Are you being taken advantage of by your search engine optimization company?

June 3, 2014
Charles Crawford provides five metrics by which dentists can evaluate their search engine optimization (SEO) companies.
Unfortunately, many search engine optimization (SEO) companies promise the world but don’t deliver results. With this article, my goal is to give you metrics that you can use to determine whether your SEO company is doing a good job. If they aren’t, it’s time to find a new company. Google has made changes to their algorithm, so only cutting-edge companies are still getting great results with search placement, while others are falling behind. These changes could be to your benefit if you have a good SEO company. SEO is more valuable today than ever since everyone uses Google, and search marketing is super targeted.

1. Do you rank first in results for the keyword combination, “[city name] [dentist]”?

This is often the most searched keyword combination for dentists. If you’re a dentist in Woodland Hills, the best keyword to target would most likely be “Woodland Hills dentist” or “dentist Woodland Hills.” In this case, it’s “dentist Woodland Hills,” which has 210 searches per month on Google.

If you rank first in the list of results for your most important keywords, it’s safe to say that your SEO company is successful. If you’re not even in the top five results, it’s time to analyze what your SEO company is doing to make sure their methods are still relevant. Otherwise, you’re wasting your money.

2. Check your traffic and rankings on is a free tool you can use. Enter your domain name into the search bar, and hit enter. It will show you the estimated traffic your site receives, what percentage of your traffic is from ads and organic SEO, what ads you’re running on Google AdWords, and most importantly, your top rankings. If you don’t rank first, and you’ve been paying an SEO company for six months or more, it’s time to let them go. The traffic estimate on can vary slightly, but you should see a main trend wherein your traffic is generally increasing every month. If your traffic isn’t generally increasing, you might have been hit with a penalty.

This screenshot illustrates the traffic of a Colorado Springs dentist who was hit with a penalty during January 2012. Notice how his traffic dropped in 2012 before the second, smaller spike in traffic in 2013. This illustration of his traffic shows the problem: he hired another SEO company that tried to rank the same domain name, which previously had been damaged by low-quality links, so the improved results didn’t last long.

3. Check the backlinks to your website.

A backlink is another site that links to your site. It’s one of the core components of Google’s algorithm. Prior to March of 2012 when Google launched the Penguin Update, more links meant higher rankings. The Penguin Update, one of the biggest algorithm changes in Google’s history, made low-quality links decrease rankings. Before the Penguin Update, links were more of a quantity game, rather then a quality game. Now, SEOs need to focus only on quality since spammy link-building methods don’t work anymore. If your SEO company is getting low-quality links to your website, or even no links at all, it’s time to get a new company.

4. Is your content getting shared on social media?

In addition to the decline of backlinks, the rise of social engagement as a ranking factor has been among the biggest challenges for SEO in the past few years. Google takes into account how many people are sharing your content across social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. The more shares, the better. Why? Google’s goal is to provide the best experience to users. How? Social proof. If hundreds of people are sharing your content on social media sites, your content must be pretty good. So, how do you get more social shares? Your SEO company should be writing content and publishing rich media, such as infographics and videos. Infographics and videos make content easier to consume, so people are more willing to share them across social media sites. If your SEO company hasn’t created any infographics or videos for you, and there aren’t any social shares of any of your pages or posts, it might be time to find a new SEO company.

5. Do you have your picture next to your website in results?

Have you noticed that some websites have a picture that shows up next to them in search results?

That’s Google Authorship. It’s easy to implement, and it’s valuable because the picture attracts users’ attention and thereby increases your traffic. The example above is from a dentist in Woodland Hills. If you don’t have Authorship on your website, you should look for a new SEO company because your current company isn’t helping you to get the most free traffic.

The game of SEO changes faster than almost any other industry. Apply these metrics to your website to determine whether or not your SEO is paying off. Most importantly, track calls and revenue. How many new patients do you actually get from SEO? If your company can’t tell you, look for a new company. Dynamic call-tracking and analytics tools, such as, will help you to calculate how many patients are coming from SEO, versus Google Adwords.

Charles Crawfordis the co-founder of Crawford and O’Brien. Aside from doingdental SEO and helping dentists get new patients, Charles plays jazz piano in restaurants in Scottsdale, AZ on weekends. Download a free dental marketingreport to learn about some of his SEO methods that work.