Today's blog post come from WebPT Digital Marketing Specialist and SEO wizard Andy Rysdam. Thanks, Andy!
I couldn’t believe what I had just heard.
“$1,200 a month? Are you getting anything out of it?” I replied.
"Well, not that I know of, but all my competitors are there, so I need to be, too.”
This was my first big moment of surprise in helping private practice clinics. I was still new to consulting (this was 2007), and I was on a mission to help small practices bring more business through their doors. But I clearly remember the first time I heard a practice owner tell me they still advertised in the physical, paper-bound Yellow Pages without it bringing them new business. And it was just as shocking the fourth, seventh, and twelfth times.
Does this sound like your practice? Are you throwing marketing dollars around because it seems like the right thing to do? Before you spend another cent on Yellow Page ads, newspaper ads, or any other kind of traditional advertising, I urge you to give online a shot. Not only is there no cost (free as in beer, baby!) to what I’m about to suggest, but there’s also no risk, and this will actually get you new customers (no offense, Yellow Pages)―if you follow through.
Where we’re going, we need two things:
First things first: let’s talk about keywords. Keywords are words or phrases that people might type into a search engine (Google, Yahoo, etc.) to find what they’re looking for. So if somebody is looking for a physical therapist in Miami, they might use keywords like “Miami physical therapy” or “physical therapist in Miami.” If you’re a PT, you can pretty much swap out your location and use those two as your main keywords.
2. A NAP
Time to get our NAP on. NAP stands for “Name. Address. Phone Number.” Every business has a NAP, and for reasons I won’t bore you with, this needs to be 100% consistent every time you use it. That means every time you sign up for a new social network or business directory, you want to use the exact same NAP. Every. Single. Time. There should never be inconsistency here—from the Suite or PO Box number to the phone number extension, every instance of your NAP needs to be identical. I said I wouldn’t bore you with the details, but what it boils down to is that the more Google sees your consistent NAP across the Internet, the more it will trust that your business is actually real.
The most crucial places to get your NAP listed:
- Your own website
- Social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn
- Local directories like Google+, Yelp, and Foursquare
Got your keywords and NAP figured out? Let’s get to the fun stuff.
Google practically owns the Internet at this point, so let’s focus on what we can do with them. With five billion searches made through Google every day, there are plenty of new patients to capture with a little Google-Fu.
Have you ever done a Google search and been shown a map of local results? This is what we’re going for. You’ll want to start by claiming your Google+ Business profile page. Try not to skimp on filling your profile out; the more complete it is, the better. If you can fit your keywords in somewhere without sounding unnatural, that would be a great idea as well. (The “Introduction” section under “Story” works well for this). An example introduction might look like:
“Foothills PT is a Phoenix physical therapy clinic specializing in full-service rehabilitation for the last 13 years.”
Even if you don’t plan on actively updating it, a Google+ Business profile is an absolute must-have.
Chances are good that you’ve got a Facebook, Twitter, and maybe even a LinkedIn profile for your practice. If so, give yourself a pat on the back. If not, time to get to it. Just like with Google+, even if you don’t plan on keeping your social networks updated, it’s a great first step to claim and fill out your profile. Again, the more complete your profiles, the better. Include your NAP and a link to your practice website when possible. It’s a great idea to fit your keywords in also, as long as you can do it without sounding like Yoda.
Top Social Networks:
Local directories are where the rubber really meets the road. These are just like they sound—the phone books of the Internet era. You’re probably familiar with some of the more popular ones like Yelp, Foursquare, or YellowPages.com. This is where the motivated will truly succeed, because the more of these places on which you list your business (with your perfect NAP), the better your chances of finding new customers online. The same rules apply here as above: make sure your profile is as close to 100% complete as possible, make sure your NAP is dead-on, and try to add a link back to your website.
Top Local Directories:
- Bing Local
- Yahoo Local
Have an afternoon to kill? Want to go in-depth on developing your online presence? Check out this list of 79 local directories:
The last big piece to the local online marketing puzzle is getting customers to provide reviews. The bad news? It can be difficult to get your customers to actually do so. The good news? You only need a handful to make an impact on your online presence. Reviews are a prominent ranking factor for Google local searches because Google sees this as another indicator to vouch for your business being real and worthy of exposure to their users.
Let’s take the example of the search results for “physical therapy in Phoenix.” All of the big PT clinics in Phoenix are listed here: STI, Fischer, Spooner, Foothills. Not a single one of them (and keep in mind these are some of the biggest clinics in Arizona) has more than two reviews. If you really focused on connecting with a few of your best patients, do you think you could get more than two reviews? Seems pretty realistic with a little effort.
Where should customers leave reviews?
Focus on getting reviews to your Google+ page first. Once you’ve got a few there, start getting some to your Yelp, YellowPages, SuperPages, or Foursquare listings.
Bob’s PT down the street left a bunch of fake reviews for himself. Can’t I just do the same?
No! And I mean this with the utmost love and respect, but NO! Fake reviews have ended in tears more than once, and not only do potential customers see right through them, but there’s a lot of technology behind detecting and preventing fake reviews, and that technology will ensure that any attempt to post one will do far more harm than good.
There’s a lot going on here in terms of helping your customers find you online, and we’ve really just scratched the surface. But the best part of all this is that chances are good that your competitors are lacking critical parts of their online presence. This means that the amount of effort you need to make to improve your Internet visibility is still relatively low. It won’t be this way forever, and getting a head start on the competition is always better than trying to catch up later.
Think your online presence is lacking but don’t have the time to work on it? Let WebPT’s marketing team give you a jump start today. Shoot me an email at Andy@webpt.com if you’d like to learn more about local SEO audits.