Let’s look at the options:
1. Template Website vs. Custom Website
Creating a template site is relatively easy and can be done very inexpensively or even free. Those are about the only benefits from a template site. The drawbacks are:
A.) The site will not be optimized correctly for search engines. This means that it will be much more difficult for Google to sort and rank your site, so potential clients will not be able to find you as easily as they should, and will make really difficult for marketing a medical practice
B.) Your site will not be unique. Templates are sold — or given for free — to a large number of people. They are generic, so chances are there are hundreds of sites identical to yours. They are generally of lower aesthetic quality as well.
C.) Read the fine print. Some sites will offer to create a ‘free’ site for you, but there is a binding contract for at least a year with a monthly fee.
Custom sites, on the other hand, offer any and all services that you might need online – but this does come at a price. Setting up a quality custom site will run from $1,000 all the way up to about $10,000 for a smaller, more basic site. For $1,000 you can likely get a site that is fully custom, about 5 pages, and carries some type of mandatory monthly fee. Most legal web design firms will offer a buyout option if you do not want to pay for them to host it.
If you have the budget to create a custom site, the investment will easily be returned, so long as you choose a reputable company that has a proven track record not only in design, but in search engine optimized design and marketing. A site is really only as good as it’s position in the search engines. We often use the analogy in the industry that it is like opening a restaurant. You can have the best food and building in the country, but if you’re 100 miles from any city, you aren’t going to get any business. Before you make the decision on where to spend your money, make sure you talk to a few companies about how they can get you to rank highly in Google. There are really no guarantees as to where you will rank, that is simply the nature of the business. Search engine algorithms are constantly changing, but a good company will get you and keep you on page one.
What about marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) prices?
Once again, it depends: Where are you located? How much competition is there? How many people are looking for services that you offer?
You may be wary of some companies if they ask you what your budget is before giving you pricing. Don’t be. The reason is that the price of your marketing will depend largely on where you are. $500 a month isn’t going to get you anywhere if you are a divorce attorney in Los Angeles. SEO to move up in keyword rankings that competitive would take too many hours of manual work for $500 to cover the expense of it. However, If you’re a real estate attorney in Omaha, Nebraska, you make be able to make some real headway with that kind of budget.
What you should ultimately weigh out is how much return you will be getting on your marketing investment. Good SEO companies will get you ranked in 6 months, and once you have the ranking, you can stop paying for the services (assuming that there is no long term contract). So, that $500 a month budget comes out to $3,000, and you have your ranking forever (some minor tweaking may be necessary down the road). If the average client brings you $1,000, your costs are recouped at just 3 clients. If the medical search engine optimization (SEO) campaign has been done properly, you will be getting many more clients than that.
These prices are all very general. Some companies utilize outsourcing (or outsource everything) and have lower costs. Others do everything in-house and in North America, and so may cost more. Both have their benefits and drawbacks.