As I mentioned in my last blog post, our counseling clients need us more than ever during this unusual Covid 19 era.  As therapists, psychologists, counselors, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals: We need to be part of the solution for how our community makes it through this crisis.  We can be leaders. Maybe not the type of leader that stands behind the president or governor or mayor during a press briefing.  But a different kind of leader. The one who silently helps calm the storm.

Here are some of the ways I’ve seen therapists helping provide this leadership:

Lead an online support group for those impacted by Covid 19

I’ve seen this done in several different ways.  Some therapists are offering pop up support groups over Zoom. Others are leading virtual yoga sessions. A friend of mine started a Facebook support group where she’s posting regularly throughout the day. One thing she’s doing that’s great from an SEO standpoint is sharing the relevant blogs she writes. This gets her “social shares” and just sends traffic to her site which Google sees.

Update your Google My Business (GMB) listing

The way I did this was to write a “post” announcing that we’re moving to online counseling sessions. It’s a way we show that we’re being leaders by following public health officials guidelines. This also provides helpful information to anyone who’s looking for you online and sees your listing.

Updating your GMB profile is always a good idea, and GMB has made this easier during this unusual time by creating a special category for Covid 19 related updates.

Write Blog Posts About the Mental Health Impact of the Coronavirus

I am so grateful I’m seeing so many therapists doing this! And we’re certainly doing it at my practice as well. As a social worker, I believe it’s our duty to share our skills during this time. And blogging is a great way to do that. We’re able to get some of our information out there!  Additionally, it can help just with brand awareness.  People will come to associate our practice with positive things (helpful information).  Lastly, but of course most relevant to my daily work, is that it helps with your search engine optimization.  You can target important keywords such as “anxiety treatment” or “help for anxiety” in your Covid 19 blog posts. But it also just helps to send people to your site which can happen when the new blog posts are shared on social media like we mentioned above.

Consider Facebook Lives

Some (or many) of us find this sort of thing intimidating. But truly, it’s a way you can be a resource to your community. Consider going live on your business page to discuss the topic you write a blog post about a few hours after it’s live.   Again, this gives you a chance to serve your community and to be associated with being helpful.

Offer Online Therapy Services

I saved this one for last because most of you are already doing this or in the process of transitioning to online therapy services. There are a few exceptions I know such as play therapists. But most of us are moving in this direction. And while we may be thinking of it as how we’re going to keep our business afloat, it’s also an act of service for our community.

Through helping our communities, we’ll help our businesses through the Coronavirus Outbreak

I’m a big believer that it’s possible to build a business while staying true to your values.  For me, helping my community is an integral part of my values.  I’m worried about the impact all of this will have on mental health.  But we can help. In fact, I feel like it is our ethical obligation to do something to help right now.  If you’re feeling too overwhelmed and looking at my suggestions thinking, “I don’t think I am up for ANY of those right now,” then help by being an example.  Even taking care of your own mental health is being a leader right now.

This is one of those times that if we apply our values of wanting to help our communities maintain decent mental health through this stressful time, it will also help us keep our businesses afloat.  There will be some people who see you and reach out now.  Others will reach out later.  And others will just begin to associate your name with positive emotions and may think to refer someone to you in the future.

My point?  Helping others right now is our moral obligation right now AND as an added bonus will help us.

Search Engine Optimization for Businesses During Covid 19

We believe as a therapist, counselor, psychiatrist or other health professional, you have a gift to give your community. It can be a bit scary to wonder where that steady stream of new clients is going to come from.  SEO has been a very effective marketing strategy for my private practice, and right now we want to use it to help you reach a wider audience right now.  We believe with better SEO you’ll better serve your greater community by sharing hope and helpful information.  Furthermore, we know showing up better in search results will help you continue to bring in new clients.

Getting started with our Search Engine Optimization services are easy: 1) schedule a 30 minute pre-consulting Zoom call with one of our staff members 2) Develop a plan for improving your Search Engine Rankings and 3) Provide helpful resource for your community by getting in front of more potential clients!

Like so many of you, I find myself worried as I’m writing this. I’m worried about my children who had to say goodbye to their friends for who knows how long. Even more so, I’m worried about loved ones who might be more vulnerable to the Coronavirus going around. I’m also worried about my clients’ folks. Because the truth is our clients need us more than ever now.

