Posted on January 30, 2014

“Black Hat” SEO: Doctors Beware

Marketing a medical practice used to be an oxymoron. Long gone are those days of medical boards banning advertisement as doctors struggle to get their websites noticed on the web, often with a limited budget that can go towards SEO (Search Engine Optimization). But if you are looking to move into a first page position on Google overnight, then you’re looking for trouble. The only way to do this is through “Black Hat” SEO techniques. And as the name implies, it can land you in a lot of trouble.

What is Black Hat SEO?

In a word…cheating. The search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing have rules for playing. If you don’t follow the rules, you’re cheating. Just like when you were a kid, you will get caught and be punished.

The experts will list some specific Black Hat techniques like link farming, keyword stuffing, hidden text, sneaky redirects, and much more. There are hundreds of ways to break the rules. The search engines don’t like this because it interferes with their goal of bringing content of value directly to the viewer.

What’s the big deal?

The problem comes when you get caught, which you will. The search engine will punish you by stuffing your fancy website to no-man’s-land on page 87 or so. In some cases, the website will be “banned” from the search engine altogether. If you are lucky enough to recover from this punishment, it will only be after you have spent a lot of money, taken tons of Rolaids®, and lost sleep for many nights. Simply put, it is never worth it.

Okay…how do I know it when I see it?

There are some simple things to keep in mind when selecting the SEO service for your practice.

  • Avoid any company that guarantees you a specific rank. Would you guarantee that the treatment you have prescribed will work perfectly for a patient? Similarly, the zillions of variables that surround SEO make it impossible to predict results.
  • Avoid any company that promises you overnight results. If your patient asks to lose twenty pounds overnight, is it possible? Hard work over several months is needed. Quick results only come by way of cheating…like liposuction…just kidding.
  • Avoid any company that is priced way below the competition. You don’t have to be a doctor to understand this. Life should have taught you that if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is…

In addition to this, ask for references and speak with them. Have face-to-face, or at least telephone, dialogue with somebody who you are thinking of hiring for SEO services. Ask for monthly reports of the worked performed and results. Maintain an open line of communication. Though there are reputable and strong oversea SEO providers, they can be hard to find in an ocean of scammers.

Doctor, what do you specialize in?

Why listen to me? I’m a medical director and have no schooling in this arena. As I administer Sugarland Eye & Laser Center and try to market our practice to those considering LASIK surgery, I have taken many classes from the “School of Hard Knocks.” Hopefully, the notes I share with you will allow you to cut class.

About the Author

Amjad Khokhar, M.D., established the Sugarland Eye & Laser Center in 2004. An award-winning LASIK surgeon, Dr. Khokhar is highly experienced in the most advanced laser vision technology including iLASIK used by NASA astronauts, Navy SEALS and Air Force fighter pilots.