Increase your physical therapy practice visibility with Google’s local business listings: Part 1

This is part 1 of a 2-part interview I did with PTPN’s marketing director Stephen Moore.

This issue features a Part 1 of a Q&A with David Straight, PT, DPT, founder of E-rehab, an online marketing company and PTPN Preferred Vendor, about Google+ Local.

[note_box]Q. What is Google+ Local?
A. Google+ Local is Google’s version of an online geographic business directory for local businesses, including therapy practices. It’s the new name for Google Places. Businesses can be listed there at no cost, with details like business name, address, contact information and website. In Google search results, they’re the listings you see that are marked A, B, C, and so on. To see an example, go to and type in “physical therapy” along with the name of your city, and look for the area of the results page with those markers.[/note_box]

[note_box]Q. What are the differences between Google+ Local search results and other Google search results?
A. A Google search results page has three areas that can drive traffic to your website: At the top of the page, in most cases, are Google Adwords results, which are paid advertising. The Google+ Local geographic results are usually listed next, and the third area is the natural or organic listings, which are the search results based on Google’s algorithms that examine web page content, descriptions, etc.[/note_box]

[note_box]Q. How important is it for a private practice to be listed in Google+ Local?
A. It’s important to be listed on Google because people are using online research in a number of ways – not just searching for a nearby physical therapist, but also to do research on a specific therapy office when they’ve been referred to that office. And it’s not just patients; we did a survey of physicians, and two-thirds of them told us that if they didn’t know where to refer a patient, they would use Google to search for a practice that’s geographically convenient for the patient. About 80 percent of all online searches for physical therapy practices are done with Google, so it’s crucial to be in Google’s local business listings.[/note_box]

[note_box]Q. How do I get my practice listed in Google+ Local?
A. The first step is to claim your free Google+ Local listing, which you can do at Then you can do a number of things to get a higher “relevance” score from Google and increase your visibility…[/note_box]

What Does My Mom and Tole Painting Have to do with Physical Therapy Search Marketing?

Every year my mom paints these really nice decorative ornaments for my kids. It’s a tradition that she’s kept up for years and she’s pretty good at it too. However, one day she called me in a panic. She had run out of a couple colors of paint that she needed and wanted my help. You see, she didn’t know where to get them anymore since the local arts and crafts shop had gone out of business. (What does this have to do with physical therapy search marketing? Bear with me).

I, of course, opened Google and did a search. Within a minute, I had several names of stores that she could go to for the paint she needed. I called a couple of them up, asked if it was in stock and then gave my mom a couple of options. That same day she had her paint and the ornament tradition will continue this holiday.

Physical Therapy Search Marketing – Patients Research Online Buy Offline (ROBO)

So, what does the story above have to do with physical search therapy marketing? The fact is that patients and their adult children ROBO all of the time. In fact, a client of ours in Florida (yes, think Medicare because 70% of his patients are Medicare) generates 30% of his business from Internet marketing. Furthermore, it’s not the Medicare patients that are researching online either. It’s the adult children of the patients that are doing the Googling.

How People Look for You – We’ve Run the Tests

Intuitively, one might think that patients will search for back pain treatment in your community. While 1 or 2 of those searches may occur each month, our data suggests that there are 3 main ways people research physical therapy practices online.

  1. By business name – PT is a referral business so this makes sense.
  2. By geographic convenience- this too makes sense. The doctor tells the patient, “Find a physical therapy clinic close to you.”
  3. By clinician name – if you were referred to an orthopedist for a consultation/treatment, would you research him/her online first? Many do.

Do a Few Searches Yourself

Based on our experience with physical therapy search marketing, we suggest you do the three searches we indicated above for your practice. Google your practice name. Google physical therapy in your city. Google your own name. Are you listed?

How to Get Listed

There are three different ways to be listed on a SERP (search engine results page).  Click here for those.  A good way to get started is to go to and search for your practice. They have lots of good information on how to do it yourself. Much of it pertains to how to get listed in the local business listings. This is a great place start.

Remember, prospects are looking for you. Make sure you can be found.

Mobile Marketing – An Opportunity You Shouldn’t Miss

physical-therapy-mobile-websiteThought leaders in the PT industry point to business differentiators like company culture, clinical excellence, and customer service, as means to establish long-term competitive advantages.

One online opportunity that is untapped by most private practices and will go a long way to improve your customer service, is mobile marketing. Mobile marketing can be defined as “using interactive wireless media to provide customers with time and location sensitive, personalized information that promotes goods, services and ideas, thereby generating value for all stakeholders”.1

Consider these facts about how people and patients use search engines, ratings & reviews, and mobile devices:

  • 73% of all Americans used search engines.2
  • 83% of search users say Google is their search engine of choice.2
  • 19% consult rankings/reviews of health providers.3
  • 35+% use mobile phone for health info.3
  • Smartphones are owned by 42% of U.S. consumers.4
  • 91% of all U.S. citizens have their mobile device within reach 24/7.5
  • 16% of visitors to PT private practice websites are using a mobile device.6

Eight Ways to Set Your Practice Apart with Mobile Marketing

When developing a marketing strategy to differentiate your practice, you of course should consider the behaviors of the patient populations you serve. Given the facts above, here are some recommendations for your mobile marketing initiative:

1. Have a mobile version of your website served to those that visit your website on a mobile device. It will load much faster than the desktop version of your website. Include features like:

a. A “tap to call button”,

b. Location information that is integrated with the smartphone’s mapping application (which in most cases is Apple Maps or Google Maps) and,

c. An electronic appointment request.