Photo of woman in her room looking stressed to show how Covid-19 social distancing can increase anxiety and depression and show how therapists can help.First of all, our clients have the same mental health concerns they’ve always had.

The COVID-19 outbreak didn’t magically cure our clients of their anxiety, depression, family conflict, PTSD, substance use issues, or a host of other things we were working with them. In fact, it likely made those things worse.  As a therapist, you know the impact stress can have. What’s a recovery addict going to think of?  And that teen who already doesn’t get along with their parents. Are they magically getting along better than ever now that they’re home all day together?  Your depression patient is now sleeping all day.

Yep, the same concerns they’ve always needed our help with are still there. Or worse than ever.

Secondly, there’s added stress.

There’s additional stress now.  I don’t typically think of myself as anxious. Maybe a little high performing anxiety that pushes me to be super productive.  The last few days? I’ve noticed waves of anxiety. I’m doing all the things – calling friends, turning off the television when needed, upping my meditation game, drinking some calming hot tea, etc. In other words, I have been using some coping skills that (at least so far) are really effective for me.  However, for many, many, many people this is going to overwhelm them. Their typical coping skills aren’t going to cut it anymore.

That’s where we step in, right? We literally have books and books of coping skills. When a client says their normal ones aren’t cutting it, we have more to offer. Or a different way to use the old skills.

A photo of a teenage girl in therapy after the coronavirus pandemic is over. Her mom found her new therapist on Google thanks to great SEO.We may see a dip in revenue, but people will come back to therapy.

The honest to goodness truth is that most of us will see a dip in revenue, especially at first. People are worried about finances and cutting back.  It’s not unlike the month of December. Therapy is suddenly less of a priority, right? For very different reasons, but we see this dramatic reduction in client visits. However, their stress is still there, so by the time January comes around, they’re clamoring at our door.

Even if the closures and social distancing go on for a while, I do believe we’ll have people start to seek us out. They’ll notice the impact being cooped up is having on their mental health. And we are the people to turn to when that time comes.

I hate to admit it, but insurance-based counseling practices may have an advantage here…

As a proud owner of a 7 clinician private pay group practice, I’m thankful I don’t have to worry about insurance most of the time.  And, I have lots of good reasons I don’t work directly with insurance companies.  But even I can admit that right now, those of you who accept insurance may have an edge. People who typically can pay for out of network care and would usually consider it might now be more insistent about using their insurance. Especially if their insurance is making an exception for telemental health services right now.

My point: Most of our therapy businesses will survive the COVID-19 outbreak.

I truly believe this.  If you’ve been following me for long, you know I’m the type to call it like I see it.  I just so firmly believe that our clients need us more than ever. Therefore, I can’t imagine that too many of our businesses will fail.

Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t play it smart.  You absolutely should.  Be strategic in how you spend your money. I just turned down the temperature in my office so we’re not heating an empty office and I also figure I’ll save on snacks and drinks.

There are areas of my therapy business I’m investing in right now.

But oddly enough, there are also areas I’m investing in.  My private practice is paying Simplified to optimize a ton of blogs this month and I’m paying a very small amount to “boost” those on Facebook. Furthermore, Cory wrote our new Online Therapy in Missouri page and optimized our new blog posts.  But that was an IMPORTANT investment because we immediately went from not ranking at all to page 1 for several keywords such as “online therapist in Missouri.”  Now, SEO won’t be that immediate for many of you as I already have a really good basis for my SEO. Google and I have spent the past 3 years developing trust in one another. So, Google was happy to let me rank for yet another service type.  But truly I do believe now’s an important time to invest in SEO.  Several of our current clients changed their pages for this month to be online therapy pages. They understand this investment will help them survive this difficult time. I’m also leading my first ever online SEO workshop for people wanting to invest their own time working on their own website optimization.

