Spammy links and canned reviews and content are the new fool’s gold | May 2014 Plastic Surgery Practice

Evans_DavidBy David Evans, PhD, MBA

In the mid-1800s, many a miner trekked to California to seek fortune in gold. They wanted it so badly, they could see it, feel it, and even touch it. Some did hit it big, but others were lured by the promise of fool’s gold, also known as iron pyrite.

An analogy can be drawn to the current Internet marketing environment. What was once a free-for-all for search engine rankings and real estate is now a bit trickier to navigate, and many are once again learning the hard way that all that glitters isn’t gold.

We all want to believe that our search engine marketing strategy is golden, but how can you be sure? Reduce your risk of getting fooled by following these perspicuous prospecting tips.


Solid Gold Content: Customized content, with a focus on articles of interest to consumers and potential patients, can provide a real SEO boost. This includes unique content about specific procedures or treatments in formats that engage the reader. An evergreen piece on the risks of breast lifts is important, which is why every website that focuses on aesthetic breast procedures will have it.

The best way to stand out is to up the ante. Consider adding an article on exercise after breast augmentation. Is indoor cycling OK? What about Pilates or swimming? Place the procedure-descriptive content on the main website and the exercise-after-breast-augmentation content on a blog.

Fool’s Gold Content: Multiple pages of repetitive website content about procedures is fool’s gold, as is placing the same procedure-specific content from your website on your blog. Redundant content is a turn-off to consumers and Google alike. Some SEO companies may peddle this fool’s gold content strategy because it is a lot easier, more scalable, and less expensive to produce.

Also beware of companies that suggest that contributing content to other sites is a great SEO play. It is, but not for your site. If you have time to answer questions or post on other sites, your time is better spent doing the same on yours.


When it comes to links, quality usurps quantity every time. Here’s how to tell if you are mining the wrong source.

  • Solid Gold Links: High-quality back-links to your website are a very important facet of SEO. The best ones come from places that are restricted to a limited number of plastic surgeons, such as a society website, or from places that provide a distinct location feature about your practice, such as the local chamber of commerce. These are worth their weight in gold.
  • Fool’s Gold Links: Adding back-links to your website from sources that also link to many other websites is poison, especially if they each link your location and a procedure (eg, “breast augmentation Miami”). Links, like content, should be unique and germane to your practice.

Some SEO companies sell links from the same sites to all of their clients. If your SEO company suggests that you (or their staff) place guest blog posts on other sites for linking back to your own site, don’t be fooled. Google now looks very negatively on guest blog posts with back-links to your site. (If you have the time to blog, do it for your own site.)


Social media and reviews are also important parts of your search engine marketing plan, but only if they are legit.

  • Solid Gold Social Media Strategy: Providing regular, engaging, and interactive posts on Facebook can generate Likes and help create a unique online footprint. Not every post will be a social hurricane. That’s OK. A mix of posts of general interest and unique educational tidbits about your services will keep your audience engaged and sharing.
  • Fool’s Gold Social Strategy: Facebook posts that simply repeat procedure information from your website or your upcoming specials is fool’s gold. Internet marketing companies offering this service simply copy the text and pictures from the site and repost it to Facebook and your blog. This is less expensive because unique and engaging posts don’t have to be created. Be especially wary of social media companies that guarantee a certain number of Likes for a certain cost. Purchased Likes are fool’s gold. Authentic reviews, like 48-karat gold, are valuable because they are hard to come by.
  • Solid Gold Reviews: Legitimate reviews from real patients that appear on authoritative sites are SEO gold. It’s that simple. Mentions of you and the name of your practice on these sites can bolster your practice and secure your online footprint. There is no shortcut. Patients must first be swept away by your care and then encouraged to post a review.
  • Fool’s Gold Reviews: Canned reviews are Fool’s Gold. Although Google is not currently penalizing doctors with loads of 4- or 5-star reviews, they probably will down the road. Google has its own reviews platform on Google Local and will be ruthless when it detects “gamed” reviews.

It’s easy to get caught up in a gold rush, but only fools rush in. Creating a unique online presence takes focus and resources. Be discriminating, and remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it’s fool’s gold.

David Evans, PhD, MBA, is the CEO of Ceatus Media Group, based in San Diego. His column, “The Edge,” appears in every issue of Plastic Surgery Practice. He can be reached via [email protected].

Original citation for this article: Evans D. Welcome to the Gold Rush of 2014. Plastic Surgery Practice. 2014; May 10-11.