Web surfers looking for information on cosmetic surgery are common enough, day in and day out, that Google has no trouble returning relevant search results (and ads) based on just a word, or perhaps two or three, typed into a search field.
But is there a way for plastic surgery practices to know how many people are searching at any given time, where they are, when they’re most interested, and what specifically they’re asking about? Enter Google Trends, a resource for tracking interest in various subjects based on the queries that are continuously coming in to Google.
News Drives Trends
On any given day, terms like “plastic surgery” and “dermabrasion” aren’t going to land on Google’s continuously updating Hot Trends list. They need a spark. For better and worse, news — sometimes bad news — is what usually provides it.
Google Trends lets you see this dynamic illustrated. Just type “plastic surgery” into the search field on the Trends page, and it returns a graph, divisible by time frame and by region, and with annotations to show when a news story drove interest in the subject.
Pull-down menus at the top of the results page let you fine-tune the results by location and time frame, and dig deeper into related search categories (such as beauty and fitness) and specific types of searches (such as news versus images).
In the topics field, you can put two terms side by side and see how they relate to one another in terms of search interest. Type “plastic surgery” and “Michelle Obama” into the topics field, and you can see where the trend lines climbed in tandem: Back in mid- January, when the First Lady said she wouldn’t rule out a bit of cosmetic touch-up for herself.
Comparing Word Usage
For marketing purposes, however, a more productive use of Google Trends is to look at the vernacular, placing words from the trade side by side in order to see which are the most commonly used in searches. Google Trends tells us, for example, that “plastic surgery” is much more frequently searched than the more elegant-sounding “cosmetic surgery.” Likewise, “nose job” clocks in well ahead of “rhinoplasty.”
If your practice’s site uses the Web’s preferred search terms more often (within reason), and places them higher up on the page, it’s more likely to be visited.
Another helpful component of Google Trends is the “Related Search” list that appears at the bottom of the results page, on the right. It tells you which other terms and phrases are closely associated with your baseline search term. People typing in “plastic surgery,” for instance, also look — and in this order, according to Trends — for information on the following: “Megan Fox,” “bad plastic surgery,” “cosmetic surgery,” “Heidi Montag,” and “plastic surgery cost.”
In short, when people think about plastic surgery, they often do so in the context of celebrities, cost, and concerns about procedures going wrong. These issues can all be addressed in a practice’s website — intelligently, of course, and in a way that won’t prompt Google to de-list you from its page rankings for trying to drum up website traffic with misleading keywords.