Optimizing Your WebsiteAfrican American woman working on SEO at her computer | SEO consulting | SEO for private practice owners | SEO for therapists | Counseling keywords | Simplified SEO Services

Like I said, my first instinct in all this mess was to harness the power of SEO to get my own website ranking well for online counseling keywords.  And it worked.  If you think NOW is the time for to invest either your own time or money in optimizing your website, we’d love to help.  This month only, you can use the code COVID (I thought I’d make it something easy to remember right now….) to get 15% off any of our online SEO training courses. Or maybe you’d just like to know the optimizing is done right and efficiently.  Trust me, my team knows how to do SEO for therapy practices. That’s why I trusted them to optimize pages for my own site during such a critical time.  If you’re interested in our Done for You SEO Services, the best place to start is by scheduling a free 30 minute pre-consulting call where we meet over Zoom and discuss your practice needs.

 

 

Let’s start with: HAPPY NEW YEAR!  

When I look back over 2019, I think not only about the growth of my own business but also about the growth all of our clients have seen!  I’ve been looking at data for people we served early in 2019 and listening to new clients telling us that their friends told them working with us was, “the best business investment they ever made.”  Wow, that’s high praise! But it’s also so true that the business owners we’ve worked with this year have left full time agency jobs, transitioned to group practices, moved to bigger locations and opened additional locations. When I talk to people months after we’ve finished the bulk of our work on their site, I hear that they continue to have a steady stream of referrals!

I really want to see that growth for all of you in 2020 as well!  For some of you, that will include working intently on your SEO and my team would love to help you with that.  I also recognize that there are a million options out there for focusing your marketing efforts.  Now is the time to really decide where you will focus your efforts for 2020.

Setting Marketing Goals for 2020

My friend Kasey Compton brought up the idea of re-evaluating your marketing plan at the beginning of the year in her Facebook group last week and I think it’s a great suggestion!  One thing another colleague said in the comments is that it’s good to start with a look back and reflect on what did or didn’t work in 2019.

From there, I suggest thinking about a long term marking goal for 2020.  There are so many options for marketing!  In addition to search engine optimization, there’s social media marketing, e-mail lists, 1:1 coffee visits with other therapists, connecting with doctor’s offices & so many other options! In general, I think it’s helpful to set goals around TWO specific types of marketing in a single year.  This gives you a little diversity, but is a small enough number that you can do both well.

It’s easy to get discouraged by long term marketing goals…

When setting a long term marketing goal it’s critical to have measurable benchmarks set along the way to help you stay motivated.  Having the ability to feel successful along the way will help you maintain motivation. Furthermore, if you get off track you’ll notice that you aren’t making your bench marks and be able to make adjustments so you still reach the end goal in the time frame you’d hoped.

Many of the marketing techniques we use in this digital age (search engine optimization, social media or even e-mail marketing) don’t yield immediate results and you can get discouraged easily.  However, there are usually steps that need to happen along the way.

Setting marketing goals around SEO.

Some of you will decide that SEO is the primary marketing strategies you’d like to focus on this year.  First of all, I think it’s a GREAT choice! Not only has SEO helped me now grow two successful businesses, but I have seen my clients’ businesses grow and flourish once they were ranking well on search engines as well!

So, how do you set a goal and benchmark related to SEO?  We often work with our clients on exactly this.

The most common long term goal my client set is to get to Page 1 of Google.  I actually would rather see you set a goal about what that means for your business.  For instance, you’d like to receive at least X number of new client calls/inquiries per month. You’d like to have X number of clients per week so you can leave your agency job.  Your practice will increase the number of referrals per month to X so you can open a second location or expand your current location.

Benchmarks for SEO goals

Months 1 & 2 SEO Benchmarks

The first benchmark we’ll want to set is that you’ll move up by X number of spots on Google in the first two months.  Usually this is a pretty large number, but it depends on a LOT of factors including how old your website url is, how well you’re already ranking, if you’re trying to rank at a national level (in which case everything’s much slower), etc.  This improvement in rankings shows us that we’re on the right track.  If we’re not getting significant movement by month two we may be switching up our strategy.

Months 3 & 4 SEO BenchmarksEarn Quality Backlinks from their counseling websites | SEO Services for therapists

The second benchmark I usually set is that I want to see a few things:

  • An increase in both “impressions” and “clicks” on Google
  • That people are staying on your website when they arrive
  • At least a small increase in new client phone calls/inquiries

Month 6 SEO Benchmarks

By the end of 6 months, I want to see that your website is ranking really well.  Now, if you’re doing less work (for instance if you have a 1-2 page package instead of a 3-4 page package) or are in a really competitive area (New York, London, South Florida, etc), you may not be on the first page for a ton yet as your journey is going to be a little longer.  But I do want you on the first page for at least a few keywords.  For less competitive areas, we’re usually on the first page for a LOT of keywords by this point!

