Did you know that there is a way to get Google to notice your clinic website?
The system that Google uses to rank websites is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The heart of the mission for website SEO boils down to this: people use Google to find stuff and you need your therapy practice to show up in those searches.
Essentially, when someone types into the search bar “occupational therapy in [your town]” — your clinic shows up at the top of the list.
A few clicks later, the person explores your website and feels the credibility. They feel confident in your services and decide to set up an appointment at your physical, occupational or speech therapy clinic. More than ever, people are researching on the internet before they decide on a service provider.
Early in my career, I realized that working as an outpatient occupational therapist in a small town was more than showing up each morning. As the only OT, I was responsible for a fair amount of marketing. Otherwise, how would people even know I was there and able to help them?
And without patients, I had to clock out and go home. Which ultimately wasn’t good for my paycheck or paying off those big ‘ol student loans.
My initial efforts focused on word of mouth, community speaking, and networking with physicians. This worked to a certain point. However, as an introvert, schmoozing docs made me break out in a cold sweat. Plus, my marketing efforts were haphazardly thrown together at the last minute when a random hole opening in my schedule.
Looking back at those years, I missed out on a HUGE opportunity because I knew nothing of the inner workings of Google.
So, here is my story of website failure and the SEO secrets—what I wish I knew earlier.
When Google is Not Helping Your Therapy Clinic
The second job of my OT career was in a small community hospital. When I took the position, one of my goals was to grow the number of patients for my service line — occupational therapy.
I thought, “No problem. I will provide quality service and my reputation will grow.”
At the time, I was the only occupational therapist providing outpatient services in the entire county. So building a caseload seemed like an easy mission.
But, it wasn’t happening… I wasn’t getting the patients I really wanted.
I started wondering, How will people know that I am here?
The first answer that came to me: “They will try to look up occupational therapy on the internet.”
So, I pulled up Google and began typing in common sense phrases for finding occupational therapy in my community.
The results came in AND… our therapy department page wasn’t there.
A few clicks to new pages and I finally found our therapy clinic on page 5!
That’s a massive fail considering there were only a total of 3 therapy clinics in town.
Next, I visited the website. Which made me even more doubtful that local people who call me for occupational therapy services from a Google search. The descriptions did not match our current services and the whole thing felt outdated.
Incredibly, the website did not even list the phone number to our therapy department.
I had uncovered a major problem in our marketing efforts. Physicians and patients couldn’t find us on the Internet. Neither could medical assistants or case managers.
Even if they found us, they’d be in the dark about the therapy services we were able to offer.
What is a Copywriter and a Web Developer?
I spent some time reviewing the website and started writing new descriptions for our services. My goal was to better capture the spirit of our clinic. I also wanted to include basics like our phone number, how find our clinic in the hospital, and what to expect at the first visit.
Now I know — all of this is called copy. Copy is basically the words of the website. It is the substance that people read. A person who writes copy is called a copywriter.
But, I only had text in a Word document.
Next, I had to get the words on the website. So, my learning continued.
I talked to the marketing director. She was happy with my copy but told me she didn’t have the ability to put the words on the website. The next step was to give the words to the hospital’s website developer. The website developer was in charge of setting up the layout of the website and updating the content.
I’ve put this memory in file cabinet of professional fails.
And if I knew then what I’m about to share with you now, I could have brought a lot of new clients to that therapy website with few key pieces of knowledge around SEO.
How to Catch the Attention of Google Using SEO for Your Therapy Practice
Since that first ill-fated dabble in copywriting, I have learned a lot more about how Google works and how to write to catch the attention of the reader.
As a traditional occupational therapist practitioner, I had no idea that Google used algorithms and keywords to decide who would show up on the first page of a Google search.
I am going to share some of the best ways to use SEO to improve your occupational therapy and physical therapy clinic website.
1. Give Special Attention to Titles and Headings
Formatting goes a long way in making your website content easy to read. This includes using headings and subheadings. It also includes breaking long paragraphs into shorter ones and even adding bullets.
Use keywords in titles and headlines. This helps to alert Google to what your article is about. The goal is to make it read well, highlight your service and include keywords.
