When we talk to therapists and counselors about search engine optimization there tends to be fear of the unknown. It really isn’t as hard as you would think. You just have to take it in steps and keep in mind your long term goal of increasing traffic and client acquisition. This post is designed to help you visualize the steps you need to take to make these goals a reality.
Start With A Simple Website
The vast majority of therapists an counselors do not have a website, so we are going to kick off this post by helping you lay the ground work. Most people are surprised to find out that building a brochure style website isn’t as challenging or as expensive as you would think. For a good therapist website you really only need a few things:
- A home page that briefly provides an overview of the services your practice offers.
- An “About” page that provides an overview of you and your background along with a summary of your focus and specialties.
- A blog portion of the site that allows you to post content related to your areas of focus.
- A contact page that lists your location address, contact information, and a form that new potential patients can use to make initial contact.
- A few good images which can be pictures of your office setting. Alternatively, you can use a stock photo service like istock.com or Adobe Stock Photos to find related images. The images should visually convey your office setting or your specialty.
There are several inexpensive website platforms available such as wix or wordpress; however, there are a few great companies that are focused on building sites for therapists. Brighter Vision and Therapy Sites are two of the most prominent.
In order to increase your SEO you must first start with excellent content. As a provider with an online practice your main objective is to market and advertise yourself as being the best at what you do. What is your speciality? Think about how you can reach the largest audience possible. The goal after all is to spread your knowledge to those who need it, and drive more client traffic to your website. Just remember to write something that provides value to your target audience. Some examples:
- Provide a list of books and articles that you recommend for people struggling with a specific mental health issue.
- Write your own articles sharing wisdom from you years of experience.
External links are another factor in the way Google and other search engines decide which sites should rank higher than others. Sites that have more links from other sites will rank better. If you laid the groundwork of creating a few great pieces of content, you need to leverage it to get links back to your site. This can be done using social media, which we will discuss later in this post, but there are other great opportunities too.
You can also post in a forum like Quora and Reddit responding to people’s questions related to mental health. In your response, link back to one of your blog posts related to the core issue the person is discussing. There are many ways that you can share what you’ve created. Below you will find links to Quora and Reddit for the topic of depression.
You can also generate external links in other ways. For example, you can become a resource for the news outlets in your city when they are writing about mental health issues.
How do you do this? Let’s use the opioid crisis as an example, because it is a super hot topic. Most newspapers offer a health and wellness section. Browse the sites of your local newspaper and find the editor for that section and the writers that regularly contribute to it. Then simply reach out via phone or email and share valuable information related to the opioid epidemic. The key is providing them with something of value. As you build that relationship, they will begin to use you as a source asking for quotes and even provide a link to your site.
Social media is one of the best ways to expand your outreach. Just like your website reflects you and your business, so does your social media accounts. Social channels often give users the opportunity to understand your business’s personality even better than your website.
Just how important is social media? According to We Are Social there are 1.65 billion active mobile social accounts globally with 1 million new active mobile social users added every day. They also stated that in 2015 Facebook influenced 52% of consumers’ online and offline purchases. That’s astonishing! It is clear that incorporating social media into your business is vital.
Social also plays a key role in SEO. Google and other search platforms look at the social media pages associated with a website. Social media pages with higher activity actually will result in higher ranking in google search. Write great content on your blog and then share it via social media sites like:
Other Ways to Drive Organic Referrals
An SEO strategy is really about getting traffic and ultimately more clients in a less expensive manner than advertising. As you think about marketing your practice, consider other ways to get free referrals. There are other great opportunities that can drive inexpensive referrals, like the Wecounsel directory for online counseling. It is free to have a listing and providers that are currently listed are getting an average of 1 referral every 2 months.
Best of all the Wecounsel team is continuing to ramp up advertising and organic search strategies to increase traffic to the directory, so our providers are going to see the average number of referrals increase over the coming months. Not bad for a free way to drive client referrals is it? Sign up for a free listing today.