By Glenn Lombardi
If you are a regular of this column, then you have already heard the message about why SEO (search engine optimization) is so important. It is still the best way to make your practice more visible in the modern, Web-driven world, and it is becoming a more standard part of a Web presence every day. However, even though the concept of SEO is becoming more familiar, a good number of misconceptions about it still abound. This column addresses some of the most common myths.
1. SEO is Simple
This is first on the list because, even though it seems like a fairly common sentiment, it could not be further from the truth. SEO is actually quite complicated. Though there are indeed some basic, overarching concepts that can be applied to most practices, there is no such thing as a preconstructed, point-and-click solution. Every practice is different. Therefore, every SEO program needs to be custom-fitted for a particular practice's needs.
2. SEO is an Instant Solution
Unfortunately, SEO will not fix your search engine visibility issues by next week. Super-fast results such as this can only come from a PPC (pay per click) program, which will provide instant visibility in the paid ads section. These strategies, while effective, are often expensive, and they generally provide less significant return than a true SEO program. SEO allows your website to achieve more prominence in the organic search results where most people do their clicking. Significant results can take up to six months to arrive. This is because the process is long, and can be grueling to anyone but the most seasoned professionals. But do not let the wait discourage you. The SEO race is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time for Google's crawlers to find optimization changes and to build trust with your site. It takes time to build the links that make your site reputable. But ultimately, the results are worth the time and effort required.
3. SEO is Permanent
This assumption has real potential to cause harm. I have seen it many times. A practice joins our SEO program, sees positive, even first-page results, and then promptly discontinues service. The sentiment seems to be that, once the first page goal has been achieved, no maintenance is required. After all, there is no need to keep paying for something I already have, right?
Invariably, if a practice drops its SEO at the first sign of results, the practice's rankings drop like a rock. Cutting an SEO program after seeing success is a little like cutting the foundation out from under a building once the tallest floor has been built. You cannot expect it to stay in the air for long afterward.
4. SEO is a Stand-alone Solution
There is some truth to this one. After all, an SEO program will not do anything but help your practice's rank. But if the only bit of online presence you can point to is your website, it is going to be much more difficult to promote your practice than it would be if it were part of a complete Web presence. It is crucial to support your SEO efforts with other materials that expand your Internet footprint. These include social media, mobile websites, and blogging, just to name a few. This is because, even for Google, it is hard to find one needle in the haystack of the Web. With a complete Web presence, you are essentially dumping entire boxes of needles into the mix. The more content you have, the easier the process becomes.
5. There is Such a Thing as "Close Enough"
In SEO, the devil is in the details. So much so that even the syntax of a search query can make a difference in the results it generates. "Annapolis dentist," for example, will perform differently than "dentist in Annapolis." Part of making sure your program is successful is knowing which strategies to use, and when.
Even though SEO is complicated and continually changing, it is perhaps the most effective way to bring more attention to your practice. Take a look at your search ranking, and if you need a boost, consider a reputable professional program. The sooner you start, the quicker the results will come.
Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, a leading provider of dental websites and Internet marketing strategies, including social media, search marketing, reputation management, and mobile websites. Officite has built thousands of websites that have generated more than a half million new patient appointment requests since 2002. For more information, visit www.officite.com or call (800) 908-2483.
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