SEO BS – here’s how to avoid stepping in it!

The dental SEO business can be a minefield for the unsuspecting – watch out for the weasel words!

Just for the avoidance of doubt, this post is not suggesting that SEO is a bad thing. On the contrary, SEO, done well, is essential for any website in a competitive niche and that includes dentistry. What I am saying is that there is a huge amount of misinformation when it comes to search engine optimisation and unfortunately way too many unsuspecting dentists and/or practice managers fall for it time and time again.

As an example, please take a look at last week’s post where we discussed a marketing company which takes on clients with full knowledge that they can’t actually do the work, but get away with it anyway.

So the aim of this week’s post is to highlight a range of false promises that marketing companies make which sound great to the lay person, but can’t really be fulfilled. Let’s go….

SEO BS is all over the marketer’s websites

Everywhere you look, you will see dental marketers proclaiming success with phrases such as “thousands of dental website searches on page 1 of Google”. To compete, we actually have to say similar but in reality, whilst it sounds impressive, it’s not really that hard to achieve. Even with some basic SEO and a well-structured website, you should expect to get to page one on Google. You may not be top, but you should get there or thereabouts, at least for some search terms. So no big deal. I actually get concerned if any of our clients drop off page one, even where we are not undertaking any optimisation for them. The real deal is to get *lots* of search terms prominent on page one and collectively delivering lots of useful traffic and enquiries – there’s a big difference.

Ranking promises

This is a big one to be wary of. All too often we get dentists call to say they’ve been promised position 1 Google rankings by some company or another. There are only two explanations for this – the first is that they are lying (Google simply has too many variables to promise anything) and the second is that they will try to achieve it for some obscure search phrase which adds nothing. Good SEOs don’t make promises. The only type of guarantee I’ll subscribe to is that I’ll work diligently to help you acquire new dental patients from the web via search – most other guarantees you’ll hear elsewhere are BS.

A constant stream of SEO BS in your inbox

From UK marketers who proclaim to know about SEO and spam you relentlessly, to off-shore companies who mail you with offers of SEO for $100 per month; you’ll likely know exactly what I mean when it comes to this type of unwanted inbox spam. The simple fact is that those who are any good at it don’t need to spam you; like us they tend to get most of their business by word-of-mouth recommendations. As for search promotion services for $100, well please forget it. It will just hurt your website and your business.

Marketing BS in your social feeds

Sadly, it’s easy to spam a target audience via the likes of Facebook these days and those super-duper offers of limitless new patients are all too prevalent. Same as the email inbox spammers, most of them aren’t worth the time of day. Take my advice and give them a miss, or at best give them a go but only with some form of pay-for-results agreement in place.

Calibrate your SEO BS sensor!

To give you a heads-up and hopefully help you avoid being tripped up, here are some typical SEO BS weasel phrases to watch out for. If you read or hear any of these, run away!

  • “we get you the best back-links” – almost certainly this translates to a few dodgy directory submissions, duplicated blog posts and little else. Link-building at scale is well-nigh impossible unless the quality of those links is dire. And Google doesn’t like poor links!
  • “we have specially trained SEO authors” – no they don’t. Writing high-quality, relevant content is the key and then optimising this to be search engine friendly. “SEO trained authors” or some-such is just more BS designed to confuse you.
  • “we know Google’s secret sauce” – no you don’t! No-one but Google knows how Google works and whilst the good guys in the search community will strive to spot patterns and follow best practice, they won’t claim to be able to game Google.
  • “page one rankings guaranteed” – big deal, see comments above!
  • “we buy the best links” – definitely don’t go there as this a big red flag as far as Google’s guidelines go. And they will catch you. The same goes for adding links to personal blog networks, exchanging links with bloggers in different countries and so forth. It all goes on and eventually you’ll get caught out and your website penalised.

SEO changes – all the time….

Google changes it’s search engine algorithm hundreds of times per year; you can’t game it or necessarily predict it. So be prepared for changes and riding out a few lows along the way. This type of unpredictability is becoming commonplace. A good search marketer will be monitoring regularly and adjusting your website and digital strategy to compensate for these changes, gradually building up your presence and increasing your website traffic and conversions. Please don’t be impatient. Your SEO guy should also be schooling you on the key changes and how strategy will be developed to compensate. It pays to be on board with this so you build up a decent working knowledge of the good and the bad.

Avoiding the minefield

As with all services, it pays to seek out evidence to confirm that what you are subscribing to is effective and delivers value for money. Avoid the companies who want to sign you up just because they built your website or claim to include SEO in their convoluted and expensive monthly retainer fee. Most of the time, they won’t be doing anywhere near what they claim, which is easy to evidence if you know what you’re looking for. Above all, listen out for the weasel words, false guarantees and generally calibrate your SEO BS sensor! Don’t get tied into contracts and make sure everything you to subscribe to is data driven and the results are reported. Then you’ll stand a good chance of making progress.

If you need help with optimisation of your own practice website or an assessment of work that is going on currently, we’ll be pleased to help. Call our team on 01332 672548 for a no-obligation discussion and to see examples of our work.