How To Get An Effective Therapist Website: 2017 Survey Results

About The 1st Annual Therapist Website Survey

This survey is unique and the first of it’s kind. It was designed to help discover what creates an effective therapist website.

As an annual survey, every year in the Fall, we will be tracking how therapists are getting results with their website and following their progress towards ultimate results.

Thank you to the more than 200 therapists that participated and our experts who weighed in with their thoughts.

About The Survey Questions

The survey this year was 9 questions and focused on 5 areas. The questions were as follows:

Age

Website Creation

Content & Content Marketing

Website Promotion

Measurement & Results

With the goal of better understanding how therapists are getting results with their website, the data and analysis for each question is below. In addition, we’ll also share the insights from industry experts and successful therapists on what the data means.

How Old Are The Most Effective Therapist Websites?

The majority of those participating in our survey have had a website online for 2 years or less.

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However, the majority of those that are getting “strong" results on their website have had their website online for 5 years or more:

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Important Finding:

  • 51% of therapists that are getting "strong" results from their websites have had their website online for 5 years or more.
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Expert Reaction: Katie Lemieux, LMFT

Websites are a must have if you are in business but many therapists don't have a website or wait to get one online. When you know who your ideal client is, you can save time and feel confident that your website will be drawing your ideal client right to you. Even though a therapists' website is one of the most looked at forms of marketing, many therapists struggle to get their site together and get analysis paralysis when it comes to identifying their ideal client.

This paralysis can hold you back. Just remember: your website is always changing and evolving. This data shows how it's better to get started and make adjustments along the way rather than wait until it's perfect. Longevity is a performance factor alongside other important website and strategy activities like SEO and getting quality traffic. Here's to your dream practice and taking the leap!

How Are Therapists Creating Their Websites?

When asked if they hired a website designer or developer to help them create their website, more than half reported that they designed and built their own websites:

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Are the therapists that report “strong" results with their websites different? The answer is yes.

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Important Finding:

  • A strong majority, 63%, of therapists that are getting “strong" results from their websites have hired someone to help them with all or part of their website design and build.
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Expert Reaction: Allison Puryear

I'm not shocked at all by these results. It's the benefit of having a pro, with all their expertise and understanding of what works and what doesn't, on your side. There are enough learning curves in building a successful practice, building your own website means learning how to navigate the tech side of things, learning what makes great copy, understanding why some images work and some don't.

Think about it like therapy. Sure, folks can talk to their friends who studied psych in undergrad or an empathetic partner or read self help books. But as therapists, we're going to get in there with them in a deeper and more impactful way. If you're choosing to have a website (and you should) why not make sure it has the impact on potential clients you want it to by hiring a pro?

Which Therapists Are The Least Overwhelmed and Stressed When Creating Their Website?

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Are the numbers different for those therapists that get "strong" results on their website? The answer is yes.

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Important Finding:

  • While half of all participating therapists are overwhelmed and stressed with creating their website, only 31% of those therapists reporting “strong" results felt similarly overwhelmed and stressed

When asked, half (52%) of all therapists agree or strongly agree that they were overwhelmed and stressed when creating their website. This includes both those that get help with their website or DIY their website.

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Expert Reaction: Annie Schuessler

Creating a therapy website can be stressful! Here are some things I hear from therapists when they're stressing about creating or overhauling their websites:

"I keep trying to write the copy for my site and getting stuck with a blank screen."
"I'm afraid of the technology and don't know where to start."
"I'm confused about how narrow my niche."

I'm not surprised that therapists with strong results from their sites experienced less stress when they were creating those sites. Websites with strong results speak to a particular client, name what that client is struggling with, and show how things can get better. To step into the website process with clarity about those things, answer these three questions:

  1. Who are my right-fit clients?
  2. What are my right-fit clients struggling with?
  3. What do my right-fit clients hope will change because of going to therapy?

When you've got those questions answered, creating your website will be less stressful and you'll end up with a more effective website.

Does Having Video or Audio Content Make Your Website More Effective?

When asked about the type of media that appears on their website, almost all of the therapists who participated had images but less than ⅓ had video and less than ⅙ had audio media formats.

Audio format was not very significantlu different between overall and "strong" results segment, but video shows a significant relationship to getting "strong" results.

