As you’re growing your therapy practice, you hear a lot about SEO (search engine optimization) and you may get confused about what it means to you and what steps you should be taking.
I interviewed Jeff Guenther to get your SEO questions answered.
Jeff is the founder of the practice academy at thepracticeacademy.com. He helps therapists bring in clients online.
Today we're talking about SEO:
- What it is
- Some common misconceptions
- How it can help you
- How to get started
- How to improve your SEO over time
Below the video you’ll find notes and links.
Notes and Links
What is SEO, and why should therapists care about it?
Search engine optimization is a process of increasing quality traffic through organic results in search engines (like Google, Bing and yahoo).
You can use techniques to influence the organic results that are organized by google and other search engines. From now on, we’ll say “google” and you can apply what we’re saying to the other search engines as well.
It’s about ranking high in organic results. “Organic results” are the results that are not paid advertisements through something like google adwords.
Organic results do include google map listings.
It’s important to be able to show up on page 1, 2, or 3 of google because that’s where people are finding therapists.
You need to meet the client where they are.
The client will tend to use the easiest path to finding a good therapist, and now they often search online.
Your website is your living and breathing business card. It’s often the first point of contact, where your potential clients will begin to create a relationship with you.
People visit your website or profile on a directory an average of 8 times before actually reaching out to you. They read all of your content, read your blog, look at your photo, and develop a real sense of who you are before finally reaching out. You have to rank high in search results so that they find you in the first place.
What are some of the common misconceptions therapists have about SEO?
Here are 5 common ones.
SEO is difficult, complicated and over their head.
You can devote a weekend to learning what SEO is and you can learn what you need to know. It’s not as tricky or sneaky as you may think it is.
I have to pay for SEO
You can pay someone, but if you want to save your marketing dollars, you can do it yourself.
You need to do SEO one time
There’s a lot you can do one time to set things up, and you should devote a weekend to that, but there’s regular upkeep you need to do as well.
I’ll never be able to outrank the big directories or people who are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for SEO.
You might not be able to outrank those sites for competitive keywords like “therapist in San Francisco.” You probably won’t get to the 1st page for that search. But if someone searches for: “therapist that works with non-monogamous couples takes blue cross blue shield in san francisco,” that’s a long tail keyword, and if you do correct SEO, chances are you’ll show up on the 1st page. The person who types that in is the client who’s ready to make an appointment with you.
You have to know sneaky secrets about SEO or you’ll never rank well.
Google wants the exact opposite. They want SEO to be incredibly basic and intuitive so that you don’t have to do a lot of research. They don’t want people who pay a lot for SEO to rank better. They want you to be able to create a website and rank well because you’re an expert with good content.
Google is invested in having the best quality content show up for each search. That’s in your favor. You are an expert in your field and in your niche, so Google wants to rank you well. They will rank psychology today well because they have a lot of traffic and a lot of links. But they want to rank local experts at the top of search results when they can.
How should therapists get started with SEO?
1: Concentrate on keywords.
Keywords are the words someone types into google when they are searching. For example, people are typing in “therapist” or “counselor”, and the place “san francisco” (or your city) and the issue “PTSD” “depression” “anxiety” “couples counseling” or “social anxiety”. Think about what words they are likely to use. They aren't likely to type in “dysthymia” or “anxious attachment style.”
Take those keywords and put them in your meta titles, your meta descriptions, your sub headings throughout your content, and naturally throughout your content on each page.
Don’t be afraid of this jargon. If you got lost, go to thepracticeacademy.com and you’ll find resources to walk you through this.
2. Create fresh content.
Create specialty pages. Each specialty page will be about a specific issue. For example, you might have “codependency”, “depression”, and “social anxiety.” You Then you’ll create blog posts about the specialty page issue.
If you're a rock star, you’ll post once a week. If you're not such a rock star, you’ll post 2 times a month, or at least one time a month.
3. Get other websites to link to you
That simply means there’s a link on someone else’s website and when someone clicks on it, they are sent to your website. Sign up for directories, both paid and unpaid. Ask your therapist buddies to link to you in their blog or resources page. You can also contact naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and other local health care professionals and ask them to link to you.
Links count as votes. The more links lead to you, the higher you will rank.
What should therapists do over time to improve SEO?
Just focus on continuing to create great content over time. Google says “content is king.” Google would love to be able to have hundreds of thousands of employees who could visit websites and manually rank them based on good quality content. They are always getting better at setting up their algorithms to mimic that.
Let’s say your niche is couples dealing with infidelity. Here are a bunch of examples of things you could do to raise your SEO over time:
Create specialty pages on infidelity.
Write blog posts about infidelity.
Link to articles others have written on infidelity.
Interview experts in the field about infidelity.
Make videos about dealing with infidelity. Create those videos on your youtube page and link that to your website.
Create e courses that people can download and work through together.
Do guest blog posts on other therapists’ websites.
Contact the Huffington post, Psychology Today, or local newspapers to write articles for them about infidelity.
Hold workshops in the community about infidelity and those listings will link to your website.
When you do these things, you’ll become an authority and an expert in your field on dealing with infidelity. You’ll naturally rank for keywords including long phrase keywords. You’ll get links to your website, and you’ll have fresh content. The long term work is creating valuable content that builds your ranking naturally.
What platform should I be using for my website?
Wordpress is great. You can download yoast or another great SEO plugin there. If you don’t have a wordpress website, don’t fret. Squarespace is another good platform for SEO. Any inexpensive platform where you can edit your meta tags, meta descriptions and meta titles can work well.
How to get more help from Jeff:
Go to thepracticeacademy.com
You’ll find weekly blog posts, and lots of free materials including workbooks and guides to walk you through all of this step by step.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. Your question and it’s answer may show up as a blog post or guide.
Sign up for Jeff’s email list at thepracticeacademy.com so that you can stay up to date with all of the changes happening with SEO over time.
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