So you’re thinking about SEO! Maybe you heard about it on a podcast or read about it in a Facebook group for therapists. Perhaps a colleague mentioned to you that SEO helped them grow their practice, and now you’re considering it too.

Many of our clients come to us with a very basic understanding of SEO. They know that it helps people get found in search engines, but they aren’t really sure what it means. You might not even know what “SEO” stands for. (Psst, it stands for search engine optimization.)

Because of this, a fair amount of our clients don’t even consider the idea of learning SEO for their own website. They think that it’s too technical and confusing, and that only a computer-wiz could figure it out. But believe it or not, SEO actually isn’t that complicated. And there are plenty of benefits to learning SEO yourself!

SEO is Actually Pretty Simple Once You Learn the Basics

Photo of the word "SEO" surrounded by the words "keyword", "search", "content" and "strategy". This photo represents how SEO training with Simplified SEO Consulting can help private practice websites rank higher on Google.

For context, I (like many of my team members) have a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. I never studied computer science or digital marketing, and honestly the only computer class I took in college was related to statistics for psychology! I’ve worked as an Intake Coordinator for a private practice, and had heard about SEO, but before I started working here I had no idea how it worked.

I wouldn’t have considered myself tech-savvy in the least, but after a bit of training I realized that SEO is actually pretty simple! Now, there are a wide range of SEO strategies, and yes there are some components of SEO that are a bit more “technical”. However, once you understand the basic principles of SEO, you can make big improvements in your website’s online rankings!

What are the Benefits of Learning SEO?

You Have Full Control Over the Content on Your Private Practice Website

When you learn how to optimize your website yourself, you have full control over the content on your website. Everything from the writing on your service pages and blogs, to the photos, and how you choose to incorporate keywords all comes from you. This ensures that everything on your website aligns with your values and brand. It also means that clients get a very authentic sense of your perspective, your voice, and your practice’s unique approach.

Now, if you outsource your SEO with us, we will do everything we can to match your voice and approach. However, many of our clients who learn how to optimize their own website find it very rewarding to know that all of the content on their website comes directly from them.

You’ll be Able to Maintain Your SEO for Years to ComePhoto of a toy car holding a roll of bills next to the word "ROI". This photo represents how seo coaching can help therapists learn seo marketing and get a great ROI.

Another great benefit of learning how to optimize your website is that you’ll be able to maintain it for years to come! One of the great things about SEO is that once you are ranking well, your rankings should remain relatively stable.

However, we know that other practices and websites will pop up that also want a great ranking. So we recommend doing a few things to maintain your SEO, such as keeping up with a consistent blogging strategy or doing an “SEO tune-up” every once in a while. If you learn SEO, you’ll be able to handle these things yourself without having to pay someone else to do it. Which means that you’ll be able to stretch your investment even further!

You’ll be Able to Use Your SEO Training as You Grow Your Practice

Learning SEO is great for maintaining your current site, however it’s especially helpful if you plan on growing your practice. Let’s say you add a new member to your team with a new speciality. If you have the skills to optimize your site, you can get this new page added and optimized as soon as you need to.

Or, if you want to change directions and open a practice in a new location or start a consulting business, you can apply these skills to an entirely new website! When you learn SEO, the possibilities of how you use those skills are pretty endless.

Learning SEO is a More Affordable Option

You can probably gather from the reasons I listed above that learning how to optimize your website yourself is a more affordable option compared to outsourcing. When you gain SEO skills, you won’t need to pay someone to add and optimize new content to your website down the line. As your practice grows, you can even teach another member of your team how to optimize your blogs or do an SEO tune-up for you, and stretch your knowledge even further!

We always say that SEO is either an investment of time or money. It just depends on how you want to allocate your resources.

On That Note, Who Should Learn SEO?

It’s important to mention that learning how to optimize your website isn’t for everyone. While anyone can learn how to optimize their website, not everyone necessarily should.

Photo of a person typing on a computer representing how therapists can learn SEO online to improve the rankings of their private practice website.

Now, we actually have an entire blog dedicated to answering the question of who should do their own optimization. So I recommend checking that out for all of our thoughts. But in this blog I wanted to briefly mention that learning how to optimize your website does take some time and energy. So if you are an incredibly busy practice owner, it may not be the best option for you. (Though, you could always have a member of your team learn SEO!)

However, we know that learning optimization isn’t the best option for every practice. That’s why we offer Done-For-You services too! If you need help deciding what option is best for you, our team would be happy to give you our advice!

Interested in Learning More About Our SEO Training Options?

At Simplified SEO Consulting we offer a range of options to teach therapists and helping professionals how to optimize their websites! For those who want a personalized approach, we offer one-on-one SEO trainings. If you want to learn SEO in a group, our Small Group SEO Intensives are a great fit. Or, if you’re looking for an affordable option to get started, we have several DIY online courses that cover different SEO strategies!

If you’re interested in learning more about our different options and getting our suggestions on which is best for you, you can schedule a free video consultation with a member of our team. We’d be happy to learn more about your practice, your SEO goals, and give your advice!

Other SEO Services Offered at Simplified SEO Consulting

We understand that training and DIY options aren’t suitable for all practices. So for those who want to outsource, we offer Done-For-You SEO services at different levels. You can also start learning a bit more with our free 7-day SEO email series or by reading our other blogs on SEO. We are happy to be a part of your business’s journey in any way that we can.

About the AuthorHeadshot of Kaite, Virtual Administrative Assistant and Mental Health SEO Copywriter at Simplified SEO Consulting for therapist websites in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and beyond.

Kaite Ritchie is our Administrative Assistant, Alumni Specialist, and a Mental Health SEO Copywriter at Simplified SEO Consulting. Before joining our team, she worked at our founder’s private practice as an Intake Coordinator. Since she worked at the practice where it all began, when Jessica taught herself how to optimize her own website, she learned how powerful of a tool SEO can be! Now she enjoys writing and optimizing content for our clients, and helping therapists decide if learning SEO is the right path for them during our free consultations. You can schedule a free consultation with Kaite to learn more about our SEO services and get help deciding whether one of our trainings is right for you!

Incorporating SEO keywords

You know you need to incorporate SEO keywords into your copy, but it feels so clunky and awkward. You’ve done SEO keyword research and have come up with what you want to rank for but are struggling to add those keywords in a way that flows and makes sense.

 

Copywriting for SEO doesn’t have to be difficult! I personally love the puzzle of adding keywords to my blog posts. As a mental health SEO copywriter at Simplified SEO Consulting, I have three tips for you as you work to add SEO keywords to your private practice website.

