Are you using one of the big chiropractic marketing companies, or thinking about it?
If so, this article will help you discover some of the secrets they don’t want you to know because they can make more money at your expense. And some of these things could cost you new patients.
You’ll also learn what you can do to overcome the effects of these little secrets.
That way you can grow your chiropractic business faster by bringing in more new patients each month.
1 – Big Chiropractic Marketing Companies And Conflicts Of Interest
This seems to be somewhat of an open secret that some big chiropractic marketing companies get away with on a very large scale.
Let me give you an example.
A chiropractor I worked with moved his website management from one of the large chiropractic marketing companies to another.
I found out that this new agency was also doing the chiropractic marketing for six other clinics in the very same city.
Local SEO Conflicts Of Interest
Because “local SEO optimization” is a part of the standard website design service, all seven chiropractic businesses are getting the same things that play a big part in which one of them ranks higher in the Google (Bing, Yahoo, etc.) Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).
There are winners and losers when each local chiropractic clinic is ranked for local SEO.
The ones that get toward the top of the SERPs receive the lion’s share of the new prospects; the losers are farther down in the SERPs and can get little or nothing out of it.
In a local competitive environment, a new patient is either going to walk through the doors of chiropractic business “A” or chiropractic business “B”. It’s an either/or proposition.
So, if chiropractic marketing companies are doing the same local SEO services for each of these seven local competitors then six of them are going to feel cheated, and rightly so.
The agency was effectively hand in picking the winners and losers even if not intentional on their part.
That’s a huge conflict of interest !
As a result, the agency makes money off of all of these chiropractors while each of the chiropractors’ businesses only get a sliver of the local SEO pie.
If questioned, an agency representative may tell you that they can give you an account rep that doesn’t work with your local competitors as if that will negate any conflict of interest.
The account reps get the same company training, resources, staff, chiropractor marketing tools, business strategies, etc.
Your only hope will be that your Search Engine Marketing (SEM) manager (account rep) is better than the other one(s) assigned to your local competitors.
It seems that chiropractic marketing companies must not get questioned about their clear conflict of interest. Otherwise, I don’t see how they would get away with it.
Or, maybe they have a slick story that can sound reasonable to someone who is not well versed in how online marketing really works. The devil is in the details.
For one specific chiropractic marketing company (one of the largest) I found 15-20 clients in some of the larger cities and two to five in smaller ones. They have thousands of clients. Your business may be one of them.
If you’re in a small town you may not run into this conflict of interest right away, but that doesn’t mean a big agency won’t be working with one of your local competitors tomorrow.
Google Adwords Pay Per Click & Facebook Advertising
Do you see your local competitors using Google Adwords, Facebook advertising or other online advertising platforms?
If you’re also using these kinds of advertising platforms, and your agency is doing it for you, then there’s a good chance the agency is doing the same for your competitors.
Big chiropractic marketing companies may also offer additional chiropractic marketing services that could be potential conflicts of interest like display advertising, video advertising, personal coaching and more.
When there are conflicts of interest like the ones I’ve shown you here, they result in a big financial win for the agency, but your business could easily end up a loser.
Personally, I do not, and will not, work with more than one chiropractor in a given city. I believe a conflict of interest like that is completely unethical.
2 – Big Chiropractic Marketing Companies And Their Local SEO Services
SEO elements are critical factors that Google – and other search engines – take into consideration when deciding which chiropractic clinic websites to serve at the top of their “organic” search engine result pages (SERPs).
Being on the first page is important because the vast majority of people searching for a chiropractor won’t even go to the second page or beyond.
Being at the top of page one (especially in one of the first three spots) is prime real estate that translates into the getting the best opportunity for landing the great majority of new patients.
You may be the best chiropractor in town, but if your prospects can’t find you online then it’s almost as if your chiropractic clinic doesn’t exist.
When big chiropractic marketing companies tell you that SEO is included with your website design package it would be reasonable for you to think that you’re getting a full and complete service.
Chances are you’re only being told part of the story.
When it comes to local SEO there are two parts of the equation you should look at: On-page SEO and Off-page SEO.
The on-page SEO is normally what chiropractic website design companies are talking about when discussing SEO.