Most importantly, there should be a significant increase in client phone calls and inquiries at this point.  Your business should be growing and you should be feeling a little less stressed.

Month 9 Benchmarks

Often we end the intense phase of our SEO work around 6 months and continue with less intense services such as just posting and optimizing a couple of blog posts per month.  Around month 9 it’s time to re-evaluate.  Are you still ranking well?  Are there new services you’ve added that you’d like to target?  I feel like the actual benchmarks here are a little individualized.  It might be number of phone calls you’re getting from potential clients.  But I’ve also seen people who were getting plenty of phone calls at 6 months but we set a goal that by 9 months just a few more keywords would have gotten to the first page…

Month 12 SEO Benchmarks

In most cases, you should now be in maintenance mode for your SEO.  Hopefully you’ve met that really big goal you set for yourself at the beginning of the year!  Perhaps you’re ready to set an even bigger SEO goal for next year or are ready to dip your foot into a different form of digital marketing. 🙂

Begin SEO Services offered by Simplified SEO Consulting

Simplified SEO Consulting is pleased to offer you a variety of SEO services designed to meet your needs as a small business owner. If you’re too busy and don’t have time to optimize your website, we offer the popular Done for You SEO Services. With this package, our team of SEO specialists will optimize your page for you. If you are the do-it-yourself type, we can help you too. We have SEO training packages designed to teach you the skills you need to get your website ranking well including our “Top of Google” online course and our in person SEO training workshops.

Contact us with specific questions, or book a free SEO Consultation to decide which service is best for your practice.

photo of Jessica Tappana SEO specialist and founder of Simplified SEO Consulting

About the author:

Jessica Tappana is a therapist, group practice owner & an SEO expert.  Jessica is passionate about helping therapists and their ideal clients find one another. She believes quality mental health care can change the world.  Her group practice has grown primarily through great SEO. It now has seven clinicians and one virtual assistant and she still sees around 10 individual therapy clients a week herself. However, most of her focus has shifted to helping other therapists around the world rank better on Google.

A picture of red path on mountain | SEO for Mental Health Professionals | Simplified SEO

Perhaps you’ve started a private practice counseling clinic and your new website doesn’t seem to get be getting much traffic. Maybe when searching keywords that you think you should rank for on Google, your webpages are nowhere to be seen. You might even wonder how the sites of other therapists in your area rank so high without paying for Google Ads. Maybe you’ve had some success with getting traffic to your website, but you would like to reach more potential clients. Or perhaps you’ve had steady traffic and rank well on search engines, but you would love to maximize your investment.

As a specialist in Search Engine Optimization training and “done for you” services for therapists, I understand the frustration. Developing and maintaining a private practice website is a large investment in time and money, and we want clients to easily find and visit it. Unfortunately, even the most beautiful website may seem invisible to search engines like Google when Search Engine Optimization isn’t performed. Fortunately, however, with simplified but effective Training in SEO for counselors, you can start gaining an edge over your competition!

What Is Search Engine Optimization for Mental Health

Perhaps you have experience with SEO for mental health professionals and want to keep up on the latest techniques. Or maybe you have a general idea of what it means to optimize a website, but you aren’t familiar with the technical aspects. For the latter, SEO is the cumulative measures taken to help a website rank better on search engines such as Google. SEO practices consists of the following: keyword usage, adding hyperlinks and alt-text, improving readability, writing blogs posts and optimizing meta-descriptions. It seems like a lot, but don’t this discourage you! Many therapists have seen great long-term results, learning how to optimize their own websites with our SEO training course for counselors. However, sometimes they see their time better spent seeing the new clients who are coming in, and pass on the SEO. Your therapy website can be the powerful, well-oiled marketing tool it was meant to be!