Write from the heart, use keywords later.

image of a person on a computer using SEO keywords in their copywriting

Writing with SEO in mind is important. However, if you want to reach your ideal clients for your private practice, copywriting which is authentic to you is even more important. You know your clients’ challenges and what they are facing. Pretend like you’re talking directly to someone you’re working with and write out what you want them to hear from you. Being honest and sincere is powerful.

While SEO copywriting can get people on your page, there isn’t a point unless those clicks convert to new clients. This is w

here writing from the heart comes in. Search engine optimization for psychotherapists can help you get more clients, but only if your content resonates with the people who land on your page.

Give yourself a day to reset your brain.

image of a confused brain trying to figure out which seo keywords to use

Writing from the heart is only the first step in incorporating SEO keywords naturally into your content. I find it helpful to write a blog post or webpage and then put it down for a day. Come back to it and find those places you can “sneak” in keywords. Switching up counseling and therapy for example can help you rank for both words! Your copy CAN have flow and style while still having great SEO. Sometimes you just need to get your brain out of therapist mode and into SEO mode. Think about what your ideal client might be typing into Google to find the help they are looking for. Put yourself in their shoes and remember that incorporating keywords into your copy and content is truly helping your ideal client. Perhaps they’re not ready for therapy yet, but are looking for a blog post that resonates. That is powerful!

Approach SEO keywords as a puzzle.

My personal favorite way to incorporate SEO keywords while copywriting is to approach it as a puzzle. Make it a word game where you try and fit in keywords wherever you can. When you approach it as a game and not a chore, that mindset shift makes a big difference in how frustrated you may get. I love the challenge of using as many keywords as possible, while still having the style and flow that I desire. There are so many words associated with counseling, see how many you can use! You likely enjoy word games (have you started playing Wordle yet, or is it just blowing up your Facebook feed?) so make SEO optimization simply another fun game to play!

Consider copywriting for SEO with Simplified SEO Consulting!

If you’re still struggling with incorporating keywords into your web content, it might be time to consider SEO copywriting from Simplified SEO Consulting. Our mental health SEO specialists love taking your words and optimizing them for SEO. If you don’t have the capacity to put words to a computer screen, fret not! We’ve got you covered at our SEO consulting firm specializing in SEO for therapists, psychiatrists & other mental health professionals. We love writing for mental health professionals like you.

With approximately 8,910 psychiatrists, 22,530 psychologists, and 41,660 mental health counselors in private practice in the U.S. as of 2015 according to Wonder, you need to do what you can to get and keep traffic on your site.

Unfortunately, many mental health providers and other helping professionals we work with have multiple 404 errors on their sites. And the truth is that this can be a pretty significant issue.  When visitors to your site are frequently finding themselves landing on a random page stating that the page they were looking for isn’t available, it can be frustrating!

It’s important to pay attention to 404 errors on your site and to redirect those urls to other, relevant pages on your site. Then, people will be able to find the information they need to book your services. And you can keep them from leaving, telling search engines that your content isn’t worth showing to others.

What Is a 404 Error or Redirects?

A 404 error is what happens when a visitor types in a URL or clicks on a link that doesn’t lead to an active page. If you decide to change the URL for one of your pages, you may still have old links out there.

Unfortunately, search engines may also still show the old link to people searching. If that link leads to nowhere, you can confuse the visitors, and you may lose traffic.

Redirects

But you can use redirects to take the visitor to an active page. The redirect can then tell search engines about the new page and start showing the correct URL. You also don’t have to worry about the old URL circulating because the redirect will correct it.

There are two kinds of redirects, one that’s meant to be permanent (what I use the most) and one temporary (example: you’re updating a page). But we’ll talk about that more in a moment.

Just know that a redirect is the “quick” way to fix a 404 error and it ensures that anyone who goes to the non existent page will actually reach a live page on on your site.

So….What’s a “404 Redirect?”

I’ve heard many private practice owners talk about “404 Redirects.” Honestly, that’s not really a thing. What they mean is a 301 or 302 redirection to “fix” a 404 error by redirecting someone from a page that doesn’t actually exist at this moment to an active page on the website. However, I will use the term “404 redirect” occasionally in this post some since it is something I’ve heard used in our field and a term you may be comfortable with. Just know that technically speaking, 404 redirect isn’t actually the term I would typically use-you use a 301 or 302 redirect to fix a 404 error.

Are there disadvantages to using a redirect?

The disadvantage is that if you have too many redirections on your site it can slow things down which has a negative impact on user experience. And, when you do various “site audits” this is going to show up as a potential issue on your site. For this reason, when I find a 404 error for a page that is linked to from another page on my site my preference, when practical, is to go to the page that links to the broken page and instead change the internal link directly on the page so it goes to a “live” page.

However, this isn’t always practical. For example, if the 404 errors comes up when someone goes to a bad link on an external page you can’t always have that changed so you’ll need a redirect. Or, if you have a ton of broken pages (our record was over 400 on a site that had transferred a blog from WordPress to SquareSpace!) it would simply take too much time to manually fix every single now broken internal link.

So, often redirections are really helpful to fix 404 errors, but just know if you can quickly fix a link at the source that may be a better option.

Why Would I have 404 Errors on my Site?

The two most common 404 errors we see on private practice websites happen when someone changes the slug on a page of their website or deletes an old page of their website. Business owners are often surprised how common it is to have 404 errors on their website, but this is an issue we frequently see come up on private practice websites.

Photo of a url with the last portion of the url reading teen-counseling circled and an arrow with the word "slug" pointing to it to emphasize the importance of optimizing a slug on a website to improve SEO.404 Errors caused by changing the “slug” on a website

This is an example of the url for my “Teen Counseling” page.  If keyword research showed me that there were more searches for “Teen Therapy” and I was to change this slug to “teen-therapy” without creating a redirect, the page “aspirecounselingmo.com/teen-counseling would no longer exist.

If I made that change, Google may take awhile to catch up so it may still have the old url show up in search results but when people click on it they’d be taken to a page saying there was a 404 error and that url doesn’t exist anymore.

404 Errors caused by deleting a page

Now, I want to be clear here that I’m all for keeping your website updated! However, too often I see private practice owners or their staff delete a page on a website without creating a redirect or finding every other place that might possibly link to that page.  The problem? It looks a bit unprofessional.

