With the phrase Search Engine Optimization (SEO) flying around everywhere today, countless self-proclaimed “SEO Experts” have materialized, offering false promises and guaranteeing rankings. In today’s world, you can not go over a few hours without getting a random spammy email about Search Engine Optimization, or a detached cold call from a “SEO Expert” promising results they can not possibly fulfill.

Dentists in particular should understand that successes in the past do not guarantee the same results in the future. Anyone who promises this is trying to separate you from your hard earned cash.

Since dental clinic SEO is both expensive and highly competitive, it attracts some of the most shady SEO tactics outside of adult websites such as online poker or porn. As an inbound marketing agency that takes pride in “practicing what we preach”, we frequently encounter the following SEO scams, and many more from “agencies” that place a very low priority on the needs of their clients.

Protecting yourself from these scams and the parties that run them will prevent you and your dental practice from enduring major headaches and financial losses:

You Don’t Own Your Website’s Design

Funding a dental practice’s website design can be a major expense. Dental clinics that require a completely individualized design, with numerous page templates or exclusive tools and functions, can easily see an bill exceeding $12,000.

Surely you own the design of your website for that price tag?

Not always. Many times, agencies retain authority over the design of your website. Now, if you need to change to a different agency later, you will still be responsible for the added expense of rebuilding your website on non-proprietary software.

When planning to create a website for your dental practice, NEVER lease. You should also avoid any contracts that do not release ownership of the web design and content after the contract expires.

Blogs on Domains You Do Not Own

Let me start by stating that 99% of the time your blog should not be located on a different domain than your dental clinic’s website. Hosting your blog on a separate domain not only complicates your workload and adds expenses, but the two domains will actually be competing against each other for rankings, which won’t help either of them climb.

To add insult to injury, I can’t keep track of the number of SEO companies selling blogs to dentists where the domain is registered to the agency instead of you or your clinic.

This predicament can be even scarier than not having rights to your web design, because the “owner” of the domain has all the power and control over it, and any equity or authority your website builds will be forfeit if it suddenly gets shut down. All of your content will be working toward building authority and establishing links for a website that could disappear without a trace the moment you miss a payment to the company who sold it to you.

If an agency or individual attempts to sell you on a domain under their ownership and control, run fast, and run far.

No Access to Your Own Traffic Metrics

Understanding your metrics, like cost per inquiry, and cost per click is more important than directing your own marketing. By computing these two numbers, you can precisely test the ROI from all of your campaigns. If you do not have access to your PPC data, Google analytics, or conversion tracking, you’re simply shooting in the dark and hoping something sticks.

Without being entirely transparent with campaign metrics and data, how could an SEO agency accomplish more than invent fantasies about their successes? Depending on the agreement, you may be left with no choices other than a proprietary admin panel who only shows you limited data, or worse yet, you might be prevented from viewing anything at all.

If a dental clinic intends to make educated conclusions, there are zero benefits to limiting the data – for the dental practice, or the SEO agency providing the services.

Sending PPC Traffic to 3rd Party Landing Pages

The reasons why some companies direct PPC campaigns to websites outside of a dental clinic’s primary domain are varied, but I’m not going to get into the details of that here, but instead focus on why this is significant in terms of campaign tracking.

Lets pretend your PPC traffic gets sent to a website outside of your authority. Now you’ll find yourself lacking the Google analytics data that could be beneficial in calculating the actual success of your campaign.

You might have access to how many inquiries you get and how much revenue your agency brings in, but you’ll be left unable to analyze the finer details and determine your campaign’s exact ROI.

Inflated Hosting Costs

The traffic any given dental clinic acquires will almost never require a hosting charge greater than $100.

But I encounter clients all the time who get a monthly “hosting” charge of $500 or more from their company just inflating their hosting charges, as it is an easy grab for money for unethical SEO agencies. I’ve even heard of one dentist who had to pay recurring costs for “mobile optimization” in addition their ridiculous web hosting bills.

If your ad-spends and agency retainers seem very high, sometimes recurring costs like inflated web hosting can slip by unnoticed. Review your invoices to make sure you are not getting hosed on a relatively minor expense.

We Have a Partner at Google

There is one thing you will not want to forget: Google, nor any other search engine, does not form partnerships with third-party SEO companies. The search engines provide unbiased results based on keywords and special treatment for any specific company is nonexistent (exceptions are if you are opted for Google AdWords). Since partnerships do not exist, if any SEO expert is claiming anything like that, it is a lie. Also, no Google employee will be willing to put their job in danger by allowing any third party a unfair advantage over the others.

I hope this post will help you to stay clear of these common and costly SEO scams.