You already know that search engine optimization (SEO) is key to driving prospective patients to your practice’s website. And, to ensure it’s done correctly, you’ve decided to go the professional route – but how do you pick the right SEO provider for your practice? The selection process can be daunting because it’s not your area of expertise. Nevertheless, you’ve invested in your office’s online presence and SEO has the power to either expand your reach or hide you on page eight of search results.
The questions you should ask are not too dissimilar from those involved in choosing an undergraduate school. Back then you knew there was a lot riding on your decision, but you didn’t exactly know what to look for. To help you select the best SEO provider for your practice we’ve created the following tips – no admissions interviewed required.
1. Get the inside scoop – Client experience is a central component in selecting an SEO provider. To ensure you know what you can expect from a company, take your research beyond their website. Search the Internet for reviews and reach out to users for feedback. After all, there’s a reason that college brochure showed polo-wearing students engaged in mind-broadening conversation, instead of the quad littered with red Solo cups. Sometimes you need to do a little digging to get the full picture.
2. False Promises – Beware of SEO providers that claim to know Google’s algorithm or promise to remedy your SEO woes in six weeks or less. Similar to assuring your parents that pledging a sorority/fraternity won’t affect your grades, providers that make these claims are simply saying what’s needed to get a ‘yes’. Google’s algorithm changes between 500-600 times a year and given the amount of revenue tied to it, we can safely assume those in the know are few and do not include SEO providers. These changes, combined with an ever-evolving online landscape are also why successful SEO takes time. If you’re in the market for immediate results, consider adding pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to your online marketing strategy.
3. What’s your major? For some of us our college short list criteria was simple. On-campus Taco Bell? Done. Others took a more formalized approach – how much will it cost to graduate dental school? Just as you wouldn’t attend a school for culinary arts if your interest was dentistry, don’t select an SEO provider that doesn’t specialize in your field. SEO and content are closely linked, so the more dental practice knowledge your provider has, the better able they are to optimize your content.
4. What’s the tuition refund deadline? Don’t forget to check the fine print. Ensure you’re familiar with the provider’s cancellation policy and what it means for your practice specifically. For example, if the optimized content is “owned” by the SEO provider and your practice loses it, your search engine ranking will suffer. Also, in the event of cancellation, be aware of synced content sources, such as your blog and Facebook feed. Remember, if your blog is no longer updated, neither is the synced feed.
5. How about a degree from International Correspondence Schools (ICS)? Many of us are still haunted by Sally Struthers’ ICS commercials from the early 90’s – “Do you want to make more money? Of course, we all do.” Struthers voice of desperation would then tout a long list of learn-at-home programs practically guaranteed to catapult you into success, like TV/VCR and gun repair. No word on the number of injuries sustained by those majoring in the latter. Obviously, things aren’t always what they seem and ignorance can cost you. In recent years, search engine ranking methodologies have become more stringent, but not all SEO providers have updated accordingly. Black hat SEO techniques, such as keyword stuffing and link farming, target search engines rather than a human audience resulting in a poor user experience. At first, you may see a jump in your website’s ranking but, just like those who spent time learning TV/VCR repair, you’ll soon learn it wasn’t worth the effort. That’s because search engines base rankings primarily on user experience, and your site will be blacklisted faster than you can request your academic transcript. Remember, like a good education, there are no shortcuts to quality SEO.
Just like large universities are a good fit for some and small liberal arts colleges work better for others, there’s an SEO provider for every dental practice. A little due diligence up front can save you a headache down the road, but remember, it’s always better to transfer than drop out altogether.