For example, I had a play therapist at my private practice for a bit and created an elaborate “Counseling for Children” page on our website.  Then, as can sometimes happen, she left.  We didn’t have anyone else at the time interested in treating children. If I had simply deleted that page, then everywhere on our website we had linked to that page or outside links that went to that page (we were on some directories for parents that went straight to that page) would have landed on a 404 page. But I didn’t do that.

Instead, I took the page off our navigation menu so it wouldn’t be so easy to find.  Then, I clicked the button so Google would no longer index that page (so it wouldn’t show up in search results) and added a note to the top of that page saying at this time we weren’t seeing children. A couple years later, a new therapist started with us who does seem some children.  I updated the page to reflect her specialties, added it back to the drop down menu and again asked Google to index that page.

404 Errors when a page doesn’t exist

There is a third option. Sometimes, someone types in a website url that doesn’t exist. For example, if you typed “https://simplifiedseoconsulting.com/404-errors” when you were trying to get to this page, you’d get to our 404 redirect page. Why? Because that is the incorrect url. That page doesn’t exist.

I’ve seen this happen when someone links to a website but forgets the final character or something along those lines. I’ve also seen it happen when someone *thinks* they know the url they are going to but actually types too quickly and misspells.

This is an example of a 404 error that is difficult to fix with a redirection, because it’s hard to predict how someone might misspell your url. So, just keep in mind that 404 Errors happen. No matter how careful you are, people may occasionally reach a 404 error when visiting your site. But redirections can help with many of the other types of 404 errors and therefore improve the overall user experience on your website.

Why Redirects Are Important to fix 404 Erros

404 redirects are important for a few reasons, including search engine optimization. You may be able to get away with having one or two 404 errors, but you don’t want to have a ton.

Redirects can correct those errors when you decide to change a URL. Then, you can keep your website up, and you can make sure people will find what they need.

Consider a couple of benefits of 404 redirects in more detail.

Maintain Your SEO

If you have a ton of 404 errors and don’t redirect those pages, that can tell Google to rank your site lower in search. That can decrease the number of views you get from SEO, which can hurt your overall website traffic and business.

Redirecting 404 errors can tell search engines what URL to start showing people in search results. Then, people will be able to find the information they need right away.

You can then change URLs to include keywords and help your SEO. And you can tell the crawlers that your site is easy to use and that it deserves to show up in search results.

Keep Visitors

Not only can 404 redirects help search engines, but they can also help visitors have a good user experience on your site. If they click on an old link, the redirect will take them to the correct page.

That can keep you from confusing your potential new clients with a bunch of 404 error pages. If visitors do run into a lot of 404 errors, some may still go to the effort of continuing to navigate around your site to find what they need, but others may leave your site and go elsewhere.

The easier you can make using your site, the easier it will be to keep visitors. Then, you’ll have a chance to convert those visitors into clients.

How to Know If You Need Redirections

One of the worst things about 404 error pages is that you may not always know if you need one. Now, you can know that you’ll need a redirect if you change a URL to include a keyword, for example.

But if you haven’t changed anything in a while, you may still miss out on 404 redirects. You may have changed a URL a few months back, or you might have deleted an old page you don’t need anymore.

Either way, you can check a 404 redirect to see if you need to add one to help your on-page SEO. Consider the following ways to find out if you need a redirect.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a tool that you can install on your website to help track searches. The tool can tell you if there are any errors or other problems with your site, including 404 errors.

Then, you can go into your website to add in a 404 redirect code to make sure people get to the correct page. Google Search Console is free, and you can set it up easily, especially if you use WordPress.

You’ll be able to track the keywords that get clicks to your website as well as your website traffic. That way, you’ll know which pages and posts you can check to make sure they have 404 redirects if necessary.

Simplified SEO Consulting’s Data Dashboard

At Simplified SEO Consulting, we offer a data dashboard that includes a site audit tool for our paying clients. The tool lists all of the pages that have 404 errors, so you can go down the list when creating redirects.

Then, you don’t have to set up Google Search Console or another tool. You won’t need a ton of technical knowledge to learn how our site audit tool works.

Soon enough, you’ll be able to check the tool regularly for SEO issues. And you will be able to correct the issues as they appear to keep them from affecting your SEO.

Complaints

You may also learn about 404 errors from your clients, team members and visitors. Someone may try to read a blog post or book an appointment with you, only to land on a 404 page.  If you’re lucky, they let you know. Sadly, you can’t rely on this because some people may not take the time to contact you.More often I’ve heard about it from a staff member who was navigating our site and found an issue. So, now I check our data dashboard pretty regularly to make sure I catch these things BEFORE someone else finds them. That way, I can fix the error before it affects my website traffic.

Your Own Discovery

When editing your website, you may come across a 404 error yourself. For example, you might go through your most popular pages and posts and click on all of the links to make sure they work.

If a page or post leads to an old URL, you will get a 404 error. Then, you will know you need to add a redirect so that your visitors can go to the correct page if they click on that link.

If you don’t want to use a specific tool and if your site doesn’t have a ton of content, consider searching links regularly. It may take time, but you can make sure all of your links work as they should.

How to Create a Redirect to Fix 404 Errors

Each website platform has a slightly different way for you to fix 404 errors or set up redirects.

Redirects for 404 Errors WordPress

It may sound like adding 404 redirects requires a lot of coding knowledge or expertise. Fortunately, a good 404 redirect plugin can help WordPress users take control of their website.

Important note about 404 Errors & Redirect Plugins for WordPress users:

Often, this process of creating redirects can be super simple on WordPress. However, it’s important to know it typically requires a plugin that is compatible with your website and safe/secure. We’ve seen several of these that work, but most website developers have specific plugins they prefer to use. For instance, one of the popular plugins may have some security risk if used on it’s own, but when used in combination with a security plugin is both safe and easy to use. Therefore, please work with your website developer to identify the best plugin, and how to properly set up redirects for your specific website.

If you are bound and determined to move forward without a WordPress developer’s support (I see you DIYers out there!), here are a few steps you can follow to set up 404 redirects on your WordPress site.

Install a Redirection Plugin

If you use WordPress, you can download a good plugin to handle the technical part of redirects for you. Then, all you need to know is which URLs are old and which URLs you need to send those old links to. Again, I would caution you to check in directly with a website developer for recommendations. I’m going to describe using a very common plugin, but it doesn’t mean this is the best one nor the one a website developer would point you toward.

“Redirection” is one of these plugins you can use to create redirects as a solution for 404 erros. Redirection is a free 404 redirect plugin that you can use to handle redirects for your entire website. You can use it to set up temporary or permanent redirects.