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Important Finding:

  • Almost half of the therapists that are getting “strong results” and a third that are getting “some results” from their websites have video on their website
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Expert Reaction: Connor McClenahan

This snapshot affirms something I hear a lot from therapists: video gets clients. Why? Because video has some unique benefits that work together to help clients feel confident giving you a call. Video builds trust, increases calls, and increase traffic to your site.

When our clients make a decision about seeing a therapist, they’re not using their logical brain. They’re using their anterior insula. They read non-verbal information to try to anticipate if they could feel safe with you. This is where video shines. Compared to a picture or copy, video floods your client with rich non-verbal information about who you are and what it would be like to sit down with you. This means that within seconds your client is able to sense your warmth and care for them. Don't let cost or nerves stop you from having a video on your site.

Does Blogging or Content Marketing For Therapist Websites Actually Work?

Do you blog or do another form of regular content marketing like podcasting or video blogs?

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Here’s the breakdown of the results the blogging 53% get with their efforts:

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Important Finding:

  • 62% of therapists that blog or do content marketing have “strong results” or “some results” from their website
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Expert Reaction: Sharon Martin, LCSW

Blogging and content marketing are powerful tools for attracting clients, so I’m not surprised to see so many therapists using them successfully. I think even more therapists can see strong results if they blog consistently and write for a targeted niche audience.

The biggest stumbling blocks that I encounter when teaching therapist how to blog, is they don’t stick with it and their posts don’t provide the information their ideal clients are looking for. Blogging is most successful when it’s done consistently. For new bloggers, I recommend writing 2-3 posts per month. Blogging isn’t a short-term marketing strategy; it takes time for your content to get indexed by search engines and for your website to build credibility, so creating new content is key.

Your posts will also be most useful if they provide concrete information, resources, or actionable steps that speak directly to the concerns of your ideal clients.

How Are Therapists Driving Traffic To Their Websites?

Website traffic needs to be encouraged through a wider strategy beyond the website itself. When asked how they are driving traffic to their website, therapists had a lot to share:

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Important Finding:

  • The top 4 ways that therapists are driving traffic to their therapist website is directories, referrals, social media, and SEO. This holds true for both therapists overall as well as for those therapists that get strong results.
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Expert Reaction: Jennie Steinberg, LMFT, LPCC

I wasn't at all surprised to see that the top source of traffic to websites was directory ads, but I think the effectiveness of those listings can vary a lot based on geographical area and how specialized the directory is.  For example, my group practice, Through the Woods Therapy Center, receives a decent number of inquiries from directories that are specific to LGBT, polyamorous, and kinky folks, because those are pretty narrow niches.

We also get calls from our Psychology Today listing because Downtown Los Angeles isn't that saturated... but if we were located in an area with more therapists, like Santa Monica or Beverly Hills, it might not be as effective.  A large number of our calls actually come from our Yelp listing, which is controversial among therapists, but has been a really great source of business for us.

Stand Out Differences In Traffic Sources When Comparing Overall Trend to Those Therapists Getting “Strong” Results

Significant differences in website traffic drivers for therapists overall compared to therapists who report “strong results”

  • 82% SEO for "strong" vs. 52% overall
  • 28% email marketing for "strong" vs 18% overall
  • 14% media appearances for "strong" vs. 9% overall
  • 8% influencer outreach for "strong" vs. 4% overall
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Important Finding:

  • Therapists that are getting strong results on their website put way more time into SEO, email marketing, guest blogging, getting into the media, and influencer outreach than therapists overall.
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Expert Reaction: Jeff Guenther, LPC

As a creator of therapist directories and a champion of SEO for counselors, these findings are not surprising. I have worked with thousands of therapists over the past 10 years and the number one thing I preach is focusing on marketing strategies that have the highest return on investment (ROI). Love 'em or hate 'em, therapist directories offer a huge ROI. If you pay $30 per month and you get just one regular client per year, you have made your money back plus so much more.

Even though practically every therapist has a website and has heard about SEO, it still remains the secret sauce and X factor when rising to the top of online search results and attracting the most quality referrals. Even basic optimization can allow a therapist to outrank their local colleagues. Search engine optimization can feel intimidating and overwhelming but it doesn't have to be.

Are Therapists Tracking Website Conversions?

We asked all participants if they tracked website conversions. What are conversions? “In other words, do you record how many of your clients reached out to you through your website?”

Generally, tracking was not done much or done consistently or at all.

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However, when you pull out the numbers for those that reported getting “strong results” from their website and compare to the other types of results, they keep track of conversions more.

