Search Marketing

The State of SEO Explained in Dental Terms

Could worms cause cavities?

This idea pervaded dentistry for thousands of years, from 5000 BC Sumeria to 14th century Europe – before modern dentistry really got its start.

At the time, it made a little bit of sense. Cavities tended to look like they had been bored through by a small worm. Unfortunately, the treatment for getting rid of worms was at best unhelpful, and at worst, probably did more harm than good.

We can laugh at these ideas now – with the benefit of everything we know about modern dentistry. Dental care has been studied, perfected and practiced for hundreds of years. There’s little debate about how to fix a cavity, or what actually causes them.

But imagine if dentistry was only in its first decade of being practiced and understood…

That’s where search engines are now.

They’ve only been around in their current iteration for barely a decade. They’re just coming out of the “worms cause cavities” stage.

For example, you might have heard of people “keyword stuffing” their web pages so they would rank well for a variety of terms.

Populating your pages with a bunch of unrelated keywords used to be an effective technique, used by SEO experts to get an edge. Of course it made webpages worse – just like treatments for getting rid of tooth worms didn’t help anyone’s teeth…

So we’re still in the dark ages of really understanding the best ways to build, use and understand search engines. That’s why we see so many changes and new rules being replaced by even newer rules on such a regular basis.

And it’s why the Internet is still a very wild place. It seems ridiculous, because the Internet feels so well developed, understood and commonplace – but it’s still evolving rapidly. The ideas you heard about improving your search rank five years ago are almost laughable today.

Right now, Google’s rules for search and how to best optimize your website go through a pretty circuitous and admittedly confusing pathway.

In essence, Google sends out “spiders” to take pictures of websites, then another program analyzes the websites using a bunch of rules to see which sites best fit the criteria Google values.

This process happens millions of times per second, over and over.

The system breaks down when there’s a disconnect between Google’s rules and the actual experience human users have on the page. In other words, there’s a problem when Google has rules in place that either result in a bad search or create a rule that interferes with user experience.

Google knows about these breakdowns, but despite the billions of dollars and the years Google has spent refining this process, half of all searches result in a “bounce” – meaning users enter a search, click on a result, and immediately click back to Google’s result page. 

That’s right: half of the time Google’s best search result guess is wrong. That’s still pretty good – and statistically it means the first page of results has what the user is searching for over 90% of the time.

But surprisingly, people still use outdated methods of SEO – some “experts” still use keyword stuffing or other tricks to try to fool Google.

And despite the advances made in dentistry, there were still people in the early 20th century who believed in tooth-worms…

While our understanding of the best practices for search engines is still evolving, we know a few things for sure. We know that it’s ideal to create user-focused sites that give people what they’re looking for in an honest and clear way.

We’re getting closer and closer by the day to a time when a site that ranks well is identical to a site that is functionally sound for the user. And ideally, every time someone searches for something your practice should be a good match for, Google would display your practice in the top of the search results.

But because Google’s programs, bots and algorithms aren’t perfect, that might not always be the case.

For the time being, Google is still working out the bugs – or worms – and it’s extremely important you employ a robust SEO strategy to ensure you rank on the first page for a variety of possible search terms.

What can you do now?

If you aren’t sure about your SEO strategy – or even how well you might rank in Google or other search engines, we can help. We have SEO experts on staff who (believe it or not) love talking about SEO and how you can improve.

Give us a call at (888) 932-3644 or email us at to schedule a time to chat.

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