An Interview with Dan York, President and Founder of Stellar E-Marketing, local SEO specialists
Judy Marcus: Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about SEO, though I’ve read your blog posts and looked into it a bit. So far we’ve had mixed reviews from Clients as to its effectiveness and Return on Investment and nothing we could classify as “rave”. How can SEO help a neighborhood business such as a general dental practice?
Dan: Yeah, that’s common to hear, and easy to answer.
First, SEO is the modern phone book. When people say, “it doesn’t work” they’re simply not doing it correctly. Fact: Everyone and their grandmother uses the internet to find their local services today. SEO is how you get in front of them there. If you’re not there where they look, you won’t get them, simple as that.
But, let’s look at the top reasons why SEO gets mixed reviews (the people that are unsuccessful at SEO obviously the ones who mix the reviews):
1. SEO is like dentistry in that I would not go and see a general dentist when I want a mouth full of veneers. I’ll go to the cosmetic dentist, the specialist. SEO has a lot of different niches in it now. National, Local SEO, E-Commerce, etc. Local Dentists need specialists in Local SEO – getting you up in Google locally.
2. If you’re not in the top 3 on Page 1 of Google, you won’t get the business. It used to be as simple as getting on page 1, but every year it gets tougher. Now it’s the top 3. You need real SEO killers these days. Dabblers, part-timers and internet marketing generalists, they just can’t get it done right.
3. Your strategy is key. Most SEO people are not real marketing people, they are internet geeks. Your SEO company MUST understand real marking principles and how to attract business and where it is going to come from. Again, the general dentist is probably pretty good and a nice guy and all, but I want the best cosmetic dentist when I want movie star teeth.
And finally, 4.) The #1 reason people fail at SEO is a failure to persist at it. They quit too early or they “company-hop” one company to the next every 2-3 months. Then, when they all fail, say things like, “SEO doesn’t work” or “they were scammers” or something like that. The fact is that SEO takes time – at least 3-6 months to get rolling. If you’re not in SEO for the long-haul, don’t even start, you’ll waste your time and money and just get frustrated. Don’t company hop either, it’s a total waste of money and effort.
JM: How long should it take to start seeing results if it is done properly?
Dan: 3-6 months for most SEO projects. Anything that is a damage control project, it could be 3-12 months, it depends on what damage was done by other companies.
JM: Is there any accurate way to measure response to SEO? You could ask patients, but this has not always proved to be reliable since they may have seen another form of advertising before, or in addition to, finding the practice on the internet.
Dan: Yeah, that is tricky, you really just have to ask your customers specifically. But generally, a good SEO company will be handling your website, your Google Local (Google Maps) and most of your online business listings (Merchant Circle, etc.). And let’s consider that, by survey, only 1 out of 10 people click on the Google ads. That means 9 out of 10 are finding you in the “normal” results, the stuff we do SEO on to get you to show up in. This means that 90% of the people who say, I “Googled you” or I found you on the internet, generally found you due to good SEO company created results. Ask the people around you how many of them click on the Ads in Google? Do you? Most people don’t, they move right past them.
JM: Is there any way to zero in on your ideal patient with SEO? For example, target a specific location or income level?
Dan: Sure, for the most part anyways. In marketing, you get what you ask for and you don’t get what you don’t ask for, that is also true in SEO. If you do SEO for “Dentist in Colorado Springs”, that is super general and you’ll pull whoever searches for that, in that case, everyone, which is a generalist dental marketing plan. If you specialize in root canals, you’d better ask for that, and not anything else. A good SEO person can help strategize those things for you in the interview process prior to launching a program so no effort is wasted. In our company that is done right after the new client signs up. We don’t waste time.
JM: How much should it cost to do SEO effectively, and why?
Dan: I’ve never seen SEO done well for under $500 per mo. We’re one of the best in the USA and I know the other top companies in the USA, we all agree on this point. You get what you pay for and marketing is not an area to go cheap on. The cheaper you go, the less money you realize on your ROI. Never attained ROI is way more expensive than the money you “saved” on discount marketing and SEO. I mean, how many hours of work and attention do you think you’ll get from a company paying them $250 per month? Right! About $250 worth! I know a company that charges $100 per mo. for SEO. I also know how long cheap, Chinese-made Walmart furniture lasted in my apartment in college. As an experienced consuming adult, I no longer buy my furniture at Walmart…
JM: What are you actually paying for someone to do when you pay them for SEO? How many hours should be spent on it, and what kind of work is involved?
Dan: You can’t think of it in terms of hours per month really. Some months it’s a lot and some a little, it depends on the activity and changes Google throws at you. And in the last three years, that’s been a lot. Maybe it averages out to 3-5 hours per month or so. But that is 3-5 hours a month for a specialist, which is probably equal to double that in hours from a generalist, again why you hire specialists. The work involved is work on the front of your website and the code (back-end) of your website, also things not on your website and around the internet. That is a pretty technical question, but that’s what we do. We work on and off of your website and charge things around to where Google likes them and therefore ranks you higher in Google. Our job is to keep track of the changes to keep you on top.
JM: Can you predict the number of responses you will get to your SEO?
Dan: Not really, only through averages once it is moving successfully. There are technologies and things like call-tracking, but I usually get right into phone calls and walk-ins, things that matter and we watch that with our clients. We could geek out like everyone else, but unless it results in a phone call or walk-in, what does it all matter? We’re not in this for the branding of SEO, but new business developed. We can get really nerdy though, you’ve been warned! We generally don’t geek-out with clients though, we find they don’t want to geek-out with us, just see the results of our work.
JM: What traditional forms of marketing can SEO replace?
Dan: Phone books. It is the new phone book. But everyone knows that by now I hope. This is a complicated question, because SEO does not work for every industry, just like postcard marketing or billboards or radio doesn’t work for every industry. It is all part of our interview process, finding out if it right for your business. It definitely works for dentistry though, no doubt about it.
JM: What other forms of marketing should a practice continue doing, even if they have a good SEO provider? And can these enhance the effectiveness of SEO?
Dan: Oh yes, NEVER only use one form of marketing, that would just be stupid. Any experienced business owner knows that you have to have 5-6 good marketing programs working at any given time to have a prosperous business, SEO is 1 of those. NEVER only do one form of marketing. You’ll go out of business. And they can play off of each other, yes, that happens.
JM: Thanks for taking the time, Dan. I know that you work with businesses and practices all over the country. If Clients want to get in touch with you, what is the best way?
JM: Great speaking with you!