A chiropractor e-mailed me today with the following…

Some company (The National Internet Directory or something like that) has called me a few times stating that I’ve updated/upgraded my webpage/internet site and that I now owe $150/year. Are they legitimate?

My chiropractic office was contacted by several different companies last year regarding Internet directories for chiropractors and “Yellow Pages” type directories. It is a common tactic for some of these companies to develop pages without the chiropractor’s knowledge or consent. They will typically design a single simple page that is based on a template which includes the doctors office address, phone number, and what ever other information the company had access to. They will then call the chiropractor’s office to “confirm” their web page listing and will suggest either “upgrading” or “updating” the information that is on the page for a fee.

It is not uncommon for these web sites to use scare tactics such as saying that the doctor has the opportunity to be the only chiropractor in their entire city to be given a listing in their ZIP code. Some will offer to put several doctors in the same ZIP code and they will allow doctors to “upgrade” their position on the list for a fee. What none of these Web companies have been telling chiropractors is that hundreds of Internet directories in the healthcare market exist. There are thousands of Internet directories when you include local directories, trade directories, chiropractic directories, health-care directories, USA directories, etc.

Paying $150 a year for a web page on one of these directories is like purchasing a grain of sand on the beach. There is no guarantee that anyone is ever going to find the web page that was created for you. There are so many factors involved (that I won’t be getting into here) that should be considered when making purchases on any Internet directory.

I just did a Google search for the term “chiropractic directory” and noticed more than 10 web sites advertising via Google AdWords, hoping that consumers will click and visit their web sites. There is a National Directory of Chiropractic and they have both a web site and a printed publication. That is a legitimate company that I believe has been around for several years. Companies like AT&T (the owners of YellowPages.com) have directories for nearly all service businesses, including chiropractic. Personally, I would suggest that if you’re going to advertise in an online directory, AT&T would be the best way to go. My reasoning for that is the numbers shown on people visiting YellowPages.com versus far less known sites (such as yellowbook.com).

According to a keyword report that I just checked on Wordtracker, consumers are searching “Yellow Pages” at a rate of more than 15 times to 1 in comparison to the term “yellow book.”

When it comes to chiropractic directories online, I have collected a list of more than a hundred, and I see new ones pop up regularly. You can tell who’s spending money on advertising since they’ll typically show up in Google AdWords campaigns (I see them frequently on planet chiropractic). What’s interesting, is that many of them claim “top rankings” and “top positions” to their clients and then they purchase AdWords campaigns thinking that will be all it will take to drive traffic. What they discover is a quick drain on the funds coming in from their chiropractor clients as their contextual ad campaigns can burn through hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars per day.

Do your homework before signing up with any company that is offering to put you in an Internet directory for chiropractors. Are they relying solely on placing contextual ads to get business to your web site? If that is the case, you can do that yourself, and typically be far more effective than a directory could. How old is the domain your page will be hosted on? The older the domain the better. New web sites suck, especially when they have no page rank and no inbound links from other sites. Do they have a way to track the performance of your page? One major company I dealt with for a chiropractic web site wanted to charge me five dollars per click to their directory page and told me they would keep a log (to prevent click fraud). Within a week the page racked up over $800 in clicks and I froze the account and asked them to share the log file so I could review it. Their logging method involved no IP tracking, no geo-targeting, no uniques, no call tracking, or any other methods that you would typically expect on even a very basic web page. All I received was a phone call from a rep that said 160 visitors ($800 at five bucks a click) went to the web page. I may not have been so concerned if it had not been for the fact that I had no new clients as a result. I contacted my credit card company and it was determined that since this company could not show where the clicks were coming from, I should not have to pay the $800. Since that time, I’ve been real careful of who I will work with online.

If you’ve had some interesting or questionable experiences with companies offering directory advertising for chiropractors I’d like to hear about it. Send me a comment or e-mail with your info.