The Importance Of Targeting Keywords

We’ve all done it – we Google ourselves to try and see what information comes up, or where our business website appears in search results. That’s good! It can help you to position yourself. But are you searching for the same terms a client will search for? Are you searching for both the specialization AND the location you serve? If you are that’s great, as it gives you a more realistic diagnostic of how effectively your Search Engine Optimization is working for you! — but now – do the pages on your website reflect the information gained from your searches?

The goal of our Search Engine Optimization is to make sure your site gets seen by people who might be interested in your services. This may seem obvious, but often when considering Search Engine Optimization, we forget the “people who might be interested in your services” component. If you are providing health care in New York City, you ideally want visitors to your site who are looking for health care in New York City, and surrounding areas.

One way to accomplish this is through well placed keywords. Ensuring that you “target” the keywords you use on your site can be a crucial step in the Search Engine Optimization process. By picking the right keywords for your area and your specialties, you can not only raise your online visibility, but bring in more potential clients! First, I’ll demonstrate how targeted keywords produce better search results, than I’ll show you how to take advantage of targeted key phrases in your SEO.”

I recently moved down to Berkeley, CA from Oregon, and realized that I had left my favorite running shoes at my old house! I knew that I could go on one of the many popular online shoe stores available, but I still prefer to try shoes on in a shop to make sure that they fit well. I went to Google and searched for “Shoes,” only to discover that there were over one billion results!

I quickly realized that I was going to have to focus my search if I were going to find any actual shoes. Not only were there too many options (even if I wanted to go through 0.01% of the results!), but I also quickly noticed that sites were popping up for everything related to shoes: stores, fashion, design, etc.

While these results were interesting, I really was only concerned about finding shoe stores! Therefore, the first step to focusing my search was to change the search from the general “Shoes” to “Shoe stores.” The addition of this one word immediately reduced my search from over a billion, to just over eighteen million results!

Better, but there is a good chance I was still missing out on something. The results here are going to be shoe stores across the country, and even the world. I was interested specifically shoe stores in the San Francisco bay area.

I could easily stop there, but because I am primarily interested in finding running shoes, I decided that it might be wise to include that in the search terms, to find stores that specifically specialize in athletic shoes.

 

There we go. From the original search for “Shoes” that came back with over one billion results, I am now down to under 500,000!

While this example is a little goofy, it demonstrates how a potential client might find your website, starting with the broadest terms, and refining from there. Keywords with a greater degree of specificity are more useful both to you as a website owner, and to the individual browsing the web.

What are targeted keywords?

Targeted keywords are words or phrases that include more information than the most general possible phrasing, “targeted” to what a user is actually searching for. In the above example the generic “shoes” was not targeted, but each subsequent search incorporated a more refined targeting.

Why are targeted keywords important for me, and how can we use them?

At this point, you may be saying, “Chris, that is great information, and I can see how a user might want to incorporate more targeted keywords when searching the internet, but how does this help me, the website owner?” Targeted keywords are critical to successful Search Engine Optimization because they allow you to directly connect with an audience that is searching for you, your location and your specialties.

A properly optimized website for a shoe store in Berkeley may not come up in the first page (or first ten pages!) in a Google search for the term “shoes.” It will, however, be highly ranked when doing a targeted search for the relevant terms (e.g., “Berkeley Shoe Store,” “Bay Area Shoes”).

The easiest way to incorporate these targeted keywords into your site, is to directly include them in page content (or sidebar) itself. As the owner of a shoe store in Berkeley, I would make sure that my site prominently mentioned that we proudly served Berkeley, and the greater Bay Area. Such information is helpful not only to human visitors who are looking for more information regarding your practice, but also the machines who are determining where to place your site in their search results!

These are just a couple of ways to incorporate targeted keywords into your website design. By focusing on keywords that both target your locality and your specialties, you can help drive not only more traffic to your site, but also “better” traffic—that is, clients in your area, who are more likely to contact you! Expect further blog articles from us in the coming weeks documenting additional ways to utilize targeted keywords, and other Search Engine Optimization practices. If you have any questions about how to specifically integrate targeted keywords onto your PhysicalTherapistSites site, just send us an email, or give us a call, and any of our Search Engine Optimization technicians would be happy to help!

Chris C – PhysicalTherapistSites Support and SEO
Email any questions to Support@PhysicalTherapistSites.com

On The Go: Optimizing Your Site For Mobile Browsers

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...Displaying Content for Mobile Browsers

I’ve been seeing a lot of inquiries into mobile-friendly/mobile-optimized sites recently, so I’d like to establish our stance towards mobile browsing. The short of it is this: By most standards, our sites are mobile-friendly, and providing a dedicated mobile page (referred to by some in the tech community as “mobile optimization”) is becoming a progressively less attractive avenue for website designers to pursue.

Before we dive into why that’s the case, let’s clarify some of this technobabble: what do the terms “mobile-optimized” and “mobile-friendly” mean? Moreover, what is mobile browsing, and why does it matter?

Mobile Browsing

By “mobile browsing,” I am referring to viewing pages on the Internet using a smartphone. You might be surprised to know that some cell phones have had the ability to do this since the mid-1990s! On most of these early devices, the ability to browse the web was highly limited. The Nokia Communicator, for example, included a full keyboard and allowed for basic web browsing; however, the product was primarily touted for its email and scheduling functions. The number of people who regularly connected to the Internet through these devices was thus too small to garner extensive attention from web designers.

In the last five years, the number of people using cell phones to browse the Internet has exploded. Apple’s release of the iPhone in 2007 illustrated the potential to access the Internet from a cell phone in a dynamic, user-friendly environment. These days, there are many smart phones that use the Android operating system; BlackberryOS and Windows Phone are two other common operating systems used on smartphones.

The challenge for web designers, here, is this: how do we design websites that display content on such wildly different devices as computers and smartphones?

Mobile-Friendly Pages

One potential solution is a mobile-friendly page. Mobile-friendly pages are standard web pages, accessible from a laptop or a desktop, that are designed to be easy to handle on mobile devices. They have simpler navigation and layout, are relatively small in terms of the magnitude of data they contain, and they don’t use complex systems to display content. Mobile-friendly pages were initially created when cell phone browsers had severely limited capabilities in comparison to desktop browsers.