The Importance of SEO for Mental Health Professionals

Photo of two businessmen at a computer | SEO for Counselors | Simplified SEO Counseling

Search Engine Optimization may be the most important tool for website marketing for counselors. The results I have seen in my experience working in SEO for therapists from all around speaks to this belief. Here are just three of the reasons why SEO is so important, if not crucial, for your website’s marketing effectiveness:

1. Search Engine Optimization is Maintenance for Your Website

Suppose you arrive home in a car you’ve just purchased, and the initial excitement is beginning to wear off. Even if it’s a brand new car, it’s likely you would want to learn how to maintain it. At the bare minimum, you need to keep gas in the tank. That is, if you want it to go places and serve its intended purpose. However, if you want it last very long, you would have to do more than just put gasoline in it. Your website is very similar to this car.

Your private practice therapy website is similar in that it can go places if you maintain it. Overlooking SEO and only investing in search engine ads is like just keeping the gas tank filled. There are times when such ads can be a practical marketing solution but not alone. However, a website that you optimize through training or maintain with skilled SEO consulting services will continue to get long-term results. Your website will become the powerful marketing tool that it’s meant to be, drawing attention and bringing traffic. More potential clients will find your website when your organic rankings increase. SEO for therapists is like changing the manual for changing the oil for your marketing machine.

2. SEO for Therapists Accomplishes Four Major Tasks

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the set of techniques, tools and practices that carry out four specific purposes. The four things your counseling website must do include:

  1. Rank Well with Visibility On Search Engines: Make your website more appealing to search engines so that your website will show up to more potential clients. Websites that show up higher on Google search results are often associated with being trustworthy or credible.
  2. Direct Action to Promote Traffic on Your Site: Great SEO can help you engage readers. It speaks to them and entices them to come to your service pages or blogs to learn more or to contact you for services or referrals.
  3. Be User-friendly, Interesting and Easy to Navigate: Having interesting content that links to other content, quality backlinks and pictures with alt text description allows readers navigate your site more easily, making it more accessible. This helps them feel more comfortable and confident in browsing your website and entices interest.
  4. Encourage Readers to Spend Time on Your Website and Take Action: The longer someone spends on your website the more likely they are going to contact you or services or referrals. This also gives you more time to pitch your experience as a mental health expert and continue to build trust.

A photo of Bar graphs on a tablet | SEO for Therapists| Simplified SEO Consulting

3. SEO for Counselors Allows You to Measure Progress

Information is crucial in any investment of time or money, and with SEO marketing there is no exception. Analysis software and plugins allow you to see the results of your efforts and the progress you’ve made with your website. You can see the effect changes to your website have in search result rankings, click through rates and more. Equally important, these tools can help guide your decisions, so that you can maximize your time and set measurable goals.

Training in SEO for Therapists and “Done for You” Services Can Help You Increase Website Rankings and Traffic

If you are interested in ranking better on search engines or bringing in more traffic and referrals for your private practice therapy, you can learn how to do SEO yourself with training in SEO for counselors. Many therapists have seen amazing results when using the skills and techniques taught in our SEO course. If time is a factor or you see your time better spent focussing on seeing new clients, we offer “Done for You” packages for mental health SEO. If you think that you might be interested in training, but aren’t sure, you can sign up for our free 7-day SEO for Mental Heath Professionals Email Series or reach out to use with questions.

GETTING STARTED WITH SEO FOR MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS IS EASY:

  1. Get in touch with Simplified SEO Consulting by scheduling a free 30-minute SEO consultation.
  2. Get connected with a skilled SEO Specialist for Therapists that you can trust.
  3. Start learning SEO in the meantime with our free 7-Day SEO for Counselors Email Series.

Services Offered at Simplified SEO Counseling

As a Consulting Service for Mental Health SEO we can help you optimize your website with three different types of packages, including “Done for You” SEO Services, SEO training, À la carte “Done for You” SEO services and our Alumni & Maintenance Package.

 

What do Zebra Stripes have to do with Private Practice Marketing?

I’m kind of fascinated by zebra stripes. They’re beautiful. The stark contrast between the black and the white. The way they work together to decorate this elegant animal. But did you realize that zebra stripes are actually an adaptation meant to protect these creatures from prey in the wild? Zebra stripes blend together when they’re standing in a herd so predators have difficulty making out the separate outline of a specific zebra.

Stripes help zebras survive in the wild. SEO helps private practices survive in the business world.

