I often hear dentists say, company X didn’t show good results for me, but thanks to company Y I’m everywhere in search and get new patients. It seems that many dentists think that a web company can somehow do the “search magic” for them, and they can just sit back and enjoy the results.
What a web company can’t do
Claiming that organic (unpaid) SEO brings you a specific number of patients per month is nothing but speculation. In the web marketing and SEO world, anybody can invent their own “proprietary” and “proven” methods, anyone can claim that their websites convert a specific number of patients per month, and manipulate statistics to prove that their methods work. They will dazzle you with numbers and complicated terminology. They will take credit for any random occurrence that happens to be in their favor. Remember, you are dealing with marketing people who know little about math and statistics, but who are good at selling. They are in the business of selling their product, so they can make up anything to pitch a sale. There is very little fact checking, because marketing and SEO are not exact sciences. Pretty much anything goes.
In order to prove your statistics, you need to have thousands of test cases each year over many years, and you need to control for tons of variables. Only then, if you see consistent results, you can assume that your method is working. Most marketing companies do not engage in such complex statistical analysis.
Do not believe it when an SEO company claims they consistently bring you X patients per month. SEO works, but making connection between how many patients you get and SEO is fake science.
What a web company can do
In reality, there’s only so much a web company, even the best one, can do. A good company will ensure that your website is optimized to Google standards (website code meets Google’s standards, website is mobile-friendly and loads fast, microformats are correct, website doesn’t have too much code-to-text ratio and unnecessary code is eliminated, and other technical things). They can advise you on the best way to title your pages and mark your images going forward (because you are the one who should be editing your site). They can help you get registered with Google Business local search, Yelp, other prominent directories. Of course, they need to ensure that your business name, address is spelled correctly everywhere. They can implement reviews and social media on your site to make sure your website is connected with your other places of online activity. They can ensure that your website provides good user experience, functions well, no links are broken. They can give you advice on how to write and organize content so it’s best for both your readers and SEO. In short, they can ensure that nothing they have done would harm your SEO and that you’re off to a good SEO start with a solid, editable website.
What you can do
But the rest of it is pretty much up to you. It’s up to you to continue generating original and valuable content. It’s up to you to stay active and to continue marketing your value, to network with other sites and market your content on external sites to get links back to your website, to get involved with the community, to sponsor community events, to promote yourself – in short, to become and stay visible anywhere you can be, both online and offline. It’s not up to some web company, it’s up to you. Your ongoing involvement and dedication is what will give you the best organic results over time.
SEO involves a lot of work outside of your website. Guest posting, networking, community involvement will get you mentioned in lots of different places. Your web company cannot magically be there for you. This is your work.
The ones who win are those who are more active, more innovative, and who continue to stay visible and involved everywhere. The ones who don’t want to do that risk being overshadowed by their more active competitors, and no web company can magically “fix” the problem.
So, a good web company will ensure that you’re off to a good start, but the ongoing work is up to you. You can buy ads if you need patients immediately, but if you are shooting for long-term organic search visibility, be prepared to do some work. Instead of paying for ongoing SEO maintenance which, for the most part, involves monthly keyword tweaking, I suggest that you invest in networking, community involvement, guest posting, and generating interesting and valuable content.
As a business owner, you must always be in the “marketing mode” to drive your business. If you are too busy and generate lots of revenue (good for you!) then hire a dedicated marketing employee who knows your practice first-hand and who can, hopefully, take the burden off your shoulders and do the marketing work for you. Otherwise, I suggest that you roll up your sleeves and do the work that only you, not a web company, can do.