I spend a lot of time talking about Internet marketing. A lot. I’ve had conversations with complete strangers at bars — they find out what I do and want to know the inside scoop, as if there’s some magic bullet that I’ll share when they buy me a beer. (That’s mistake number one — I prefer vodka.) The truth is (whether you want to believe it or not) there is no one thing you can do to magically make your site rise to #1 on Google overnight. No matter how many Internet ads tell you otherwise.
I blacked out the domain to protect the “innocent.” Do you think it is 80% of of $27.99 or is the discount already applied?
There is a whole list of things that goes into making a site rank higher for specific keywords. Even Google Adwords, which is an “easy” way to get on the front page of Google, are now about as complicated as trying to fly a 747. (Well, maybe a Cessna.) I recently setup a Google Adwords account and started running a campaign around keywords related to IT support. I just wanted to see whether or not the average business owner could do it themselves. I’ll be talking about that in a future post. In the meantime, let’s take a look at how not to do it.
This is just a screenshot of a Google search — dentist bloomington, il. This is a pretty common search. In fact, Google says that there are 260 searches (on average) each and every month for this exact phrase. I’ve included a thumbnail here — click on it and it will pull up the full sized picture. Go ahead and do it now. Take a look at the full page and see what you think. Then, we’ll dissect the page and I’ll point out a few things to you…
Ok. Pretty normal search results, right? What did you think? Anything jump out at you? Before you go on, pick the dentist you would most likely click on first. Don’t tell me who it is… now, put it back in the deck, but remember who it was. Got it? Ok… let’s take a look at this from my viewpoint.
This is the same search results, but all marked up with my incredibly high-tech red pen (courtesy of paint.net.) Right off of the bat, I’d say that Aspen Dental is a winner here. Even though this is a paid ad, it is well done. It has calls to action and easy, informative links for potential patients to find exactly what they need. Of course, since it is an ad, we know it is not getting the most traffic on the page. But, it’s well done, nevertheless.
AffordableDentistry, which is getting the lion’s share of traffic as it is the first local result, is missing a crucial opportunity. Their listing is missing all details other than the most basic information. On top of that, they only have one Google review. It isn’t terrible, but it could certainly be better.
The next two links just amuse me. One is to the Pantagraph, which is the local paper. The other is to Superpages. My thought is that you’re not clicking on either one. You know they’re both just going to be a list of all the dentists, which is what you theoretically have in front of you right now. Why would you go to a different list and start over? Am I wrong? Is this where’d you go?
The other local listings (Hershey Plaza and Redbird) are what’d you expect. Basic listings, but with enough relevant information to let you do your research. More reviews would be ideal, but that’s typical.
The ads along the side, on the other hand, are amazing (like Battlefield Earth with John Travolta was amazing). The list of “affordable dentists” with the toll-free number screams “local dentist,” right? Of course not. But, there it is anyway. And, if you were to click on it, I bet you would find many practices that are spending hard earned money on this wonderful marketing idea. (Maybe the $27.99 ad above makes more sense now?) The next looks like a generic link to the Yellow Pages. Oh boy! Oh boy! That’s going to be helpful. But those aren’t the best by far.
Bloomington Dental Clinic — Dr. Gene Brewer. This is a decent ad. He’s obviously local. Sounds like a nice family practice. Why not click on this? Why not, indeed? Of course, if you do, you’ll find that, while this dentist is a local dentist in Bloomington, he is in Bloomington, Indiana, not Illinois. I checked out his site. It’s powered by YP Marketing. YP, you say? You probably guessed it — Yellow Pages. Now, based on the amount of ads here, I can tell that those clicks are pretty pricey (Google Adwords is an auction type marketplace where #1 goes to the highest bidder). Even if they were dirt cheap, I bet Dr. Brewer wouldn’t want to be spending that money on people in Bloomington, Illinois. This is why it pays to hire experts to help you with online marketing. But, we’re not done yet.
Skip down a couple and you see an ad for “Dentist Bloomington.” This ad is not great. That domain is especially troubling. It doesn’t look good — it looks scammy. Spammy. Some word that ends in “ammy.” And it is bothersome to me, as a custom domain costs around $12. If you’re going through the trouble and expense of marketing online, why not spend the extra $12? And the “yp” in the domain… want to take a guess? I bet you got it on your first try. The best part? (And the reason that this might be my new favorite item on this whole page, he said sarcastically.) This dentist is also in Bloomington, Indiana. So, two of the dentists advertising on this page (and the two using the YP online marketing service) are both in Bloomington, INDIANA.
In case you are wondering…
3 hours and 40 minutes seems like it might be just a tad too far to travel for a teeth cleaning. But, maybe that’s just me…
So… I’m curious. Who did you pick? If I were looking for a dentist, I would click on Aspen Dental’s ad first. (I’m not taking into account what anyone’s site actually looks like — just addressing which sites you would look at first.) Ads aside, I would skip to the Hershey Plaza Dental Center. From there, to Redbird. It is very possible I would look at Dr. Brewer’s site, too, although I wouldn’t drive quite that far for my appointment.
The lesson for today? You can do your own online marketing. You can hire someone who claims to be an expert in the field. Or, you can get your money’s worth and hire someone who knows what they’re actually doing. Ask for references and examples.
The opinions in this blog post are mine and mine alone. They are based on common sense and the Google Search I did on 4/19/2013 at about 10:00pm. They in no way reflect the opinions of Mavidea. All information provided is provided for information purposes only. Information is presented “AS IS” and “as available” basis with no warranties, and confers no rights. Information is subject to change without prior notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct or up-to-date. (And that’s called covering my butt.)