If you have a medical practice, the odds are good that you’ve heard a digital marketing agency touting “market exclusivity.” However, when it comes to market exclusivity actually bringing you the results you are hoping–and paying–for, the odds are slim that exclusivity is likely to have an impact on your campaign.
Market exclusivity is a promise from your digital marketing agency to remain loyal to your practice by avoiding all other practices in your immediate market. For example, if you are a doctor in Atlanta specializing in ophthalmology, your firm will vow to not take on any other doctors in the Atlanta area that resemble your practice.
Think of it this way, if your digital marketing agency isn’t familiar with your market, can you really trust their services?
While market exclusivity may sound enticing, it isn’t something we feel is necessary, or even beneficial, for our clients or for our company.
Search Has Changed
First off, let’s talk about where organic search is today. Up until about five years ago, ranking a site in organic search was a game of loading as many keywords into the background as possible. Google and the other search engines (most of whom are gone today) used these keywords to understand what websites were supposedly about.
The problem was, keywords could be gamed and searchers could get results that were nowhere near what they were actually looking for. That made for unhappy searchers.
Google wants happy searchers, so, starting in the fall of 2013, it lowered the importance of keywords and has worked hard to improve the understanding of its algorithm. This is called “semantic search.”
Semantics is the branch of linguistics concerned with meaning. Semantic search seeks to better understand the search queries to provide better search results. The goal is to understand the natural language used in search queries and to better understand the actual content on websites to deliver better search results.
Semantic search looks at searcher intent, query context, and the relationship between words. Google’s algorithm now also uses these factors to provide better results:
- The user’s search history
- The physical location of the searcher
- Global search history
- Spelling/misspelling variations
Google shifted to semantic search with the 2013 Hummingbird update to its algorithm. Google said the goal was to deliver pages that matched the searcher’s meaning and intent, rather than pages that simply had a number of matching keywords. At Advice Media, we had to evolve with these new search parameters to keep our clients ranking higher in organic searches.
But that’s nothing new for us. In the two decades that we have been creating medical websites and optimizing them for search, Advice Media has stayed at the forefront of changes such as semantic search. Content is now the rule, which is how it should be. Google wants pages that are rich in content about procedures. It wants that content to be continually updated and fresh. It wants to deliver websites that answer the searcher’s questions and keeps them engaged on the site.
The bottom line? As Google provides more relevant search results, your proximity to a competitor is irrelevant. Having a website that is monitored closely by a dedicated team of individuals is what matters most. In order to outrank your competition, your online marketing strategy should focus on what’s really important like SEO, branding, design, content, and visibility.
Google Presents: Critical Insights to How Patients Search for Doctors
Watch our webinar that dives deeper into how google has adapted to patients searching online.
Your digital marketing agency needs to be large enough to adapt in an ever-changing industry. Advice Media large enough to continually evolve our design standards for the beautiful sites we deliver. We’re large enough to know what changes Google is making to its algorithm and to quickly adapt to those changes. We’re large enough to have an experienced team of writers that provide content for our clients, writing both web pages and blogs.
Offering exclusivity limits the results and services that we are able to provide to our clients. We value our client’s success, and we feel offering exclusivity restricts your company’s ability to grow.
Plenty to Go Around
We also feel there are more patients than an individual practice can actually handle. Every second on Google there are 40,000 searches made. In the vast majority of markets, if every person searching for a procedure booked a consultation with a single surgeon, that surgeon would never have a second to actually perform the procedure. Plus, different practices have different areas of expertise, even if they’re down the street from one another.
Higher Prices for Less
Exclusivity agreements typically drive prices three to five times higher than the market average. By limiting options to a single practice in a market (through proximity or specialty), marketing firms lower their growth potential, causing their rates to increase due to an insufficient amount of clients.
Who do you think has to pay for that limitation?
Exclusivity Does Not Guarantee Results
At Advice Media, we like results. What’s the point of having an exclusive agreement with an agency as the only dermatology practice in Miami if their efforts can’t improve your organic search results? What’s the point of exclusivity if the website design you receive is outdated, clunky, and doesn’t feature expansive content provided by your agency? What’s the value of exclusivity if it doesn’t fill your contact forms and make your phones ring?
For over 20 years we’ve been designing the industry’s most beautiful, efficient, engaging medical websites, and then optimizing them for search. We’ve grown quite a bit in those two decades, but only by providing excellent service and delivering results for our clients. We believe our growth helps us stay at the forefront of digital marketing and website design trends, which in turn helps our clients grow their practices.
And that goes far beyond an empty exclusivity clause.