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Massage Today
November, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 11

The Three Basics of Search Engine Optimization for Massage Therapists

By Daniel Ruscigno

Once upon a time, potential clients turned to the phone book to find new healthcare practitioners. They would sift through the pages to find an office close to them and call to book an appointment.

In today's world, their strategy has changed. Instead, clients first turn to Google and search online for healthcare practitioners near them. Because of this, every practice with a website should make search-engine optimization (SEO) a priority in their online growth strategy.

What is the goal of SEO?

The goal of SEO is to increase the amount of visitors that your website gets from people doing searches on Google. More website visitors translates to more new clients and more appointments.

For example, if you are a massage therapist in Chicago and someone searches on Google for "massage therapists in Chicago," you will get the most website visits if you are the first result listed on the search results page. Below are basic steps to start your journey to the top of the search results.

Step 1: Choose Key Phrases

When the client types their search into Google, the words they use are called "keywords" or "key phrases." The first step in SEO is to choose the key phrases that are relevant to your business and that will appear in the Google search results.

search engine - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Tip 1: Think like your client. The most important part of choosing a keyword is thinking about what your potential client is going to search for. Remember, it's what they type that determines what will show up in the search results. For a massage therapist, a client may search for "massage therapists," "deep-tissue massage," "hot stone massage," etc. They probably won't be searching for "Jane Smith, LMT." Choose key phrases/words that are likely to be searched.

Tip 2: Be location-specific when choosing your key phrases. This is because key phrases as broad as "massage therapist" are going to have competition from massage therapists across the country. The more competition there is for a key phrase, the harder it is get your website on the first page of the search results. Instead, be specific based on your location with key phrases like, "massage therapist in Chicago." These types of key phrases will have less competition, and because they are location-specific, it's likely the visitors you get from the search results will be from potential new clients in your neighborhood.

Tip 3: Choose a different key phrase for each page of your website. Each of your web pages should have their own dedicated key phrase. This gives you more opportunities to appear in the search results. For example, a massage therapist in Chicago could choose the key phrase "massage therapist in Chicago" for her home page. On the page where she talks about the hot stone massage that she offers, she could choose the key phrase, "hot stone massage in Chicago."

It's important that the key phrase you choose is relevant to the page you are choosing it for.

Step 2: Where to Put Key Phrases

Once you've chosen your key phrases for each page, you need to put them into action. The way to do this is to put them into three key spots on each web page. This part of SEO is slightly technical, so you may want to recruit the help of the person that made your website.

Spot #1 – Title tag. The title tag is the official title of the page and appears as the blue link shown in the Google search results. It is the most important place for your key phrase, as the title tag is a mini executive summary that tells Google what your web page is about.

Spot #2 – Header tag. The header tag is the large text at the top of your website. It clearly defines the web page's purpose and theme to your website visitor. Because it is usually near the top of the page and in larger text, Google translates this as being important information that defines what your web page is about.

Spot #3 - Body of the page. While the previous two are the most important, it's also helpful to have your keyword one more time on that page, casually mentioned in your descriptive paragraph. This offers Google some extra validation that your key phrase is relevant to your web page.

Step 3 – Rising to the Top

Steps 1 and 2 are the basic steps to optimize your website to be read by Google. The third step is all about moving your way to the top of the search results. The way Google does this is like an election. Each website gets "votes" and the website with the most "votes" is the #1 search result.

In Google's case, "votes" equals links. So the final step is getting as many people to link to your website as possible. For example, you may get links from industry association websites, referring practitioners or in web articles written by you or about you. This is an ongoing process and it can take several weeks to see the results of your hard work. It's important to stick with it and slowly see your website rise up Google's search results.

Bonus: 3 Important SEO Tips

First, always use text for your keywords. Google can't read images well, so make sure your keywords are actually text, not pictures/graphics. Second, don't use Flash. Like images, Google can't easily read Flash, so it is best to avoid using it. It should also be noted that iPhones and iPads don't support flash, so a website visitor from one of these devices will just see a blank page. And third, don't overdo it with key phrases. If Google sees a key phrase on your website an unreasonable number of times, it will hurt your chances of being on the first page of the search results.


Daniel Ruscigno is a co-founder of PatientCal. PatientCal offers simple-to-use practice-management software for small healthcare clinics. Previously, Daniel consulted for several companies to aide in their search-engine-optimization strategy.

 

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