“Can you get me ranked on page one of Google for the keyword ‘Dallas dentist’ by next week?”
There are 9 inherent problems with this question:
- SEO is more than that. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a long-term strategy for improving a website so that it is more visible in the un-paid or organic search results. SEO is to marketing as oral and maxillofacial surgery is to dentistry. There is so much that goes into it: image and video optimization, internal and external link building, content development, removal of indexing barriers… Sound Greek to you? It should. SEO is a complex process best left to true experts.
- You are more than that. Your practice has a much bigger, more interesting brand story to tell than your city and your specialty (i.e., “Dallas dentist”). A good firm begins SEO by researching the most searched keywords that your target audience is typing into Google. It matters less what search terms you think people are using to find you, and more what search terms they are actually
- SEO is not enough. SEO alone is not going to cause a major uptick in new patients. It is one of several marketing tactics that should be executed in tandem for optimum results in meeting your goals. Be sure about what tactics are best for your practice by surveying your patients first.
- New patients aren’t searching for you online. Okay, this is unlikely, but it does happen. When you survey your patients, ask if they would search online for a practice like yours before you invest time and money in SEO, social media, online advertising or any other types of online marketing. There are a lot of options available for promoting your practice online, and you want to focus only on the ones that will really work for you. (And they are likely not the ones that work for your competitors or peers!)
- It’s unethical. If the SEO company you are considering is promising page one in days, they are probably doing unethical things to falsely enhance your ranking. For example, they may be stuffing the term in question into your website text in as many instances as possible. This is called keyword stuffing. Google frowns upon this approach and will seek you out and penalize you if you do it. The short-term effect is great, but once they find out, you never saw your ranking plummet so quickly. And once Google blacklists your website, it can be extremely hard to get back into good standing with them.
- It’s not true. If your SEO company says they don’t use keyword stuffing or any other unethical practices, but they can still get you on page one tomorrow, then they are lying about their service offering. Any web-savvy 12-year-old can have you appear on Google Maps with a Google + page. But that’s not SEO, it’s just an online phone book listing.
- The timeline is unreasonable. Don’t expect to go from zero ranking on Google to page 1 in three months, let alone one week. Especially for extremely general keywords like the one in question.
- The budget is too low. Anything is possible if you throw the right amount of money at it. If you paid a team of extremely talented content developers working around the clock for you, your website might get on page one for a specific search term within a short period of time. But, of course, that would be a ridiculous waste of resources.
- It negates the goal. The goal is not to be on page one. The goal is to increase new patient numbers. One way to do that is to attract more traffic to the website with SEO. When any reputable firm is conducting SEO, they should be optimizing your website for hundreds of frequently searched terms, not just one. The right combination of well-rounded SEO with other strategic marketing tactics is what will get you to your goal.