Go to the Plugins section of your dashboard and click Add New. Then, you can search for “redirection” and add the plugin to your website.

Once you install the plugin, you can configure settings for logs and redirects. Then, you can add new redirects whenever you discover a new 404 error page.

Check for Errors

When you install the Redirection plugin, you’ll want to navigate to “Tools” and then “Redirection” to access the settings. You can then head to the tab that says “404s” to see what 404 errors your site has.

If you have any errors, you’ll see them in a list with the date, source URL, user agent, and IP. Then, you’ll know which links you need to update to make sure people find what they need.

Add Redirects

Head back to the Redirects tab and click on Add New to create a new redirect. Then, you will need to input the old URL that is leading to a 404 page, and you can select if you want to ignore parameters or not.

You can then add the target URL (the new URL) that you want the old URL to lead to. If you click on the gear icon, you’ll access more settings, which lets you choose if you want to redirect the URL or if you want to leave it as a 404 error.

The settings also let you decide if you want to redirect when just the URL matches or if you also want to track cookies, login status, or something else.

Select the Right Type

One of the most significant reasons to click on the gear icon when adding a redirect is to choose the redirect type. A 301 redirect is permanent, so it’s useful if you update the URL to include a keyword for SEO.

The redirect will tell search engines to start indexing and showing the new URL. That way, people will go straight to the page or post they need to to find the right content.

A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect, and it’s useful if you want to update one of your main pages. However, this will tell search engines to keep indexing the old URL, so it’s not suitable for changing URLs.

To be honest, I almost always end up using 301 redirections, because the redirects I make on my website are usually permanent.

How to Create 301 Redirect to Fix a 404 Error on Squarespace

While WordPress is a popular website design platform, you might use Squarespace. Fortunately, the steps for adding 404 error redirects to a Squarespace site aren’t too difficult and many of the practice owners we work with have been able to do this on their own.

You may need to write a bit of redirect code, but Squarespace makes it easy to input the code you need. And if you miss something or add too many details, the platform will alert you.

Here’s how to create a redirect to fix 404 errors when you use Squarespace.

Go to Settings

In your Squarespace account, you’ll need to go to your Home menu and click on Settings and then Advanced. You don’t need to download or install anything on your website to be able to set up the redirects.

If you find yourself creating 404 redirects often, you may want to bookmark the settings page. That way, you won’t have to navigate your Squarespace backend every time.

Gather the URLs

Before or after you find your settings page, you will need to list out the URLs that need redirects. Be sure to separate the slug from the rest of the URL.

The slug is the part after your main domain. So if the URL in question is example.com/blog, “blog” would be the slug, and you will need to use that to create your 404 redirect.

Consider what URLs you need to redirect the old ones to and add those to your list. Again, you’ll need to separate the slug from the rest of the URL to format the redirects.

Format the Redirects

Once you’re in your settings on the Advanced page, you will be able to create a URL redirect. First, you’ll input the slug for the old link, then you will leave a space and type “->” to show Squarespace it will be a redirect.

Next, you will need to add the slug for the new link to tell Squarespace where the old URL will lead. The last element you need is the type of redirect, either a 301 or 302. As stated above, I typically use a 301 but make sure you’re paying attention and choosing the right one for your site.

Leave a space after the new URL before you type the number based on the redirect you want to create. Then, you can save everything to make sure the changes apply to your site.

Create a Custom 404 Page

Screen Shot of the 404 Redirect Page for errors on Aspire Counseling's Private Practice Website

You may choose not to use 404 redirects for every 404 error. For example, if you delete a page without creating anything to replace it, it’s fine to tell users the page no longer exists.

However, you may want to create a custom 404 page. Then, you can include some text or an image explaining the error, and you can make sure the page is on brand and looks good on your website.

This is an example of the Custom 404 Error page I’ve created for my own Private Practice website. I do change it up from time to time and it’s far from perfect-a professional website developer can probably build you a much “prettier” or better branded 404 Redirect page. But it gets the job done.

On the Custom 404 Page for my own private practice website, I’ve included links to each of our primary services as well as links to the our most popular blog posts.  Since we have hundreds of blog posts, I chose the ones that are either showing up the most in search results (determined from looking at Google Search Console data) or most visited (based on Google Analytics). Of course, there was a lot of overlap between the two but they weren’t exactly the same.

What do I include on a custom 404 page?

You want to include links to the most commonly visited pages on your website. These are the pages someone is most likely to have tried to visit when they end up on the 404 page. And, since your goal is to prevent that person from leaving your website altogether having links to some of the “best” pages on your website encourage them to remain on your page.

Examples of Custom 404 Pages for Private Practices

How Will You Handle 404 Errors & Redirects?

If you’ve used the internet a lot, you’ve probably come across at least one or two 404 errors. 404 redirects are the easiest way to correct those problems if they crop up on your own website.

Be sure to consider the benefits and types of 404 redirects. Then, you can follow the steps to add them to your site on WordPress or Squarespace to make sure you don’t lose traffic or SEO juice.

Do you need help with SEO for your overall site? Schedule a free SEO consultation today.

Welcome back to part two of my comprehensive guide to copywriting for SEO series. I wrote this series because I know how challenging copywriting can be for busy therapists. I have had a lot of clients who tell me that copywriting is both intimidating and time-consuming. But, it doesn’t have to be so hard. My goal today is to simplify it a bit.

In part one I shared three tips to make copywriting easier: write like you’d speak to a client, speak to their pain points, and create a page for every service you offer. These tips are extremely important and it’s worth reading the blog to learn more about them. But today, I want to share three more practical tips to improve your writing experience and better your SEO.

3 Copywriting for SEO Tips:

  Include References to the Places You Want to Rank Wellpensive woman writes in a notebook next to an open laptop representing copywriting for SEP. Learn how to optimize your website in SEO training with an SEO specialist

It’s critical to include references to your location or the places where you would like to draw clients from in your website copy. This helps tell Google where you’re located, thus helping you show up better in search results for clients who are looking for services in that area.

If you have an online therapy practice, this tip is extra important. Because you cannot technically have a Google My Business listing, it often takes Google longer to realize what areas you serve. Therefore it may take longer to get you ranking in those areas. So, you must mention areas throughout your state in your website copy.

If you have multiple locations, it’s still important to make references to the places where you see clients. Although you may not be able to mention them all, look for spots to weave it in where it looks natural.

