Dental SEO is a long term investment that can bring dozens of new patients every month to your office. SEO is not a regulated industry – there is no license requirement and search engines like Google keep their algorithm secret. Therefore, this field can attract scams and fly by night operations who can ruin your website with outdated and outright shady SEO tactics. Before trusting any individual or company with SEO, you need to make sure they are qualified to do this job. We have prepared the following list of questions you may want to ask before hiring an SEO for your dentist website.
1. May I have a list of current and past clients?
When you hire any SEO vendor always ask for current and past clients just like you would do when hiring a designer. Any reasonably experienced SEO should be able to provide 2-3 references upon request and if not, you better find another vendor. After you received a list of clients you may want to verify the current rankings of the clients. Another follow-up question would be to ask for their longest running clients. A large list of long running clients indicates that the company has been providing consistent results over a long period of time. If an experienced SEO has all their active clients for less than a year ago then they may not be the best choice for your website.
2. What type of SEO activities will you do?
SEO work can be categorized into 3 broad categories – Technical, On-Page and Off-Page. Make sure you get details about what work will be performed for each type of SEO.
Technical SEO is concerned with fixing website errors and crawl issues and ensuring that google bot and other search engine crawlers can read the website without any problem.
On-Page SEO work includes all activities related to optimization, categorization, internal linking, addition and deletion of the website content.
Off-Page SEO activities include everything done to promote your website to other web-masters and bloggers with an aim to develop citations and back-links to your website. Most of the SEO work done will be Off-Page so you should inquire about citation and back-link building strategies being employed by the SEO firm you wish to hire.
3. What changes if any will you make to our website?
Since any changes made on your website will reflect on your dental practice and brand name, it is important you know exactly what changes will be made to the website. If they wish to add content, make sure it is accurate and written well. If they want to add images, make sure you have the copyrights. If they want to add call tracking make sure it doesn’t mess up with your NAP consistency. Ask them to take backup of your website before making any changes.
4. Can you guarantee my website will achieve a number-one ranking on Google, Bing and Yahoo?
This is actually a trick question. Since nobody actually knows how the search algorithm works (except for Google, Bing and Yahoo for their own respective search engines), it is impossible to guarantee a particular spot i.e. 1st, top 3 etc. However, most experienced SEO’s can spot weak SERPs and should be able to tell you how long it will take your website to break through the first page listings. Nevertheless it is impossible to guarantee such results since nobody knows how the algorithm works.
5. What are your fees and payment terms?
Most SEO companies charge by one of the 3 popular methods – fixed price, monthly retainer and hourly rate. You should work out all applicable fees and inquire about late payments and any interest on them. Ask for a copy of the contract (if there is any) and go through each item to confirm all items and there are no hidden charges.
6. What happens when we part ways?
It is important that you know this beforehand so that there is no surprises when the contract/project ends or you have to fire the vendor. Make sure that you will own and keep all the SEO work performed during the length of the engagement.
7. How do you measure the success of your SEO campaigns?
This is critical question that will ensure both you and your SEO have the same understanding of what you require. As a dentist, your goal is to get more patients and increase production. Make sure that your SEO’s goal is aligned to that fact as well. Accordingly you need your SEO vendor to report on the KPI’s you are most concerned with eg. number of organic site visitors, number of form submissions, number of calls, number of appointments, number of subscribers. Getting a report on your website ranking movement for certain keywords is not enough. You have to know how many appointments these rankings are actually generating.
8. How often will you report on your work, and what will it look like?
You should get at least a fortnightly report on all SEO work performed in the past 14 days along with a ranking report and traffic report. Ask for a sample report and go through it with your SEO vendor to make sure you understand the various metrics. Ask them to include specific KPI’s that you wish to track.
9. How will your team adapt your strategy to dental industry?
As a dentist you are not looking for SEO agencies that does well with eCommerce sites. You want to hire firms that have ranked websites for other dentists before and are aware of the dental industry, its consumers, their fears and their jargon. Hiring a dental SEO expert should be preferred over a generic/all round SEO firm. But if an SEO vendor can prove they can adapt their strategies to your industry then they could be worth a try.
10. Why should we hire you over other SEOs?
This is probably the most difficult question to answer and one that you should always ask. The answer will often make or break the deal. There are thousands of excellent SEO companies in the world and you may be interviewing a handful of them. This question provides the SEO firm an opportunity to differentiate themselves from the other candidates. What extras do they provide which you as a dentist value most. It could be anything from excellent customer support to money-back guarantees. If they respond with anything involving:
- we’re cheaper than other options
- we can build you more backlinks (instead of better quality)
- we don’t know
- we can get you faster results,
then you need to proceed cautiously. High quality, long term SEO results take time and definitely do not come cheap.
11. Describe 3 updates to Google’s Algorithm in the last 2 years
This question will let you know if an SEO vendor is up to date with the latest industry trends and news. Ask your SEO to describe a 2-3 updates in the last couple of years such as the ones given below.
Then confirm that they know what they’re talking about by reading through those links here.
12. Describe 3 factors that affect local business rankings in Google
Like the previous question, this one is designed to test some basic SEO knowledge to weed out salesmen from real SEO experts. You should get answers like number of back-links, page title, page speed, citations etc. You can see a much large list of local search ranking factors here.