Top five dental marketing scams

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Cory Roletto, MBA, discusses some marketing tactics to avoid

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We have all received the letters, seen the emails, and may have even answered a call from a company claiming something that is not true or promising something too good to be true. Over the past 7 years working with dental offices, we have seen our share of less than reputable marketing practices. In this article, we will talk about the top five dental marketing scams.

1 You receive a letter that your domain is expiring and needs to be renewed. This letter may look very official, and many have the word domains in the company name. The form asks you to fill out information about your domain, give your approval to renew the domain, and send payment. The payment request is often $100 or more. With rules established by The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the governing body for domain purchase and transfer, you are unlikely to actually lose control of your domain, but you may not even notice your money didn’t go to pay for domain renewal.

If you are in doubt, you can verify the domain registrar by doing a WHOIS lookup on your website domain; most domain registrars have this feature. Here is a link to the WHOIS lookup page on Network Solutions: https://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index-res.jsp

2 You receive an email that they have evaluated your website, and it has not been SEOed. These emails are often automated spam emails with wording that makes it sound like they have evaluated your website, but upon closer inspection don’t give any specifics about what they found — because no one actually evaluated your website. They will often make nonsensical statements such as your website is not web 2.0 compliant and have a link to test your site, or one of the following blanket statements:

These types of spam emails have become more sophisticated often using search scrapers to pull some easy-to-obtain data about your website that is added to the email to make it appear legitimate. They may also have a graph showing made-up metrics; for example, social media completeness. One other obvious red flag that is the email will not have any information on the company that supposedly evaluated your website, giving just a callback number or a Gmail email to respond.

3 A review directory representative states he/she can get negative reviews removed or make your positive reviews show up more, if you sign up for an advertising package. We have actually had salespeople for a very large, well-known review directory system state this to us and many of our clients. This is always stated over the phone, and they have never put it in writing — because it is flat-out not true. I am sure the directory involved would not condone this type of sales tactic, but we have seen it so many times, it had to be mentioned. The truth is any reputable directory does not let advertising dollars influence what reviews do or do not show up when searching for a service.

4 They say they have a special relationship with Google. In this instance, the claim is that due to a special relationship, they can do things others cannot, such as getting special pricing on Google pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns or obtaining a No. 1 ranking on Google search. They may also misuse Google Partner to imply special treatment. Being a Google Partner means that personnel at the company have passed one or more Google certification tests showing they are proficient in some aspect of SEO or PPC. Being a Google Partner is a good thing, but it does not provide any special privilege or advantage other than the fact that the company has taken the time to be certified.

5 They assert that your Google PPC campaign is showing up in Europe because it is using the default settings. This was one of the most outlandish claims we have seen. To start, Google requires the region for the PPC campaign be set as part of the creation of the PPC campaign. Second, there is no way for someone to accurately detect Google PPC campaign settings. Also, if someone guarantees a No. 1 ranking in Google, they can only be referring to Google PPC where the No. 1 ranking can be bought by paying more per click, which is less than optimal. If a salesperson makes any of these claims, run.