Posted on November 11, 2009

Ophthalmology Websites – Owning vs. Renting Your Website: Something Every Practice Should Know!

Ophthalmology and elective medical practices have long been engaged in Internet marketing, a strategy that requires relatively sophisticated websites. But a recent trend has developed causing practices to be untrusting of their website developer. Numerous website development companies are operating in deceitful ways by either forcing practices to rent or license their website. This ultimately means that practices do not own their website. This is rarely an issue in the sales process because these companies tend to low ball the pricing and hide small print in contracts to get the initial project started. But, when the practice decides they want to change website developers, they are informed that they can’t transfer their website, even if it contains some of their original content, and even pictures of their doctors. If these practices decide to transfer they will get a letter asking for more money than the initial licensing agreement and a threat that they will be sued if they do not comply. Can you imagine that? A website company with intent to sue their clients from the start. It gets worse; it is actually a refined process at this point with dedicated staff and lawyers ready to take action.

In the early days of the Internet, this model might have made sense to doctors starting their first website, but no serious medical practice would want this model. Just look at the top eye care practices. None of them use these types of companies. As practices get more web-savvy, these scams need to be filtered out to prevent wasting time and money. In fact, the AAO and ASCRS should prevent companies with scams like this from entering their exhibitor forums. Currently, they do not screen for these types of issues and let the doctors walk right into the scams on their exhibit floors.

In my opinion, the most damage done is not in the act of preventing a website transfer but in the long-term equity loss that the practice suffers from using this model. It is very much like renting a house versus owning a house. The damage typically comes in the form of page rank dilution and page rank neglect. All website domain names bring some form of page rank website equity into the mix. In a licensing arrangement where the practice is using a directory or licensing their domain name, they are paying to get NO equity. On the other hand, if the practice owns the domain name and owns the website a great deal of equity can be acquired. Many doctors and university medical institutions have performed this exercise quite well. The Jules Stein Eye Institute under the direction of Kevin Miller, MD of UCLA set standards that have been upheld and as a result is rewarded with the honor of the highest page rank website in the field of ophthalmology, which is a page rank 7 today. Page rank is a widely misunderstood topic but arguably one of the most important. Page rank is a Google calculation of the importance of your website done on a scale fro 0-10. The page rank score can tell a professional many things about the timing and potential of a website and search engine optimization projects. Practices waste years of time with scamming website companies and learn years later they have to start from scratch because page rank had been neglected and they did not even own their website. If you are interested in knowing your page rank from Google there is a free application available for install if you use the Firefox browser. You would simply download the Google toolbar for Firefox and enable page rank. Any website that you visit will display and page rank grade on the scale from 0-10.

I would be happy to help any practice understand this concept better. Numerous victims have stood up and volunteered their stories to me. Don’t make the mistake of renting your website! Own it and build page rank. You can contact me directly through the website.