These days, nearly every internet user has heard of search engine optimization or SEO for short. But how many actually know what SEO truly means?
While it pays for a private practice owner to know what SEO is, no one’s going to expect you to write a thesis on it. But having a basic understanding of how SEO works and, more importantly, how it can work for your business … that’s something all clinic owners should be aware of if they want to compete in today’s market.
To summarize in a single sentence, SEO has to do with the quality of your physical therapy website, page by page, and the quality of the content that lives there.
Not all physical therapy websites, or blogs for that matter, are created equal. It’s the goal of search engine companies, then, to sift through all the content on the Web and deliver the very best to their users, so that they will continue using their services over that of a competitor.
We discussed tips to improve your local search impressions, but let’s take a deeper look at one of the simple ways your practice’s website itself can better catch the “eye” of all search engines: through the consistent use of outbound and inbound links within your content.
A very visual and straightforward example of the power of outbound links can be found at wikipedia.org. Notice what I did there.
By “linking out,” or by sending traffic away from my site, I’ve sent two important messages to search engines: 1) I’m not selfish by wanting to keep a user on my page at all times, and 2) that what I’m discussing on this page or blog post closely matches what I’m linking to.
Both messages “prove” to search engines that, for the topic(s) on my page, I’m an honest and credible source, and so are my sources. As a result, they are more likely to give my search ranking a bump.
Incidentally, besides being the king of internal linking (more on that below), every Wikipedia article has a list of links to references that helped the writer develop that page. The article on physical therapy alone has more than 80 outbound links!
Outbound links are great, but they’re only part of the story. Inbound links make up the other half of the online reference circle.
When outside sites link to content on your site, this serves as a virtual referral to search engines. It says that both sites are trustworthy (yours, as well as theirs), and the fact that someone is vouching for your content indicates to search engines that it will likely provide value to readers.
Needless to say, consistent inbound links from other sites will improve your site’s search ranking. But how can you control such links from other sites? It’s simple. Reach out and make connections.
Find some of the internet’s best and most prolific writers who post content related to yours, send them samples of your work, and ask to exchange links. They may have questions about upcoming content — you’ll want to keep posting consistently, of course — but the SEO bump will make the extra effort worthwhile. In fact, there are entire businesses based on garnering inbound links for websites because they play such an important role in SEO rankings.
Internal & Social Links
Other types of links, such as internal links (linking to and from pages on your own physical therapy website) and social links (links to your site from Facebook and Twitter pages), play important roles in generating web traffic. But when it comes to SEO, they pack a slightly less impactful punch than inbound/outbound links.
Regardless, it’s important to remember that content — new and regularly updated content on your website and blog — serves as the foundation of any SEO strategy. As they say, “if you build it, they will come.” The same holds true for your content and links.
Net Health Is Your Missing Link
If you’re looking to get a leg up on the competition in online search without having to self-navigate the ever-changing SEO landscape, look no further than Net Health’s online marketing and patient engagement tools. We work with you to establish a strategic plan and budget that works for your private practice — big or small. Schedule a demo to see how we can drive traffic both online and through your doors today.
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