Why "leasing" a chiropractic website is a bad idea.

A leased website is one which you don't own the domain, the content, or the design. These types of websites typically require a monthly fee (for very little to no maintenance), over-estimate the cost of helping with SEO, and can limit your ability to expand your chiropractic marketing channels as your practice grows.

“What you don’t realize about the lease Web site and the actual copy that goes on the blog is that you don’t own that blog content. So if you ever leave that leased Web site, your ranking is very likely going to leave out with that company.”
— Matt Adams, Empirical 360

This week Matt Adams of Empirical 360 and I break down why having a "leased" chiropractic website is a bad idea for your practice.

Jeff- Hello, everybody what's going on. Jeff Langmaid here with Matt Adams from Empirical 360.

And today we're going to talk about leased Web sites. It's a big problem with chiropractic, and we're going to talk about why that matters to you. Also, some action steps that you can take to be more independent. And as you grow and scale your practice to do it in a way that works.

So we start right there Matt.

What is a leased website?

Matt- A leased website is a website that you will never own. So the payment is going to go on and on and on and on and on. As a chiropractor when you come out of chiropractic school you realize that you have to start your practice and you need to get into the marketplace and you need to have a website and you're looking mostly at kind of like a low-cost entry point because you don't want to invest so much straight from the jump.

And so these companies out there will give you templated, not a full custom site, at a low monthly payment. But you're mostly getting a template site. You're getting content, you're getting a copy, and you're going to have a web presence and but it's not going to cost you a whole lot to get started with.

Jeff- Let's dive into the content aspect of that a little bit because one area with search engine optimization is I have heard some of the companies "lease" their blog posts and "lease" what they what drives search engine optimization, and you can be held almost captive to that at a certain point in time. And what are some things that you've seen?

Why “Leasing” a chiropractic website is a bad idea.

Matt- The challenge is they will sell you these packages where you need to have block content for a local chiropractor if you're in Tampa market, for instance. They put out blog content like every other week or every month to push your local ranking forward. But what you don't realize about the leased Web site and the actual copy that goes onto the blog is that you don't own that blog content.

So if you ever leave that leased website, they retain ownership of all of that blog content which means they are the ones who actually "own" your search ranking. And that's the pitch for them when they start with you, "We're going to get you to rank number one in your local market. We're going to do that by giving you blog content every other week or every month, and you should start to see your ranking climb". However, if you ever decide to leave that company your ranking is very likely going to leave with that company. And whenever you migrate over to a new web presence because they own that copy.

Now there are some ways that you can get around it. Truthfully, if you've got a good web company that's coming in and trying to the right the ship for you, you can get into analytics and see what pages are getting traffic and odds are it's not the blog content.

Jeff- Companies that guarantee to get you to the top spot are sketchy. The only way I know to guarantee the top spot is to pay for it through advertising. To my knowledge, there is no other way. Now, there are factors regarding blogs, videos, keywords, etc. But the only way to guarantee the top spot is to pay to be there. Correct?

Matt- Sure. So pay per click is a functional way to get yourself to rank number one in Google organically and through paid advertisement as well. Think about this too with Google. So they realize that they make a ton of money off of the pay per click. That's probably about 90-95% of their revenue.

And now when you search for anything organically, the first four results that you see from that query are going to be paid advertisements. So even if you ranked number one organically guess what? You're still not going to be seen on that frame for your browser window because all those four advertisements are taking up that space. So you almost have to kind of double down. Here's the other thing about pay per click that's nice when it comes to SEO and search engine optimization.

Google favors conversions much better than blog content. So if somebody clicks on your advertisement and they complete a form, or they make a call, and you get a favorable version from that, and that shows Google you provided what the searchers were looking for and gave them an answer.

I don't want to diminish the value of blog content because it is good. From a brand standpoint, it's necessary, and it will help you rank over time. However, PPC can get you there quicker, and it can help you make money throughout that time as well. And I want to go back and hammer this point home when the web development company leases you a Web site, and they say that we're going to get you to rank number one through doing this blog content. They're not telling you what's accurate. They're saying we're going to get us to rank number one for you right now. And that's, and that's a huge point because again if you ever leave that company, you may be up a creek.