By these criteria, our websites are already relatively mobile-friendly. Here’s why:

1) The memory requirements to load your pages are minimal, which results in shorter loading times for mobile devices.

2) Site navigation is entirely click-based, instead of requiring extensive typing on an awkward hand-held device. The only time a mobile user would have to type something would be to fill out the form on the “Contact Me” or “Appointment Request” pages.

3) Our templates don’t use clunky JavaScript navigation. So, it’s straightforward for someone on a gestural mobile device (e.g., most smartphones) to navigate your website.

The only thing you might want to change from our default settings, if you’re trying to make your site mobile-friendly, is the slideshow. Apple devices cannot play Flash files, the architecture on which our slideshows are built. It’s easy to replace the slideshow with a static image using your Site Editor. That said, mobile-friendly sites are somewhat of a Catch-22: make your website too mobile-friendly, and it looks sparse and boring on a desktop or laptop, but put in too much dynamic content and it becomes quite hard to look at on an iPhone. A fine balance between the two extremes is needed.

Dedicated Mobile Pages

While pages that are termed “mobile-friendly” are often just standard webpages that have been designed to be accessible to both standard and mobile browsers, some web designers create dedicated mobile pages, intended to be viewed on a smartphone.

When a website detects that a mobile device is trying to access it, and it has a dedicated page enabled, the mobile browser is actually fed an entirely different webpage! These pages are designed and sized for mobile browsers, and have content that displays well on the comparatively tiny screens of smartphones.

Here at TherapySites, we are consistently introducing improvements to our site editor and the presentation of the sites themselves. We introduced a series of wider templates several months ago, with which many readers may be familiar. Our new “Title Editor” enables our users to modify the appearance of the header of their website, work which not too long ago required intervention from our support staff. Just this week, we’ve been working to implement a feature which will allow users to place text and images in any area of a template by using a “floating box!”

The Internet is not a static place, and our developers are always working to anticipate and react to changes in the market. We have our “ear to the ground,” so to speak, and we’ll always be staying up-to-date to ensure that your website is keeping up with trends and advances. Since the divide separating mobile browsers from desktop browsers is now an aesthetic distinction – rather than a technical one – we’re working hard to create pages that look great from both perspectives!

Some Final Thoughts

Ultimately, one of the most overriding concerns in considering this topic is the target audience and the featured product. For a huge website like Amazon.com, dedicated mobile pages are a logical design decision. Their standard website would be exceedingly difficult to navigate on a smartphone, and Amazon’s customers are quite likely to want to purchase the latest movies, music, and books while on the move.

By contrast, consider the product offered by most of our websites: the services of a healthcare professional. Our websites tend to display information in a format that’s entirely different from Amazon’s, and is easily viewed on a smaller screen. More importantly, people are much less likely to seek the services of a healthcare professional on a smartphone in public. Choosing a healthcare professional is a personal, serious, and intimate affair, and not something most folks would undertake while “on the go.”

Andy H – PhysicalTherapistSites Support and SEO
Email any questions to Support@PhysicalTherapistSites.com

SEO Does Not Stand For Slightly Eccentric Orangutans

Do you every wonder what it takes to show up on the first page of search results in a search engine? Maybe you have heard the term SEO and wondered “What do Slightly Eccentric Orangutans have to do with better rankings in search engine results for my website?” Of course, I jest in regards to the primates, yet I still remember the first time I sat down to optimize my website and how overwhelmed I was by the plethora of different methods and opinions that abounded and were “the only way to get your website on the first page of Google.” I hope that through this blog post as well as the next couple of SEO-centric blog posts, we can shed some light on the mystery that is SEO so you can learn to effectively optimize your website.

To start let us look at the true definition of SEO by asking the question:

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

SEO is the active practice of developing a web site by improving internal and external aspects in order to increase the traffic the site receives from search engines.

As you can see, nothing about orangutans in there, eccentric or otherwise. However, there are three things that are in there that are absolutely important to the optimization of your site.

1. Active practice
2. Internal aspects
3. External aspects

Today we are going to look at some of the basics of SEO and we will be starting with the a few of the “Internal Aspects.” of site optimization. We will look at the “External Aspects” of SEO in a blog post in the near future, however, if there is one thing you take away from this post or any future post about SEO let it be this:

SEO is an active practice.

Just as you would change the oil in your car every three to five thousand miles to prevent engine damage, you need to check your site’s ranking in search engine results as well as using a web site tracker such as Google Analytics and fine tune the internal and/or external optimization of your site’s SEO as needed.

Internal Aspects of Site Optimization

We are going to look at three internal aspects that are required for a successful optimization of your website. (The three steps that are listed below were taken from a blog post written by Dustin Williams on seo.com, The 3 Key Elements To A Successful SEO Campaign.)

1. Keyword Focus

Keyword research is the groundwork for a successful SEO campaign. Doing keyword research in a way that will bring long-term success requires in-depth analysis around all keywords that may be relevant to the products or services of the targeted website. Start with the most general keywords and find long tail keywords (a phrase that contains 2 – 5 keywords) relating to each of them, then search for other long tail keywords relating to each of those. This pattern can be repeated many times to find many keyword opportunities. This strategy will also uncover some highly targeted keywords that will convert (change visitors into customers) well and could be fairly easy to rank for. Don’t forget: Long tail keywords are often less competitive and typically convert much better. It is also a good idea to search for lateral keywords as well. Lateral keywords are those that have the same meaning as other targeted keywords. So if I am optimizing a website about “aquariums,” I would also want to optimize it for the term “fish tanks.”

A great free tool to research keywords is the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. You can use this tool to check and see the local and global competition for keywords and keyword phrases that you are thinking about using to optimize your site.

2. Strong Page Element Optimization

The optimization of the HTML elements on each page of the website is a critical factor in search engine optimization. Targeted search terms should be included in various places in the HTML code to tell the search engine crawlers what the page is about. The following elements must be optimized to allow for a successful SEO campaign.

Page Title: The page title (title tag) should include the targeted search terms and be a well written sentence that is 64 to 70 characters long. It should not be a string of keywords or one keyword phrase repeated several times. Remember that a good page title will not only be keyword targeted but also will entice a person to click on it in the search results.

