SEO for therapists is a huge opportunity to get new clients.

With SEO, you can increase your reach online and constantly bring in new leads. Below, I explain the basics of SEO and what you need to know to knock your SEO for counselors out of the park.

The Basics

What is SEO?

SEO is the ongoing work of optimizing your website to rank better on search engines like Google. If you want your website to bring in new clients, therapist SEO is a must. Here, I'll explain a few things: how Google works, keywords, content, backlinks, technical performance, local SEO, and more. If you're interested in working with me, contact me!

Beautiful Pages

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Various Components

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CMS & Style Guide

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How does Google work?

Essentially, Google is an index of content. Although they've added many products to their arsenal throughout the years, their primary service and source of revenue is the search engine itself.

Google wants to deliver the best search result possible for a user's query. It is the work of SEO to create and optimize the best search result for keywords that your ideal clients are searching for.

Bots

When you create a web page, you have two audiences: potential clients and search engines.

When a searcher enters a keyword on a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo, Google deploys bots or spiders that crawl Google's massive index. These bots crawl the text and code of pages, assessing the pages on hundreds of factors, like:

  1. The technical performance of your site
  2. The number of backlinks to a page
  3. The quality of the content
  4. The mobile-friendliness of your page

And much, much more. Through Google's algorithm, the bots sort all of the relevant results in the order of best to worst.

Thinking like Google

SEO for psychologists can be complicated, but when in doubt, think like Google.

Google can't verify your therapy practice unless they were to contact you, schedule a session, sit down with you, and pay you for your service. So instead, they take into account hundreds of ranking factors to verify that your business is real and trustworthy. Professional search engine optimization specialists (and you!) optimize websites for those ranking factors.

SEO boils down to two main things: content and backlinks. But first, let's discuss the core of SEO: keywords.

Keywords for therapists

Keywords are the bread and butter of SEO for counselors and psychologists. After you identify keywords that your dream clients are searching for, you can ramp up your SEO efforts.

I recommend finding long-tail keywords, which are keywords that are typically longer in length and more specific. Why? Because the search is specific, we can assume that the person searching those long-tail keywords knows what they are looking for precisely and are ready to hire now.

For example, "therapist" is not a long-tail keyword. If you search "therapist" on Google, Bing, or Yahoo, you'll see a mix of results: articles on how to become a therapist, the average therapist's salary, a Psychology Today or Good Therapy result, and more. Because of these mixed results, we can tell that Google isn't confident in what the searcher wants to see.

However, if you search "therapist for anxiety in Tucson, Arizona," the results are all websites of anxiety therapists practicing in Tuscon, AZ. These searchers know what they're looking for exactly and want to hire someone as soon as possible. These searchers are also more likely to convert. Perhaps best of all, long-tail keywords are also easier to rank for.

How to find keywords

There are many paid tools for keyword research, but I recommend the following free tools.

Google searches. Type your best guess for a long-tail keyword and see what Google suggests at the bottom of the page, in the titles of search results, and the drop-down while you type.

seo for psychologists

Surfer SEO Google Chrome plugin. I LOVE this plugin. You get all sorts of useful data, like how many times the keyword is searched per month and the estimated numbers of backlinks you need to rank on page one.

seo for psychotherapists

Scout Suggest. Scout SEO offers Scout Suggest: a free keyword research web application. Keyword research web applications are typically paid tools, so take advantage of this.

Content

After you've gathered your keyword list, write content for those specific keywords. Make sure that different keywords have dedicated pages (i.e., make two separate pages for depression and anxiety keywords).

You have serious competition. There are an estimated 4 million blog posts published per day. That's why your content has to be really, really good.

Here are a few tips for writing amazing content that I use to get page one rankings:

  1. Sprinkle keywords throughout your content, especially in headings.
  2. Write a lot. At least 1,000 words, preferably closer to 2,000.
  3. Answer every question and cover every topic possible: the more things you touch on, the better your content will be. I recommend trying out AlsoAsked.com to identify common questions and topics.
  4. Add lots of images, and make sure that the file names and alt text of these images are keywords.
  5. Include natural variants of your keywords. We tend to drop a lot of syntaxes when we search on Google, so add prepositions and switch the order of words around to account for that.
  6. Add keywords to your meta descriptions and title tags.

These six tips will go a long way.

Backlinks

Backlinks, or links back to your website from another website, are a significant authority signal. The more quality backlinks you have, the more Google will trust your site.

Google released an update back in 2012 that punished websites that used spammy link building techniques. When you are building links today, they should be high-quality, and ideally, be one or all of the following.

  1. Topical. Try to build backlinks from websites relating to therapy. That's one reason to purchase listings on therapy directories like Psychology Today or TherapyDen--you get a backlink to your site.
  2. Local. If you can get a link from a local directory or business association, that helps verify your business.
  3. Authoritative. Ideally, you want backlinks from a site with a lot of authority. Authoritative sites are typically older or have domain extensions like a .org or .edu.

It's hard to find dynamite links that encompass all of these qualities, but slowly building links with any of the qualities above goes a long way. Note that the anchor text and surrounding words that you use when linking to your website help establish context. If you can, nest your URL in keywords like "therapist for anxiety" or whatever keywords you find for your specialty.

Technical performance

To rank well on Google, your website needs to be in good technical shape.

Your website should be free of error codes like 404s, indexable on Google, have the correct protocol (i.e., HTTP vs. HTTPS), have headings and meta descriptions, and more. To assess these things, I use Screaming Frog, a free tool. It isn't an intuitive tool, but I explain how to use it during my consulting sessions.