Two powerful places to really highlight where you’re located are in your footer and in a location(s) page. Let’s talk about those in-depth a bit:

  • Footer: If you have a physical address put it here. If you do not, then mention where you’re located. For example, “Our therapy office is located in Kansas City, MO however, we see clients throughout Kansas and Missouri.”
  • Location Page: I would argue that having a location page is for all practices that see clients in person. However, I feel it is especially important for practices with multiple in-person locations. On this location page, I encourage you to embed a map if possible and provide driving locations to your practice.

Look for Opportunities to Add Keywords and Internal Links

man types on his laptop computer in a cafe. He learned about copywriting for seo from an seo specialist at Simplified SEO ConsultingI know writing copy is intimidating but I encourage you to write first, then look for opportunities to target the keywords you want to rank for. The same goes for adding internal links to other pages on your site. Sometimes, simply putting your thoughts down on paper without worrying about other things makes writing easier.

Once you have written your page or post, then look for places to add in or modify the wording to add keywords and links. This can be done throughout a page or a post however, there are a few places that I find offer great opportunities to add in these SEO elements. These places are:

  • Headings and subheadings
  • A call to action section where you detail the three steps to start services at your practice (here you can link to your home, contact, about page, etc.)
  • An other services section where you share about the other offerings you provide at your practice and link to those pages.

Proofread Your Work

man with grey hair sits at his laptop and smiles at the camera representing copywriting for SEO and getting seo training with an seo specialist at simplified seo consultingI am certainly guilty of making spelling and grammatical mistakes when I write. Most people are. However, I always try to take the time to go back and proofread my work before publishing it. Even then, I am bound to make a mistake here and there. That’s when I rely on the wonders of technology and the tools that are at my disposal.

I personally love using the Hemmingway Editor and the Grammarly plugin when I write. Both tools catch common spelling and grammatical errors and they tell me if my writing is confusing or hard to read. I encourage you to use both as you work on writing copy for your private practice website.

Google likes to rank pages it considers “trustworthy.” So, if there are lots of spelling and grammatical errors it may hurt your rankings a bit. Now, I’m not saying it has to be perfect, but reading it over once or twice can really help.

SEO Services For Your Private Practice Website:

If you’re ready to optimize your website and improve your private practice website’s SEO, Then our SEO specialists can help! We would be honored to support you in your efforts to get in front of your ideal client on Google. To get started, follow these steps:

  1. Schedule your free 30-minute consultation with a member of the Simplified SEO Consulting team
  2. Learn more about our SEO services and training opportunities
  3. Start optimizing your webpage and watch your site rank better on Google!

About the Author:

Photo of Cory, our Content Coordinator who helps you write blogs for SEO and also offers 1:1 SEO TrainingCory Moss is a Simplified SEO specialist & our Content Specialist based in the Kansas City metro area. She specializes in working on readability for therapist websites. She really enjoys helping her clients get to the top of Google and attract their ideal clients. Cory is great at speaking to clients about their dream practice and figuring out exactly what content on their website will help them reach those goals. She enjoys helping people learn about SEO and watching how people can improve their optimizing over time!

One of my favorite things about Simplified is that we challenge the “one size fits all” approach. Through years of working with therapists throughout the country (and internationally!), we know that every practice is starting at a different place. And, that each practice has different goals.

With that in mind, we’re also very aware of the practice’s capacity.

What does that mean? Well, each practice has different resources. This can be having a team with many clinicians that can delegate tasks. Other times, this looks like have more administrative time to knock the behind-the-scenes tasks. Again, this is different for everyone. But, you’re probably wondering how this relates to SEO. Well, let me tell ya!

A brain is pondering a question. This is related to doing your own website optimization. Simplified offers training courses to teach therapists how to build their own SEO.

Your practice’s capacity determines which SEO service makes the most sense. We offer services for practices at every stage. For some, our Done For You services are a great fit. Other times, our al a carte or online courses make sense. Furthermore, our Done With You services can be a great fit for some practices.

. . . Done With You Services?

Yep, Done With You Services! This service is our 12-week intensive training option. With this package, you’ll work one-on-one with our SEO specialists to learn how to do your own optimization. We meet every other week to teach you SEO concepts that you’ll be applying in real-time. During this time, we’ll work together on your site. We start with some basic keyword research and competitor research. From there, we work on writing stellar meta descriptions and creating SEO-worthy titles. Then, we do on-page optimization. This is when we work on incorporating headings, infusing keywords, and adding location indicators. The next step is internal links, external links, call to action, and other services sections. Don’t forget about adding photos with alt text!

A few of you reading this are PUMPED

A cartoon brain holds dumbbells. This demonstrates concepts of doing your own website optimization. Training options with Simplified can help you to boost SEO.

This sounds exciting, right? Learning how to do all of the SEO things on your own! If learning how to do your own website optimization sounds appealing to you, this blog is for you! Moving forward, I’ll cover some personal qualities that can determine your success in doing your own website optimization. From our experience, we have seen a theme of what determines success. Today, I’ll be covering a few signs that can help determine if doing your own website optimization could be a good fit for you!

So, who should do their own website optimization?

1. Website Optimization Consideration #1: Service providers that are the “hands-on” type

These are the folks that like to have their hands in every pot. Typically, these are the people that learn the best by doing- or our kinesthetic learners. And, have curiosity about the behind-the-scenes shenanigans. This often comes in handy for service providers doing their own optimization because it’s up to them to get it done! On top of that, there’s a healthy dose of curiosity that comes along with it, too. We find that providers are the most successful when they want to build their skills and understanding of SEO. At first, it will probably feel like learning a different language. But, after time, the pieces of the puzzle will start to fit.

In addition, therapists that are willing to dedicate some time to learning SEO are often more successful. While learning SEO won’t require as much time as obtaining licensure, there is still a component of time that comes along with doing their own website optimization.

2. Website Optimization Consideration #2: Clinicians that are willing to learn

A cartoon brain uses a laptop. This reflects concepts of doing your own website optimization. Learn more about how Simplified can help you to build SEO.

Correction: clinicians that are willing to learn things for their practice that grad school never taught them. Something that I, along with the other SEO Specialists, have heard time and time again is that grad school “didn’t teach (them) how to run a practice.” And that’s definitely true! What’s more, grad school didn’t teach you how to SEO either.

Learning SEO requires *some* unlearning of grad school.

