Search Engine Optimization: An Analysis of Rhinoplasty Web sites

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The Internet is the primary source of information for facial plastic surgery patients. Most patients only analyze information in the first 10 Web sites retrieved. The aim of this study was to determine factors critical for improving Web site traffic and search engine optimization. A Google search of “rhinoplasty” was performed in Michigan. The first 20 distinct Web sites originating from private sources were included. Private was defined as personal Web sites for private practice physicians. The Web sites were evaluated using SEOquake and WooRANK, publicly available programs that analyze Web sites. Factors examined included the presence of social media, the number of distinct pages on the Web site, the traffic to the Web site, use of keywords, such as rhinoplasty in the heading and meta description, average visit duration, traffic coming from search, bounce rate, and the number of advertisements. Readability and Web site quality were also analyzed using the DISCERN and Health on the Net Foundation code principles. The first 10 Web sites were compared with the latter 10 Web sites using Student's t-tests. The first 10 Web sites received a significantly lower portion of traffic from search engines than the second 10 Web sites. The first 10 Web sites also had significantly fewer tags of the keyword “nose” in the meta description of the Web site. The first 10 Web sites were significantly more reliable according to the DISCERN instrument, scoring an average of 2.42 compared with 2.05 for the second 10 Web sites (p = 0.029). Search engine optimization is critical for facial plastic surgeons as it improves online presence. This may potentially result in increased traffic and an increase in patient visits. However, Web sites that rely too heavily on search engines for traffic are less likely to be in the top 10 search results. Web site curators should maintain a wide focus for obtaining Web site traffic, possibly including advertising and publishing information in third party sources such as “RealSelf.”

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