Forget everything you think you know about SEO.
It’s probably not helping.
SEO is complicated. The rules change daily. It’s highly technical. And there’s so much information out there it’s hard to tell what really works.
The biggest mistake I see therapists making is that they hear a few random tips about a specific part of local SEO and think they “get it”.
It’s good to know tactics, but only after you understand how they fit into the big picture because otherwise you’ll create an online footprint for your practice that misses key ingredients Google is looking for.
That’s why I put together this high-level overview of local search ranking factors, so you can understand how it all fits together and avoid focusing too much on the wrong elements of SEO.
NOTE: This article is about LOCAL SEO for therapists to rank better on Google Maps and searches that show local businesses. If you’re trying to rank nationally this content does not apply.
Overall Local Search Ranking Factors:
Where Does This Data Come From?
Each year, one of the most-trusted SEO companies (Moz) runs a survey where they ask 30+ of the most respected experts in Local SEO what gets a local business like your practice higher in the search results.
Google will never tell us exactly how they rank websites so this is pretty much the closest we can come to the real answer.
Your Practice Website - 19%
First and foremost, your website is a place for Google to confirm that the information they have about your business is accurate. Google wants your website to match what they know about your business name, location, phone number, products & services you specialize in.
Here’s a few examples of things to look for with your practice’s website:
Original Content - 17%
The most important thing any practice can do is to create unique content for your website and social media outlets. Publishing an original blog post on your website every month with keyword-rich text, internal website links, and custom branded graphics is a great way for google to find you.
Here are a few things to consider while writing content:
Inbound Links – 16%
Inbound links are text or image links on other websites (not your own) that link to your site. Google looks at each link from another website to yours as a “vote” of quality for your site. It’s not easy getting links to your site – that’s exactly the point.
Here’s three things to know about inbound links to your website:
Citations - 14%
“Citations” is SEO-speak for “mentions”, or “references to”. A citation is a mention of your practice’s name, phone number, and/or address on another website. Google assumes that the most popular local businesses will be mentioned the most across the web and each time they see your information the more comfortable they feel giving it to their users.
Here’s three things to pay attention to with your agency’s citations:
Google Profile – 13%
Over the years it’s been called many things, Google Places, Google+ Local, Google My Business. They’re all the same thing – a profile that Google sets up for every business on earth. Google allows you to “claim” this profile to confirm, correct, and provide additional information about your business and the information you provide them can impact search rankings.
Here’s a few things to pay attention to:
Online Reviews – 7%
Google looks at the online reviews people give you as an indication of both the popularity of your practice and the quality of service.
A few things to keep in mind:
Social - 6%
Seems to makes sense that a big and popular local business would have more Google+ followers and Facebook fans, right? Many SEO experts believe larger and more active social network accounts will help your local search rankings.
A few things to keep in mind:
User Behavior – 4%
There is good proof that Google watches how people interact with your website and your practice’s listing in their search results to understand your popularity and the quality of your website. Google wants their top search results to be popular businesses with accurate contact information and a user-friendly website.
Here are some of the things SEO experts believe Google looks at:
Search Results Personalization – 4%
This refers to the fact that every Google search delivers a slightly different result based on the search history of the person doing the search.
For example, since you probably visit your own website a lot more than other local therapists’ sites Google will show it higher in the search results on your computer than for anyone else doing the exact same search.
This one’s pretty hard to do much about, so I think I’ll leave it at the explanation.
I didn’t write this article to be everything you need to know for SEO for therapists – It’s just scratching the surface.
The key thing is to understand that it’s a COMBINATION of factors both on and off your website. In fact, if your online profile is too strong on any of these individual factors it’ll probably raise some flags to Google.