What does this mean? Good SEO requires you not to write like you’re creating an essay for grad school. One of the determining factors of good SEO is readability. Typically, Google responds best to pages that have the readability of 5th grade. Essentially, Google likes when we write in a way that a 5th grader could read it and understand it. To achieve this, we recommend:

  • limiting run-on sentences (but really, aim to have NO run-on sentences)
  • adding transition words
  • having lots of headings and subheadings
  • not having sections longer than 150 words without a heading
  • straying away from academic language 
    • if it’s a sentence you would include in an essay, it likely needs to be edited

And, will to learn some techy things

In doing your own SEO, there are some techy aspects that come along with it. To be clear, we’re not expecting anyone to learn how to do their own coding. But, some of the processes require to you know a little more than the average bear. Better yet, they require you to be willing to learn more than the average bear. Doing your own SEO requires you to learn how to set up Google Search Console and Google My Business. On top of that, submitting sitemaps and requesting indexing are tasks that come along with website optimization as well.

Just to be clear: we’ll teach you how to do all of these things!

We know that doing your own SEO is the farthest thing from common knowledge. We’re aware that there’s a lot that goes into it. And, at first, it might feel pretty overwhelming. But you want to know a secret? None of our specialists were familiar with SEO when they started! But, after some training, practice, and personal research, we become experts! Just like you, we felt intimidated with learning what seems like an underground black market trade. But, after practice and guidance, we got the hang of it.

And the super cool thing? So can you!

3. Website Optimization Consideration #3: Therapists that have future projects in mind

A brain holds a lightbulb. This is related to doing your own website optimization. Simplified offers training option so therapists can learn how to do their own website optimization and boost SEO.

Especially if you have a few projects in mind that will require you to use the internet to some capacity. This looks different for everyone. But, some common themes that I’ve heard in the past include changing your URL or practice name. Sometimes, practice owners decide to expand their practice. However, the name or website URL they previously had doesn’t quite fit anymore. Other times, practice owners see a website redesign in their future. In both of these scenarios, SEO will take a drastic hit. Big changes like this will result in an initial decrease in your SEO.

A metaphor that I like to compare it to is a breakup.

Let’s pretend your website and Google are in a relationship. Things have been going steady and it seems like you’re both happy. But, out of the blue, your website breaks up with Google. From Google’s point of view, this was completely unexpected. Things were going great, then you suddenly end things with no warning? Google is very confused. And, incredibly hurt. Now, Google has trust issues with your site. Then, it sees that you’re coming back (submitting sitemaps, requesting indexing, updating your Google My Business). And Google wants to trust you. But, it’s not quite ready for it. Now, Google needs you to prove that you’re committed this time. And, the only way to show that is through time and rebuilding your SEO.

But, you’ll get back to where you were! Maybe not overnight. But, you’ll recover your SEO. And, hopefully exceed the SEO you built up previously.

Of course, there are other “projects” or “changes” that would make you a great fit for doing their own website optimization

Everyone sees a different future for their practice. If yours is full of new projects, expansions, or dabbling in podcasts, website optimization could be a great fit. Why? Because this will be one less thing you need to pay to outsource! Instead, you can take some time to learn how to do it yourself then apply it as you need to in the future.

A few details about our Done With You program

Two brains are shown. This demonstrates concepts of doing your own website optimization to boost therapist SEO.

At Simplified, we truly believe that any therapist can learn to do their own SEO and website optimization. And, we’re happy to teach those tools! Our 12-week intensive program is a great option for practitioners that are curious and excited to learn how to do their own SEO. In our training program, our approach is holistic. Our goal is to teach you everything you need to know to do your own website optimization. We start from the beginning and cover the basics. From there, we gradually incorporate skills that increasingly become more advanced. With this in mind, we walk along with you the entire time.

Our training program is a unique one-on-one opportunity that teaches you everything you need to know about website optimization. On top of that, we offer technical support and guidance throughout the entire time. You’ll meet with your SEO Specialist every other week for 12-weeks. During this time, we’ll cover the content that was included in your “homework.” On top of that, we’ll do some on-page optimization to see what it looks like in real-time. In addition, you will be offered resources that explain concepts in greater detail. Our intention is for you to incorporate these concepts each week on your site with our guidance. Along the way, we’re happy to answer any questions that come up.

So, are you ready to get the training party started?

I hope you found this interesting! As aforementioned, the training program can be a great fit for some clinicians. We’d love to have you in our training program! If you decide that you’re ready to do your own website optimization, follow these steps:

  1. Schedule a free 30-minute consultation with us. 
  2. Get to know our team of highly skilled and experienced SEO specialists.
  3. Brag to your other therapist friends that you can optimize your website optimization 🙂

For those that aren’t interested in Done With You services, we also offer Done For You services where we do the optimization. Either way, we’re happy to help!

About the Author

Alyssa has been a member of the Simplified family for the past few months. And, is now stepping into a role providing training and additional support for folks learning SEO. As a current graduate student in the Advanced Placement MSW Program at Mizzou, Alyssa loves the world of mental health and technology. In addition, Alyssa has a growing interest in using social media to grow a practicethe importance of live feed, and building backlinks. She wrote a two-part blog post series about the importance of blogging for SEO. This series addressed the importance of blogging and original content. In addition, she is co-hosting a blogging masterclass that will soon be available for purchase. Stick around for some more hands-on opportunities!

In the past, we’ve covered researching keywords for therapists is so important. But for our topic today, we are going over some of the most common mistakes people make when doing keyword research. Now we all make mistakes, it’s only human to do so. But, those mistakes can have ripple effects that affect the overall ranking of your site. So, it can be invaluable to know how to avoid them. Let’s talk about it!

Woman on computer near notebook and coffee doing keyword research. This person has figured out what the best keywords for therapists in her area. To learn more about Simplified specialists, keyword research tools for therapists, and more, continue reading our blog.

Common Mistake #1: Assuming You Know What Your Audience is Searching

You may think you’re familiar with the terms that your ideal clients are searching for. Or, you may have expertly crafted the terminology you use throughout your site. While this is all wonderful to have, this doesn’t necessarily translate to knowing what your ideal clients are searching for. Even though different clients might describe their experiences in similar ways, you still shouldn’t assume that they correlate with Google. It’s certainly important to be familiar with how your clients describe what they are going through. But, it is also important to understand that some of the terms you’re familiar with might be unknown to your ideal client. For example, even though you may have a page titled “adolescent psychotherapy”, most people probably won’t be typing all of that out in the search bar. Instead, people may be searching for the term “teen counseling”, or something similar to it.

