Looking for a dental search engine optimization (SEO) provider can be painful. With everyone from local agencies to online marketing behemoths offering SEO, the process can be as unclear as online dating. Compound this with the added pressure of having your dental practice’s reputation on the line, and it might seem tempting to skip the hassle.
Since that’s definitely not in your best interest, we’ve compiled a list of red flags and questions to make selecting the right dental SEO provider easier for your practice.
Here are the red flags and areas to keep in mind when choosing an SEO provider:
Get to know them.
First things first – look the company up online, visit their website and check out their social media pages. How do they come across? Do they appear professional? Trustworthy? Caution, this one is tricky because, as anyone who has ever dabbled in online dating can tell you, things are not always as they appear on the Internet. An appealing online presence is a huge component, but it can be subjective, so don’t base your selection on looks alone. It’s also important to consider how providers interact with current and prospective clients. When responding to client feedback online are they professional and courteous, or do they respond to any less-than-stellar reviews with hasty, defensive comments? If you feel uncomfortable observing how a provider communicates with people online, imagine what it would be like to be on the receiving end.
What’s their MO?
You’ve done some cyber-stalking, but that’s not enough. Now’s the time to dig a little deeper and, unlike the second date, playing coy isn’t advised. When considering a dental SEO provider, it’s important to know how they operate because your practice’s reputation is on the line.
In recent years search engine ranking methodologies have become more stringent, but not all SEO providers have updated their practices accordingly. Black-hat SEO techniques, such as keyword stuffing and link farming, target search engines rather than a human audience, which results in a poor user experience. At first you may see a jump in your website’s ranking but, like a short-lived romance, 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 say “au revoir.”
Some things are too good to be true.
We’ve all been there – blinded by love at first sight (or something like that) – our general discernment momentarily disabled. Don’t worry, we’re not judging! There’s an entire genre of reality TV based on the premise. Sure, it’s easy to raise an eyebrow when this season’s bachelorette, a former-model-turned-pediatric-neurosurgeon, says she’s looking for a soulmate who shares her dream of creating a haven for abandon three-legged dogs. But, potential red flags in the realm of SEO can be a bit more subtle.
Some red flags to look for include promising you Page 1 results or claiming to be Google SEO Certified. Spoiler alert: Google does not offer certification in SEO (though companies can be Google Premier Partners) and the sheer number of algorithm changes alone (500-600 times a year) make it impossible to guarantee a first page ranking. Plus, when you consider the amount of revenue tied to Google’s algorithm, sharing how to crack the code would be the equivalent of Colonel Sanders handing out his fried chicken recipe. So remember, sometimes when things look too good to be true, it’s because they are.
Questions to Ask When Hiring a Dental SEO Provider:
Knowing what to avoid is important, but so is knowing what to move toward. The questions below can help suss out a legitimate provider from the fly by night variety.
Q.What strategies will you implement to improve our rankings?
- a. Make sure the company is able to go into great detail about their plan on how they will work to get you better rankings. SEO strategies are very involved and a transparent company will have no problem explaining what they plan to do both on and off your website to improve your rankings.
Q. How do you plan to create backlinks?
a. Backlinks are big parts of search engine rankings, but they’re difficult to obtain. Low-quality or spammy backlinks can actually hurt you in the end. Make sure their backlinks are coming from reputable companies.
Q. How often will you report on my progress, and what will that report look like?
a. SEO companies should provide some type of benchmark data and reporting each month. You also want to see how often they share these reports with you, and how often you will have a call to check-in with them to go over results and adjustments to strategies.
Q. Can you share experience of other clients?
a. Look for companies who can provide reviews, testimonials, and case studies from their clients to show success.
Q. Can you guarantee that we will rank #1 for a major search term?
a. If a company says “yes” – run. No one can guarantee page 1 placement for a SEO search term.
Q. Is there a contract and what happens if we cancel early?
a. It isn’t uncommon for SEO companies to require a contract for at least a few months, as SEO does take a lot of work before results and search ranking improvements are shown – however, it is important to go into the agreement understanding all of the rules around it to protect your dental practice.
Q. Why should we choose your company as a dental SEO provider?
a. This is open-ended and there isn’t a “right” answer – but you do want to listen to their answer carefully. Do they intentionally make false claims or outright bash competitors? This may be a defensive signal and potential red flag. Ideally when someone answers this question, they’ll simply explain the success of their clients and how they can help your practice.
With thousands of websites launching daily, SEO has moved from the nice-to-have column to the must-have side of the board. But, that doesn’t mean you should jump into the proverbial bed with the first dental SEO provider you come across. There’s a lot on the line, and a bad judgement call up front could mean the difference between growing your practice and burying it somewhere in the black hole of search results. When looking for a dental SEO provider, take your time and keep the red flags we’ve outlined in mind. Don’t be shy about using the suggested questions above and let the answers guide your decision.
Questions? Reach out to a ProSites Internet Marketing Advisor at (888) 932-3644 to discuss how SEO can help you meet your practice goals.
About the blogger
Heather Frechette-Crowley is Director of Product Marketing at ProSites. ProSites offers leading dental website design and online marketing solutions including search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and pay-per-click advertising. For more information, or to start a free trial, call (888) 932-3644 or visit http://www.ProSites.com.