On-page SEO has many elements to it, and I’ll list a few, but the main point here is to educate you to what they are and not get too far into the weeds about how they affect your local SEO success. Just know that they are important.
Following is a short list. You can use this list to talk to your website builder and see if these items are included in your SEO service.
- SEO friendly URL
- Title tag optimization
- Meta description
- H1 tag
- Main keyword used in on-page content
- LSI keywords used in on-page content
- Optimizing images on your webpages
- Internal linking within your website
When it comes to on-page SEO, some chiropractic website design companies perform better than others. I’ve seen some that appear to be just going through the motions, and others that do a pretty good job at it.
Also, beware of any agency that will upcharge you to do a proper job with on-page SEO.
Some will do a minimal amount of on-page SEO included in their basic chiropractic website design package and then charge a premium for a more thorough job.
Off-page SEO can be much more difficult because it’s more out of your control than are the on-page elements.
That’s why focusing on the off-page SEO can yield such extraordinary results in combination with quality on-page SEO work.
Most local businesses aren’t willing to do the work, or pay someone else to do it, so the off-page SEO could be a big missed opportunity for your business.
If your agency works with other local chiropractors, you could gain a big SEO advantage by finding a different company to help you with this side of the SEO equation.
One way to think of off-page SEO is the activities you can do apart from the on-page SEO on your own website pages.
The most important element of off-page SEO is building up good quality backlinks.
One way to define backlinks is, “Links from outside domains (websites other than yours) that point to pages on your domain (your website). They “link back” from an outside domain to yours.
Good quality backlinks are like powerful, influential votes that Google (and other search engines) use to determine which websites they will rank the highest.
Yes, there are other components (like social media), but if you would focus on building quality backlinks you would be giving your local SEO a really big boost.
So, make sure you ask an agency salesman what comes with any SEO service being sold to you.
Is it just on-page SEO? If so, what are all the things included?
Is building high quality backlinks a part of the package? What kind of links are they?
One thing I’ve seen some large agencies do is to backlink from one client to another. Not a good practice in my opinion.
For instance, they may have hundreds, or thousands, of clients and link 5, 10, 20, or more, client websites to another chiropractic website they have built, host on their own servers and control.
In the past Google has penalized similar schemes (link farms, blog networks) for trying to game the system with non-legitimate backlinks in an attempt to improve the SEO for a website.
If Google hasn’t already figured this out, chances are they will and there could be a big penalty for it. So, I would be cautious if your agency backlinks between their client websites. Ask them about it.
Hopefully this SEO backlinking tactic has been discontinued.
And if they say they’re going to submit your website to some local directories and even add it to one of their own directories, please don’t fall for that.
That’s low-level stuff that won’t do you much, if any, good.
It’s all about quality for both on-page and off-page SEO.
3 – The “Templated” Marketing Approach (Including Chiropractic Website Design)
Cookie cutter marketing. That’s what this is.
On the positive side it can get you up and running relatively quickly.
The big negative is that it can make your chiropractic business appear pretty much like the others an agency may work within your local market.
They may be able to “customize” your website, but that’s not really saying much.
Keep in mind that the website content writers in these chiropractic marketing companies deal with the same subject matter day in and day out.
They churn out website copy as fast as they can and move on to the next client, so the verbiage can be very similar to other websites the agency builds.
I’ve seen some of the exact same images, videos and other graphic elements used on similar looking chiropractic websites for local competitors that were done by the same agency using the templated approach.
At a glance you may think they were the same websites, and they were in the same city.
I’ve also seen blatant hypocrisy regarding the use of the templated website approach.
One rep I know for a big agency talks glowingly about their templated website approach.
However, this same rep has written articles while with a different company where he spoke against using website templates.
He wrote the following.
“… templates are used by multiple companies (so using a templated website will not make your website unique!).”
He certainly changed his tune when moving to one of the chiropractic marketing companies where their huge revenues are driven by using chiropractic website design templates.
I’ve seen some cheap pricing from big agencies, but sometimes those prices are just there to lure you in. Then their costs may escalate quite a bit as they upsell you into additional cookie-cutter chiropractic marketing tools and services.
And that’s one thing many big agencies do. They bundle many services together to muddy the waters and make it hard for you to compare prices by line item – apples to apples.