Honestly, keyword research can be a bit of an art. We’ve had many therapists come to us wanting to be very inclusive and only optimizing for “couples therapy.”  Yes, this is a great term that encompasses all of the work that you do. But in most areas of the country (there are exceptions which is why we must ALWAYS do keyword research for your unique area) “marriage counseling” is actually searched for significantly (think x4) more frequently. Similarly, you might describe your service as “psychotherapy for anxiety,” but more people are searching for “anxiety treatment” or even “anxiety counseling.”

But, There is An Exception

It should be noted that the intake materials that new clients fill out can provide you with valuable info. These can provide you with insight as to their reasons for coming into therapy. And, also give you ideas on future service pages or blog posts to address the issues your clients are bringing up. While this is effective, you’ll have much more luck using one of the many keyword research tools for therapists out there. In order to find what out your ideal client may be searching for. Which, actually leads me to my next point.

Common Mistake #2: Not Focusing On a Specific Location

There are many tools to research keywords for therapists. Some popular options include Google Trends, KWFinder, and Keywords Everywhere. However, knowing where to focus is just as important as the keyword itself. Having at least one specific location for where you’d like your site to rank is becoming increasingly important as the Google algorithm changes. Our team of SEO specialists has found that including location indicators on keywords for therapists helps focus the search to the area you want to rank for. Doing so will help Google understand where your practice is located. And, will help get your site in front of potential clients in your area.

Computer with the words "SEO Keyword Tool." This computer is being used to find the best keywords for mental health professionals in the area. Contact Simplified SEO Consulting for support keyword research tools for therapists and more.

It also helps narrow down terms that may be searched for to only focus on what is being searched for in a specific area. Even for online-only practices, referencing that your practice is based in a certain town or city may help to build your online presence with Google. Additionally, it is important to note that search trends differ based on where you are searching from. For example, “depression counseling” might be the most searched keyword in your state. But, “depression treatment” could be searched for most in the state that borders yours. It’s important to understand what keywords you are wanting to rank for, and where they are being most searched for.

Common Mistake #3: Not Understanding the Difficulty and Search Volume of Keywords

Admittedly, some keywords are harder to rank for than others. Tools such as KWFinder allow you to see the difficulty. But, this can become confusing when taking search volume into account. While it’s normally best to track the keyword that has the highest search volume, this isn’t always the best option when it comes to competing with others.

The difficulty of a keyword is based on how likely it is you’ll be able to climb up the search results. The harder the keyword, the harder the climb will be. If it’s a service many people offer support for, like “depression counseling”, you can expect a lot of competition and a tough climb. On the other hand, you can expect niche services to be easier to rank for since there isn’t as much competition.

Where this understanding becomes important is when dealing with keywords that might have a similar search volume, but different difficulties. Just because a keyword has a higher search volume does not mean you should necessarily focus on it. In fact, sometimes keywords with a smaller search can better because of the fact they’re easier to rank for. Not going for the most searched keyword can sometimes be the best call. Our SEO specialists can also help you weigh these kinds of decisions.

Common Mistake #4: Not Being Thorough with Selecting the Keywords Themselves

When it comes to SEO, even the plural and singular forms of a keyword can produce different results. When conducting keyword research, it’s very important to double-check that you have the correct form of the keyword you want. And, that you think about the search intent behind the keyword you want to rank for. Even the difference between “therapy for depression” and “depression therapy” might result in different search volumes.

Green search button with white hand curser hovering over it for Simplified SEO Consulting. Contact us for support in finding the best keywords for therapists, best keywords for mental health, and more.

So, What is Search Intent?

This is the reason why someone is searching for a term in the first place. When thinking of what keywords to target, think of why they would be searching for it. Are they seeking information from your site? Are they looking for a particular service? Maybe they want to buy something. Or, are simply researching more information on a topic. Understanding what your ideal client is hoping to gain from finding your site can help you tailor your keyword research. This way, when they do find your site, you will have the answers they are looking for.

In Conclusion

There are multiple pitfalls that people might fall into when conducting keyword research. It can certainly take a while to get used to all of the quirks and caveats that come with properly researching keywords for therapists, but the outcome of doing it correctly is worth any hassle.

Begin SEO Services with Simplified SEO Consulting

Our SEO specialists are trained in conducting properly researching keywords for therapists. We would love to help improve your SEO and get you higher up on Google. Follow these steps to start finding your ideal client today:

  1. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation with a member of our team
  2. Learn more about our services
  3. Start optimizing your site, and ranking better on Google

SEO Services Offered at Simplified SEO Consulting

Simplified SEO Consulting provides SEO services for helping professionals and private practice owners. Our comprehensive SEO services are included in our Done for You SEO Service packages.  People typically participate in those for an average of 6 months while we set a really firm foundation and get your website ranking well. Then, we offer continued support through our alumni packages. Our team also provides learning opportunities with our SEO training packages. This includes our “Top of Google” online course, 12 week Intensive Training Program and SEO Strategy package if you’re interested in learning how to optimize your website on your own.

Take the next step and book a free SEO Consultation to determine which option is best for your business. We look forward to talking with you!

About The Author

Sterling Humburg-Cage is a member of the 2020 graduating class from the University of Missouri. He is intent on using his B.A. in Psychology to help provide the best results as an SEO specialist.

Believe it or not, speed plays a bigger part in SEO than you think. You can have optimized content on your page that wows anyone who sees it. But, if the page takes too long to load, they won’t see it at all! I think everyone has been guilty of impatiently clicking away from a site at one point. So today I’ll be going over how you can improve your site speed. Warning, it might get a little technical.

What if I Don’t Know Much About the “Tech” Stuff?

Graphic of SEO data for Simplified SEO Consulting.

Have no fear! One of the perks of living in these modern times is having no shortage of resources and tools for private practice owners to improve their site. Working with a website designer is a great option. They will be able to make the changes necessary to fix some of the slower moving parts of your site. The only catch, they still need data!

Great, How Do I Get my Data?

Thankfully, Google has made it even easier with tools like PageSpeed Insights (PSI) to find this data. It’s one of the most used page speed measurement tools. PSI will quickly show you a score of how fast your site is based on different points of data it collects. All you have to do is click here, and enter your website to PSI. In return, it will give you different important pieces of data, opportunities to help load your page faster, and diagnostics about the performance of your site.

What Other Things Can I Do To Help Speed up My Site?

While I could get in the weeds on some of the more technical things within PSI, here are some of the biggest things you can do NOW to improve your site’s speed.

Concerned asian therapist looks at her laptop as she worries about SEO. Simplified SEO Consulting can help you improve site speed and more. Site Speed Tip #1: Optimize Those Photos!

