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An introduction to SEO for physiotherapy clinics

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) refers to making your web pages as friendly as possible for search engines to maximise their exposure for your content. Here is a crash course.

When people use a search engine (e.g. Google), they expect to find relevant search results. If the results are not useful, they would stop using that search engine. Hence search engines are in the game of returning good results to users. Good search engines like Google try to determine the theme, contents and relevance of web pages and then present them in search results if they match what it thinks the user is looking for.

Essentially, these are the keys to SEO

  • Have good, fresh content that is intended (first and foremost) to be useful
  • Ensure that your pages are relevant to your business
  • Ensure that most pages focus on specific but related themes (e.g. “massage therapy”, or “dietitian”)
  • Ensure that your page titles and descriptions are well planned (read more on this below)
  • Keep in mind the search terms that users will enter into search engine (and try to incorporate these into your pages as nicely as possible)

All about keywords

Keywords are basically the search terms entered by a user. Search engines are always visiting your website and extracting content from your pages, so that it can determine what relevant keywords may be – with the intent of matching your pages with a searcher’s query.

You will want to ponder and determine what keywords would be relevant for you. For example if someone searches for “Elvis number plates” in Google, it wouldn’t serve your clinic if your website was listed in search results. However if they searched for “Physiotherapy in Essendon”, your ears should prick up (assuming you are located in or near Essendon).

So what are your likely target keywords?  List a few – chances are you will probably have one or two primary keywords that you will want search engines to take your website seriously for. Remember that you may get more qualified website traffic (i.e. users that are geographically close to you) by targeting good keywords for your website contents.

Looking at search results in a new way

Take a look at the the screenshot of a search result below.

Click to view full size.

Titles and descriptions are very important for SEO. Note how the top results’ titles and descriptions contain the keywords? Using your target keywords in your pages effectively can enhance your listings.

Search engines examine the contents and theme of your pages as a whole (although certain parts like titles and headings carry more weight). They scan for patterns to determine its keywords, but at the same time they check for a correlation between these keywords and the actual flow of content of your pages. So it is hard to fool search engines by simply spamming your content with juicy keywords. Search engines are quite smart these days.

Your page titles and descriptions

When adding or editing pages in your PhysioPulse website Admin Console, you will note the “title” and “description” fields above the content editor:

Click to view full size.

This is where you should spend a little time to craft a well thought out title and description for each page. These are the details that a searcher will see on the search results page when a page from your website is listed.

  • Titles and keywords should contain the target keywords near the beginning.
  • Title should be no more than 70-80 characters in length, descriptions no more than 150-160 characters.
  • Be unique in whole site – ensure no other page uses same titles or keywords.
  • Avoid special characters.

Your page contents

  • Try to use the target keywords frequently within your page contents, especially in headings.
  • Try to achieve a nice balance between paragraphs and headings in your content. Don’t overload with headings because they hold more keyword weight. Never type out entire paragraphs in heading format.
  • Each heading and paragraph should relate to the theme (keywords) of the page. Do not pollute with material unrelated to the theme of the page – make a separate page for unrelated material if necessary.
  • Keep word count between 300 – 1500.

The golden rule

[box type=”info”]Craft your content, keywords and descriptions to make clear sense and meaning to the human visitors first and search engines second. Simply spamming your pages with keywords can land you in hot water and ban you from search engine listings altogether![/box]

Getting links to your website

One of the best things that you can do to improve your website’s search engine listings is to get links from other websites to yours. Since Google (and others) have indexed zillions of pages, it knows how interconnected your website is and how they relate to one another.

If your website has 10 incoming links from high-authority websites (i.e. those who also have lots of incoming links from other high authority websites), then it will do wonders for rankings of your website; in fact much more than any optimisation you can do within your pages. This makes sense, since such links give your website credibility and authority.

If you can get only a few links from governing associations (like APA, APTA), physiotherapy research websites and good online resources, it will far outweigh 1000 links from unrelated or low-authority websites. Try to get these juicy links.

Paying to get listed

Obviously everyone is trying to get on page one of results, but the space is limited. Even getting into the top 1% could mean you end up on page 10. Optimising your website contents well can help fight your way to the top of results pages.

However if your website is facing some tough competition, with many other websites targeting the same keywords/audience, it becomes a show of strength and you can end up pushed down the search results.

This is when paying for top listings such as Google Adwords may be an option. Discuss this possibility with us, if you want to explore it.