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Search makes it entirely possible to attract a steady stream of new patients. Your target market is likely searching right now for services that your plastic surgery practice offers. But those clicks will likely end up going to competing websites if yours is not visible in the search results. A number of studies have even shown that the top results get a majority of all search clicks and most users rarely click past the first page. So what does this mean when you try to rank your plastic surgery practice?

Web Ranking Graph

This means your site will attract only a few clicks unless it is in the top positions. Not an easy feat given how competitive the search landscape is and recent changes in how local search results are displayed. The local search pack originally displayed seven results but now only three are visible.

Here is an example for the search query “plastic surgery Austin”:

Plastic Surgery Local Rankings

Additional changes include more information at a glance (e.g. business hours) and new icons that users can get click to visit the site or get directions. Clicking on “More places” opens up an expanded view that displays even more results.

So what do these changes mean?

The most obvious is that competition is even stronger.

Having a site is no longer enough to rank. Google wants to ensure that only the best and most relevant results are returned for each query. So the ranking algorithm looks at hundreds of factors from domain authority to content relevance. Outranking your competitors is entirely possible but doing so requires optimizing various factors both on-site and off-site.

Here we look at how to rank your plastic surgery website in the local search pack.

1. Optimize On-Page Factors

Google strives to deliver the most relevant results.

And it does this by examining every aspect of a site including the title tags, headers, content, and keyword usage. According to data compiled by Moz, on-page signals carry a great deal of weight in terms of local search rankings (20.3%):

Ranking Factors

Start by optimizing the following on-page factors of your site:

  • Title tags: Each page should have a unique title and include your target keywords. Be sure to also include the city name your practice is located in (e.g. plastic surgeons in West Lake Hills) to rank for local searches. Keep the title under 70 characters as anything longer will be truncated in the search results.
  • Meta descriptions: These are short snippets of text that are displayed under the titles for each result. Include your target keywords here and write a call to action to increase click through rates. Keep descriptions between 150 to 160 characters.
  • Content: Include relevant keywords throughout your content but always focus on providing value and including sufficient details for your visitors. Over-optimizing or keyword stuffing your pages can actually lead to a ranking penalty.
  • NAP: NAP refers to Name, Address, and Phone Number, and should be included in your site to rank for local searches. Google looks for these details when displaying your business information in Search and Maps, and to check that your business is legitimate.

Optimizing each page can be rather tedious especially if you have a large site. But doing so increases the relevance of your site and makes it easier for search engines to find.

2. Build Local Citations

Local citations refer to mentions of your business name, address, and phone number on other sites.

Citations can typically be found on association or local commerce pages. These provide tremendous value in terms of local SEO as it helps Google better ascertain your business’s contact information. All other factors being equal, a business with more local citations will easily outrank a business without them.

The most valuable to get started with is Google My Business as it lets you manage your business information across Search, Maps, and Google+.

Be where people are looking for you

Complete the following steps for your Google My Business profile to enhance your presence for local searches:

  • Enter in your contact information: Only the most relevant results are returned for each search query. So take the time to completely fill out your profile including your business address, phone number, operating hours, and category. Be sure to also add quality photos to help your listing stand out even more.
  • Verify your business: To be listed on Google Maps, your business needs to be verified. In most cases, this involves having a postcard to your location and entering in the verification code. This process can take a few weeks but you only need to do it once.
  • Respond to reviews: Responding to reviews demonstrates that you value feedback from your customers. Even if you receive negative reviews, it is important to respond appropriately.

New citations should always match the NAP that is listed on your site. So choose a format and stick with it on all profiles. Another important factor is the relevance of the citation as a mention on the American Board of Plastic Surgery will carry far more weight than on Yelp.

3. Get Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are forms of social proof. If a product has over 100 positive reviews while a similar one only has 10 mixed reviews, the first one would seem far more compelling. It not only attracts more attention but it can even generate more sales as a result.

According to data from BrightLocal, a staggering 92% of consumers now read online reviews and most do so to determine the quality of a local business:

Google also adds the following about customer reviews:

Reviews Bar Graph

Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.

Ratings are prominently displayed in the local search pack so this is yet another reason to manage customer reviews. A listing with higher ratings is far more likely to attract clicks than one that has a one or two star average rating. And it can even increase your business’s visibility online according to Google.

Make getting customer reviews an on-going strategy. It is acceptable to ask clients to leave feedback for your business online but never pay for them as fake reviews can lead to negative consequences.

Local SEO can drive more clients to your plastic surgery practice.

Your target audience is likely searching online for services that your plastic surgery practice offers. Ranking your plastic surgery practice in the local search starts by optimizing all on-page factors, building local citations, and managing customer reviews. Follow these tips as described above to enhance your website’s visibility in the search results for your target keywords.

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