Page Headings: The page heading (and subheadings) should be formatted properly using H1, H2 and H3 tags and include the targeted search terms. Cascading Style Sheets can be used to format the heading to fit with the content of the webpage. H1 tags are meant to be used for the main page heading and should only be used more than once on a page where it makes sense. H2, H3 and other header tags can be used for content subheadings and headings to site navigation.

Image Alternate Text: Optimize Alt Attributes of images by including targeted keywords where the keywords have some relevance to the image. Alternate text should tell a website visitor what the image is. When optimized, the alternate text can help with keyword rankings for both the webpage and the image in image searches. Do not make your image Alt Attribute extremely long and keyword stuffed. Alternate text should be brief and relate well to the image.

Link Anchor Text: Site content should include links to other pages of the website that have keywords in the anchor text. Adding two or three keyword links into page content of 150 or more words is ideal. Do not fill the page content full of keyword links. Remember that linking in the content more than once to the same page will not give any additional SEO benefits.

I know, the information in this section probably seems like you just had a conversation with an orangutan. However, if you are a TherapySites customer, please feel free to contact the SEO Support team at SEO@PhysicalTherapistSites.com for instruction and assistance on optimizing your page elements for SEO.

Also, for further information on optimizing your pages for search engines, visit the links below:

4 Keys to Search Engine Optimization
Pro Tips to Optimize Your Website
On-Page SEO Best Practices

3. Good Quality Page Content

A website with good quality content will be one step closer to getting top search engine rankings. The search engines are constantly trying to improve the quality of the search results. The one way to be sure to always be relevant when algorithms are updated is to provide content that search engines will consider high quality. That kind of content is not copied from other websites. It is unique, specific, and provides value to a site visitor. Writing guides, fact sheets, frequently asked questions, common misconceptions and practical use articles that are clean, simple to read, and incorporate the keywords and keyword phrases you have chosen to optimize your site with are all great ways to add good content to a website. Keep in mind that having great content will not only give the search engines a good idea of what the website is about but will also give other webmasters a good reason to link to your website.

In Summary:

Today we have learned that SEO has nothing to do with primates. The three things we need to focus on when developing the internal aspects of our site optimization are keyword focus, page element optimization, and quality page content. Last, and most importantly, SEO is an active practice and must be checked and maintained.

I hope you now have some insight on how to get started with optimizing your site. If you are a TherapySites customer and you have any questions or would like your site reviewed for SEO, please contact us at SEO@PhysicalTherapistSites.com.

Nathan S – TherapySites Support and SEO
Email any questions to SEO@PhysicalTherapistSites.com

I Really Could Use A NAP

Admittedly, I would enjoy the standard use of the term ‘nap’ right about now, but here I refer to some industry jargon; a company’s NAP is…
* Name
* Address
* Phone number.

My name is Rich, I’m the guy who looks at most of your websites to help you promote them, and I could really use your NAP.

As simple as it is to include set of information may seem, this often is overlooked. I have talked to people who complained nobody contacted them through their website, only to see the website had no contact information! A more common issue is that the NAP information is provided, but not consistently. Ensuring that your business is easy to search for is especially crucial in this day and age, with so many businesses in so many databases. Not using consistent NAP information can create variations of a business’ online identity, which makes it harder, in some cases impossible, for search engines and other sources to verify your information.

Name:

I’ve already addressed the importance of consistent use of your (and/or your business) name in the blog article, What’s in a Name.

While clearly your business name is important, it is also important to use it consistently. If you go by William Shakespeare, don’t have half your promotion read “Bill Shakespeare.” If you run AwesomeCo, don’t have a sign that says “Awesome Company, Inc.” This will likely confuse people and work against you.

Address:

While crucial to most business promotion, business addresses tend to be the most commonly omitted piece of information in websites and other online promotion. Most weeks, roughly 10% of the client websites I see are submitted without addresses or phone numbers. Sure, on a selfish level, this makes my job harder. But when you consider my job is to promote our customers’ businesses, it means that customer is making it harder for me to promote them! I spend a lot of time working with customers just to figure out if this information was omitted due to privacy concerns or simply forgotten.

Sometimes, a business owner gets preoccupied with online promotion and forgets that the point of any promotion is to get and keep more clients. If your end goal is someone to come to your office, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to get there. There are several reasons why your address is crucial:

1) Your address is uniquely yours.
In addition to your name and phone number, the address is one of the unique bits of information that makes your business distinct and notable. Having your address listed on your website helps search engines, not just to specifically connect to your location, but to generally establish that you exist. It also helps to distinguish you from businesses with similar names; Chopsticks Restaurant on Hawthorne Blvd. (a family friendly eatery in South East Portland) is not to be confused with Chopsticks Karaoke Bar on Burnside (a fairly rowdy place in North East Portland), for instance.

2) Your address helps describe your business
Sometimes your physical location is worth noting even if clients don’t come to you. For instance, even if you do home visits, or exclusively counsel people by phone or Skype, the state you are certified in might be relevant because of licensing concerns or insurance reasons.

Another example might be cultural. Even if my schedule or lifestyle means I want to consult with a doctor or talk to a therapist via skype, I likely want to find someone who has some basic understanding of my concerns. One client was a counselor who lived in a small town in Alaska, who specialized in online therapy for others who lived in small towns in Alaska. In addition to his training, he specifically understood the climate, the unique situations of Alaskan daylight (or lack thereof) and other factors of a specific sort of lifestyle. An equally qualified counselor in New York City who might do online counseling focused on people who have a hard time leaving their apartment

This is less common of a concern than the others, but worth noting. In general, more kinds of information you provide about yourself, the better.

3) If you don’t share your address, let people know
Sometimes I contact a client because they don’t publicize their address only to realize that they only do house-calls, Skype counseling, etc. These are valid business models, but if your website doesn’t say this, your potential clients may not realize how your business works.
* If you do house-calls, office visits, etc, make sure to denote that you come to your clients and what the terms are.
* If you do counseling or consultation by phone or Skype, make sure to note if you do this exclusively, or in conjunction to office visits. Make sure that a client knows how to go about this process.
* If your main duties are more likely to be giving lectures or workshops about your field than seeing clients in an office, make sure this is clear on your website.
* If you do see people at your office, but prefer to keep the location private for whatever reason, make sure that the lack of address is decided. You don’t need to say “since I work from home, I keep my address hidden”, but instructions such as “Call or email me to set up an appointment at my office in…” and provide at least a general area, “downtown Akron” or “Central SE Portland”, etc. While not as precise as an actual address, a neighborhood or general location can still go a long way to help with search engines. At the very least, it’s best to include your city, state and zip code. Whatever your situation is, your website should be able to answer a client’s questions and give them the means to contact you.
* Also, if there is some reason you keep your address private, make sure you’re actually keeping it private. Be careful when filling out forms, you wouldn’t want to fill out any form with your address without carefully reading what the form is for.

