Simple Strategies for Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Paula Di Marco Young is hosting a local SEO webinar for Palomar.

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
8:00pm EST / 5:00pm PST

As a business owner and experienced customer relationship manager, Paula Di Marco Young knows the challenges of marketing a small business and has experienced the cost-effective – yet significant – impact of sound Internet marketing practices. In this webinar, Paula will share simple SEO strategies that can help increase your business's visibility in local search engine listings and keep non-local competition from taking advantage of your valuable Internet marketing real-estate.

Paula Di Marco Young, BS, RN is the sole owner of Social Marketing Strategy 101, LLC and co-owner of Young Medical Spa. Paula previously owned a cosmetic national franchise, among other businesses in the aesthetics industry, and worked for Johnson & Johnson for over 10 years where she held senior management positions in customer relationship management. Paula has authored for Medical Spa Report Magazine and is an editorial blogger for Medical Spa MD. She has also authored the Medical Spa Training Manuals that are used at top medspas and cosmetic clinics to train their staffs.

Read Paula's Medical Spa MD posts.

Using The Art Of Persuasion On Your Website

Is your medical spa's website causing potential patients to make the kind of decisions you want them to make?

Think about the last 10 decisions you have made.  How did you come to your decisions? 

You probably made a mental note of the pros and cons, factored in your intuition along with some sound logic and came up with an intelligent decision. You probably understand that most people aren’t as strong and smart as you and therefore are easy targets to sway. But, that never happens to you. You are just too smart.

You just made your first mistake. You experienced something called the “fundamental attribution error”.  This is the belief that other people’s behavior is solely based on their personality, rather than external factors. For example, “Mary is late because she doesn’t care if others have to wait for her” verses “Mary is late because she must have had car trouble”.

These types of biases are very common and play a big role in the way decisions are made. So of course web designers are using this information to influence the behavior of users.  Some designers intuitively know what techniques to use to achieve this, but they may not be able to tell you exactly “why” it works. However, there are some very skilled “decision architects” that understand the psychological behavior and intentionally design web sites with the goal of shaping a visitors decision process and guiding them into a specific action.

There are 7 main components in the decision architect’s toolbox:  Authority, Commitment, Scarcity, Salience, Reciprocation, Framing and Social Proof.

#1 Authority: 

This principle is about influencing behavior via credibility. This is why you will see a lot of name-dropping, used to give the reader confidence that this information is valuable and credible. The MD or DO afer your name is a prime example.

Readers are more likely to believe information if it is written by an “expert” in the field.  In turn, they are more likely to act (buy) as a result of this information.

Decision architects exploit this principle by listing rave reviews and testimonials on their site. Patient testimonials are a common example that a lot of medical spas use. E-commerce sites show highly visible icons assuring the user that the site is secure.  Forums are another way to use authority.  People have the opportunity to rate their peers and users might rely on those ratings as if they were from an expert.

#2 Commitment:

This principle is about taking a stand on an issue that is consistent with our own beliefs. When you take a stand on something that is visible to other people, you usually feel a drive to maintain that point of view to appear credible and consistent.

Designers use this principle by asking for a small, but visible, commitment from you. If they can get you to behave in a certain way, you’ll soon start believing it. An example of this is Facebook.  If a group page can get you to “like” their page and it appears on your newsfeed, you are basically recommending this to all your friends.  If you can get a patient to “like” your medical spa fan page, you have “publicly committed” to being your fan.

#3 Scarcity:

This principle takes me back to some of the manufactured product scarcity around Botox and filler injections. The newspapers or press (or even a local doc) runs the headline “Botox shortage” and there are immediately lines around every block of people wanting to be seen. (Of course there is no Botox shortage and never will be.)

People are more likely to want something if they think it is in short supply or more valuable than it actually is. For example, psychologists have reported that if you give people a cookie from a jar, they rate the cookie as more delicious if it comes from a jar with only 3 cookies list verses a jar with 10 cookies. A nice fact and part of the reason that Fifth Avenue shoe stores put their shoes on pedistals in almost empty stores.

Decision architects exploit this by showing scarcity of a product. This could include limited treatment times or any number of 'act now' specials in your clinic. Smart medical spas understand that perceived scarcity will generate demand.

Another example of this might be a Grand Opening sale. How many medical spas keep that sign up for months and months, hoping that new customers will take advantage of the “special” price?

#4 Salience:

People are more likely to pay attention to details in your user interface that are unique such as a colored “continue shopping” button.  For example, there are certain times during a purchase when consumers are more likely to investigate a special offer. Being able to understand this gives you an opportunity to sell more products or services by offering them at just the right time in the buying cycle.

#5 Reciprocation:

Do you like to return favors?  Most people do and it’s this psychology that is the basis for this principle.  If someone helps you paint your house or babysit your kids, you feel obligated to help them at a future date.

Decision architects know that if they offer you a small gift – a free newsletter, consultation, seminar, or a sample chapter from a book – you are very likely to do something for them in return, even if it's only positive word of mouth. At first they may not ask you to buy something. They may start by asking you to comment on their blog or link to a website.  They know that it usually take several contacts with a user to make them an actual “customer”. 

