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Gearing your website to optimum search engine results

The goal of this article is to help you explore the basics of how to make your website rank higher in search results when potential clients search online for massage therapy services.


November 2, 2011
By Jessica Foster


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The goal of this article is to help you explore the basics of how to make your website rank higher in search results when potential clients search online for massage therapy services.

The Internet and websites have all but replaced printed telephone directory advertising pages as the “go-to” source for consumers to find businesses and services. Search engine optimization (SEO) means optimizing your website to produce the best possible search engine ranking. It does not refer to the paid results that Google AdWords and others offer. The majority of people skip over paid results and click on naturally occurring results.

Potential clients tend to visit the “highest ranked” websites that appear in their search result, as these tend to be the most relevant to their search topic. Appearing on that first page is highly valuable.

HOW SEO WORKS
When a search engine views your site to rank it, it reads special information at the top of each page called “metadata.” This information, entered by your website developer, is embedded in the coding of each web page and is invisible to human visitors. It tells the search engine how you would like your site indexed. Included in this metadata are the search words and phrases (or keywords) that you believe people will use to find your services. For example, if you offer medical massage, sports injury massage and relaxation massage in Guelph, Ontario, then you would define your keywords and phrases to be precisely that: “Guelph Ontario sports massage,” “Sports injury massage in Guelph,” “Registered massage therapy in Guelph,” etc. Think about and include the search terms that you would use when searching for massage therapy services and use them for your keywords – your clients will likely use similar terms.

Your search engine ranking is dependent upon “relevant page content” (words on your individual website pages) that relates to the keywords and phrases that you supply in your metadata. The more often the keywords appear within your web page content, the higher your search engine ranking will be. Using the example of providing massage therapy in the city of Guelph, Ontario, your website should contain page content that references massage therapy and the city of Guelph, Ontario. In fact, you could write a complete page that references the who, what, where, when and why of your practice in Guelph, Ontario. The more often you mention massage therapy and Guelph together, the higher you will rank for that search term. In addition, using the keywords in your page titles, paragraph headings, image tags (picture names) and anchor text (the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink) will give you additional keyword density that will increase your search rankings. Be aware, however, that search engines could penalize those who “overstuff” their websites with keywords and phrases without logical and meaningful sentences included.

KEEP IT FRESH
Your website content is an ongoing marketing effort, not something that you do once and then forget about. Content is king; all the SEO tricks in the world will not outweigh strong, relevant page content. Search engines prefer websites whose content evolves. They consider web pages that do not change “stale” and penalize them by reducing their ranking. Sites that have enjoyed strong search rankings can slip drastically overnight if their content rejuvenation is neglected. Don’t let your competitors outrank you through better website content management.

ARE YOU A MISSING LINK?
Another way you can increase your site’s ranking is by having other websites, of companies and organizations in related industries, link to yours. This will add “credibility” to your site in the eyes of the search engines. The more sites that link to yours, the higher you will rank.

We have briefly described a few important aspects of optimizing your website for higher search engine rankings. The reality is that most businesses use experts to build their sites and do not perform SEO functions themselves. There are specialized companies offering affordable, easy-to-use websites with premium SEO content for massage therapists. However, massage therapists are well advised to understand the basic elements of SEO. Your website can be a significant tool in attracting new clients to your areas of expertise.

Until next time, be well!


Jessica Foster submits on behalf of mindZplay Solutions – a leading provider of massage therapy websites and practice management solutions. To learn more about mindZplay Solutions for Massage Therapists please visit www.massagemanedger.com or call toll free 888-373-6996.


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