Where making money is concerned, search engine optimization (SEO), for plastic surgeons, has little to do with search engines, and I’ll tell you why that is.

You’ve been marketed to ad nauseum about SEO and the benefits of being online. Every big meeting and plastic surgery conference invariably has a session on search optimization, ready to tell you all about how you’re missing out, and how your competitors are optimizing their way to untold riches. What BS …

If it’s so great, why didn’t it work for you? Why is it that even if you managed to rank, it wasn’t the goldmine everyone told you it would be? Why is it that your SEO guy can’t explain the reasons you’re not seeing a return on your investment? Why is your competitor still getting the business even if you outrank him? Or worse yet, why did you pay just so your site wouldn’t rank in the first place? (More about that later.)

It’s because you’ve been lied to.

Search rankings have nothing to do with good business. Just being at the top of Google isn’t a guarantee of success. It just means that people are coming to your site—not unlike you walking into a store at the mall and then walking back out without buying anything. Why didn’t you buy something? Why aren’t your site visitors calling? Website visits are NOT the same as paying clients.

In my book, I describe why success with your website is about patient psychology. It’s about giving your prospect the information she needs to make a decision about going with YOU. It’s about making her BELIEVE that you’re the right person for the job. Failing to get that right just leads to frustration and wasted web traffic.

Common Mistakes All Doctors Make with SEO

1. Hiring amateur SEO geeks instead of an experienced marketer

Everyone and their uncle does SEO these days. You can hire everyone from legitimate to shady Asian SEO companies, to local and national SEO firms promising you the moon. They may or may not get results. (Most often it’s not.) They might get you more visits, but what they can’t do is get you more business—at least not in a meaningful, and practice-changing, way. After all, you’re not investing in your practice for a meager outcome, are you?

The thing that most doctors don’t understand is that your search ranking is important, but it’s immaterial if you can’t convert the traffic. If your SEO firm doesn’t have specialized expertise in setting up your whole business marketing machine to generate, and handle, incoming leads, they’re not worth anything—no matter how little you pay or what kind of a bargain they talk you into.

Yes, search results are about rankings. Anyone who KNOWS what they’re doing may eventually get you rankings. But just getting traffic doesn’t equal money in your bank account. Influencing the patient to choose you over the other five doctors they’re considering takes more than SEO. It takes marketing, in every sense of the word.

2. Letting the SEOs dictate their site content

SEO firms don’t know your industry. They don’t know a cosmetic patient from a hole in the wall. Even the large “medical marketing” firms claim to do “cosmetic” marketing, but they don’t know the first thing about your buyer because they’re working on an optometrist’s site one day and your site the next. They put up page after page of generic content, which they use on all their other client sites. Your prospective patient isn’t stupid. She’s not gullible, she’s not ignorant and she’s not ill informed. Sounding the same as your competitor just makes it that much harder for her to go with you.

She’s visiting multiple websites and forming an opinion of your expertise, your trustworthiness and your ability to deliver RESULTS.

Take a look at your content and your competitor’s content. What is it saying about you? Are you “Dr. Smith plastic surgeon Dallas who specializes in Dallas plastic surgery and Dallas liposuction and tummy tuck Dallas as well as an expert in Breast Augmentation Dallas”?

What does that say to her when she’s visiting your competitors who look and sound like pros? Don’t let your SEO company dictate the voice and tone of your practice. You can rank without stooping to ridiculous tricks. After all, you wouldn’t let your SEO guy sit in a consultation and tell you what to say, would you? So why are you letting him talk to the patient before she even gets a chance to call you? Letting a non-expert in cosmetic surgery marketing write your content is just cutting yourself off at the knees.

3. Giving up too quickly

SEO is about the long game. It’s also the reason why so many bad SEO companies get away with their shenanigans. Because they don’t need to deliver results right away, they can sell you on their “services” and milk you for several months.

I watch our client’s competitors online start the SEO process over and over just to give up. I stopped worrying about competition because most doctors don’t have the fortitude to see things to the end.

Most doctors give up because they don’t perceive any discernible results. I can’t really blame them for giving up. It’s not their fault, it’s the fault of their SEO company. Letting you pay for optimization on a site that stands no good change of converting patients is borderline criminal.

The trick to online marketing is to have a game plan. You need a STRATEGY for success. In my book, I outline our proven marketing formula for winning online. It has little to do with SEO. SEO is just ONE tactic that you can employ. When you have a working strategy, you’re able to stick it out and make things work. Simply throwing money at Google is not the solution. Giving up is not the solution either. If other doctors are getting the business, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be YOU.

4. Taking their foot off the gas

The difference between a doctor giving up and taking his foot off the gas is success. It’s easy to give up when you’re not winning. It’s just plain WRONG to give up when you’re in the lead. If you’re the leader in a car race, do you take your foot off the gas? No, you don’t. It’s how you win. Yet time and again, I see doctors that are in the lead and become complacent, or cheap and start thinking about saving money. They either stop paying for marketing or try to do things on their own, which they shouldn’t be doing at all.

This leads to a lack of focus, which ultimately leads to stagnation or contraction in their practice. When you’re in the lead, you should put as much, or more, into your marketing than when you were aggressively growing. It’s your opportunity to put the competitors out of business or significantly decimate their market share. Taking your foot off the gas opens up opportunities for your competitors to pass you and take your market share. Once your lead is gone, it’s very hard to get back.

