Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is complicated. That's why many dental practices hire someone to handle this part of their marketing. But dentist-bosses must have some basic knowledge of SEO to know if it's successful for their practices.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________Have you ever wondered whether switching from your current SEO provider would give you a fresh start? HERE IS A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE to help you become knowledgeable enough to make the right move.
Step 1: Assess whether you even need SEO.
I recently talked to a dentist who was calling a few marketing firms for some general advice. As Google’s number one ranked dental SEO expert, I’m supposed to recommend SEO as a viable option, right?
NOT SO FAST.
The fact is, in a quick exam using an SEO tool called “SEM Rush,” I was able to tell this dentist that he ranks number one in his town. I’m not talking about people using obscure search keywords that no patient enters. I’m talking about keywords such as “(your city) dentist.” This lucky clinician never paid for SEO. He just happened to be in the right area. Competition was low, and he had a website that happened to offer what Google is favoring.
At first glance, the illusion that all dentists “need” SEO seems logical. But consider that if every dentist pays a company $500 per month to do some remedial work, where does that leave every dentist’s ranking?
The market actually defeats itself, like crabs in a bucket. Dentists can’t reliably rank because there is no differentiation (as far as Google can tell, anyway). The only ones who win are the SEO companies, who line their pockets with the monthly amounts dentists are asked to pay.
None of this is why I got into the SEO profession, and hopefully the “pay and pray” method is as repellant to you as it is to me.
How do you know if SEO is right for your dental practice? I use a procedure I call “Velscoping your keywords.” I go over the steps I take to ensure that dentists know the answer to two fundamental questions:
(a) How many people are using Google in your area to find dental services?
(b) What kind of competition are you up against?
For instance, a dentist in Rancho Bernardo might be able to outrank the competition in a matter of several months, based on a moderate level of competition the area, where there are about 88,535 people.
Interestingly enough, the general population of your city isn’t the best indicator of how competitive SEO might be. I’ve helped dental websites become ranked in record-breaking time by performing the “velscoping your keywords” procedure and finding the path of least resistance.
Determining whether or not SEO is a good fit for your office depends on a variety of factors, which I’ll go into in depth in a future article. The key takeaway here is I want you to feel empowered. I want you to know that you don’t have to pay for SEO. But, you do have to be scientific in your approach toward SEO. “Velscoping your keywords” can help immensely.
Step 2: Consider what your SEO actually did.
Many dentists call to ask me what’s been done for their SEO. It surprises me how few dentists actually try to extract an answer from their current SEO company. I’ve seen dental websites that are just on the cusp of new patients pouring in, when the dentist decides to pull the plug on a company. I’ve seen the next company get full credit for quick results. I’ve seen great work that Google has yet to react to, and I’ve seen campaigns run upwards of $5,000 per month, even during years in which they literally did nothing.
Remember the dentist in Step 1 who wanted marketing ideas? He never invested one single cent into SEO, but he managed to rank through luck and low competition. This example proves why having an honest SEO specialist “velscope your keywords” is so important. You need to be aware of what your SEO company actually did before you can justifiably fire them. Some areas are just too competitive for a meager budget, and you have to decide if you’re willing to invest more to win.
How do you know if you’re getting what you pay for? Ask. If you don’t feel like you’re receiving a straight answer, it might be time to enroll in a dental SEO course and learn how and why SEO works. Only then will you be able to take control of your Google rankings.
You can also ask an SEO specialist to help you provide some suggestions to your current SEO company. Nobody knows everything about SEO, and I for one welcome having an extra set of eyes on my work. A good SEO company might miss a small technical detail that could hold you back, so more eyes are good.
By considering what your SEO company actually did, you’ll be in the best position possible to assess why your SEO campaign is languishing.
Step 3: Consider peer-to-peer review.
There is no such thing as being a thought leader in dentistry without being open to peer-to-peer review. The same holds true with SEO. Does your SEO company welcome an extra set of eyes to make suggestions? If so, this is a good sign.
Many SEO companies don’t want to share their secrets, and if they refuse to let you bring in someone to check specific areas, you may have no choice but to leave your current service provider. But if transparency is allowed by your SEO expert, don’t automatically fire a company because they left one stone unturned while fighting valiantly for your higher rankings overall.
One of the ways I use peer-to-peer review is by having my work assessed by SEO specialists in other markets, such as SEO for lawyers. I subject myself to the review of someone in a competitive niche who is a valid thought leader. By having an SEO thought leader review your SEO case, you can find potential areas of improvement more quickly than if you change companies.
SEO is very complex. If you’d like to do more dentistry, it’s wise to contact a dental SEO specialist because he or she will know what it takes to rank you. Remember that changing SEO companies often has its hiccups, and that paying for mystery SEO is usually risky.