If you’re a mental health professional with your own private practice, then you know how important it is to get your website seen by potential clients. And if you want to attract local clients, then you need to focus on local SEO. In this blog post, we’ll explain what Local SEO is and how you can use specific techniques to improve your website’s visibility in search engines like Google. We’ll also provide some tips for getting started.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is anything you do to help Google better understand where your business is located or is relevant so you show up more often in local search results. In other words, local SEO is a type of search engine optimization (SEO) that focuses on increasing visibility in local search results. Local businesses rank higher than non-locally based businesses when people search for products or services in their location.
The goal of local SEO is to attract more potential customers who are looking for you because they’re physically near your business or office location. For example, if someone searches “child therapy” in Seattle, WA they’ll likely see therapists who are local to Seattle ranked towards the top of their results page over therapists from other states or countries who don’t have an office in Seattle but want clients from there anyway.
Why is Local SEO important for mental health
Most mental health professionals are licensed in only one or two states. This means that our clients reside in those specific states. It does a therapist in New Hampshire no good if someone in Nevada finds their website. or Australia. Or Canada. Why? Because they can’t serve those clients even if they call.
Even if you’re able to see clients in many different states thanks to the Counseling Compact, people still often prefer to work with businesses located in their own state. Or, at least that’s what Google assumes. So, when all is equal, there’s a good chance Google will show a website that it has reason to believe is relevant to the area the searcher is located.
In short, if you want more psychiatry or counseling clients (or any service industry for that matter), you want Google to know you are relevant in the places your ideal clients live, play & work.
Local SEO Techniques for Psychologists, Therapists & Other Mental Health Professionals
- Use a consistent name, address & phone number (NAP information) across the web
- Optimize a Google Business Profile Listing (formerly Google My Business)
- Add Your Site & NAP information to Directories
- Make Your Address & Location Clear on Your Website
- Do Local Keyword Research
- Reference Local Places on your website
- Track Your Progress
Consistent NAP: Use the same Name, Address & Phone Number Everywhere
In the world of search engines, NAP refers to a business name, address, and phone number. And, when it comes to local SEO, consistency is key. Having a consistent NAP across all platforms tells Google that you are a legitimate business.
You want to use consistent nap information on:
- Google Business Profiles (formerly Google My Business)
- Your website footer
- The Call to Actions on your site
- Any “contact us” or “our office” type page on your site
- And any other site that is making reference to the business information of your practice
Google My Business as a Local SEO Strategy for Mental Health Professionals
Google My Business is a powerful tool for local SEO. It’s basically a digital business card that allows you to share your location, hours of operation, and other essential information with potential customers who are searching on Google Maps or Google search.
Optimizing Your Google My Business Profile as a Private Practice Owner
If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business (GMB for short) profile yet, now is the time to do it! But then there are a few things you can do to really optimize your GMB profile to really make sure you get the most out of it from an SEO perspective:
- Fill out the entire profile answering as many questions as you can. The more details you use the better.
- Use photos. It’s great to include pictures of your office and your therapists. Taking photos of signage on or in your building may help make your site look even more legitimate.
- Regularly post updates. Post an update when you hire a new clinician for sure. Or get a new training or add a new service. And many people even share when they post a new blog.
- Encourage reviews from colleagues. Ethically, most of us can’t ask our clients for reviews. But we CAN ask peers who know, trust and refer to us to write a quick, honest Google review.
- Respond to all reviews quickly. Google likes to see that you respond to reviews. But it can be really tricky if a client happens to find you and review your practice. Here’s a blog post we wrote about responding to reviews in an ethical way.
- Carefully consider your GMB strategy for growing practices with multiple locations.
Get Listed on Directories: Both Therapist Directories & General Directories
Another way that you can build local SEO is by getting listed on directories. There are both therapist-specific and general directories, and the key here is to make sure that your information is accurate (and consistent!) across all of them.
One great way to do this is by working with an SEO company that can help manage your directory listings for you. For example, Simplified SEO Consulting offers a Local SEO Package that includes getting you listed on 50+ directories across various platforms, as well as optimizing all of your NAP information (name, address, phone number) so that it’s the same across all platforms.
Make Your Address & Location Clear on Your Website
You also want to make sure that your website is clear about where you are located. This can include adding a map or link to Google Maps, as well as clearly stating your address and office hours in both the header and footer of your site. Additionally, I often advise people to include a specific description of how to get to their office from various areas of town. This could be as simple as sharing a few common routes, or including public transportation and walking directions.
Do Local Keyword Research
It’s important to do some local keyword research to find out what people in your area are searching for when looking for mental health services. For example, in many areas of the country significantly more people search for “marriage counseling” compared to “couples therapy.” However, in California, there is a distinct preference for “couples therapy.” Knowing these regional differences can help you get in front of more local potential clients.
How do you know what keywords are searched for most often locally?
