Competition among doctors and lawyers trying to reach the top of search engines is intense and the services are expensive. Doctors, lawyers battle experts, fees for top spots online.
SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) services are the online activities that determine where and how a website will appear online.
SEO and SEM activities need to be constant and the quality of what’s performed determines where a website appears in search engine results.
Deciding who to trust and how much a medical practice or a law firm should pay for online marketing services is a challenging issue: SEO and SEM firms vary in skill, knowledge and ability. People pop up all over the web declaring their expertise. Search engines do whatever, whenever they choose to websites based on algorithms controlled by Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.
How do professionals choose an agency to handle technology in an industry not governed by anyone or any rules?
Relying on Website and Marketing Skill
SEO and SEM are necessary marketing line items that require time and activity-driven services. everyone looks for doctors and lawyers online whether for research or direct contact. If a website is untouched by its owner it will not come up in search results regularly. Someone has to manage the website but determining who knows the most about SEO and SEM–which are constantly changing fields–is a battle in itself.
Lawyers and doctors are often referred to individuals, but a prospective medical or legal client is still going to look up a doctor or lawyer online. People want to look up legal and medical professionals to compare them and to see what the ratings say. What’s their background? What’s their story? Nationally recognized? Honored? What makes a doctor or lawyer so good? What school did they attend? Are they top in their field?
People go online for doctors and lawyers just like they go online for restaurants. Different businesses all together, but fingers are walking through Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask, etc., to know, see, learn and research legal and medical expertise. A good, functional, strategically-composed website with advertising-based and professionally written content had better be found to be considered.
Want good clients? Provide good information. Constantly. Websites tell clients most if not all they need to know. Websites should encourage calls and visits. Phones should ring and e-mails should be coming in. Traffic is important, but at the end of the day the phone had better be ringing and clients should be saying they found you online, read about you online, saw the video you posted online.
Florida’s largest law firms and medical groups hire several SEO firms to assure that they’re getting the best of the best online results. They have million-dollar budgets which allow them to be everywhere offline as well. TV, radio, outdoor, print media, direct mail, events are other ways of advertising.
But the largest firms in the state, which may hold the top positions online, are paying many, many, many thousands of dollars to SEO teams to work almost around the clock, hourly, daily, constantly filling the Internet and their multiple websites with content. They’re using every marketing outlet possible to drive business because they can afford it and it’s bringing them business.
SEO is Expensive Because It’s Tough Work
Reaching the coveted top of search engines is an inexact science that takes many, many, many hours of work. From a webmaster’s perspective the amount of work is grueling and non-stop and continuous. It takes research, tests, trials, discussions with other webmasters to determine what works. And what works one day, week or month, may not work the next day, week or month. Webmasters experience many failures before finding the right mix of SEO and SEM for each client.
The extensive amount of work performed online is why the SEO and SEM fees are high. No webmaster who is capable of providing website revenue from online marketing will work for less than $1,500 a month which is a STARTING point. $1,500 barely covers daily work. It may, but the time spent has to be strategically handled and executed by a trusted firm. This is a starting number and expect it to increase.
What Should Legal or Medical SEO and SEM Cost?
A one- to four-person medical practice or law firm can expect to spending about $2K to $5K per month for SEO and SEM. This doesn’t include marketing offline, events or public relations. The fee will cover the basic services that should get you traffic and clients.
That $2K to $5K monthly is a low figure. Complaining about it is futile. Unless you can do it yourself, you’ll be paying someone else to do it. And if you’re doing it yourself, you can’t practice medicine or law.
A five- to 10-person law firm averages about $7K to $15K per month for online monthly SEO/SEM services. Legal and medical SEO and SEM clients can expect to be locked into a one-year minimum contract. This is one standard practice among most SEO firms.
Ultimately you get what you pay for. Don’t expect $50,000 clients from $350/month SEO or SEM fees. But don’t pay $10,000 and get $4,500 from website revenue. The website is one part of your marketing mix. If you pour all your money into it, you’d better be sure that it’s viable. A successful marketing plan entails multiple streams of advertising for multiple streams of revenue.
SEO Contracts Are Always Long-Term
SEO is not fast. SEO is not sure. SEO is a science. It goes up and down. It may take a year to get a law firm or medical group or practice to the top of the search engines based on competition. Know what you’re getting into by having research provided to you (paid) on your category.
You can’t build a website and let it sit. Content fuels it.
Do you want old, dated, difficult to understand or view information when you do a search online? Search engines don’t want to provide it to their users.
Don’t blame SEO folks, blame the demand for online information, technology and the wealth of information available.
SEO, SEM Masters Don’t Have Degrees
How do you know if someone is a good SEO or SEM master? They don’t have degrees or licenses. So ask their clients to share their results. Ask for names of clients who will talk to you. They have to show their value if they’re asking for several thousand dollars a month from you.
