PTPN Insights

How are physical therapy patients finding your website?

August 22nd, 2013 |

How are physical therapy patients finding your website?What form of advertising is cheaper than direct mail, radio, newspapers and the once-requisite Yellow Pages? A website. Creating a site for your practice is a key component of a private therapy practice’s marketing plan. It reaches regional and national audiences, in addition to your local clientele. And it’s easy to measure your results.

Even though most of your patients will be referred by physicians, they’ll still go to the web to check out your practice. It is a place where patients and clients can learn about your therapists, see what services you offer, and even download patient forms, so that they can have them in hand at their first appointment.

In order for your website to be seen, however, you need to optimize your site so that it is highly ranked on search engines. David Straight, the founder of E-rehab (a PTPN Preferred Vendor), reminds private practice owners to generate quality web traffic. “Your goal should be new patients coming through the front door, not volumes of visitors to your website,” he says.

A key part of maximizing your website is understanding how people will be looking for it. David says that most potential clients will use one of two types of searches to find your clinic: a keyword search or a reputation/business name search.

  • Keyword search: When most people think of search engine optimization, they usually think of keyword searches, which include geographic searches (“physical therapy in Los Angeles”) and name searches (“John Doe, PT”). If you want to see what people are searching for in your area, David advises using a couple of keyword tools to help you understand what keywords should be added to your website. Google offers free tools like its Google Adwords Keyword Tool that allow you to explore popular searches. Other companies like Longtail require subscriptions for keyword analysis, but offer free trials for short periods of time.

  • Reputation search: More important than keyword searches, says David, are reputation searches, where potential (or current) clients search for the name of your business. While most of your patients will come to your practice due to a referral from a doctor or an insurance company, many will want to know about your clinic before making a decision to be treated there. Finding a negative review after searching for the name of your clinic could be a deal breaker for a potential patient. “Four out of five consumers have changed their minds about doing business online when they see a negative review,” David points out.

Google search results for St. Marina Physical Therapy

In order to have a positive result when people do such reputation searches, make sure that the first page of search results on such sites as Google and Yahoo has a variety of listings for your clinic. If your website is properly optimized, it should appear first, followed by listings like ratings via Yelp, Yahoo, and, plus social media pages like Facebook or Twitter. (PTPN members can learn more about social media marketing by accessing the Social Media Toolkit in the members-only area of It’s great to ask patients to rank you on Yelp, but be aware that the site’s ranking algorithms can knock out ratings if your patients are not frequent users of the site.

Does dominating the first page of search results lead to more patients? While they may have come anyway (after being referred from a doctor or insurance company), David notes, seeing a positive online reputation confirms that it is a good referral. “People are looking for a good practice that offers quality care, and seeing positive reviews online can confirm that impression,” he adds.

So how do you improve your online search results? For tips on how to optimize your website and increase your search results, watch our webinar on how to dominate page 1 of Google and generate more referrals. David will show you how you can create multiple page 1 links to your website, what third-party services to avoid, and how to save money by doing it yourself.

A special thanks to our contributor:

David Straight, PT, DPT, OCS David Straight, PT, DPT, OCS, is a physical therapist and the founder of E-rehab (a PTPN Preferred Vendor), a website management company that caters to physical therapists. He has been involved in web and e‑commerce development since 1996.

Printable version.

For further information:

Wright, Charles. SEO: Get on top of Google and stay there. The Sydney Morning Herald, August 15, 2013.

PTPN. How to dominate page 1 of Google and generate more referrals. Vimeo, July 25, 2013.

Social media: Is it part of your marketing plan? PTPN, April 22, 2013.

Making practice marketing a priority in 2013. PTPN, February 8, 2013.

Pew survey of Americans’ online health habits. California Healthcare Foundation, January 2013.

Awosolu, Samuel. 5 tips to drive traffic to your physical therapy website. PT Marketing Unleashed, March 2012.

Laporte, Matthew. Site seeing. ADVANCE for Physical Therapy and Rehab Medicine, April 12, 2011.

Frellick, Marcia. Net gains. Today in PT, February 14, 2011.

Saeks, Ford. Fresh content is the new king. ADVANCE for Physical Therapy and Rehab Medicine, December 28, 2010.