2. Make sure you are listed in Google Maps (aka Google Places) when patients do a search for physical therapy in your city. This may require Local Optimization which is distinctly different from search engine optimization. Have you ever heard this from a patient? “My doctor told me to find a physical therapist that is close to me.” When physicians make this kind of referral statement, and given consumers’ propensity to use their smartphones and Google, being listed in local business listings like Google Maps (Google Places) can generate more referrals.

3. Create a mobile page with links to your directory ratings and review pages. Ratings and reviews are becoming more popular and patients are giving them more weight when making buying decisions. However, it is tedious to get patients to visit your ratings and review pages. Create a simple paper handout to direct patients to your business ratings and review websites like Google, Yelp and Yahoo Local. Better yet, make those ratings and review pages easily accessible on your practice’s mobile website.

4. Create a mobile optimized form for appointment requests. Make sure you share this opportunity to request an appointment online with your patients on their first visit. You will be surprised how many patients enjoy this convenience. Also, make sure that there is someone in your office that has the dedicated task of monitoring online appointment requests.

5. Link to your social network pages. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are good ways to stay engaged with your current and past patients. One problem is getting patients to “Like” your Facebook Page or follow you on Twitter. Include your social networking sites in your mobile website so you can quickly direct them to your social network.

6. Make them and offer. Prospective patients that visit your website with a mobile device are more likely to be looking for your services. Consider offering a free screening, perhaps over the phone, to encourage people to choose your practice.

7. Use QR codes. QR codes are simply two dimensional bar codes that hold information. When scanned, they can provide the viewer with different data types such as a web address, YouTube video, Google Map location, Facebook page address, plain text, an SMS message, email message, and more. Think about putting a QR code on your business card, your referral sheet, your marketing collateral, on a patient invoice that directs them to your online payment page. There are many possibilities. Of course, QR codes are only useful to people with smartphones that have a QR reader installed. That number is increasing though.

8. Use SMS (text) messaging for appointment reminders. Text message appointment reminders are another customer service opportunity that could significantly impact your arrival rate. Given that 97% of text messages are opened, sending appointment reminders to mobile devices can be an attractive option to cut cancelation rates. 7 Remember that text messaging is not secure so you should avoid mentioning physical therapy and your business name in the message. The message might state, “Reminder, you have an appointment tomorrow at 1:30 PM.” Some simple instruction that a text message is coming as a reminder is likely to be good enough for most patients.

 In summary, mobile marketing is a great way to improve:

  • The patient experience,
  • Your local online reputation,
  • Your search results,
  • Cut down on your cancellation rate.

For the DIY Therapist Here’s a Checklist – Click Here

Mobile marketing can be a DIY project. However, it’s going to be a much better investment of your time and money if you find a service provider to assist you especially if they have knowledge of the physical therapy market. Your time is better spent treating patients than trying to figure up how to build a mobile marketing platform.

  1. Mobile Marketing. Available at: .Accessed March 23, 2012.
  2. Purcell, K., et. al. Search Engine Use 2012. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Available at: . Accessed March 9, 2012.
  3. Rainie, L. The Rise of the e-Patient, Jan 12, 2012. Pew Internet & American Life Project.Available at: Accessed March 23, 2012.
  4. Smith, A. Smartphone Adoption and Usage July, 2011. Pew Internet & American Life Project.Available at: . Accessed March 23, 2012.
  5. Hopkins, J. 9 Amazing Mobile Marketing Statistics Every Marketer Should Know. Hubspot Blog. Available at: . Accessed February 1, 2012.
  6. Straight, D. – March, 2012. Based on random sample of 20 website statistics over 90 day period.
  7. Cohen, M. Text Message Marketing. NY Times. September 23, 2009. Available at . Accessed January 17, 2012.

September Physical Therapy Website and Marketing Special

We are celebrating the launch of our new website with a special offer for new clients.

Through September 30th, 2012, you can get started with our physical therapy marketing services for only a $749 setup fee.

That’s 1/2 off our normal setup price!

You need systems for marketing success…systems that are working for you day in and day out. Let us take care of the complexities and details of putting together your online physical therapy marketing services.
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  • Learn more about our custom websites by clicking here.
  • Learn more about our mobile optimized websites by clicking here.
  • Learn more about our physical therapy search marketing by clicking here.
  • Learn more about our patient video and physician newsletters by clicking here.
  • Learn more about our physical therapy social media marketing by clicking here.


Want a custom solution? We will put something together for you.

Give us a call at 800.468.5161 x 1101

Quote #1

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

Sam Walton

New Website

Like the parable “the cobblers children have no shoes” we have been so busy building great websites for our customers, adding new services and improving our offerings we did not have time to redo our own website. This did not make us happy, so after many late nights and very full days we are ready to relaunch with a bold new look, better navigation and even more information. One area that we plan to put some real effort into is our blog. There is so much information out on the Internet and in the world on marketing, social media, business management and much more that we want to share with you. However much of the advice out there really is not a perfect match for the distinct business model of a private practice physical therapy clinic, so we will use our experience with over a 1000 PT clinics to filter and distill this down to information that can help you.