This can be a bit tricky. Here are three tips I like to use:
- First, ask some people in your area what they would search for if looking for your services.
- Look at your intake paperwork. If you have an open-ended question about why people are seeking mental health services, how do your clients answer? Consider using these words on your own website.
- Use a keyword research tool that allows you to look at the data for a specific area. Our team really likes *KWFinder through Mangools. With that tool, we’re able to look at a specific state, city, or DMA region and see how many people are looking for a particular term in just that geographic area.
Reference Local Locations on Your Website
Finally, another way that you can improve your local SEO is by including local locations in your blog posts. This could mean mentioning landmarks or local events in your content or even sharing photos from around town to really help potential clients get a sense of the community where you are located.
For example, if I had a counseling practice in Madison, Wisconsin, I might make a blog post about coping with anxiety in crowds and use examples of how you might practice grounding even in a loud basketball game at Kohl Center or options for practicing simple breathing techniques that can be done even in the middle of watching a football game at Randall Stadium.
You’ll notice we’re doing that even on this blog post. We want our website to be seen as relevant for mental health professionals in any English speaking area. So, if you look through this post you’ll see references to Madison, Wisconsin (the paragraph above this one), Seattle, Nevada, New Hamshire, several other areas of the United States and even Canada (both Nova Scotia & British Columbia) & Australia.
Track Your SEO/Local SEO Progress
It’s also important to track your progress over time. This can be done by using a tool like Google Search Console or a rank tracking tool such as SEMRush or Moz or (if you’re our client), our data dashboard. Typically, you’ll start ranking well before you actually start getting calls so it’s important to know you’re moving in the right direction so you don’t get discouraged. Google Analytics let you specifically look at where website visitors are coming from so it’s especially useful for tracking your local SEO progress.
And keep in mind that how you rank locally may vary. You may rank much better a block away from your apartment than you do downtown even though they’re both within the city limits. This is where I often find a heatmap helpful. It will show variations in how you’re ranking in different areas.
Local SEO Isn’t the Only Strategy You Should Use
Some mental health professionals have been told that all they need to do are a few of these strategies (namely Google My Business and directories) and they’ll rank oh so well on Google. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been our experience. Our experience has been that Local SEO, if done in a vacuum, simply isn’t enough.
That’s why our typical strategy for SEO involves first setting a strong foundation with great content on your website. Adding great content to your website and then completing on-page optimization helps tell Google what your website is about and what types of topics you should show up for. Backlinks, reviews, and having some stability with your site (not constantly redesigning or changing hosts) then teach Google to trust your website. And local SEO shows Google where your website is relevant so it knows where to put you at the top of search results.
Google Will Prioritize Showing Your Website to People Local to You
When searching for a therapist, most people are looking for someone local. Google knows this. And that is why Google will often prioritize ranking websites that it believes are not only super relevant to the term the person is searching but are also local to that person’s location.
So, if Google sees a lot of content that suggests your practice is most likely located in Nova Scotia, you’re much more likely to show up if someone is searching for a therapist in Halifax than if someone is searching in Greenwood, British Columbia.
SEO Help for Psychiatrists, Therapists, Counselors & Related Professionals
Whether you’re a psychiatrist, therapist, counselor, or other related professional, getting your website to rank well in local search results is essential to growing your practice and building your client base. And Local SEO can be an important piece of the puzzle as you’re working on SEO.
Overall, building local SEO for your private practice is all about being consistent and clear about who you are and where you are located. By using these tips, you can help ensure that potential clients can easily find you when they’re looking for mental health services in your area.
And if you’re looking for more help working on Local SEO or your overall SEO strategy, Simplified SEO Consulting would love to help. Reach out and schedule a free 30-minute Zoom consultation to talk about how we might be able to help. Our team would be happy to offer support with helping you better understand what directories your practice is present on, and which opportunities are still available.
About the Authors
Jessica Tappana is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, private practice owner, and the founder of Simplified SEO Consulting, a digital marketing agency that specializes in helping mental health professionals, therapists, and other related professionals to grow their businesses through effective SEO strategies. With over 5 years of experience working with mental health professionals all over the world in English Speaking Countries, Jessica has developed a proven approach to help her clients achieve success online. And, she’s proud to have built an incredible team of SEO Specialists who each have knowledge of the mental health field in addition to SEO training.
Sterling Humburg-Cage has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, is one of the most technology-savvy people on our staff, and has been with Simplified SEO Consulting for over 2 years. He has become our Local SEO guru and loves to problem-solve how to get therapists the best ROI when it comes to Local SEO. He manages our local SEO program and works most frequently with our alumni clients. Additionally, he’s the author of most of our other local SEO blogs to date and a very valued member of our team!
*Please note this is an affiliate link. However, we only recommend KWFinder because that is the keyword research tool we ourselves use. If you’re more comfortable, feel free to not use the affiliate link and go directly to the page. We just truly think this is a great tool!