The Medical Marketing blog focuses on how physicians can leverage the Internet to grow medical practices and apply technology to solve common business problems. The blog is led by Tony Mork, MD, an endoscopic spinal surgeon.

BLOG: Is SEO dead?

Search engine optimization is not dead, but Google sure gave it a death-rattling blow in September of this year and put dozens of these companies out of business overnight.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an arcane activity somewhere between art and science, just this side of the Twilight Zone. SEO experts determine which words or phrases get the most search volume and traffic in relation to your product or service. So why are people like you and I are willing to pay a lot for SEO services?

There is an odd internet phenomenon that occurs between the seeker and provider of a service or product. The person seeking something will of often search for the product or service using a term or keyword that is different than the exact name. In other words, there are sometimes many different keyword phrases that you can use to reach the product or service.

Google Adwords provides a tool called Keyword Planner that allows you to type in your product or service. Keyword Planner would show you the exact number of monthly search volume for your keyword and provide other keyword ideas. The results were often shocking and emphasized that what you thought was a good keyword to attract search traffic was not good.

Keyword Planner is provided by Google to help people find the most popular keywords and write the best Adwords for their paid advertising, but the SEO crowd harvested the best keywords to write good content to attract the search engines for free. Google has always been at odds with the SEO crowd because it competes with the basic revenue model of Google.

In September, Adwords stopped publishing the search volume of keywords and replaced it with less specific data that showed a keyword was searched for zero to 100 times or 100 to 1,000 times in the past month and so on. This creates difficulty when doing SEO to rank your keywords and has added strain to the tasks the professional SEOs go through when ranking your site against competitors. With this increased difficulty in pinning down organic traffic, Google has continued to make it more difficult to rank your site and keywords organically — namely, because Google makes its money through paid advertising not organic results.

Many SEOs are now embracing paid advertising once again to supplement organic search traffic marketing campaigns. In some cases, their organic traffic has dropped as much as 60% due to the many changes Google continues to make.

So, is SEO dead? No, but a lot has changed and it continues to change dramatically, so you need to adapt to the environment or be left behind.

Next month, I will tell you about the best bang for your marketing dollar on the internet. Stay tuned.


Tony Mork, MD, is a practicing endoscopic spinal surgeon and author of Medical Marketing Demystified, a book that teaches physicians how to leverage the internet to grow their medical practices. Mork also launched the Medical Website Academy, an educational website that highlights how to apply technology solutions to solve business problems. He can be reached at or