Sometimes you may be paying for things you don’t need or want when buying bundled services.
These big chiropractic marketing companies may promote their easy, convenient, one-stop-shopping approach as a benefit, but is this convenience worth losing new and profitable patients each month?
The cookie-cutter approach doesn’t stop with the website these agencies build for you. It’s just the beginning.
At the time this article was written, I still see a major chiropractic marketing agency promoting a “benefit” of having hundreds of pages of chiropractic content pages they provide to their clients.
This suggests that they use an old practice of offering the same articles to hundreds/thousands of chiropractors to use on their website.
Never, ever use stock articles or blog posts for your website that others also use.
Some say Google started penalizing that practice in a very big way with their “Panda” update.
Others refer to it as the duplicate content being “filtered” so that the same content isn’t served multiple times in the search result pages.
Penalty, or not, duplicate content hurts your chances of your content getting found in a Google search. And that’s bad for your website; bad for your business.
“Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.”
Some agencies may use the same content base and “customize” it. Sometimes known as “spinning” the same basic article/information and making small tweaks to make it appear to be a different article. Google can figure this out as well.
Much of this kind of churned out content is low quality information with little value to the reader, but it does help fill out a blog and give something to share on your social media.
The best content for your website would likely come from someone in your office writing the content.
For ideas all they need to do is survey their patients and ask them for topics that would help and interest them.
Sometimes that content may be about the local community as well as health-related issues.
These big chiropractic marketing companies may also offer you “syndicated” social posts to share on Facebook.
“Syndicated” is just one way of saying “duplicate” information that is widely disseminated.
Being that it’s on social media – as opposed to your website – it may, or may not, hurt you with Google. I really can’t answer that.
I checked the Facebook pages for a few chiropractors in the same city who were using the same chiropractic marketing agency.
They each had the same exact posts on Facebook during the very same months.
If you want to be successful online you need to stand out and rise above the chiropractic crowd in your city, and a templated chiropractic marketing approach won’t do that for your business.
However, this marketing service model is extremely profitable for the big chiropractic marketing companies.
They can roll it out on a large scale from state to state and city to city with incredible ease while their clients get a stale bundle of services that do little, if anything, good for their businesses.
3 – The HIPPA Compliance Red Herring
The motive was clearly to vanquish a competitor in order to sell more of their own services to the chiropractor.
What happened was that the agency account rep told the chiropractor that another marketing company the doctor was using was not HIPPA compliant.
The problem was that it was a complete lie.
At the mere mention of a possible HIPPA compliance issue, some doctors will automatically shut down their thought process.
No further discussion!
That fact allows some unethical chiropractic marketing companies to get away with this kind of sales tactic.
This big agency could show that they were HIPPA compliant because they had to be.
They offer an online form that captures a new patient’s medical history, and that Protected Health Information (PHI) is then transferred to the chiropractic office using their software/system.
Here’s where the red herring comes into play.
Only HIPPA related “Business Associates” are subject to HIPPA requirements.
A Business Associate, where HIPPA is concerned, is any person or company that has access to a doctor’s PHI.
Here are some easy guidelines to follow to determine if HIPPA compliance is required.
Does someone you work with have access to your PHI? They are a Business Associate and need to be HIPPA compliant.
Does someone you work with NOT have access to your PHI? They are NOT a Business Associate (according to HIPPA definition), and they do NOT fall under HIPPA requirements.
It’s really that simple.
In the case mentioned above, the big agency with the form that collected PHI was a Business Associate and required to be HIPPA compliant.
The other marketing company the chiropractor was working with had no access to PHI, so they were not a Business Associate and did not fall under the HIPPA requirement.
Now that this red herring is exposed, please don’t fall for it. It’s a dirty little ploy.
Here’s an excerpt from that web page that will make this point crystal clear.
“Other Situations in Which a Business Associate Contract Is NOT Required.”
“With persons or organizations whose functions or services do not involve the use or disclosure of protected health information, and where any access to protected health information by such persons would be incidental, if at all.”
Another ploy I’ve heard is a big agency saying is that the HIPPA info they collected could be hacked if third parties (their competitors) were allowed to access the website the big agency built for the chiropractor.
