Newbie- Opinion Virtro? advertising company- max search engines

lynnalexandraJanuary 15, 2008

I am so new to this it's scary. I'm a psychologist and know I need to develop a website - which is taking time to decide on content that will draw clients and still have professional integrity. I think I will ultimately hire a web designer for that (I'm appalled at the therapist websites I see - very amateurish).

My question now is about advertising companies which offer to manage your web presence by maintaining a page - with words and whatever else they do to optimize appearing at the top of searches by google, yahoo and msn. I had some vague familiarity that I might hire somebody to help me with google words for my website. But this seems easier for an overwhelmed newbie - to even start before my website is developed.

I got cold called by this company Virtro ( - offering me to be their exclusive client for whichever zip codes I choose (which cost $15-$60 per zip code - perhaps a range from $200-300/month depending on how many zips I choose). I would be this company's only client for those zip codes. (No contract - I could cancel any time.) Of course, there are doubtless many competing companies doing this for their clients as well.

I like the sound of this service - but I know nothing about how many companies do this, what costs are reasonable, whether there are some companies that are better to hire than others (either bc. they're more effective or cost less) - or whether this entire idea is a rip-off.

Please - any advice is welcomed. I've been overwhelmed at this whole establishing-a-web-presence idea since first contemplating it in June.



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Seems to me that in your line of business a quite simple but effective web site would be adequate. You are not selling from the site but advertising your location and services. Your web pages would not need updating on a frequent basis, perhaps an addition or adjustment once or twice yearly?

Look around and get ideas on how you might like your site to look. Then perhaps visit a local college asking about recent computer graduates who might be interested in setting up your site. You never know if you never ask.

Regarding Virtro did you Google the company? If you enter their address in the address bar you bring up their web site. However when I Googled they were not found. Ouch! When I added the www in front it brought a listing up but clicking on it took me elsewhere. Not comforting methinks.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2008 at 2:40PM
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I have to agree with owbist -- you need an online presence, so that those prospective clients who are computer savvy enough to look you up can find you (I can't tell you how many doctors and psychologists I've looked up online when looking for a new one -- how many have had an online presence? None. Very frustrating.)

But I don't think it needs to be particularly complex, nor do you need to be targeting specific zipcodes -- surely in your kind of business, you don't actively seek out clients, do you? Most of your business is through word of mouth, or maybe a simple advertisement or something like that (I'm trying to think if I've ever seen a psychologist advertising before). Companies like Virtro probably work through cold calling, or at best, targeted marketing -- how exactly would you target market your clientale? Call someone up and ask if there's any crazy people in the house that need a psychologist, and if so, come on down to see lynnalexandra? There's something about that that smacks of unprofessionalism, IMO. Even if it's just web advertising...I really don't see that garnering you much in the way of clients...and that really shouldn't be the purpose of your site, IMHO.

Have you thought much about price? owbist's idea of finding a college student isn't bad, but not just any old college student -- find one specializing in graphic design and new media, if you want a site that looks "professional". If there's an art college or anything similar near you, that's your best bet -- most of them have a program involving online media.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2008 at 8:31PM
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I strongly encourage you to develop your website as soon as possible. These days a good website is a must have for any profession. I am currently working with our nephew (a recent computer something graduate) on one for our business. Great idea by owbist to go to your local college and recruit web design services there.

I was actually caught off guard by this posting while searching through the computer help. I am constantly looking up information to try to make myself computer literate :). My husband currently uses to advertise his family pest control business. Since we currently do not have an active website they did create a small one for us to get our name out there. I don't know how they do it but he is getting calls. Anytime I search for pest control on Google his company displays. To me it must work. lynnalexander brought up a good point, if it doesn't work you can cancel. And since competition in any business is fierce these days, my husband liked that they wouldn't work with his competitors who can afford a lot in marketing. Those were the deciding factors for us so we didn't go with the other companies that offered similar services.

