BUILDING AN EFFECTIVE WEBSITE FOR YOUR PHYSICAL THERAPY CLINIC
These days the having a website for your clinic / practice is basically a given. However, there is a difference between simply having a website and having an effective website. If you're going to spend the time and resources on a site for your practice, which you must, you should make the most of it. Having an ineffective website can be worse than having no website at all as it can turn off prospective clients enough to make them look elsewhere. While this article is focused on effective websites for physical therapy clinics the same concepts can be used for other health care clinics and most businesses in general.
The Physical Therapy Clinic Domain Name
The first step in achieving an effective clinic website is the domain name. This is the name that people enter into their browser in order to reach your site; e.g. 'physicaltherapyweb.com'. This is also the name that you put on your marketing materials. This name is also one of the main items used by search engines in order to determine how and when your site should appear in search results. This name is therefore, very important.
Registering a domain name is easier than you might think. All you need to do is go to the web site of one of the many domain name 'registrars', search for an available domain, select one (or more), enter some information and pay for it. Standard ".com" domains (the kind you likely want if you are in North America) are only about $10 per year depending on the registrar you choose. Recommended registrars namecheap.com* and godaddy.com*. Godaddy.com tends to be a bit cheaper but they constantly try to up-sell you which can be annoying. If you're fine with dismissing these up-sell attempts and just want to save money, go with godaddy.com, though it will likely only save you a dollar a year or so.
Registering a domain name is easy. Choosing a good domain name for your clinic may not be as easy. An effective domain name walks a fine balance between being as descriptive as possible while still being reasonably short and memorable. If possible you may want to consider including any keywords in the domain name that are especially important for your clinic. Search engines give a significant amount of weight to domains with matching keywords when ranking search results. If you specialize in a specific area (e.g. vestibular rehab) you may want to include that in your domain. You may also want to include your general keyword of physical therapy etc. In addition, you'll likely want to include your company name in the domain; hopefully it already includes one of your keywords. It's a challenge to incorporate all of these and not have a huge domain name so you may want to focus on your company name.
Another thing to consider including in your domain name is your location. There is a strong chance that you are primarily intending to help people in your city or town find your clinic. These people will likely be searching for local clinics and will therefore include the location in their searches. For example, if you are in New York and your clinic name is Pinnacle Physical Therapy on strong option that capitalizes on the location and keywords is "pinnaclephysicaltherapynewyork.com".
When you are registering your domain, make sure to turn on the auto-renew feature. All that work you put in to finding a good domain name and building an effective site around it will go down the drain if you forget to renew it after a year.
The Physical Therapy Clinic Site Itself
The home page of your site is generally the most important page on your site. It should be attractive and professional looking and have a user friendly navigation system that enables people to easily find what they are looking for. Your home page should have your location, phone number and email address prominently displayed. This is an essential item that is left out surprisingly often. The information is often only available on a 'Contact Us' page but should be prominent on all pages of your site.
You may even want to consider having a map to your clinic right on your home page. I recommend using a Google Map or similar interactive map that users can use to get directions with. These are free to use and are very effective at helping clients get to your door.
Keywords and Search Engine Optimization
Ensure that you have text on the front page that describes what your clinic does and what is unique about the clinic. Also mention the location including city. It can't be emphasized enough that this should be in text and not just an image that has the information in it. Search engines don't index information on images so in order to show up when people are searching for a clinic in your area, you need to have this in actual text. On a similar note, don't simply have Flash on your home page. Search engines can index Flash these days but content in Flash will not be as effective as text outside.
It also can't be emphasized enough that your primary goal is for your clinic to show up in search engines when people search for your keywords (likely 'physical therapy') for your location. Your prospective clients likely aren't those searching for physical therapy services in other cities or even other parts of your city. Focus on your location and your key services when creating the copy for your web site.
All typical Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques should be applied to your home page as well as all pages on your site. If you aren't familiar with some of the following terms and concepts, ensure that the person or company you hire to create your website is very familiar with these. They include:
- Page title tags that include location and keywords. Keep it short. Don't cram in multiple keywords per page.
