SEO stands for search engine optimization and can be an important online marketing strategy for therapists. Some people like to think of SEO as the practice of getting your website’s pages to rank in google.
In today’s video we dive into the why and the how behind getting your therapy website to be found in google search results.
My guest today is Jeff who is the cofounder of the Practice Academy where he teaches healthcare workers how to ethically and effectively build and grow their practices. A mental health therapist himself, Jeff is informed by his own successful private practice experience.
Inspired to help other therapists be found online, Jeff also created Portland’s number one mental health directory and more recently has launched an alternative health care directory as well.
Today, Jeff will be sharing insights to help you with SEO on your therapy website. We discuss:
- What can SEO achieve for a therapist’s online marketing?
- Is it possible to learn how to do your own SEO? Or should you be hiring someone?
- Three examples of specific SEO activities that you can focus on.
- How important your website design is for SEO?
- And one thing you can do right now to take a step towards optimizing your website.
Watch the video here and find session notes and links following the video:
Session Notes + Links
What can SEO achieve for a therapist’s online marketing?
The first place that most people go when they are looking for a therapist is the internet. And often they go to Google or some other popular search engine and they’ll type in their keywords. Like for example, Jeff is in Portland so maybe someone would be typing in “therapy for codependency in Portland.”
So when they type that into a search engine they’ll be trying to find a therapist based on the search results. And if you, as a therapist, apply good search engine optimization techniques then you’ll show up on the first page of google or second or third. So it’s really the first place that people are going, so that means it’s one of the main places you can attract people to your website, and build a case load.
Also, if you show up high in search results, than Google and users using the search engine will trust you.
There’s just sortof this automatic trust, like, “oh, you’re showing up on the first page of google? You must know what you’re doing” And maybe that’s fair or maybe that’s not fair but there’s a trust that goes along with showing up high on search results.
And if you show up high, there’s going to be more people, therapists, and wellness providers, and other people that want to link to your website and want to work with you so you’ll be seen more in your community.
You can also target your ideal clients. If you create content and optimize content and optimize your page for the types of clients that you want to work with then you can rank for those specific search terms and really target the people that you work best with.
As therapists, we’re usually best at just sitting down and talking to our clients but we have to do a bit of marketing and be seen especially on the internet where people are looking for services.
Kat’s Reframe: You have to sit down, and talk to Google.
Yes! Google is sorta like one of your clients, like somewhat of an important client, and you should be nice to them so they can rank you high in their search results.
Is It Possible to Learn How To Do Your Own SEO? Or Should You Be Hiring Someone?
Jeff could go both ways on this topic. He encourages people to learn it on their own but if you decided to reach out to an SEO professional or consultant, then that is totally fine.
If you don’t want to mess with any of this stuff then you can find somebody else who’s going to do it for you. It might end up costing thousands of dollars, so that’s something to think about…
What Jeff encourages, if people are looking to spend money on this and they don’t want to touch anything on their website, you could go ahead and find someone who’s going to create copy or content for them. That actually might be more valuable than like an SEO professional who’s going to do some other stuff.
In the end, if you have good, quality content that visitors to your website really like then Google’s probably going to like it and you’re going to rank higher.
But SEO is also something you can learn on your own.
Jeff is blogging about SEO for therapists all the time and you can also just go ahead and google “what is SEO” and there will be many, many articles there and how-to guides that you can read for free.
So you can learn SEO for free. Start applying it to your website for free. And then you can start moving up in the search engine results for free. So SEO is sorta a low cost or no cost way to move up in the search results.
SEO Is Possible
Sometimes it feels like Google (and Bing, the other large search engine) are so complicated and you don’t know how they are ranking people and who know really how to get on the first or second or third pages of results.
But Google doesn’t want you to feel overwhelmed, they actually want to make a completely level playing field where anybody can rank on the first page of Google because they’re just trying to figure out what is the intent of the searcher and who they can match them with the best whether that’s like a huge brand or just like a single practitioner.
For example, Jeff runs a local mental health directory, Portland Therapy Center, and that mental health directory is going up against Psychology Today and GoodTherapy.org. And we all know that Psychology Today has tons of magazines, and so much content, and thousands of links pointing to their website!
Yet Portland Therapy Center is going to rank higher than them in local searches typically all the time because Google knows that it’s a smaller mental health directory but the people of Portland want to see their local practitioners before they want to see a national directory.
So that’s one example of Google leveling the playing field. SEO is actually a lot easier than you think. It’s going to take time to apply the SEO techniques and come up with more content and stuff like that but it isn’t impossible and Google is on your side.
The Competition Isn’t So Tough
When you’re competing with other therapists and wellness providers in your field there might be a lot like in your neighborhood or city but the competition is actually pretty low when it comes to trying to outrank them.
This is due to how most therapists aren’t thinking about search engine optimization. Just as we said before, they’d rather sit and talk to people on the couch vs doing marketing.
So knowing that, it should give you even more motivation. So if you just apply some basics and maybe a little bit more, you could get pretty high relatively quickly depending on your competition.
Three Examples Of Specific SEO Activities That You Can Focus On
1. Create More Content
Let’s say you’re specializing in couples counseling. On your website you’ll have a home page, an individual counseling page, couples counseling page, and maybe a depression or anxiety page and your contact page and then that’s kinda it sometimes. And maybe there’s a blog or maybe there’s not a blog.
What Jeff recommends, like if you’re a couples counselor, is have that couples counseling page and then have another page, a sub-page off of it, that’s about infidelity and how you treat people that are going through infidelity, and another page on communication, and another one on attachment styles, and another one on divorce or mediation, premarital counseling, open relationships, poly relationships or whatever…
Make subpages for all the stuff that you would treat or talk about with couples.
