6 signs that it may be time to change your SEO supplier

Is your dental web marketing working?

The world of search engine optimisation generally has a bad reputation and I would say justifiably so. Whilst there are some decent practitioners out there, there are still far too many web marketing companies who peddle poor quality SEO services which, at best, may improve a website’s ranking position in the short term, but ultimately will result in the site being penalised by Google.

We get a lot of new enquiries from dentists who ask us to help after their websites tank in the search rankings – often as a result of dangerous SEO performed by well-known companies who really should know better. So what is still going on which shouldn’t be?

A dental website compromised by poor SEO

As an example, yesterday I was contacted by a dentist who had had a website built by their video company on the back of a recommendation from their implant supplier. A somewhat convoluted route but the dentist chose to use someone who they thought they could rely on. The resulting website was “average” but unfortunately the video company had also contracted an off-shore company to perform “SEO” to improve the website search rankings. They did this without telling the client that they were outsourcing and also charged a very large fee; likely with a significant profit margin to themselves.

This alone is pretty poor practice but worse is that the website then got penalised by Google – directly as a result of the dire SEO work that had been done.The site now languishes way back in the search ranking with thousands of bad links weighing it down and no easy route to recovery in the search results. Sadly, this is just one example of many dental websites which have been compromised at the hands of SEO guys who mess up – either through inexperience or because they don’t really care at all.

It’s essential to have a working knowledge of SEO to ensure that your web marketing guy is getting it right. The stakes are high – not only will you waste a lot of money if their methods don’t work, but even worse, your website could be irretrievably penalised.

To help, here are six characteristics of companies who are carrying out bad SEO which is outside of Google’s recognised best practice. It’s worth checking to see if your website is currently subject to any of this and if it is, act to stop it! If you are unsure, please contact us and we will be pleased to audit it for you.

Lots of low-quality back-links are pointing at your website

Up until three years ago, the quantity of links pointing at your site mattered a lot and quantity could overcome quality. So companies would contract cheap off-shore partners to build thousands of these links as it was a cheap and quick method to boost sites up the rankings. However, Google got wise and in 2012 started to penalise websites where this technique had been used. Some marketing companies changed their methodology accordingly but many others did not – in reality they were one-trick ponies who could not adapt once their cheap out-source model was derailed. Worse, there are still lots of them out there who persist with the same, dangerous techniques, dragging websites closer and closer to a dreaded Google penalty.

So if you see lots of poor links pointing back at your site, it should set alarm bells ringing.

Your web marketing company charges you for SEO but isn’t actually doing any

This does happen and results from inexperienced website owners not knowing the difference. One dental marketing company charges a monthly fee for simply sending an automated ranking report to clients – but still calls it an “SEO” package. There is no attempt to improve ranking there although the unsuspecting owner doesn’t really understand what they are getting (or not).

Your SEO simply consists of link-building

SEO used to be all about link-building married to lots of keywords placed on your website pages. Whilst good links are still very important, there are now lots of other factors which need to be part of a thorough dental search marketing campaign; for example blogging, content generation and the use of social media. If your provider says they are just going to build links for you, you need to ask some searching questions.

Your SEO guy is not reviewing your website regularly

The way Google ranks websites is very dynamic and consequently SEO practitioners need to vary their methods to suit. Part of this is to review website content on a regular basis and, where necessary, make changes to support incremental ranking improvements.

You aren’t given access to Google Analytics and Webmaster Reporting Tools

These are two important tools which will help you to understand exactly how your website is performing. Unfortunately many web marketing agencies will not give you access to the tools and prefer instead, to provide you with a simple monthly report. However, it is very easy to show selected data on such reports deliberately to hide the full picture. If your supplier is restricting access to these reports, you may need to think again about using them.

Your marketing guy isn’t identifying and eliminating bad links from your back-link profile

If a website has been subject to an algorithmic ranking demotion or manual Google penalty, it’s no use just piling in new links to try to make amends. Whilst adding good links is important, the primary task must be to clear up the legacy rubbish. Only then can you hope to start making progress again. Even where a website is ranking well, it might be getting close to tripping Google’s penalty filters. Consequently good SEO guys will be carrying out periodic link audits just to make sure you aren’t at risk from future Google updates.

Summary

The SEO industry has a bad reputation which is arguably well-deserved. There are simply too many web companies trying to make a quick buck by using old, outdated and risky methods to try to promote their clients’ websites. Unfortunately, the average site owner does not have sufficient knowledge to understand that they are being duped.

To give you a fighting chance of understanding what is going on and to help validate what your marketer is delivering, please work through the check-list above. If you need assistance, the Dental Media web team will be pleased to conduct an audit on your behalf. Please call us on 01332 672548.