We do cross-check to make sure any publicity we do matches the information on your website, but you’re your own best line of defense, and not every company pays as close attention to such matters. In my job duties, I see a lot of private information people willingly put online, not realizing what they were getting into.

4) Your address is how people find you.
Some of our customers have told me that they don’t want to have their address on their website, because that would limit clients to the surrounding area. While this makes sense in theory, it is actually not he case. Most services in the healing arts are more likely to attract local attention; unless you are already known on a regional or national level, you’re unlikely to get cross country interest unless you work in a very specific field.

If your work is such that you travel to clients or work remotely, you should definitely indicate that on your site, but it’s no replacement for having your physical address listed. Search Engines and potential clients both are trained to look for location in a specific format, and having an actual address in a standard format, ideally on your sidebar. It’s a quick, simple way to make your business easy to find and learn more about.

On the most obvious level, your address is where you are. If clients want come to see you, they need to know where to go. Some of our customers think it’s enough to have clients email or call them for directions.

Also, consider how people look up information online. More and more, search engines are tailoring their results to a user’s location even if a user doesn’t specifically include that information in their search query. As more and more people turn to online directories, Google Maps, and location based apps on their smartphones to learn about businesses in their area, it’s crucial that people know you’re in their area. If I want, say, sushi for dinner, I don’t look for sushi as a general concept online, I want to know where I can get sushi nearby. This is impossible if the restaurants don’t list their addresses.

Phone

I personally don’t see this come up as a concern nearly as much as names and addresses do, but the information above also applies to phone numbers. If, for some reason, you have multiple phone numbers, keeping on consistent for all promotion will help keep your information straight. While toll free numbers are useful, conventional wisdom is that a local number can be more helpful for listing purposes, as it ties to a specific locale. That being said, I have yet to see a toll free number be problematic when I create listings for a customer.

One issue with phone numbers, and for that matter, email addresses, for businesses with multiple practitioners is to make sure you have one all-purpose mode of contact information. For instance if AwesomeCo is made up of myself, Tim, Ryan and Taylor, we could very well have unique phone numbers and email addresses for each person. While useful, this can be confusing to a prospective client, how would they know which person is best to call? In cases like this, I advise that there be one phone number, and a general email address such as “info@” or “contact@”, be used for promotion. Even if all contact goes to, say, Tim, the client feels like they are contacting a business, not a random part of it. This also helps if Tim leaves the company later on.

In Summary:
Little things can make a big difference; taking the few extra minutes to double check that your basic information is correct, consistent and clear can end up with huge effects, like a minor difference in what direction you start a long journey. And with that, I might take that other nap I mentioned.

Rich M – PhysicalTherapistSites Listings
Email any questions to Support@PhysicalTherapistSites.com

What’s In A Name?

William Shakespeare

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”– even if you called it a daisy, “that swirly pink thing on the plant over there,” ros, rosa, roos or, in Indonesian, “bunga mawar.” However, if you were searching online for a dozen roses, it would really help if you knew you to call roses by name. Likewise, if you wanted to sell roses, it would really help if you advertised them by name.

Since you’re not promoting rose bouquets, but a service-oriented business, it helps to have a name. Since many of our customers are single-practitioner offices, many use their given name as their business name, but this may still lead to complications. For many of us, we get a name, we stick to it, and maybe we add some titles to it afterwards. But sometimes there are complexities and subtleties to consider.

To make sure that you’re presenting a consistent image, both to clients and to search engines, you must be consistent about your personal brand; your name!

My uncle Bob’s full name is Robert. And yes, most of us still know Bob is short for Robert, but if you’re looking for “Bob Collins” under “R” for “Robert,” you might have some issues. Likewise, it may take some people a second to realize who Richard Cheney is, even if they remember Jack Kennedy and can guess who I mean when I refer to Bill Shakespeare. But, when I had a roommate I called “Jim,” I’d forgotten his birth certificate said James when his aunt called looking for Jimmy. Your best practice is to be consistent. You can be William, Will, Willy, Bill, or call yourself Billiam, but choose one for everything you have your name on. This is especially important to consider with common names. If your business card lists you as “James Jameson,” your website as “Jim Jameson,” and you answer the phone with “This is Jimbo,” you run some risk of confusion, especially when someone is looking things up alphabetically.

Titles

For the most part, titles in business promotion do not refer to Mr./Miss./Mrs./Ms., but to “Dr.” or other professional titles. Usually you don’t need to add Mr./Miss./Mrs./Ms. unless your name is considered gender neutral to most people in your area and you wish to avoid confusion. If you have multiple titles, you may or may not wish to list them all. Whatever you chose to list yourself as, it’s best to be consistent for all business promotion.

Name changes

If you anticipate changing your name, for whatever reason, consider starting to promote your new name ahead of time. For instance, if you’re just signing up for online promotion, and know your wedding and connected name change is next month, it will be better in the long run to either hold off for the month or simply start using your new name for this context. Once people see your name a certain way, they tend to repeat it that way. It’s much easier to be consistent with the one term you’d prefer.

In most cases, you’ve been using your old name for a while, and people know you by it. It’s everywhere: in print, online, etc. One solution is to simply include all relevant names in initial references. For instance, if Jane Doe marries John Smith, and takes his last name, she might have text on her website such as:

Jane Doe Smith does such and such. Mrs. Smith also does this and that.

-or-

Jane Smith (formerly Jane Doe) does such and such.

The specifics of how you do this depend on the name change, of course, and can be done a number of ways. The general idea is to allow anyone looking for Jane Smith to easily see that Jane Doe who they found is indeed the Jane Smith they’re looking for.