If Google sees your couples counseling page and all those other pages they’ll be like “ah, ok, this person knows what they are doing”
So the more rich, good content that you have, the better and higher you’re going to rank.
2. Optimizing Your Page Titles and Page Descriptions
The page title is the title that shows up in the tab of the website’s page as well as the big title heading at the top of each search engine result. If you edit those page titles on your website’s pages with the keywords/search terms that you want people to be typing in and going to your website for then that’s going to be huge.
It’s usually that the page title is the first place that Google stops to really understand what that page is about so for my couples counseling page is like 60 characters or less is going to be something like, “couples counseling treating non monogamous partners in Portland” you know because maybe that’s my specialty or something.
So with a page title like that, google is going to be like, “oh, that’s what the page title is and so this is where they should be ranking for these sorts of search terms”
And if you also edit your page description, that’s not really something that’s going to like boost you in rankings but that’s your sales copy for the search engine results page.
On the search engine results page, the page title is first and then the description is right under it. 150-160 characters including spaces. You’ll want to write a little more about you.
For example, my page description might say something like, “Jeff Guenther LPC is a trained specialist in couples counseling and treats non monogamous couples in Portland Oregon.” That way, people can understand what your page is about.
3. Focus on Getting More Links and Quality Links
If another website links to your website then Google sees that as a vote. It’s like, “Oh, here’s a vote, a vote of confidence for this website.”
And if you have 10 links or 20 links or 50 links or 100 links then Google would see that all of these other sites are really confident in this website so they deserve to be ranked really high.
It also depends on what website is linking to you. Like Google has a love affair with wikipedia. So if you can get wikipedia to link to your website google’s like, “that’s it, you’re amazing… Wikipedia is amazing and they’re linking to you so you must be amazing” So that’s like a really high authority website. But it’s tricky to get a link pointing from wikipedia to you.
To get links, ask all of your therapist and wellness buddies that have websites to link to you and try writing blog posts for other websites and then they’ll link back to you.
How Important Is Your Website Design Is For SEO?
So there’s this thing called pogo sticking. What it is is when you go to Google and do a search for a therapist in Portland, you might go and click on a therapist’s website, like maybe jeffguenther.com.
If someone were to click on that, arrive on the site, and go like, “oh, this isn’t what I was expecting” and quickly click back to the google search results, then that’s called pogo sticking: a user clicks to you and then clicks back to the search results.
And the more searchers do that then Googles going to be like, “oh, I’m not sure if this website is the right one to be ranking highly.” What we’re all looking for instead of pogo sticking are the long clicks: someone clicking on your website and staying there and clicking around being engaged in your website.
In order for that to happen, it’s incredibly important that you have good website design and user experience. Because people, whether they know it or not, consciously or subconsciously, are expecting your website to look a certain way.
So if it looks really wacky or the navigation is hard to understand or if it doesn’t look like a typical therapist website that’s clean, easy to navigate, and you can schedule an appointment or has clear calls to actions, then they are going to click back and Google is going to take note of that.
The cleaner and the better the user experience the better the design, the higher you are going to rank because people are really going to engage with your website.
Google also sends it’s spiders to crawl the web and bring back all the information to Google’s servers so they can categorize all of that information. Once that happens, they start putting that information into search results.
So Google needs to have it’s spiders visit your website and then easily find all of the pages. If your website is all funky and designed all weird and there’s like weird flash animations or it’s hard to get to all the pages with no internal links maybe Google isn’t going to be able to crawl and index all of your pages and index all of your pages and that’s not a good thing.
You’re going to have to keep up with the trends too. For instance, you obviously have to have a mobile website which means your website shrinks up and down depending on the screen size.
If you don’t have a good mobile experience, people are just going to be like, “I don’t want to pinch and zoom in order to read this” and Google is going to be like, “meh, this doesn’t feel very easy for people use so we’re not cool with it either.” So mobile responsive design matters.
Kat adds: You can put your website through the mobile friendly test to see if your website passes!
One Thing You Can Do Right Now To Take A Step Towards Optimizing Your Website
Visit all of your important pages that have a lot of content like your services pages and specialty pages and look and improve on these two things:
- Make sure there’s at least 500 words on each page
- Make sure your keywords and synonyms are throughout the page including headings, subheadings, and within paragraphs
More Details on the How-To:
Google really likes it when there is a good amount of content on your important pages. So for example, if you have a page on seasonal affective disorder, which everyone in Portland has because we have a gray sky for like 6 months, go to that page and see, do I have at least 500 words here?
Next, while you’re there, ask what are the keywords that people are going to be typing in to land on this page?
They might be typing in “seasonal affective disorder” or “depression.” So also check check to see if those words are in there. Are they in my page title, in my page headings and subheadings?
Also see if you are using the synonyms for “seasonal affective disorder” too. Like “seasonal affective disorder” and then “winter blues” and then “winter depression” so those synonyms need to be throughout your content.
When writing, keep in mind your client’s language. How would you talk to them about this service issue? The words that you use in conversation with your clients and the words that they use to describe what’s going on for them are probably also the words that they are typing into search engines because we are so informal and casual with our search engines now. We use the same language with search as we use with people now.
Jeff’s Course on SEO for Therapists
(Use discount code “Love50” for $50 off)
Thank You For Watching
Thank you so much for watching! If you would like to get in touch with a comment or feedback, feel free to contact me or tweet me. I would love to hear from you and find out how your SEO is coming along. Are you going to implement Jeff’s one step towards optimizing your website? What about the three example SEO tasks too?
Music by https://soundcloud.com/kilcool/sweet