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SEO for Manual Therapy Clinics – Picking Your Words Carefully

Clinic? Practice? Treatment? Specialist? Expert? The words you use to describe your services on your website might all mean more or less the same thing, but for SEO they make a HUGE difference. Picking the right terms can make the difference between you being seen by lots of potential patients, or not being found by anyone at all.

This is because when you search Google, Google makes a guess as to your search intent based on the keywords you use. It makes a judgement as to whether you probably want to find information, buy a product, find a certain website, or find a local business.

Depending on what it thinks your intention is, Google will display different sorts of results. For example, if I search “buy sun cream online”, Google will show me products that I can purchase online:

“Commercial” search intent returns products for sale

If I search “plumber near me”, Google will respond with a map showing local plumbers:

Whereas “local” search intent returns a map and local results

This search intent is based on the phrases you have typed in to make your search. We interested in people who are looking for local treatment, so we need to target the phrases that send Google into “local mode”.

So here’s where it gets interesting. Look at the difference in search results between back pain treatment and back pain clinic, searches which you would think would be more or less interchangeable:

Back Pain Treatment is an informational search on Google, meaning it returns results from the entire UK database about the treatment of back pain. These are dominated by high-authority sites like the NHS and Mayo Clinic, among which we’re unlikely to rank. If we optimise our back pain page for back pain treatment, we can expect very few people to find it organically.

“Back Pain Treatment” is a national, informational search

However, Back Pain Clinic is considered by Google to be a local search, so it returns by default a map of local businesses that fit the bill, followed by the websites of more local back pain clinics in the organic results:

But “back pain clinic” is a local search

Here we stand a MUCH better chance of ranking, and indeed we should rank for anyone in our locality who’s searching for back pain clinic. For this reason I encourage all my clients to call their back pain page back pain clinic. Similarly, your sports injury page would ideally be called sports injury clinic.

Different terms for different conditions

Of course, you can’t call every condition page on your website “clinic”. I encourage clinic owners to use the term “clinic” for back pain and sports injury because back pain and sports injury have by far the highest local search volumes of any MSK conditions. But the mode Google uses varies by condition. So where Googling “back pain treatment” returns national, informational results, “sports injury treatment” actually returns hybrid results, with a local map of clinics followed by informational national results.

The simple way to find out what to optimise any given condition for is just to Google it. Try searching for the name of the condition plus “clinic”, “specialist”, “treatment” and so on, and see what comes up. “Specialist”, for example, nearly always returns local results:

“Specialist” usually returns local results

There is also variation due to the fact that people are more likely to search for certain treatments for certain conditions, depending on the typical view in society of “who treats what”. This also gives certain practitioners an advantage with certain conditions. For example, when people have neck pain they are more likely to seek a chiropractor, whereas for knee pain they are more likely to search “acupuncturist”.

This chart shows what practitioner people are most likely to search for when looking for local carpal tunnel treatment:

For this kind of information we need to use specialist SEO software rather than just experimenting with Google. Ask about our SEO keyword research and copywriting services to find out more.

Optimising for Your Area

Of course, one keyword that’s guaranteed to return local results is the name of your area. People searching “carpal tunnel Manchester”, for example, will receive Manchester-based results. For this reason, you should ensure that your clinic address and the name of any local areas you want to target appear on every page of your website.

If you’re optimising your own site without SEO software, you can still make the most of your efforts by simply googling the keywords you’re thinking of optimising for first. If they return local results you’re on the right lines.