Your name vs. Business Name

Most of our customers have small, often one-person, businesses. When a man named “Dr. John Johnson” has “Dr. John Johnson” (or “Dr. John Johnson, LLC”) as the business name, drjohnjohnson.com, this is easy enough to work with. If however, Dr. John is the owner and sole employee of “Cityville Services, Inc,” he needs to consider which name is used to promote his practice. Either one is usually fine in terms of business promotion, but the goal is to make it easy for his clients to connect the business he runs with the business he promotes.

Regarding business names, one of the biggest mistakes made by small businesses is the false assumption that people (or search engines, directory listings, or whatever) can and will connect different names. If John above refers to his business as “Cityville Services, Inc.” on his website, but takes out ads for Cityville Service Co., he’s functionally advertising a different business. This is especially worth noting if you have “Inc.,” “Corp.,” or “LLC” etc in your name. In terms of promotion, whatever you decided your business name is, you will do yourself a disservice if you are not consistent with exact repetition of the business name.

In summary, my advice to you is to stop and think a bit about what your “brand name” is. Of all the ways you can refer to yourself, which works best when you think of yourself as a company? Pick that one. If you’ve already picked a name, stick with it, check on it, make sure it’s what you are referred to online and in business situations. It’s one of many situations where just a few extra minutes can mean big long-term payoff.

Rich M – PhysicalTherapistSites Listings
Email any questions to Support@PhysicalTherapistSites.com

How To Stop Your Computer From Getting The Flu

Security and Your Computer
Protecting your computer from viruses and other malware (malicious software) is absolutely essential if your computer is ever connected to the Internet. Luckily, there are a few simple behaviors you can engage in as a citizen of the Internet to help protect yourself, and there are a number of excellent free options for antivirus software that can help protect your computer and keep your mind at ease!

Please note: PhysicalTherapistSites is not affiliated with any of the programs or services listed, and we are not equipped to help customers troubleshoot specific issues regarding viruses. If you suspect your computer has been infected please contact your computer manufacture for proper virus removal. All advice in this article is merely a suggestion and intended to be provided as a resource; your experience with any particular piece of software here may differ. Additionally, some of the software listed may only have free options available for personal home computers, and may require a different license if you intend to use the software on a business machine. Individual users are responsible for ensuring they are compliant with the licensing agreements for any software they choose to install.

Anatomy of a Virus
Viruses and other malware can take many forms. On one end of the scale, there are viruses that are merely nuisances. I once encountered a virus that merely scrambled the letters of every tenth word typed on the infected machine – annoying, but not the end of the world. Similarly bothersome, there are currently a number of viruses going around that are inserting random advertisements in place of existing content when the user views websites. These advertisements are not actually present on the website itself, but rather only viewable on the infected computer.

On the other end of the severity scale, there are viruses that can give someone remote access to your machine, allowing him/her to access all of your secure files, or steal your financial information, or entirely disrupt the functionality of your computer.

Prevention is the best medicine
An hour spent setting up antivirus software on your computer can prevent countless hours lost down the line on virus removal, not to mention the potential for data loss, stolen private information, and general grief that accompanies virus infection. Without a doubt, the best way to handle your computer’s security is to focus on prevention of viruses, instead of virus removal after the fact.

There are two key components to avoiding virus infection and malware: behavioral protection, and software protection. Software protection is what most people consider when they think of computer security. It comes in the form of specific software that is designed to detect and eliminate potential security risks to your computer. Behavioral protection is behavior that you as a computer user can adopt to limit your potential exposure and infection from malicious software.

We are essentially urging caution when we speak of behavioral protection. The creators of malicious software rely on a variety of ways to spread their software. One of the most common current ways to spread malicious software is through social engineering. That is, through tricking or manipulating the user into acting in a way that installs the virus on their own computer, or spreading the infection further. Social engineering takes many forms. A prevalent tactic is to infect a computer through pop-up windows. A window will pop up and claim that your computer is currently infected with a virus, and instruct you to click on the virus to download antivirus software. These pop up windows are not actually detecting malicious software on your computer, rather they are trying to scare you into clicking on the message, which often times will contain malicious software itself!

Many social engineering schemes are often conducted via email. A user will receive an email from one of his or her contacts, typically with a vague subject line (e.g., “This changed my life!”), and generally nothing in the body of the email except a link (or a file attachment). Clicking on the link (or attachment) will typically install some type of malicious software on your computer, and it will also typically hijack your email and send the exact same message you received to all of your contacts. These tactics are often successful and spread rapidly because they leverage a user’s trust in email sent from the address of a known contact.

The moral of each of these anecdotes is to promote caution. Even if a message you receive is saying your computer is infected, this does not automatically make it so, and if you receive a suspicious message from someone you know, err on the side of caution and confirm with him or her before potentially risking your computer’s security. Healthy skepticism is one of the key behaviors in promoting safer computer use.

In regard to software protection, there are a significant number of options available for antivirus software. In fact, there are so many available that it can be difficult to determine what software best fits your needs. We have collected a brief list of some of the more popular options. While a number of the options we have listed below offer paid versions (which typically contain advanced functionality, or a more robust feature set), as of the date this article was written, all of them offer a free option.

(Apple aside: I have commonly heard the notion repeated that Macs cannot get viruses. While it is true that there are safeguards that are built into Mac operating system which offer some protection against typical viruses it is inaccurate to say that they cannot get viruses, and this attitude can lead to dangerous complacency when computing. As a Mac user, your best defense is the behavioral caution urged above. Because of the added security inherent in the Mac OSX operating system, you are at less risk for a true virus infection, however Mac users are just as prone to social engineering schemes. Because there is a relative dearth of options available for the Mac OS, I have made special note of the software that have free Mac versions.)

Microsoft Security Essentials
Microsoft Security Essentials is a very viable piece of antivirus software. It is relatively lightweight in terms of system resources, so it can run more effectively than a number of its competitors on older or slower machines. Additionally, the free option explicitly allows for the software to be used in small businesses on up to 10 PCs.

As a word of caution, there is malicious software on the Internet that is intended to mimic the look and feel of Microsoft’s antivirus software. It is important that you download this software from Microsoft’s site directly.

avast!
avast! offers strong detection rates, and a more robust feature set for the free version over many of its competitors. At the time of writing this article, avast! currently has a paid version of its antivirus software available for Mac, and has a beta (before the official release) version of its free antivirus software for Mac. avast!’s free version is likely to be a compelling option for Mac users.