There’s only so much another client will tell you and some won’t divulge numbers. After all, you may be a fellow doctor or lawyer, but you’re a stranger asking how much money they’re making off their website. But they should be able to tell you good, bad or ugly.
Want to know what SEO and SEM masters know about Google? You should know what search engines want from your website? Google it. Google Matt Cutts. Google SEO and then read about it, watch video about it and start talking to some firms to learn about it. Before you shop SEO and SEM firms, learn basics so you don’t get cross-eyed when the tech speak begins to come from the mouths of the webmasters.
Knowing the difference between an app and a plug-in is important. You don’t need to know coding or programming, but you should try to grasp which platform the webmaster builds or works in. Know the names, be aware of general website terminology and technology.
Don’t get bamboozled or overwhelmed or out-teched by a technologically-savvy webmaster. Ask for a layperson’s explanation so that you get the basic and main ideas. If they say they can’t explain it, they probably can’t. Tell them thank you and keep looking.
But just because you’re reading about doesn’t mean you’ll understand it. Just as reading law or medical information doesn’t make you a legal or medical expert. Because there are no SEO or SEM schools you’re relying on the word and work of unlicensed and non-degreed webmasters. The only thing you can go on is their success with other clients and their IT and computer background.
If a website looks bright and shiny and you think it looks professional, go meet that team in-person. Find out what they know. Vet them. Get referrals.
SEO differs every day. There is no miracle effort, answer or activity to SEO. It is multiple activities performed continually, properly, over long periods of time. If someone claims to be able to get you to the top in month, they sure can. But can they keep you there? No and they will not put it in writing.
Why SEO Results Vary By Client
If a 10-person medical group or law firm wants to launch a new website and rebuild an existing website, the new site and the old site will have different results. Why? Because search engines react to each differently.
Research has to be completed within your practice area to know what you’re up against in your category. Then, you have to decide if you’re going toe-to-toe with a direct and like-sized competitor who is beating you out online. Or you may decide you’re better off going after ownership of a practice area that research shows that you will have a chance to rank within online.
Bankruptcy Orlando, criminal law Florida, cosmetic surgeon Miami, dentist Orlando are highly coveted search terms. You can’t compete online for those terms if you don’t have a $5K a month budget. Because the terms are so competitive, you have to provide more online activity to rank for them.
Post one story a month on criminal law, you won’t come up in search for that. Post 30 items online all over and you may show up. But the activities can’t be guessed upon. They have to be strategically researched by an expert who should be able to tell you clearly if you have a chance of ranking or showing up or not.
Spending Will Determine Your Results
Be realistic if you’re limited by budget. Criminal defense attorney Alford, Florida, or family doctor Wausau, Florida, may be more realistic for you if you have a tiny budget.
But do not think that you can go up against the largest firms and spend all your money trying to “beat them.” You can’t. And if that’s what you expect, The Marketing Square won’t take your money.
Research Comes First
The Marketing Square strategically researches your target audience and defines where it is and how to properly engage. Online research will decide your opportunities. We don’t know until you provide us your strategy, your demographics, a budget and the marketing activities you currently employ and plan to activate.
Your efforts may be better spent heavier offline. You may need public relations to provide a quicker, broader, immediate reach. You may have to repair broken existing or past client relationships to develop a referral plan within your known and satisfied client base. You may want to do a website rebuild, add a new website and begin doing events.
It all depends on your target audience. But the battle to be found online when someone types in Florida lawyer or Florida attorney or Florida doctor or Florida family doctor will not end. Doctors and lawyers have to feed the beast that is the Internet. The Marketing Square will help narrow down and focus on your niche and your target audience.
SEO and SEM Activities Are A Lot of Work
Lawyers understand hourly rates. Doctors understand insured vs. uninsured clients. Time is a valued commodity for webmasters as well. Do you expect a webmaster to work for your law firm or your medical group for $20 bucks an hour?
You may. And you will get what you pay for. No webmaster will sit at a computer for free pushing your website so that YOU can make money. But the spending should be able to provide results. Your investment has to be reasonable and relevant to revenue expectations.
SEO is a service. A highly coveted and technology-centric service. Expect to pay well for results.
You may be tempted by those who solicit you by e-mail. SEO and SEM firms willing to do a list of 20-30 things for you for $350 a month! Wow what a deal.
Buyer beware. You hand over $350 a month to an unknown entity because it shows up in your e-mail Inbox? Good luck with that.
But for the several thousand dollars a month you’ll be spending with an SEO firm you had better do a sit down with them. Know where to find them and how to contact them. When will they report to you and how often?
Get Logins, Domains, Passwords, Hosting Information
Spending several thousand dollars on a website build? Pay attention to what they tell you about logins, domains, hosting, e-mail accounts and passwords. Get and own all of them. Learn how to login and learn how to post or change content. Add a picture, change your phone numbers.