- Heading tags (h1, h2, etc.) that include location and keywords
- Effective keyword and description meta tags. Again, keep it short and sweet and unique per page on your site
- Text content that includes keywords at about a 3-5% density
- Alt tags with keywords for any images on your pages
- Ensure all pages have valid html (validate with the w3 html validator); invalid pages are ranked lower by search engines
- ensure all pages have valid css (validate with the w3 css validator)
These are only the essential SEO techniques you should apply. They are far from exhaustive. Search Engine Optimization is a very large topic and a more extensive explanation of the various aspects and techniques involved in SEO is beyond the scope of this article.
Navigation and Structure
The navigation on your pages should be simple, prominent and user friendly. The navigation should be repeated on all pages of your site. The navigation should be in text and not use Flash. Again, Flash makes it more difficult for search engines to find the content on your site. Avoid Flash other than for possible some image slideshows and embedded video.
Your site should include at least the following subpages:
- your clients and potential clients should be able to quickly learn what your clinic offers
- include a list of services with a description for each
- again, try to achieve a keyword density of 3-5%
- ideally you could have a separate page for each of the services
- you can utilize keywords and alt tags here
- ensure you include your city or town on these pages so that you rank well for searches for your service in your city
- e.g. new york vestibular rehab
- have a list of your staff with high quality photos
- this helps your potential clients relate to your clinic and its staff on a personal level
- each staff member should have a bio with their interests or specialties, again focusing on keywords
- could be combined with Contact Us
- include an interactive map such as from Google Maps (e.g. so people can get directions)
- may want to include hours of operation
- may want to include parking and/or transit information
- Contact Us
- include a mail form to make contacting your clinic as easy as possible
- avoid displaying your email address in plain text as automated email harvesters trolling the web can find it after which your address will end up on spam lists
- in addition to the email form also list any phone numbers and mailing addresses
- you should link to this page should be from the footer of all pages
- a disclaimer is a must for your site
- there are many disclaimer templates online that you can customize and use
- you should link to this page should be from the footer of all pages
An additional section or page that you may choose to include consists of Links to websites of affiliated organizations and clinic/professionals. Such a page helps validate your clinic as well as gives you an ability for build links with other quality sites. Links to your site from other sites help tremendously in improving your sites ability to rank well in search engines.
You may also want to have pages about the conditions that are treated at your facility. If you do so, ensure that you have reasonably unique content and that you include keywords related to your location.
Social Media Integrations
If you have the time and resources you may want to consider integrating social media into your site. This can be as simple as adding sharing buttons on your site using services such as ShareThis or AddThis to encourage people to share links to your site but there are other more effective ways to integrate social media. For example, you may want to create a Twitter account for periodically tweeting out news and events related to your clinic. On your site you would then want to have an obvious link to make it easy for your visitors to follow your Twitter account. Another common social media integration is a Facebook Company Page. Having such a page will expose your clinic to more people and provide another forum for you to interact with your clients and potential clients. Note that the proper integration of social media into your site and your practice requires both time and effort. Before delving into this territory be sure you or someone at your clinic have a significant amount of time to devote to this yourself or consider hiring someone experience in social media management.
A detailed discussion of how to integrate social media into your business is beyond the scope of this article. If you have questions about using social media to help your business feel free to contact the Physical Therapy Web Space
You may also want to consider adding a blog to your site to keep clients and web site visitors engaged and up to date. However, a blog also requires a significant amount of time and resources to be made worthwhile. Make sure you are prepared to make that commitment before moving forward with one.
Creating an effective web site for your physical therapy clinic is important to stay competitive in todays market. You should ensure that you devote the resources necessary to do it right. This article has presented many of the important elements for ensuring your web site is effective for you business but it only touches the surface on most of the topics presented. When the time comes to create your clinic's presence on the web make sure you understand these concepts or that your web site developer understands them. For further information or if you would need a website developed for your clinic and want to hire someone who has experience in this area feel free to contact us.
* Disclosure: these are affiliate links.