Antivir
Avira’s Antivir has a decent feature set for the free version, and boasts a very powerful detection rate.

As with Microsoft, there is malicious software that attempts to trick a user into thinking it is Avira’s Antivir. Please only download Antivir from Avira’s site.

AVG
AVG’s free option has a good record with detection rates, however it is fairly lacking compared to its competitors in terms of its feature list. Additionally, AVG has been known to identify other legitimate antivirus software as potentially malicious.

PandaCloud
PandaCloud is an interesting choice as it stores its detection library online (hence the “Cloud” moniker). I have found PandaCloud to be particularly effective on netbooks and other machines with limited system resources.

Sophos (Mac Option)
Sophos is one of the most “traditional” antivirus options available for Macs. It is reported to have good detection rates and is easy to use.

ClamXav (Mac Option)
ClamXav is another popular Mac option. It can be set to be passively monitoring files as they come in, or you can use it to scan specific files you are suspicious of.

Conclusion
We hope that this article has helped illuminate the need to actively secure your computer against the threat of viruses and other malicious software. To reiterate, it is crucial to maintain active computer security while accessing the Internet, both through effective antivirus software and through personal caution. Protect yourself and protect your clients, and enjoy a safer, faster experience on the web.

The primary focus of this article has been on the security of your personal computer, which is the first line of defense against viruses and malware. But how can you be sure that the server hosting your website is not a vector for malicious software?

If you operate your own website, make sure that your web provider is keeping up to date with all important security releases for your hosting environment. Server security is a complex and technical topic, so the best thing to do is to talk to your website provider about what security measures they are taking.

PhysicalTherapistSites, has taken measures to ensure that our websites will not become a vector for the spread of malware, and that both our providers and their client’s confidential information will remain protected. Our servers and hosting environment are in a protected data center, and we ensure that all information is always protected by the latest security updates and industry best practices.

Chris C– PhysicalTherapistSites Support
Email any questions to Support@PhysicalTherapistSites.com

Your (Google) Place in History

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Understanding Google Places Listings.

When you sign up for our free Directory Listings service, we submit your information to our online directory database, which us used by over a hundred different online directories. Many of these listings are used to create more links to your website, thus increasing your standing in search engines and providing more promotion to your website and business.

In addition to our directory database, we work to ensure that you have an accurate listing on one of the most important, but most labor-intensive, online listings.

A Google Place is a business listing connected to Google Maps. You may be familiar with the red “balloons” or “upside down teardrops” showing business location on Google Maps, which open up a “word bubble” with more information about the business. One reason we pay extra attention to Google Places Listings is because Google is by far the most commonly used search engine (1), so this one listing is considered by many to be the most important and single most useful listing you could have.

Google Places Listings show up in searches using the Google Search Engine, which is what most people think of when they think “Google”. Please note that when we say “listing” we specifically refer to the directory listings like you would see in your local Yellow Pages, not the results which show when you do a Google Search.

Another reason we pay extra attention to Google Places Listings is that Google requires more work to verify them. Most directories allow any trusted account to create and edit listings without much additional effort, but Google’s notoriety makes Google Places the first target for spammers, scammers, and other ne’erdowells. In order to confirm that every business shown on Google Places is a real “brick and mortar” establishment, Google sends a letter containing a PIN (Personal Identification Number) to your office. While it seems strange for the company behind many of the most popular online tools to use “snail mail,” this means that Google will know that the address is real, physically exists, and is connected to your business.

Our Process

When a customer signs up for Directory Listings, we search for any existing listings on Google Maps; some of our customers may have created their own listings, others may have had listings created via another service they have worked with. Some listings are created “organically” by Google itself.

Organic listings often contain data drawn from other directories or online resources, so unfortunately, if you have old or incorrect information in one online source, it may be repeated. If we find any existing listings, we’ll let you know, make any obvious edits (like adding a link to your website) and check with you if the existing listings need further editing. While we do what we can to help our customers address any errors found, we may have little to no control over information on websites that got your information from other sources.

If we don’t find a Google Places Listing already online, we create one for you with as much detail and information we can, based on your Listings submission and the information from your website. The best way to help us help you is to have as much detail as you can about your practice on your website, ideally on your sidebar.

Once we create the listing, we prompt the letter from Google according to Google’s verification process. You should get the letter within three weeks, although the letters often arrive much earlier. When your letter arrives, you’ll see instructions about log in information. Don’t worry about any of this, it’s all been taking care of! These instructions are for us, but since we do this so often, we’re already well aware of what needs to be done. Simply contact us via our toll free number, or email us at listings@TherapySites.com, and make sure to include the PIN with any message. We’ll use the PIN to get your listing online and send you a link to the listing when it’s up.

Some Frequently Asked Questions.

Can’t I just create my own listings?

By all means! Some of our customers prefer to create their own listings, or have had listings created for them by someone they know. We’re offering this a a free service, but you certainly don’t need to take advantage of it.

How can I edit a listing once it’s online?

As long as you are a member, we will make any Google Places Listings you request (within Google guidelines, of course). If we created your listing and want any changes, just tell us what edits you’d like us to make. However, if we did not create the listing, it often is easiest for the business owner to edit existing listings.

Google Places Listings may be edited in different ways, depending on how the listing was created and if you have a Google Account. Unfortunately, these methods vary considerably and it’s impossible to provide general advice. The most complete way to edit a Google Places Listing is via a Google Account and following the directions below, at “Can I claim my Google Places Listing with my own Google Account?”

I don’t want my office address made public, can I still have a listing?

Google Places requires an exact street address, unless your business is based on you going to your client’s location. If you have a delivery/house-call radius, or can provide a list of locations you travel to, we can opt to hide your physical address. Otherwise, if you don’t have a “brick and mortar” location, Google will not verify the listing.

While there are ways to submit to other listings, the best way to have maximum promotional exposure is to have a physical office location you’re willing to promote.

Why can’t I just have Google contact me at home?

Google will only use the public address and phone number for your business to verify your listing. This prevents someone else from claiming your listing, for instance. Google doesn’t know that your home or other billing address is connected to your office. If we could opt to have the letter sent to other locations, we’d simply have all letters sent directly to us.

What if I have more than one office?