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Important Finding:

  • 40% of therapists that have "strong" results keep track of website conversions vs. only 1% of therapists who get disappointing results or the 9% that are unsure of their website’s results.
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Expert Reaction: Kelly Higdon

I'm not surprised by the statistics because I believe where you put your energy shows in your the numbers. If you are paying attention to your conversions on your website that usually means you are also invested in your website doing a lot of the work for you as part of your marketing. Having a website is more than a "should" on the to-do list of building a practice.

It's a vital part of your growth when you treat it as such. It's also important to know what can influence conversion on a website, from usability to flow of information, branding, clarity in message, and your ability to connect through the website to the other person who sits in pain looking for help.

Are Therapists Getting Results?

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Important Finding:

  • 40% of therapists that have "strong" results keep track of website conversions vs. only 1% of therapists who get disappointing results or the 9% that are unsure of their website’s results.
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Expert Reaction: Jo Muirhead

These results do not surprise me and I think this reflects a lack of knowledge and skills that therapists have when it comes to running a business with an online marketing component. 29% are saying 'I don't know' eeeek that's a problem, we should know. Bossy Jo here, but that's somewhat irresponsible. How much money is being spent on something that isn't being measured to know if it working?

A website is only part of the solution, its how we use it that is a BIGGER piece of the puzzle. A website is kind like the empty room; now we need to furnish it and make it an attractive space; then we need to help people find the office space, so we need SEO and content marketing and all those goodies to actually help prospective clients find the space we are looking for.

Summary: How To Have An Effective Therapist Website
Based On The Data

  1. Launch your website ASAP as longevity is a factor to your website's success. Similarly, understand that you may need to be patient to see results as the research shows that they do not happen overnight.
  2. Get professional help with creating your website. This research shows that you will get a return on the investment as those that get "strong" results tend to also be the therapists getting professional help.
  3. In addition to getting help, also find the time and resources necessary to help reduce the stress and overwhelm that can come with creating a website. Being less stressed will lead to better results.
  4. Get video onto your website. The data shows that those getting "strong" results from their websites are also by far more likely to have a video on their site too.
  5. Blogging or content marketing is worth the time and energy as this form of marketing will increase the effectiveness of your website.
  6. To get traffic to your site, focus on SEO, email marketing, social media, and connecting with influencers if you would like to follow in the footsteps of those that get strong results from their websites.
  7. Consistently tracking how your website is converting is linked to having a more effective website.
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Predictions for 2018: Kat Love

- Founder and Lead Designer of Empathysites, Creator and Author of This Survey

As more and more therapists wake up to the power of SEO, the ability to rank for common keywords will get more competitive.

The promising fact though, that is evidenced in the data from the website survey, is that SEO is only one of many traffic sources for therapist websites. Social media will continue to be important to getting website traffic and networking with influencers and referral sources will also continue to be key, if not become more important.

And once you get visitors to your website, it truly matters what's on your website! Moving forward, the number of therapists getting online and improving their content and digital strategies will grow, with the increasing saturation of therapists getting online, it will be more and more important for therapists to know themselves as well as their best fit clients.

Only through the clear visual, verbal, and video communication of a therapist's unique superpower will they be able to stand apart.

What that also means is improving overall cohesiveness with how therapists are putting themselves out there.

Beyond just a directory profile and the hope that someone will find them, therapists will need to leverage the power of strategic marketing and brand positioning. Through taking a thorough look at their offline and online marketing, they will be able to move forward more holistically.

This is my prediction, and also my hope. Raising the level of online presences that therapists have means that the people out there in need of help can find and identify their best fit therapist easier.

Please feel free to reach out with comments, questions, or feedback on this research. I am so happy to be able to share these data-based insights with you. And I would love hearing from you.

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* The survey question results for the question, "If you create content, how frequently do you publish it?" was not included in this article due to a survey design error that lead to inaccurate results. As the first year this survey is running, we're happy to learn from our mistakes and looking forward to a even better survey in the fall of 2018

Also, thanks to Andy Crestodina for being an excellent and generous content marketer and for inspiring this survey idea.

About Kat Love

Hi, I'm Kat! I'm the founder and lead designer here at Empathysites. Therapists helped me heal from childhood sexual abuse so now I help therapists with creating their websites. I write on topics like website design, strategy, and turning website visitors into clients. Reach out anytime if you'd like to say hi. PS. my pronouns are they/them/their. Thanks.