-level procedure pages, but they also help Google better understand the hierarchy of your website.
In addition, they will pass link equity between all of these pages, helping them to rank better.
Second, be sure to link from your parent pages to your child pages.
For example, your /otoplasty/ page should have a section that will allow you to link to your location landing pages, such as:
Generally, we will also include a section on each one of these child pages linking to the rest of them. Internal linking between all of the child pages and back up to the parent page can create a cluster of content around the topic of otoplasty in a specific area, and distribute page rank in a way that will help them all to rank better in the search engine results.
Third, be sure to link to each of your top-level procedure pages from the homepage. You should include a section similar to the one below, which will allow you to link these pages:
A website homepage often earns the most links. Linking to each of your procedure pages will pass more link equity to them and increase the likelihood of them ranking well for your targeted keywords.
Maximize the Trustworthiness and Authoritativeness of Your Website
Google measures the trustworthiness and authoritativeness of a website in two ways: the websites linking to your website and the expertise of your content.
14. Get Backlinks: They Are Critical to Plastic Surgery SEO
Google uses backlinks as an important part of its ranking algorithm. Simply put, it looks at the websites linking to your website and the links going to those websites, and so on.
The thought is that an authoritative magazine such as Women’s Health or a trusted newspaper like the New York Times is only going to link to very trusted websites.
In other words, the links that your website earns are like little votes of confidence.
I would also add that it is difficult to earn links.
There are proven methods to building up the backlinks profile of a website, all of which are time intensive and require very specialized skills. As a matter of fact, very few search engine optimization agencies that work with plastic surgeons even know how to do it; this is an offering more commonly available to large companies.
There are spamming methods such as purchasing backlinks, but these can result in a website being penalized and removed from the search results. If you do work with an SEO company that provides link building, be sure that they are not breaking any of Google’s guidelines.
The Level of Expertise in Your Writing is Very Important
Google has made great strides in improving the quality of the search results for topics it categorizes as “your money or your life.”
Any topic that deals with finance, health, science, or anything that could lead someone to make a major life decision undergoes greater algorithmic scrutiny than other topics.
In other words, content regarding plastic surgery must demonstrate a level of expertise that reflects a low possibility of containing misinformation or information that goes against medical consensus.
The trick is to write in-depth content that utilizes the type of language a physician, or in this case a plastic surgeon, would use while maintaining a level of readability so that someone with ahigh school education will still be able to understand it.
At Sagapixel, we usually start these pieces of content with our writers, then have it reviewed by one of the doctors that contract with us. Finally, we insist our clients review the contents, both for accuracy and to ensure it reflects their medical opinions.
Plastic Surgery SEO Has the Lowest Cost Per Lead of Any Channel—If You’re Ranking Highly
Ultimately, organic traffic has the potential to drive the lowest cost per acquisition of any plastic surgery marketing channel.
If your plastic surgery SEO campaign works, it should deliver consistent, predictable intakes for years to come.
It is, however, a channel that doesn’t start delivering overnight. The most advisable strategy for your clinic is to combine it with a PPC campaign; Google Ads can help fill the pipeline and provide the revenue needed to sustain and grow your practice through search engine optimization.
As part of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy, plastic surgery SEO should play an important role in the future success of your clinic. If you would like to meet with me or someone from our team to discuss your practice, click here to schedule a time