Jeff- So when we look at alternatives- what are some things either docs can keep an eye out for decisions that they can make to kind of help the process? I mean if there are so many challenges with this model which I think there are, what are some alternatives.

Matt- It's challenging. You know I look at it from a couple of standpoints. I think financially you see the appeal for a leased website is good because it gets you up and running relatively inexpensively in regards to front costs. But if you go to school for 8 years and you pay the tuition to become a chiropractor you probably want to practice for a long time. And leasing makes no sense if you intend on being in practice for the long term.

So when you're looking getting yourself a website make sure that you ask questions- Do I own the domain? Do I own the hosting for it? Do I own the copy if I'm paying you for SEO? Do I own that blog content if I ever decide to leave? And my thought is if you paid for it you should own it. If it's on your site, you should own it. So you want to make sure that you ask that kind of questions. Ownership of your web property goes a long way in terms of your scalability long term.

Jeff- Yeah and that's a key component I think it's nobody should be held captive to a web company. The goal should be to produce results and to be a good partner with somebody long term.

And ultimately if you are feeling held captive due to a service or marketing provider, then you should be looking for another provider.

So what are some alternative platforms? A lot of docs get concerned with a massive bill or a complicated process when custom building a website. What are some resources you think docs could or should look at?

Matt- You know to look into real web development agencies. And the other thing that I would say as well don't let an upfront cost deter you from consideration of building out your custom website. You do want to go with a vendor that has experience in this space so if you're looking at a web development company looking for something that's done chiropractic website before and has some examples.

Jeff- I think that's a great point. The last place I want to go is in reference to building, growing and scaling a practice. So one of the challenges that I've heard is that leased websites don't play nice with others. So for instance, somebody decides at a certain point that they want to grow and scale but exploring Google Adwords, etc. and many of these leased websites make it very difficult to work with any outside partners.

If you have the leased Web site find out who owns the property, who owns the domain, who owns the content if you decide to change. These are all essential things. And the other aspect of that that I think Matt just touched on was be sure that the back end is not locked up. The bottom line is they should be willing and able to work with other professional agencies to push your practice.

Matt- Right. Because it's all for the benefit of your practice. You're investing the money to this service provider so that people can go to see what you're all about. You're investing into this because you want to grow your practice and that's the bottom line.

The other things that I would say here is do that math if you consider $200 per month that never goes away. Over a year that $2,400 and over ten years is $24,000. So ideally, just like owning a house, you'd like to have a payment that you're making that goes away at some point in time or don't even have a payment all pay. A lot of agencies out there and us included will offer a reduced Web fee upfront if you pay up front for your Web site and then you're just free and clear.

And if you want to have that done for the year, you can do that as well. These are the long term considerations that you need to think about when you're getting into owning or having a Web site leasing versus owning.

Jeff- I think that's a very very important point. So if you have been leasing a Web site be sure to ask your website provider those two big questions- who owns the domain? Who owns the content?

Also if you are a doc out there looking to get into a pay per click advertising, I'd recommend checking out Empirical 360. They build fantastic landing pages. They've gotten into Web site builds because of the challenges that they've seen in the marketplace. And also check out The Smart Chiropractor to ensure for content. With The Smart Chiropractor, you own that content! Coming to a close, what are your closing thoughts on leased Web sites may be an action step that a doc can take?

Matt- I would call your service provider, and I would ask the questions. Who owns my rankings? You know who owns this blog content. If you want to see some pretty crazy stuff take one of your blog posts and drop the whole content into google to find out how many different places that, exact content exists out there on the internet. When I look at the landscape in chiropractic, and some of the handcuffed stories that I've heard just over the last couple of months, it sucks. It's not fun to be in trapped in an agreement with a website provider.

Jeff- That is an excellent point. For Matt Adams of Empirical 360, I'm Jeff Langmaid with The Evidence Based Chiropractor, and I hope you guys have a great day. Bye!