5. Mistaking activity for progress

In How to Be a Cut Above Your Competitors, I talk about activity not equaling progress. It’s the single biggest trap that doctors, and their staff, fall into. I’ve seen staff do a lot of immaterial things that contribute nothing to the bottom line just to be able to justify their salaries. I see it most in contracts from SEO companies that sell things like article publication, press releases and link building—a bunch of activity that does not necessarily lead to progress in your practice. It’s just a way for them to justify their fees and give you the illusion of progress and accountability. But that doesn’t make any difference to your bottom line.

The truth of the matter is that there’s only one result that counts when talking about SEO, and that thing is how high you rank for your search results. And there is only one result that counts in your practice: how many paying clients you can take out of the market; how much money you deposit at the end of the month.

All the articles and social media links and press releases aren’t going to count for squat if you can’t rank and convert that traffic into real PAYING patients. The rest is just activity. It has nothing to do with anything of meaning. Don’t let SEO sales people confuse you about the difference between activity and results.

6. Being penny wise and pound foolish, or getting what they paid for

Cheapness is a disease. Doctors are taught about business the way that office workers gossip; they hear bits of advice here and there and assume it’s the truth. They’re told to cut expenses and reduce costs. Don’t overpay for the staff or services. What a bunch of BULL!

Get all that nonsense out of your head. You will NEVER grow by cutting or investing in low-quality people. Nothing in life grows by having its lifeblood reduced. No business in the world can grow without ideal conditions for its development.

There Is Difference Between an Expense and an Investment.

Think about it. If you took $100,000 to the bank and they outlined an investment that could give you a 200% return, would you not think it was a good deal? Would you then ask the bank manager if you could only invest $500 instead? No, you wouldn’t, because IT MAKES NO SENSE.

You need to clearly understand the difference between an EXPENSE and an INVESTMENT. Just because one SEO firm is willing to work for $2,000/month instead of $12,000/month, it doesn’t mean you’re getting a deal. It just means that you’re probably throwing away $2,000/month. Is that a good deal? Is paying less and getting less the logical thing to do? No, it’s not.

Doing what it takes to succeed takes money. You need to feed your marketing if you want it to grow your practice and produce results. Don’t make the mistake of confusing spending money with wasting money. Investing in yourself is NOT a waste.

What About Not Ranking in the First Place?

So you paid money to more than one company and none of them were able to produce results. You paid and you paid, but still nothing.

So what? That means absolutely nothing in terms of SEO or online marketing. All that means is that you had poor judgement in the past. Is failing a good reason not to get back up? It isn’t.

Imagine if all babies gave up the first time they fell flat on their ass. You wouldn’t be walking now and neither would I or anyone else. Even a baby has enough good judgment to keep going.

The world is full of incompetent people. It’s full of those that have good intentions and even believe in what they sell. But they simply can’t get results. That doesn’t mean you should give up and go cry in a corner. Just because you bought a dud in the past, it doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed online. Your competitors are. Your colleagues across the country are. There is NO reason you can’t make it work too.

There are a million and one reasons why a site won’t rank, everything from poor content strategies to a lack of exposure to the search engines. The key to success is picking a company that has a long-term strategy for success and can show you proven results—one that doesn’t grab any business they can get their hands on but rather focuses on cosmetic marketing that gets results.

Things You Can Do to Fix Your Online Presence

1. Have a clearly defined strategy and stick to it

Understand that SEO is just one tactic you can use. If it’s not a part of an overall strategy, you don’t stand a good chance of it working. It’s the same as fighting a war and saying that a handgun is your weapon of choice. That’s all well and good until you come up against a tank!

Your marketing company should have a clear strategy that encompases defining your position in the market and pushing your advantage. They should have a method for growing your overall site content in such a way that it attracts relevant visitors. Then they should offer you the services required to push that strategy forward on a weekly basis.

2. Don’t try to do it yourself, you’re wasting your time

You’re a doctor. Don’t waste your time writing content or tweeting. That’s the lowest possible use of your time. You don’t make any money from posting your latest Facebook post on your own. Hire the right people for the job and spend 100% of your time on activities that either make you money or grow your practice by doing things only YOU can do. Get your office in order and focus on your consultation closing rate and customer service. Don’t hire a dog and do your own barking.

3. Don’t stop halfway through

SEO is a lot like steering a large tanker. The action you take now may not show results for several months. Don’t throw good money after bad, but if you have a clear and effective strategy, give it at least three to six months to produce meaningful results.

4. Don’t take shortcuts

Don’t buy into the latest fads or snake oils. Good SEO is just like good business. It has fundamentals built on content development and online exposure. Don’t try to use tactics that rank you for a few weeks and then get you banned from the search engines. You should be trying to build a long-term asset. Set up a practice that converts patients and keeps them coming back for more. Develop a site that informs your patients and helps them choose you. You’ll make millions by doing things right.

5. Learn how to do it right

If you’re a doctor or practice manager, take advantage of our offer and get a copy of my book sent to you for free. You need to understand how things should be done before you can make an informed buying decision on a marketing company.