Our Directory Listings staff checks your website to see if there are multiple offices, and creates a Google Places Listing for each. Each physical location would have its own listing, which means it requires its own PIN.

If you have information for all your offices on your website and submit for our Directory Listings service, that should be enough for us to create as many listings as needed. The best way to help us help you is to have as much detail about your office locations and other contact information on your website, ideally on your sidebar. If you open new offices after your initial sign up, please let us know.

Do I need to verify this Google Places Listing?

Not at all, only if you want to take advantage of the extra promotion that having a Google Places Listing provides!

Google Places Listings are very useful tools, which is why we create them for our customers, but this doesn’t mean you have to verify yours. While we suggest that you do verify it soon, you can also leave it alone and verify it later. You may also request that we delete it, or you may create one from scratch using your own Google Account.

Can I claim my Google Places Listing with my own Google Account?

Yes! After you have validated the listing by sending us the PIN, or if the listing is otherwise online, you may “claim” that listing with your own existing Google Account. Google Accounts are free to create, if you use Gmail or other Google services, you have one already. The steps for claiming the listing are somewhat counter-intuitive, so please follow the directions below carefully!

After validating your listing, log onto http://www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter using your existing Google Account. Select Add another business and enter the office phone number in the listing. You should see your office information appear. Click the “Edit” button to the right of your listing.

Alternately, you can claim your listing if you are logged into your Google Account (many users are logged in already by being logged into the email account connected to this Google Account). Then, go to your Google Places Listing. You can find this on either http://local.google.com/ or http://maps.google.com/ and searching for your business name and zip code. Click on Edit this place and a window will pop up saying “This place has been claimed in Google Places and can only be edited by the owner…” Click on Google Places and when the screen changes, choose “Edit my business information.”

Either way, this will bring up your listing information, but you’ll notice that not all the information shows. Don’t worry, any information submitted to the listing is still on the publicly-visible listing itself. (We warned you this was counter- intuitive!) Any edits you make at this time will show in the public listing. You may need to re-select at least one business “Category.” Click the “Submit” button at the bottom of the page, and Google will ask you to prompt another PIN letter. After that, you have the listing in your own account.

If you do claim a listing we create for you, please let us know, so that we don’t accidentally undue any work you’ve done.

I received a letter from Google, but I can’t log into the account.

Not to worry! We’ve already done most of the work for you, so you don’t need to worry about logging in to validate anything. Just call or send an email with your business name and PIN to Verifications@TherapySites.com. We’ll take care of it from there.

How do I know if I have a listing online?

You may have had listings created before you joined us. Many businesses have listings created by other companies, or by the search engines themselves. You can see if you are already listed by searching for your business name and zip code via http://maps.google.com/.

Rich M – PhysicalTherapistSites Listings and Support
Email any questions to Support@PhysicalTherapistSites.com

Quiet, Please! (Why We Discourage Autoplay Sounds On Websites)

Like photos, contact forms and maps, music and videos on your site can be great “enhancer” features. When placing music on a site, you have the option as to whether to have the website automatically play the music, or play the music only when the user clicks the “play” button.

While you should always be looking for ways to make your site more dynamic and engaging, it’s important to be mindful of changes that might provoke a negative reaction. Sometimes, what seems like a good idea at first turns out to be counterproductive. Consider, for instance, some arguments against autoplaying music…

* It’s making a lot of assumptions: forcing autoplay on anyone who checks out your website assumes at least the following:
1) That the browser has the required capability to play the files without crashing.
2) That the person on your site has your taste in music.
3) That this person is not already listening to music (and here, consider how many people listen to music on the computer while they surf the web)
4) That the person is in a situation where nobody else will be disturbed by the sudden noise. In reality, the sound may disturb coworkers, bosses, or other people on a bus or library.

If your website causes browser problems, garbles someone’s in-progress musical experience, disturbs people working nearby, or causes them any grief, they’ll immediately close the website, likely never to return again.

* If this was a good idea, it would be industry standard. Think of a major business you like and respect and go to their website. Does music play? Is there a sudden greeting from the founder? Probably not. Google and Amazon spend a lot of time researching what works and what doesn’t. If music embedded on a website set to automatically play worked, these companies would have it. They don’t.

About a decade ago, many websites started adding autoplay sounds, only to learn this is not a good idea. Certain companies still try: an ad company started adding autoplay commercials on entertainment websites, only to have the fans of those websites boycotting the products being advertised. While some websites do still have autoplay content, these are media-centric sites such as YouTube where the viewer is clicking to a link, expecting to hear music and/or watch videos.

* Experts don’t recommend it. It’s not even that most experts don’t use it, it’s pretty much unanimous. In fact, when researching the topic, I couldn’t find anything in support of automatic sounds on a website. Most writing on the subject was written as if anyone reading already agreed and just needed some help explaining to clients why the idea is so bad. For instance, the article: “How to Convince a Client their Site Doesn’t Need Music”. While the article does say that music business websites are an exception, it uses strong language about the idea, and features the quote “Users expect web pages to contain useful information, not carry a tune.”

However, as a former music reviewer, I’d note that most music industry sites don’t have automatic play. Most bands, record labels, etc. have many options to listen to songs and videos, but they give an option.

Remember, your website is a tool. Both for you to promote your business, and for a potential client uses to learn about your business. The more useful and user-friendly this tool is, the more it will be used.

Rich M – PhysicalTherapistSites Listings and Support
Email any questions to Support@PhysicalTherapistSites.com

Getting Noticed in a Crowd: Competing in a Crowded Market

Crowd being turned back at Coliseum (LOC)For many of our customers located in densely populated areas, making their business known to potential clients is their greatest challenge.

A practitioner in Grangeville, Idaho is not likely to have direct competition in their area of specialization. However, in San Francisco or Manhattan there are probably hundreds of similar businesses which anyone can choose to patronize. How does a professional get their business noticed among the clamor of online ads/business listings, and advertisements in newspapers/magazines/bus stops?

Make More Noise

One approach is to be more noticeable than other businesses by advertising more intensely. If you out-bid other advertisers for Google AdWords placement, you can get priority placement for your ad in search listings and websites. If you spend more on newspaper and magazine ads, you can make yours larger than those of other services. You can pay for preferential placement in business directories, above the free or lower-cost ads.