Therapists aren’t always Tech Wizards by Nature

Are you intimidated by technology? Does the idea of learning to work on your own site sound technical and scary? Most mental health professionals weren’t drawn to this field because we’re tech wizards. Most counselors are more touchy, feeling people types. Even if we’re introverts, let’s face it, what keeps us waking up and coming to work each day is the satisfaction of helping others. Full private practice caseloads of clients who face their fears, find healing, and “get better” is what excites us. Not talking marketing strategies or staring at a computer screen.

So…why should practice owners use Search Engine Optimization to market their small business?

So, why should you care about Search Engine Optimization (better known as just SEO)? Because SEO allows you to adapt to the business world which then brings more of your ideal clients through the doors of your private practice. It is through learning some important marketing techniques and business strategies that private practice owners are able to reach and help more people.  I first learned about the power of SEO through my own experience (see below), but have since watched it help my SEO Consulting clients also fill up their practices.  In this day and age, people look for all sorts of services online.  If you can get your website to the first page of Google, more potential clients will find your practice and therefore you’ll receive more calls.

Jessica’s Private Practice SEO Story

When my solo practice began to transition to a group practice I had a few panic moments. I realized that now, in order to succeed, I was going to have to do more than just offer awesome counseling services. Now I had to learn to do the business side of things.

My first step was to have a Springfield, MO-based graphic designer help me clarify my brand and create an awesome private practice logo. But the next step was developing a private practice website that I loved. I figured outsourcing was my best bet. Design isn’t really my thing and outsourcing the logo went well after all. That’s where Brighter Vision first came into the picture. I worked with their designer to edit my site until I had a beautiful website I was proud of and felt was “on brand.” But it didn’t rank at all on Google yet.

I was told it would take a few months for Google to find and index my site. So…I waited…and waited…and waited. After making a few tweaks along the way, I got really impatient at about 6 months. As much as I hated technology, I realized I needed to adapt and learn about Search Engine Optimization.

And learn I did! I stayed up all hours of the night researching SEO. I listened to podcasts on my way to the office, working out, and just about everywhere else. There were articles to read, Youtube videos to watch, and e-courses to work through. I found a few things targeting therapists, but much of what I found wasn’t specific to our field.

Naturally, when I learned something new about SEO the most important part was implementing it. So I practiced all of the SEO techniques I was learning. The day I learned about how to write an effective meta description, I stayed up all night writing new meta descriptions for every page of my site. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t have many blog posts yet! Then there was the day I learned to optimize photos on WordPress to improve SEO. Luckily that one didn’t take as long as the meta descriptions. Learning to use the Fetch as Google portion of the Google Search Console changed my world and suddenly I was able to see what impact my website changes had overnight.

At first, the changes in how I ranked on search engines for various counseling keywords happened quickly. There was the time on that I jumped from not being on the first 10 pages to page 3 for one of my long-tail keywords literally overnight. Then, changes happened a little more slowly and I had to fine-tune my techniques.

I’m THRILLED to say that now my website is consistently showing up directly below the Psychology Today rankings for counseling in my area. I’m not any better at most technology than I was before. My son was frustrated recently when I was struggling to figure out how to project Netflix onto our TV screen.  In a super-frustrated voice he said, “But Mommy, you’re good at websites. You CAN do technology.” He’s right of course. I can learn to use technology. Just like you can. It’s just an adaptation.

Therapists can learn SEO to Fill a Private Practice

Website tweaks and Search Engine Optimization might not come naturally to you. That’s ok. Admit it, embrace it. And then adapt.

The adaptation part is where I come in. I’d love to help you learn all of the SEO techniques that I did. You don’t have to spend months staying up until 2 am scouring the internet and learning one or two techniques at a time as I did. I can provide you 1:1 SEO Training. We’ll meet on a Google Hangouts call and use the Share Screen feature so I can walk you step by step through applying all of the SEO skills (keyword research, internal links, meta descriptions, etc) to your specific site.

Ready to get your Private Practice Found on Google?

Are you ready to start learning to do your own Search Engine Optimization work?  If so, my 12 Week SEO training services or the 2 Month SEO Jumpstart packages might be a good fit! On the other hand, if your a busy practice owner who feels overwhelmed by the idea of adding one more thing to your plate, my monthly SEO packages are a great option.  Book a 30 minute free SEO consultation and let’s get started!