#6 Framing:

Savvy decision architects know that we like making choices. It makes up feel in control of our destiny.  So, if we are given a choice of 3 tiers of products, you can be assured that there is one of them that they are pointing you towards whether you realize it or not. Another example of framing is the medical spa doc who shows you the most expensive 'total makeover' package knowing you can’t afford it.  Then the next 'best bang for the buck treatments' seem like a real bargain in comparison!

#7 Social Proof:

Have you ever gone to lunch with a group of friends?  Have you ever watched as everyone orders and then base your decision on their choices? 

A great example of Social Proof is shopping on Amazon. When you buy a certain product, say a digital camera, Amazon will then post a note to you saying “other people who bought this camera bought this case and memory card”. Well, if other people bought them, you certainly should as well!

A medical spa example is a 'recommended treatment' for a patients age issue or skin type. A good decision architect will have the 'most patients like' add-on already checked. The client thinks, “I guess everyone buys this so I should too”. 

So back to my original question: How do your medical spas patients come to their decisions?  Maybe now you can see that their decisions can be 'helped along'! Smart medical spas help patients make the 'right' decision.

Simple Tech Support For Your Medical Spa Staff

If you're looking to get out of the tech support role this Christmas, Google has a site for you.

Christmas is going to have more technology gadgets than ever, and they're all going to be connected and web enabled. If you've been handing the tech support for your parents since the VCR needed to be connected, you're days of wine and roses are here.

Google staffers (Googlers) have drafted a site that teaches the most technology-challenged among us how to take a screenshot, set up an autoresponder for your email, send large files or make a phone call with your computer.

This is a nifty resource that you can actually use to train your medspa staff. Nice.

Need A Critique Of Your Medical Spa Website?

OK, I'm ready to throw some rocks at a few of the medical spa and laser clinic web sites that I'm seeing.

If you'd like an expert (me) to take a look at your web site and let you know what I think about what you're doing right, and where you need some improvment, you can request a review from the contact form. (Just include the request in the body of the contact form.)

I'll review your site right here by making and posting a screencast of my thoughs and digging in to your site's structure, design, functionality and SEO attributes.

You'll get some insight about best practices and things you could be doing to drive additional patient traffic an increase your site's visibility, and everyone else will get to watch.

Request a review of your website >

Medical Spa MD on Facebook & Twitter

OK, Medical Spa MD is on Facebook and we've got a pretty active Medical Spa MD Twitter Feed.

If you're a quick learner and already have at least some online strategy for you clinic, please join the Medical Spa MD Facebook Group that we've created or follow us on our med spa twitter feed.

If you don't have your medical spa on Facebook or Twitter yet, put it up. Fortunately for you it's free and relatively easy.

(You may even want to post your before and after pictures on Flickr.)

Facebook not my favorite. I happen to like Twitter somewhat more but it's also more demanding since it requires some additional interaction to build up a following.

Plastic Surgeon & Dermatologist Marketing Online: Is click fraud draining your advertising budget?

If you're one of the thousands of plastic surgeons, dermatologists, laser clincs and medical spas advertising online with Google Adwords or Yahoo, don't be surprised to find that at least some of the money you're paying every month is generated by click fraud.

Don't think it's happening to your skin clinic? Here's a quote from Michael Caruso, CEO of click fraud services vendor ClickFacts in an interview with Marketing Sherpa:

In some particularly fraud prone verticals such as finance, class action lawsuits and medical, ClickFacts sees rates in the 30%-45% range. These are all categories that see high keyword pricing in the auction model. That makes them particularly tasty for click fraud artists. “If you can make more money from the dark side than the light side of search, there are plenty of people who will take advantage. Plus, it’s not even technically illegal yet.

Two ways that your plastic surgery or medical spa marketing budget is being drained:

Competitors who see your ad simply click on it, draining your advertising dollars, or 'affiliate' sites are set up that run your ads where they are clicked on by bots or employees. These sites are the most damaging since you're paying for every click without any return. Click fraud for medical spas can be very lucrative since medspas are becoming such a competitive market and the payment per click can be as high as $4-5.

To keep your budget safe you have very few tools. Google just advertisers $90 million to compensate for click fraud as the result of a class action suit but you can bet they're not that interested in your individual account. Especially since they're making money from click fraud too.

Start by limiting your exposure to click fraud. If you're still running an Adwords or Yahoo campaign, they allow you to limit the maximum amount you spend in a day. Take advantage of this feature by limiting your maximum cost to what you can afford to spend. You can also look for the tracks of click fraud by examining the reports you might have available to you. Multiple clicks coming from the same IP address are a sure sign of fraud.

Malaysia has become such a haven for click fraud 'sweat-shops' that clicks generated there are completely discounted and Malaysian accounts for Adwords or Overture are not granted.

If you're going to run search ads, try to protect yourself. You can be sure that you're the only one trying to.