Make a Different Kind of Noise

When Deadline Express Couriers in New Zealand wanted to emphasize that they make their deliveries on-time, they had a billboard literally explode at the end of a countdown. 3M boasted about their security glass by displaying large stacks of money behind the glass in a bus shelter. While advertising like this is probably way outside of your budget, these publicity stunts might be inspirational in dreaming up a campaign that is practical for you. Can you think of a hook that people would remember and associate with your business?

You, Tubed

A free form of advertising you can use is the YouTube video site. Online videos which anyone can play and which might turn up in Google and other searches are a very effective marketing tool, a way that you can get noticed in a crowd. A video that is humorous enough or interesting enough can become “viral” so that other Internet users are promoting the video, doing your marketing for you. When using this tactic, the video should nonetheless represent your business professionally. The result may be the opposite of what you intend if your business is associated with a laughable gimmick that doesn’t have anything to do with your service. Videos can be easily made using a low-cost digital camera (many of them have video recording capability) or video camera. Once the content is transferred to a computer (and the manual for the camera should tell you how this is done) it can be easily uploaded to YouTube. Some types of video you might create and post on the site for anyone to find: a video tour of your office, a personal introduction to your business, or snippets of conversation with satisfied customers. You might for example stage a conversation with an actual customer about how much they appreciate your service. The customer could be given discounted service for helping you market your practice. The videos can also serve you other ways. A video could be embedded in your website or you could email a link for a video to an individual when the video can illustrate something you want to say much better than text or still images.

We Can Help

Included free with every PhysicalTherapistSites website subscription is our comprehensive set of tools and assistance for Search Engine Optimization and marketing your business. It takes time and commitment to become very visible in some of the more densely crowded markets, and nobody can guarantee #1 placement in search engines. However, we can get your business in front of many sets of eyes and maybe even help you make your business more recognized than your toughest competitor. The website templates are optimized to encourage prominent placement in search engines. We show you how to customize the content with the terms that are likely to be searched by a person looking for your service. We create listings for you in many online directories including Google Maps and Yahoo! Local. To learn more about what we can do to give your business prominence in your market, just contact us!

Brian S – PhysicalTherapistSites Support
Email any questions to Support@PhysicalTherapistSites.com

Getting Affiliated: Amazon Associates

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We are asked quite frequently about “affiliate” programs. As an affiliate, your website can feature items or services for sale which a visitor to the site can purchase, and when any are purchased you receive a small commission. The relationship benefits all parties involved: the company offering the affiliate program receives exposure which doesn’t cost them anything until an item is purchased, you earn a commission on the sale, and your website visitor has found something they might not otherwise have known about.

Should I Affiliate?

When deciding whether to use an affiliate program, there are two questions to consider.

Are there items I can present for sale on my website which might be of interest to my visitors? If you are a sports physical therapist, there may be books that you recommend that have information about reducing strain and injury in sports activities. It may even make your work easier if your clients have read particular books. You may also have “required reading” for your clients, and this could be a great way to give them access to the books online if they would like to order them.

Does my website receive sufficient traffic to make it worthwhile? Does my website receive sufficient traffic to make it worthwhile? If one $15 book is purchased from your site per month and you receive an 8% commission, this is $1.20 per month of income for you. You may decide that this isn’t enough to justify spending any time creating your account and widget. However, if you have items that you would like to recommend, it may be worth your while to add the widget just to be informative for your website visitors.

Choosing an Affiliate Service

If you have decided to sell products on your site for a commission, the next step is to choose a company with an affiliate program. There are many to choose from, however if you are a health care professional it is unlikely that you will market products for Art.com (art items) or zZounds (musical instruments and DJ equipment).

Most of our customers who use affiliate marketing are using Amazon Affiliates. When you sell Amazon items on your site, you receive a 4% to 15% commission. The percentage you receive depends on several factors, such as how much you sell and the type of item. You can choose to have Amazon pay your commission by direct deposit into your bank account, or have them send a check or Amazon gift certificate.

The most popular affiliate program and the one that we recommend most highly is the Amazon Affiliates program (also called Amazon Associates). To set up an account, just sign up here. Once you have an account you can create a “Widget” of recommended products that can be embedded on your website. Amazon has a number of widgets options available, so just find the one that best presents the products you’d like to recommend! Once you’ve created a widget, you’ll be able to get the code to embed it on your website.

Important note: if you are a resident of certain US States, Amazon does not make available the Affiliates program to you because of the state tax laws regarding online sales. The affected states list changes from time to time, so check the online Operating Agreement (last paragraph of section “2. Enrollment”). At the time this article was posted, the excluded states were: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

Adding the widget Code

Here’s a tip about adding the snippet of code for the Amazon Affiliates widget to your site. When viewing your site’s code (using the “Source” button feature, if using our website service), you will probably get the best results if you add the code snippet before or after all of the other content. It may in your case be important to add the widget someplace in the middle. Example: you would like to have an introductory paragraph, then the widget, then some graphical links. It should be all right to add the code in the midst of the existing code, if you do not add it within any “tag pair.” A “tag” identifies the beginning and end of a component in a website. A <p> tag indicates the beginning of a paragraph, and </p> the end. A table begins with <table> and ends with </table>. Notice that the opening tags begin with < and the closing tags begin with </. If you do not add the widget code between the beginning and ending tag of a component, then the widget should work well with the rest of the page. TherapySites customers can, if there is any doubt, just send us the code for the widget with a description of where the widget should go in the website.

Note that some widgets may need customizing before they will work well in the website. If the widget is too wide, it will either widen the website’s page or part of it will not be seen. We can usually modify a widget to fit your website’s template, although in many cases we must know your Amazon Affiliates login so that we can customize the qualities of the widget in the account where it was created. Just let us know the end result you are trying to achieve, and if at all possible we will help you get there!

Another interesting note about affiliate widgets and TherapySites websites: with our service, we provide quite a bit of Search Engine Optimization and website promotion assistance at no extra cost. We create business listings for you in many online directories, give you tools to optimize your site for the highest possible rankings in search engines, and we even help you through the process to set up search-engine-friendly content on the site. All this will lead to more traffic, and more resulting affiliate sales for you.

Brian S – PhysicalTherapistSites Support
Email any questions to Support@PhysicalTherapistSites.com