Has COVID-19 Changed SEO For Physical Therapists?

SEO-COVID-19

SEO-COVID-19

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has driven a shift in consumer behaviour. There’s no doubt about it. Coronavirus has sponsored an exponential explosion in terms of internet usage. From streaming, electronic transfers, and virtual meetings, to online commerce, gaming, and app development, the pandemic has founded a tectonic quickening of dependence on digital platforms.

However, we’d arguably state that the biggest change has been to the SEO environment. Consumers and those seeking services are now having to put more thought into where they can safely shop, what time of day to venture out, and how to safely go about human-to-human contact. These are questions that the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) need to answer.

Naturally, as search behaviour changes with the Coronavirus situation, Google gives preference to those who adapt to the contemporary SEO requirements. So, how can you flow with the times and appease the search engine powers that be? How has COVID affected SEO if you run a physical therapy clinic?

Let’s take a look at the current trends.

COVID: People Are Searching More

For starters, people are searching more. Since lockdown first injected anxiety into the consumer’s heart back in March 2020, research shows that SERP volumes are up across the board. Unsurprisingly, healthcare services witnessed the most significant increase of all.

As people concerned themselves on matters of health at the onset of lockdown, those not clawing their way through crowds for toilet paper or queuing at McDonalds were focused on healthcare services.

According to Rio SEO, views for healthcare services have jumped 132%, with a 144% rise in search traffic, and a 122% click-through rate increase. Clicks to Phone Call witnessed a 103% increase, whereas clicks to driving directions found a 153% in volume.

In a nutshell, the pandemic has dramatically affected local customers’ requirements for extra information about nearby businesses. Effectively, as internet use has never witnessed these numbers before, the importance of tailored SEO becomes ever more apparent.

That’s all well and great, but what should you tailor your SEO strategy to include? Step this way…

SEO: So, What Are People Searching For?

SEO-COVID-Search

The extra search volume can be accounted for by looking at the trending local keywords. Searches involving contactless payment, social distancing within clinics, COVID-19 precautions between staff and patients, guidelines for visiting a clinic, and practices ‘open near me’ or simply ‘open for business’, practically exploded.

To coincide with trending keyword searches, we’d recommend updating your Google My Business (GMB) listings with the appropriate COVID information, and adding a statement on your website that covers your dedication to safety and professionalism without loss of service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we’ve already drummed into you, for relevant and essential businesses, SEO remains the cornerstone of helping your business to stand above the competition. For smaller, local businesses, SEO is even more essential – as COVID-19 and its marketplace repercussions won’t level out anytime soon.

Posting blog content to discuss COVID topics in regards to physical therapy is always a great starting point, especially if you dedicate some postings to tackle the current hot topics and how your clinic has adapted to contactless payment, social distancing guidelines for visiting clinics, etc.

Better still, why not film a video and upload it to your preferred platform, with a transcript of your speech placed in the video description? This is a great way to boost the SEO aspects when people are searching.

SEO-COVID-19-Local-Business

Oh boy. Here’s the biggie. With people unable to venture as far as they felt able to before COVID-19 hit, local search optimization should be top priority.

Getting into the mantra of utilizing content towards ‘open now’ and ‘near me’ searches is going to be an advantage – especially as people are more tuned to supporting small-to-medium businesses as the spirit of the local community is rediscovered.

Really? People hard-driven for a bargain are opting to support smaller, local businesses? They sure are. Even places that don’t sell toilet roll. The pandemic has undoubtedly changed the consumer tune, as spenders are making an extra effort to use local businesses over multinational conglomerates.

Although individuals feel trapped indoors, when the climate allows for venturing further afield, if the smaller, local businesses by then have a loyal customer base, it’ll be most likely that those customers won’t go wandering. By adapting to a COVID search, you are potentially setting up your future customer base.

Your best plan? Get your business citation listings up to date. Make sure that these citations list all the areas that your clinic covers. Ensure that your website clearly states where you are based and that your Google My Business (GMB) listing is live and accurate.

Also ensure that you have broadcast across social media, your blog, and your website that your clinic is still open for business during the pandemic. We’d suggest that a landing page concerning your operations during lockdown and the ongoing COVID-19 scenario would also be beneficial.

Don’t Let Other Things Slip Away…

SEO COVID Graph

In other words, you also need to keep doing what you were doing. Although COVID-19 is still a major topic, you shouldn’t shy away from creating evergreen content. COVID-19 will eventually subside, but potential client’s evergreen questions won’t.

While it’s important that you address trending topics that dictate the market’s movement, these COVID pages will see a decline in traffic eventually. Content that covers evergreen topics within the physical therapy niche, on the other hand, will continue to gather traffic over time.

Alongside all that stuff, it would be advantageous to update already-performing content. Keep it rolling!

Just because the pandemic lingers doesn’t mean that you should ignore the pre-COVID topics. Remember that world? It will resume in the near future, so get planning for it now.

Let’s not forget that SEO isn’t purely about increasing overall website traffic. We are trying to attract an increasing number of what is referred to as ‘qualified traffic’; visitors who find you because they are interested in the services on offer. SEO has always been the preferred way to identify high-quality leads and nurture them for the future.

Also, remember that SEO gains are long term. It’s all about gaining the trust of the search engines with consistent and trustworthy output as SEO gains don’t usually occur overnight. Don’t let the COVID-content trend derail you from your current SEO strategy and the good work completed this far.

Require proof? A study conducted by SEO overlord Ahrefs clarified that only 1% of pages that sat in the top position were less than 12-months old.

If you can’t be bothered reading the whole COVID article…

toilet-roll-SEO-COVID

In summary, COVID-19 has increased the importance of SEO. Especially if you are a small-to-medium sized business. The Pandemic has changed the way people search, but the normal SEO aspects still need adhered to.

To address the vast increase in local search, ensure that your location information on your website, social media profiles, and business directory listings are correct and up to date.

Address the ‘open near me’ and ‘open for business’ searches, alongside searches involving contactless payment, social distancing within clinics, COVID-19 precautions between staff and patients, and guidelines for visiting a clinic. These are trending keyword searches and targeting these will bring the qualified traffic required to gather new customers.

Keep up the usual SEO requirements. It’s important that your foundation SEO campaigns remain on track. Not everyone is searching for COVID-related queries, and even if they were, the pandemic will eventually pass – which is where your evergreen content will be required.

Also, stop stockpiling toilet roll.

Want to talk shop about the importance of SEO, or simply seeking further help? Reach out to us. We’d be happy to help and advise! Get in touch with us through our DRPT contact page.

About The Author

Calum Brown

Calum has worked with SEO for the best part of a decade and is proud of it! He previously created and led Bauer's SEO strategy for their digital classic automotive portfolio and helped to launch America's largest collector car site for SpeedDigital. Having come from an SEO, marketing and editorial background, and having studied Business Information Systems at Edinburgh Napier University, Calum now dedicates his time to all things SEO. He takes great pride in helping Physical Therapy businesses find their perfect (local) clients and drinks copious amounts of tea doing so. Best not to feed him after midnight.