For instance, if you are a clinic in Small Town, USA— maybe you would use one of the following headings:
- Physical and Occupational Therapists Serve Patients in Small Town, USA
- Pediatric Occupational Therapist and Speech Therapist Love Children in Small Town, USA
- Sports Medicine Physical Therapist Returning Athletes to Sport in Small Town, USA
Use long-tail keywords and short-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are phrases that could be typed into a Google search. These tend to be more specific and usually have less competition for a high Google ranking. Short-tail keywords are single words that may be more difficult to get a high Google rank.
- Long-Tail keyword example: Occupational therapy for children with sensory and eating issues
- Short-tail example: Eating issues
2. Google Recognizes High-Quality Content, And So Does Your Reader
You are a high-quality physical, occupational, or speech therapy provider. Make sure that your website reflects your knowledge. Your potential clients and patients will notice and so will Google.
Blogs are a great way to share your knowledge, educate patients and improve your Google ranking.
For best results:
- use keywords (like mentioned above),
- aim for a word count over 1,000
- cite credible sources.
Make sure your website reflects your philosophy and services. This includes updating your website regularly with changes such as services, hours, and clinicians.
Don’t so caught up in writing for Google ranking that you lose sight of the humans who are ultimately deciding to work with you. This means that you want to write use SEO keywords in a way that reads well and makes sense. That’s right, don’t try to just cram in a bunch of keywords into your writing to try for a high SEO rating. Both Google and your reader appreciate keywords that are used organically throughout your writing.
Additional note, make sure you don’t duplicate content. It might be tempting to copy and paste from other sources or re-use something you have written online earlier. But, this detracts from the quality of your content as Google penalizes duplicate website content.
3. Find Ways to Get Backlinks
Backlinks are when other websites link to your website. This increases your website’s credibility because it shows that other websites like what you are saying. Think of it like a website recommendation.
There are several ways to get more backlinks. One way is to write quality content that other people will want to reference. For instance, you write a blog about ways to address sensory issues for teens. Then a pediatrician agrees with your content and creates a link from their page to yours.
Another option is through local networking. Maybe the Chamber of Commerce has a website where they link to member websites. Or maybe your community has an online guide for local resources supporting children or health.
SEO and Online Marketing Resources for Your Therapy Clinic
It is incredible how online marketing trends are always changing. The good news is that great free resources exist to get you started and keep you up-to-date.
- Neil Patel – SEO and marketing expert who provides high quality content. Sign up for his email list and get free updates on upcoming updates to SEO and latest marketing trends. His website also includes an SEO analyzer. www.neilpatel.com
- Backlinko – Provides education and resources about SEO. www.backlinko.com
- Headline analyzer – This tool will score your headline. Try different headlines and find out what gets the best score. www.coschedule.com/headline-analyzer
- SCORE – This organization provides support to small business through resources available on their website and free webinars, and free business mentors. www.score.org
A High-Quality Website is Work— but WORTH IT
So, having a valuable website doesn’t happen by chance. There are many variables involved in a strong a compelling website.
It makes sense why my therapy clinic wasn’t ranking very high. But, it turned out I did have the right foundational idea, even if back then I didn’t have the copywriting expertise to pull it off.
There is significant value in having a solid online presence. A study by doctors.com looked at trends for using the internet to select healthcare providers. It found 80% of participants used the internet for a health-related search. In the same study, 63% of participants used compelling website content as the criteria for selecting one provider over another.
People are investing time and money to resolve their issues using therapy services. When people are choosing physical or occupational therapy services, they are:
- Establishing a relationship
- Looking for answers to their health problems
- Seeking services that will be valuable
You want to come out on top when people are doing their online research. Your website is the beginning of establishing yourself as the occupational, physical or speech therapy clinic of choice.
Building a quality website is important. But, it can seem overwhelming to combine everything— have the right tone, maximize SEO, and present quality content.
After 4+ years working as an SEO copywriter, I continue to get jazzed about helping fellow occupational therapy practitioners create spectacular websites that bring in new clients through Google.