Knowing How Patients Search for Physical Therapy Websites Could Save You Some Money

How Do Patients Search for You?
Knowing How Patients Search for Your Physical Therapy Clinic Could Save You Some Money

How should online promotion be done for physical therapy websites? That’s a question that many practice owners struggle with and as such they spend hundreds or thousands of dollars per month on promoting their business online the wrong way. They are “hyper sold” the idea, by the big box corporate marketing companies, that they should show up when people do a geographic search (e.g. physical therapy Solana Beach) or a search for back pain treatment in their city (e.g. back pain treatment in Solana Beach). But do people really do this type of search? Is it common? Most importantly, does it generate new business?

With few exceptions (yes, I know there are some clinics that do more than 5% direct access), physical therapy clinics receive most of their business through word-of-mouth. They receive referrals from physicians, family members, and friends. The direct access patients are usually those that come back a second time without seeing their physician first, because they were educated by the PT practice direct access “next time” is possible.

So, if the above is true, what is the most important way for you to promote your physical therapy practice online? The answer is to dominate page of a search engine results page when a prospective patient does a name/reputation search. Let me go through the thought process and share some proof with you.

Let’s look at a practice that dominates the search engine results for a geographic search. As you can see, when you do a search for “physical therapy Solana Beach”, this practice has all of the top listings.


If this really matters, then we should see lots of searches and traffic to the website from viewers that were using the search phrase “physical therapy Solana Beach”.


As you can see, the search for “physical therapy Solana Beach” is relatively rare (in fact, the one result we see “Solana Beach Physical Therapy” is the name of competitor in the area). What you should notice is that a search for the name of the practice (any type of search with the word “Gaspar” in it), is the most common type of search. This is the name/reputation search I was referencing above.

Therefore, this is the type of search you want to dominate page 1 of Google for – a search for your business name.

Additionally, because review sites often are displayed for name searches, you should make sure that you have great reviews. While only approximately 20 percent of patients are influenced by reviews, there are all kinds of statistics and reports suggesting that reviews really matter. This infographic summarizes how consumers value reviews.


Note on Geographic Search Engine Marketing: I am not saying that you shouldn’t invest some time and money to get your practice listed for a geographic search.

This type of search, as noted above does happen, but it is much less common. As such, you should make sure match your dollars invested proportionally to the potential return on investment.


Case Study

Here is an example of a practice that doesn’t have the best online reputation when you do a search for them by name. Personally, I know this practice delivers excellent care. However, it only takes one or two unhappy people that post negative reviews, to give others that have been referred to the practice, (and do a name/reputation search) a negative impression.

poor physical therapy website search results

The Solution is Both Simple and Affordable.

First, Claim Your Listings

you should to go to and claim your business listings. Enter your business name and zip code, see which listings you haven’t claimed and go through the process. It is rather labor intensive but not technically challenging at all.


Words of Caution:

  • When you do claim your listings, make sure you are not duplicating an already claimed listing.
  • Do NOT do it part way. Fill in all of the information for each listing.
  • Make sure your Name, Address, Phone Number, Web Address, match exactly what you have on your website.
  • Consistency will help you maintain good search engine rankings or possibly improve them if you are not ranked as high as you’d like to be.


Second, Get Some Practice Reviews

I recommend you use mobile website and your desktop physical therapy websites to boost your reputation.

After you have claimed your listings, encourage your patients to review you on Google, Yelp, Yahoo, and the By doing so, additional positive search engine listings will be present when prospective patients do that all important, name/reputation search. They will see lots of colored stars and great reviews which will confirm in their mind that the referral to your practice was a good one.

Put links to your review websites on your mobile optimized version of your website. You can show patients how to start the review process right on their mobile phone while they are in your clinic! As a side note, they can also easily get to your social media properties like Facebook and “Like” your business page.

Here’s a Good Example

Good Search Marketing Results

Take a look at this SERP(search engine results page). This practice dominates the listings, there are lots of stars (though I would suggest they improve the 3-star Yelp listing), and even a video on page 1. This is how you want to dominate the page.


Action Items

In summary, physical therapy websites often get lots of traffic. Because you are a referral business, the most common search is for your business name. Invest your time in making a great impression when patients that have been referred to you do the most common search for your practice – the name/reputation search.

  1. Do a search for your business name.
  2. Claim your listings “properly”, consistently, and completely on
  3. Encourage reviews on your practice. 1 or 2 per month is all you need.
  4. DO NOT get a bunch of reviews at the start then stop acquiring reviews. This could hurt your search engine rankings. Consistency matters.


A Great Reason to Focus on Google Reviews to Improve Your Physical Therapy Search Marketing

physical therapy search engine marketing

Google made a great choice.  They have brought back their stars with reviews and made it a simple 0-5 scale again.

The old Zagat score was confusing and without stars it didn’t provide an intuitive and easy to understand visual of customer reviews.

Best of all, with Google bringing back reviews, physical therapy practice owners now have a way to stand out from their competition…get those reviews.

Undoubtedly, this is all part of Google’s strategy to push viewers/users to engage with the review process which is now intimately tied to Google+, Google’s social network.

Practically, it’s a great opportunity for you to establish a perceived competitive advantage when consumers are searching for practices in your area.

[note_box]Take Home Message: develop a process for patients to visit your Google+ Local page and provide you with reviews.[/note_box]

Physical Therapy Reputation Management – Part 1

I recently wrote this guest blog post on the Web PT blog. Below is the summary and you can follow the link for the entire article on physical therapy reputation management.

[colored_box variation=”wheat” bgColor=”#f8f0c9″ textColor=”#8d8d8d”]

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one negative one to lose it.” With this statement in mind—and 21st century technology—let’s talk about reputation management in 2013. Here are a few questions to start you thinking:

  1. Do you know your online reputation?
  2. Are there any negative reviews about your practice on the Internet? If so, do you have a procedure for handling these reviews?
  3. Do you have a proactive reputation management program in place to inoculate your practice against negative reviews?
  4. Have you considered the impact that positive reviews will have on your practice’s reputation?

What is Online Reputation Management?

Click here to read the entire article


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.