I am not quite sure what rivkadr was referring to about making calls to homes to see if someone is crazy there. When not everyone who sees a psychologist is crazy! Thats another discussion. They definitely don't call people and ask if they have bugs or rodents in their homes for us. To this date none of our customers who have called in know we use their service. When we asked how they heard about us, they say online and they clicked on our link. We know we don't have a webpage yet so it is the one they created. It took us awhile to make the internet marketing jump, these days it seems no one uses the phone book and we were wasting a lot of money there. Not sure if this helps anyone out or not but I can say that the has worked for us. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 4:51PM
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Thanks everyone. For some reason, gardenweb didn't forward me these responses until nadiag's today - so I assumed I hadn't gotten any replies.

I think nadiag is right about their services - they don't cold call, but optimize searches on google, yahoo and msn searches so that you come up. The zip code exclusivity means that they won't perform this service for other therapists in those zip codes. If I wanted to pay a ton of money, I could get them to only work with me in the entire DC area. That doesn't mean other companies and individuals aren't optimizing their own names to appear on top during web searches.

Osbist and rivkadr - I am working on a website. In fact, that cold call from Virtro really catalyzed me. I've contacted 2 web designers and gotten proposals. I've written more than half my content and already know which pages I want. Yes, it is a simple site in terms of not doing e-commerce on the site. Rivkadr - here in DC, most therapists I know don't have websites, but perhaps 5-10% do - and in a city with tons of therapist, that's still a lot on line. But almost all their websites are amateurish and the content is lacking in integrity and honesty toward potential clients. I know these sites work for some of them, but I want one that's more honest and reflective of the therapy process - and less insulting to the viewer's intelligence. I'd also like visual appeal and sophisticated design.

My concern with Virtro is that I'm not sure they're offering anything I couldn't do myself with paying for google adwords. I think that's all they're doing - but on 3 search engines instead of one. They claim to be superior about knowing which adwords are most effective. Nadiag- it sounds like they have truly performed that way for you. I'm not sure I could do as well for myself. If I do google adwords myself, in a big city, you pay for the search words and number of clicks to your site - it's much more costly bc. therapists bid against each other to pay the most for those search words. So my monthly costs could well be the same as Virtro's charges - $150-300/month - which isn't very different than the yellow page ad I've had (that used to work to bring a few patients a year, but is no longer effective).

Nadiag - when you hire Virtro, does your fee to them cover the cost for all those search words - or do you also have to pay google, yahoo, and msn for each keyword you've selected? I think that Virtro - just like google adwords - is much more expensive in a more concentrated, urban market. I'm so glad you stumbled on this thread and responded. I had thought I"d pass on Virtro - but since you've had success, I may recontact them and see if their cost includes all charges by the search engines to use those keywords.

Thanks. Still happy to hear any other opinions.


PS - I can tell that I've already learned a fair bit since I posted 2 weeks ago.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 9:27AM
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It's great that you are moving forward on having your website created! It is definitely a must have for a business. I double checked with my husband about his business with Virtro and he said it is one set price based on the zipcodes he chose and all 3 search engines are included in that price. We didn't have to select keywords. They did it for us and it is working so theirs must be effective. We were hesitant at first and thought we would wait until our website was completed but after talking to our nephew, he encouraged us to "give them a try". He was actually impressed with the low fee to advertise on the 3 different ones. He had some experience with Google adwords (not the other two) and said that we wouldn't be able to get the same results for that price with just Google.

I hope this helped to answer some of the questions that you have. I think it is worth giving them a try since the yellow page ad isn't working and you don't need an active website. I will be happy to find the answers to any more questions that you may have. Let me know. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 4:29PM
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Just a follow up posting. Costwise it seems that Virtro will cost me less than doing google adwords myself. And I did sign up with them (and the account should start in a week or two). I can try it and always cancel later. I really liked the idea that my costs were capped (in my case at $170 for the zip codes I picked) and I might still get effective results on the search engines - without exceeding that amount. In DC, I think a google adword campaign (that's effective) could cost me well over $200 a month. Psychologists I know in smaller cities are paying about $200-300 month. So it's worth trying out Virtro first.

I have finished all my written content, photos and graphic images for my website. I picked a designer and she is designing the site now. It may even get launched this month.

Thanks for the support. Nadiag- I will report back here about how Virtro works for me.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2008 at 8:12PM
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