Many times, turning over a domain and hosting accounts to a webmaster can hold you hostage. Don’t be lazy with ownership or responsibilities. If you don’t own the domain, it’s not yours. Anyone can buy a domain. Once it’s owned whoever has it can hold it, it’s theirs for as long as they want it.
If you have a hot website name, pay for it for the next 20 years. Don’t end up having to pay someone to buy it back.
You’re Paying for Trust
There is a myriad of online marketing and website work that can be done in a day. A lawyer who hires any firm to build or work on their website has got to trust that firm implicitly to do the work. You have to take their word for it because proof of service is not clear or easy to demonstrate.
The range of activities on your behalf would have to be videotaped from over the shoulder of the SEO master to actually prove they did the work. SEO is not easy, fast or simple. Quite frankly, it takes computer scientists. Skilled staff with years of IT and website experience. SEO and SEM are activities online. They jump around and involve so many various programs and websites that keeping a list is virtually impossible.
Some activities can be tracked but cannot and will not be taught. Simple activities that are considered SEO and SEM can be shared and explained to the lay person, but in general if you’re not a trained, skilled SEO expert, you can’t possibly understand or know how to do what needs to be done to push a website up a search engine.
Lawyers and doctors have three to 12 years of additional education and training in their field. Just because you’re a tech nerd, can hook up a computer, DVD player, sound system and can write a blog post, shoot a video and dabble in social media does not a webmaster make.
Webmasters are online for a living coding, programming and manipulating search engines with researched and measured efforts. Most are online eight to 18 hours a day. They build websites. They program websites. They know what you don’t know about what makes search engines respond.
And that’s an unknown amount of information which makes it difficult to understand, comprehend or know if what a firm is doing will work.
Know Your Competition Online
Your competition is out there. But the law firm with a million-dollar marketing campaign is NOT your competition. It may seem so online, but you’ve heard the phrase “champagne dreams on a beer budget.”
You can’t spend what the big law firms or medical groups do and frankly, you shouldn’t be spending as they do. Could you handle the work the spending brought in? Not likely.
This means that the big law firm, the big medical group is not the average several-person law firm or several-doctor competition. The l cannot and should not expect to be able to go toe-to-toe with those firms.
in spending. But can a small firm crack the top one two or three spots at the top of the search engines?
Maybe, possibly. But the budget has to be there. The spending is high because the services are grueling for the webmasters who are executing the SEO.
How Much Should You Pay to Compete?
You will pay a lot. You’ll pay at least $20,000 in SEO annually. You’ll pay at least $5K-$15K per website build.
Unethical SEO firms take advantage of desperate lawyers and doctors who will compete to get to the top and stay at the top of search engines.
So how does a doctor or a lawyer vet the firm that they hire?
Ask for results and for clients who are making revenue directly from their websites. However, YOU are NOT them. Your practice is different, your expertise is different. Your capabilities are different. Your spending will vary as will the number of years in business, services, etc. Be reasonable but get referrals.
SEO is NOT just a traffic issue. Any SEO master can drive traffic. But can they market and advertise sufficiently? Can you expect revenue from your website? The answer should be yes.
Knowing how to reach a specific target is not always SEO and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) related. Sometimes events, in-person meetings, relationship marketing, guerrilla marketing and public relations are needed.
And the fees should be comparable and measurable.
Measurable as in you’re getting phone calls from clients for your marketing efforts that match or exceed what you put into it.
We’ve had to help several clients in the past two years who were paying in excess of $15,000 a month for “marketing.” But they were getting NO clients. The firms they used were providing insufficient and absolutely incompetent services including:
- Duplication or absence of backlinks
- Plagiarized copy
- Incomplete SEO
- No SEO on the website
- Incomplete or absent online profiles
- Inaccurate and irrelevant traffic
- Off-target client inquiries from those who couldn’t afford their services
- No phone calls, no e-mails, no clients
- Long-term contracts with no previous track record of work
- False (website agency) clients who lied about SEO results
- Overtly, over priced SEO
- Dated technology
Consult with The Marketing Square for an experienced and honest team who won’t pull your leg or rip you off. Honesty is our policy. Ethical and open practices are the way we do business. We’ll come to your office and show you what we do. You’ll know where to find us and we can answer to our actions. Our clients will tell you our results.
You can spend too much with someone who will gladly allow you to pay them $10K a month and provide you with no revenue. They may even get you to the top of the search engines. But that doesn’t ensure that you’ll have paying clients. And your investment should be paid for by the clients you get from your website.
The goal is profit and revenue. The website is NEVER the ONLY thing that you should be doing to market your law firm or medical group. We’ll have you talk with real clients who have had success. We’ll tell you how long it will take before your phone starts ringing and if we can’t help you, we’ll tell you. The Marketing Square provides proven web results and we stand by our clients to help and advise them. Their success is our success.