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.
If you're interested in working with me, contact me today for a complimentary consultation.
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:
If you're interested in working with me (I offer consulting and full-service SEO work), contact me for a free consultation today!
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.
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:
And much, much more. Through Google's algorithm, the bots sort all of the relevant results in the order of best to worst.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
These six tips will go a long way.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
How much does it cost to work with you?
I offer both consulting and full-service SEO. Consulting is an affordable way to gain extensive knowledge about SEO for psychotherapists, but some therapists prefer to hire someone else. You can learn more about my pricing here.
What does your SEO service include?
I like to make custom recommendations for my clients, but generally, you can expect a mix of the following:
How much work will I have to do?
If you are hiring me, ideally none! The most my clients typically have to do is review content and send emails for link building (although I prepare the email copy).
If you engage in consulting services, you perform the SEO. That being said, I provide step-by-step tutorials, action items, and tips to ensure your success and reduce overwhelm.
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.
How do you define success in SEO?
I think that our work together is successful if:
I've been in the website design and SEO industry for going on six years, and I am now happily serving a population close to my heart: therapists.
I’m passionate about educating therapists about SEO so they can grow their practices. I'm constantly creating content that teaches you how to DIY your web presence and researching specialized techniques just for therapists. If you're interested in learning more, you can sign up for my email list. I'll send you resources every other week so you can learn all about SEO and how it can benefit your therapy practice.
If you'd like to work with me, contact me! If you're curious about pricing, click the button below to head to my pricing page. I understand that marketing and websites are an investment, and I take that investment very seriously. At the heart of my work is honesty--I only want to do things that work for you.
Kristie is a joy to collaborate with — her easygoing nature paired with a hard work ethic and direct communication style makes her a dream partner for any project.
Kristie is wonderful to work with. Her professionalism, knowledge of her product and humor create a wonderful and open environment.
Kristie was not only professional but also so much fun to work with! We instantly connected and felt like we were friends for years.
I can't wait to discuss your website and SEO. I offer free consultations--schedule yours today! If you're not quite ready to work with me, keep scrolling to sign up for my email list or access resources about therapist SEO.