Remember that websites are more than an online business card. They are tools that require maintenance and optimization. Be careful when choosing a website designer or template--not all designers understand technical SEO.

Local SEO

Local SEO is like SEO, but instead of targeting the organic search results, you are targeting Google's local search results. The primary asset of local SEO is your Google My Business listing. These listings are free, so I highly recommend claiming yours if you haven't already.

Boost your Local SEO with a few methods.

First, optimize your Google My Business listing. Fill out your listing in its entirety: your hours, your business description, your services, and more. Add pictures of your office and the building. Ideally, add a video walkthrough from the front door into your office. This video verifies that your business is real and that you aren't using a fake office.

Second, build citations. Citations are a type of a backlink. In particular, they are backlinks from business directories like Yellow Pages. On business directories, list your NAP, or your name, address, and phone number. Over time as Google crawls these results, your office becomes more legitimate in Google's eyes. Plus, you get more great links to your website!

Finally, fight spam. Other therapists inadvertently spam their listing by stuffing keywords into their Google My Business listing or altering it in other inauthentic ways. You can report these listings to level the playing field on the local results.

Work with me!

If you're ready to dive into your therapy SEO, I can help. With SEO agency experience, I can help you increase your reach on search engines. Learn more about my services or contact me today for a complimentary consultation.

Below are a few common questions that therapists ask about working with me.

FAQ

What's the best way to work with you?

I offer both consulting, full-service SEO, and SEO courses with support. Consulting and online courses are an affordable way to gain extensive knowledge about SEO for psychotherapists, but some therapists prefer to hire someone to do SEO for them. You can learn more about my services here.

FAQ

How are you qualified to do SEO for counselors?

Along with going on six years in the digital marketing industry, I have an agency-background in SEO and content marketing, a Masters degree in Written Communication, and a degree in Psychology. I have experience in different clinical backgrounds, from psychological testing for autism and ADHD to group therapy.

FAQ

Why should I do SEO?

What if I told you that you could be on the first page of Psychology Today for forever? And that you never have to market yourself again? Ranking on page one of Google means exactly that—you'll always show up where potential clients are looking far after you've made an investment.

FAQ

Where can I start to learn more about SEO?

If you're ready to dip your toes into the SEO world, I have a few options for you. First, you can sign up for my email list. I send my subscribers industry updates, free resources, and first access and discounts to new services. You can also follow me on Instagram.

let's do seo

Are you ready to start SEO?

I offer several tailored approaches for therapists, coaches, and content creators of all budgets and specialties.

SEO For Therapists

Sit back and watch your waitlist grow with  SEO for therapists. I'll handle everything from writing content to managing your Google My Business to grow your online presence. Invest once and reap the rewards for years to come.

SEO for Coaches

In 2019, the coaching industry was estimated to be worth $7.5 billion in the United States. If you're tired of relying on Instagram to grow your coaching practice, my SEO strategies specifically for coaches is perfect for you.

SEO for Content Creators

Do you dream about passive income? Harness the power of SEO on Google and Pinterest to bring in clients that are looking for courses and product from a mental health and wellness professional like you.

Consulting

Consulting is perfect for DIY therapists who want to do marketing on their own but need guidance and tailored strategies. During my consulting sessions, I show you exactly what to do and offer hands-on support.

Courses

Affordably learn SEO from me with my online, video-based course. You'll gain access to lessons, tutorials, templates, and forum-based FAQs for answers to all your burning SEO questions.

On Demand Support

Need support on your own schedule? You can message directly with me for a low, flat monthly fee. I'll personally respond to your questions, and you'll benefit from other members' questions too.

Kind words from clients

I am honored to have worked with many incredible therapists and coaches. You can hear more about their experiences with me below.

"Kristie has finally helped me understand what SEO actually is and is implementing a plan that is WORKING. There was a sizable uptick in quality referrals (one therapist in our practice booked 12 new clients in 2.5 weeks) just a few weeks after beginning our work together. She's responsive, easy to work with and does a wonderful job!"
Jenny Walters
Founder, Highland Park Holistic Psychotherapy
"Working with Kristie was a dream! She is an SEO expert, and she translated her knowledge into easy to understand and execute action items. I have increased my call rate by 50% per month as a result of working with her!"
Samantha Osborne
Founder, Samantha Osborne Therapy
"Working with Kristie has been such an easy process.  She's always willing to answer my questions, walk me through things, and make the process as easy as possible.  This lets me focus more on my clinical work, and takes off any pressure that comes with SEO."
Danielle Wayne
Founder, Online Therapy for Anxious Millennials
"Kristie is amazing with SEO for therapists! There's no need to spend time explaining what's expected of therapists in the mental health world, she is already prepared and well informed of what's needed for marketing specifically for therapists. I'm lucky I found her and it's a pleasure working together!"
Julie Goldberg
Founder, Third Nature Therapy
"Kristie has helped me so much in understanding SEO. As a therapist this is far removed from my knowledge and she delivers it in a kind, easy to digest way. Would recommend her services to anyone needing SEO help."
Justin Martin
Founder, Parts of Me Therapy
"As a therapist, SEO is something I knew very little about until I found Kristie. Kristie has made the ins and outs of SEO so much more accessible, easy to understand, and approachable. And to top it all off she's super warm, kind, and genuine. I would definitely recommend her!"
Emily Pellegrino
Founder, Emily Pellegrino Therapy
"Kristie designed my website and guided me through all things SEO! She was easy to work with, laid back, and very knowledgeable. Without her services I would still be caught in the endless cycle of trial and error, wasting money, and stressing myself out! She is definitely worth the investment!"
Emily Wanstrath
Founder, Wanstrath Therapy