If true, that sounds like an admission that they know that their website security is weak and vulnerable. That would be their issue to deal with not someone else’s.
Imagine admitting that you have a flaw in your system and being able to use that to get rid of your competitors.
Using the HIPPA red herring is a great way for chiropractic marketing companies to stake out “their territory” it they don’t want competition. And they don’t.
I’ve been told by a chiropractor that he keeps his PHI on a different secure server than that of his website, which sounds like the wise thing to do.
And why give a marketing agency access to your PHI in the first place? For convenience?
That sounds like you would be taking an unnecessary risk. Especially where something as important as HIPPA is concerned.
A lot of chiropractors will give access to forms that can be downloaded from their website, printed out and then filled out by hand by the new patient.
Then the patient hand delivers the PHI on the hard copy form when they get to the chiropractor’s office.
It’s an offline delivery process of their PHI, and there’s no way that that can be hacked online.
Sometimes the old school way of doing things is the best way to go.
5 – Big Chiropractic Marketing Companies And Their “Sticky” Services
That’s how big chiropractic marketing agencies try to make their services where your business is concerned.
First, they may come at you with a long-term contract, like for one year, or more.
Next, they may give you a financial penalty if you decide to leave them before that year is over.
It’s not like they’ve made a big investment in your business when they use the templated, cookie cutter approach to marketing your clinic. They just plug your business into their system and go.
Why should you sign up for a long term when you’ve haven’t yet experienced if their services are a good fit for your business?
And is it fair that they penalize your business hundreds of dollars, or more, if you decide you want to part ways?
You should be able to get a month-to-month agreement if the chiropractic marketing company believes in the services they provide.
The quality of the services should be what makes you stick with an agency as opposed to a long term contract with harsh penalties.
Other things some big chiropractic marketing companies may try to do is pressure you to host your website, register your domain and convert your website (if you already have one) into their own proprietary platform.
They may have various “reasons” for this, like claiming better security for your website if they host it and build the website using their own system, which is highly questionable.
There are a lot of good hosting companies around, and if you buy the hosting service, register the domain under your business name and have your website built on a platform not controlled by an agency (like with using WordPress) then you maintain control, not the chiropractic marketing company.
An agency that hosts your website and registers your domain isn’t necessarily a bad thing in, and of, itself. However, if you decide to stop using the agency they can make it difficult for you to leave them.
And it does happen. A lot!
Here’s an example I’ve seen where a big chiropractic marketing company made their services sticky by converting a website into their own proprietary system.
A chiropractor with a nice WordPress website, that served his purposes well, had his website converted by an agency onto their own platform.
This agency was rebuilding the website to duplicate its current look and feel – effectively re-creating the same website.
The only real difference was that instead of being a WordPress website under the chiropractors control it was now on a proprietary platform controlled by the new agency.
That chiropractor complained for weeks that while the conversion was in progress the number of new patients he normally got each week dropped significantly to the extreme.
Another issue was that much of the on-page SEO work was not done when it was supposed to be. Title tags, meta descriptions and so much more that was involved.
There’s no telling how much business this chiropractor lost because of this.
If you’re a new chiropractic clinic just starting out, and you don’t have a website yet, a big agency might make it easy for you to get started. However, in the long run, maintaining full control is in the best interest of your business.
These long-term contracts, penalties for leaving early, and website issues are certainly not done for your benefit.
They seem to be designed to make it such a hassle to leave that you may decide to stay when you don’t necessarily want to.
If you do walk away, these kind of agencies can use the penalty clauses in their contract to clip you for a little extra cash as you say farewell.
This brings to mind some lyrics in the Eagles song “Hotel California.”
6 – How To Work With Big Chiropractic Marketing Companies And Overcome Their Conflicts Of Interest
You may already be using a big chiropractic marketing agency and have discovered that they are also helping your local competitors. If you’re wondering if you can do anything about it, the answer is “yes.”
And maybe you like what they’ve done with your website and want to stay with them, but you also want to gain a competitive advantage over the other local chiropractors they work with.
I can help you with that.
There are ways to overcome the conflicts of interest and SEO issues you’ve discovered here.
Contact me if you would like to know how to do it, and I will give you a step-by-step process.
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