Let's face it: As the owner of a physical therapy practice, you probably have a shortage of hours in your day. You're not interested in learning the finer points of Facebook advertising. You don't care about the ins and the outs of crafting the perfect email drip campaign. And you're not even slightly amused by the cute black-and-white animal names in Google's zoo of algorithm changes (lookin' at you Panda, Penguin, and Pigeon). And unless you’ve got a black belt in nerdery, why should you care?
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: You probably don’t need to care about these things. I’m an avid follower of the Pareto Principle, so in the spirit of that, here are three things you can work on today that will cover 80% of your local search engine optimization (SEO) needs. And because local SEO for physical therapy is not yet super competitive in most markets, 80% is often all you need.
1. Get Your NAP Straight
NAP refers your Name, Address, and Phone number, and it’s the digital foundation of any local business’s online presence. If you’ve got a website, add that to your foundation (NAP+W). Google’s recognition of you as a local business hinges on this information. Unfortunately, Google is a finicky beast. It only wants to display information that it perceives as 100% accurate. So, the Goog needs plenty of proof that you—and your business—are who you say you are. The key to pulling that off? Consistency.
Every time Google finds your NAP listed somewhere online, it needs to see it presented the exact same way it has found it previously. Got an apostrophe in your business name? Make sure it’s there every time. Have two office phone numbers? Pick one and stick with it.
There are a two ways to audit your NAP listings for accuracy:
- Google your business name, address, or phone number; this should pull up most results. You’ll have to do some digging, but if you’ve got inaccurate listing data, the time investment is well worth it.
- Use Yext, which has a free listing scan that will search across most major business directories and data aggregators to identify inconsistent information. Yext also has a service to help correct your listings without any manual effort on your end. It’s not free, but for small business owners with limited time, the cost is money well spent.
Don’t have your NAP listed anywhere yet? Here’s a list of the top 50 business directories. Make it your mission to get listed in a handful of these; doing so will send all sorts of positive Google vibes your way.
2. Determine Whether Your Website is a Necessity or a Nice-to-Have
I’m going to say something that’s basically akin to committing murder in the world of digital marketing: You don’t need a website for your business. Of course, you should build one at some point, but we’re focused on three simple steps that’ll generate 80% of your results, and a website doesn’t make that list.
The one thing that’s more important than a website is a fully completed Google My Business Listing. Google’s done a good job of cleaning up the mess that was Google Local/Places/Plus, and there’s now one central place where you should concentrate your efforts: Google My Business. If you aren’t listed there yet, make it your first priority. Second priority is making sure your profile is as complete and accurate as it can be. Google has learned from its past mistakes and built a lot of helpful hints into the process, so it’s fairly painless now.
With that said, if you’ve done the basics and are ready to level-up your online game, you really should have a website.
3. Obtain Reviews
We all know that obtaining online reviews is crucial, but just to be clear: It is incredibly crucial. I’m talkin’ somewhere along the lines of beg, borrow, or steal—as in, do whatever’s necessary to get them (except, of course, planting fake reviews; Google can see right through those, so don’t even think about it). If you haven’t yet put together a plan to start ramping up your reviews, now’s the time. I recommend these resources:
- 7 Creative Ways to Get Customer Testimonials
- How to Solicit Customer Reviews Without Pissing People Off
- 5 Clever Ways to Get Customer Reviews That Convert
Also, self-plug: Check out the WebPT Blog tomorrow, where we’ll show you how to solicit reviews. Need advice on responding to the reviews you’ve already received? We’ll tackle that on Wednesday.
There you have it: three simple steps that account for 80% of the groundwork for a solid digital presence. Now, if your goal is complete domination of your local search results, these steps won’t be enough. It’s a great foundation to build upon, though. Ultimately, you just need to avoid getting bogged down by the millions of things you could do, and instead, stay grounded in the basics—consistent NAP, accurate My Business listing, and a process for soliciting reviews. After all, the fundamentals will set you free—from the epic time suck that is zookeeping Google’s algorithms.