You might think I’m talking about alt text and photo titles, but there is actually a lot more that can go into optimizing these! First up is the type of file you use. When it comes to what type of file to use, we suggest you go for a .png for your logo and .jpeg files for the other photos on your site.

When it comes to the file size, smaller equals better. Try to keep your photos under 1MB as a good rule of thumb. When it comes to our photo optimization process, our team likes to download “medium” sized photos from Bigstock. This way the image is just the right size. Not too big, but still large enough so that you can make out everything in the image.

Site Speed Tip #2: Word Press Users: Pick Purposeful Plugins

Having plenty of plugins can help you to accomplish a lot of different things on your site. But, having too many can weigh down your site. When choosing your plugins, make sure that you know what they are doing for your site, and how they are helping you! It might also be a good idea to occasionally look at the back-end of your site, and turn off any that you aren’t currently using.

While we’re on the topic of plugins, one great suggestion is Autoptimize. It’s a WordPress plugin that will help with caching, which is another important (but technical) part of SEO.

Site Speed Tip #3: Squarespace Users: Check Settings and Fonts

For Squarespace users, there is actually a quick fix you can make right now! From the back-end of your site, you can go to Settings -> Advanced ->SSL. Turning this SSL option on will make sure your site is delivered more quickly to Google, and turning on the “HSTS Secure” option can also help as well!

Another quick win is making sure your fonts will play nicely with Google. Squarespace has I lovely library of web fonts, but some can make your site run slower than others. Check to make sure you are using a web safe typeface. Furthermore, it also helps to only use one or two fonts on your site at a time. The more fonts the page has to load, the longer it will take to pop up for a potential client.

Site Speed Tip #4: External Scripts Can Slow Down Your Website

Technology graphic showing the word "S.E.O." and some computer icons representing how we simplify the process of optimizing your website for search engines

External scripts like a Facebook share button or a “schedule here” icon that goes to your personal calendar can be super helpful for things from a client-facing perspective. But, these scripts can also negatively impact the speed of your site. It’s important to think about the function of these scripts, and if they’re really worth the potential decrease in speed.

 

Begin Optimizing Your Website With Simplified SEO Consulting

Our trained SEO specialists would love to help you improve all aspects of your site. We feel strongly about providing the best service possible. If you are rank higher on Google, follow the simple steps below to get started:

  1. Book a free consultation,
  2. Speak to one of our SEO specialists to find what service is the best fit for your private practice,
  3. Start ranking better on Google and get more clients!

Other SEO Services offered by Simplified SEO Consulting

Simplified SEO Consulting offers a variety of SEO services designed to meet your needs. For practice owners, we offer Done for You SEO Services. We also offer alumni packages and al la carte SEO services. Our team provides several learning opportunities with our SEO training packages including our “Top of Google” online course and 12 weeks of online video training and SEO Strategy package if you’re interested in learning how to optimize your website on your own.

About The Author

Sterling Humburg-Cage is a member of the 2020 graduating class from the University of Missouri. He is intent on using his B.A. in Psychology to help provide the best results as an SEO specialist.

I talk a lot about keywords (in fact, my blog post on Counseling Keywords is one of the most popular pages on our site!), but I realized that most of what I say is related to keyword research.  Then, I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately on where to put keywords.  Therefore, I thought I’d write a short blog post (let’s face it: short for me means under 1,000 words so let’s see how this goes…) on that exact topic.

Where do I use keywords on a counseling website?

So, my short answer is everywhere that makes sense.  But, I’m guessing you’re looking for a more detailed answer than that.  Here’s the list of places I most often recommend you think about including keywords on a counseling, therapy or other mental health website:

  1. The Page Title
  2. The Meta Description & SEO Title
  3. In the text
  4. Subheadings
  5. In Photos
  6. The URL slug

Now let’s look at a little closer at each of these….

1. The Page Title

Your page title should be a quick description of what the page is about. However, it should also try to include at least one keyword you are targeting.  If someone was looking for the information you have on that specific page of your website, what would they look for?  This is where a little keyword research really helps you make difficult decisions like are you going to call a page “Trauma Therapy” or “PTSD Treatment?”

2. The Meta Description & SEO Title

Your SEO title for your page and the meta description should hold a couple of the top keywords that you want to target on that page.  For instance, your SEO title might contain the word “Trauma Therapy,” and then your meta description might include the words PTSD symptoms, EMDR, TF-CBT and trauma therapist.

Here’s a couple blog posts we’ve written in the past about these:

3. In the Text

To be honest, I have a lot of fun with this one.  You want to write in a way that seems fairly natural. However, you also want to work in as many keywords as you can.  I can look at almost any sentence at this point and figure out a way to add at least one more keyword. For example, if you’re said, “I usually recommend….” you could change it to read “As an anxiety therapist, I usually recommend….” and that helps you rank better for the keyword “anxiety therapist.” Or where you say, “We are here to help” you could say “Our therapists are here to help” or even “If you live in the Baltimore area, our therapists are here to help” if you’re trying to rank for the search term “Baltimore therapist.”

Occasionally, I’ve even been known to add a whole section to be able to fit more keywords on a page. For example, if I’m targeting “ERP San Diego,” I may add a section to a page all about OCD titled “ERP is Available in San Diego” where I explain that my practice offers exposure and response prevention to those struggling with OCD in the San Diego area. By creating that section (I’ll describe this a bit more and give another example below) I’m giving myself opportunities to naturally weave that particular keyword throughout the section.

4. Subheadings

Screen shot of a blog post we've written pointing to H2, H3 and H4 level headings to demonstrate how we use higher level headings to make main points and for keyword placementSearch Engines assume a subheading describes the information below it. Therefore, words in subheadings are most likely given more “weight” when determining how to rank a page.

I’ve been known to add entire sections of a page just so I can use a specific keyword in a subheading. For instance, if “symptoms of PTSD” is searched for a lot (hint: in most areas it is), I’ll create a specific section of the page called “Symptoms of PTSD” just so I can use that keyword in a subheading.  Google assumes that subheadings describe the content of that section. And if you have a whole section about something, it must be an important part of your page, right?

I sometimes say that if you mention the phrase “panic attack” on a page, Google will assume you know how to spell the word. If you write an entire section of a page called, “Signs of a panic attack,” you must have some decent information to share on the topic. Then, if you create a whole page about panic attacks Google will believe you really have a lot of great information and is even more likely to rank you at the top for that search term.

Here’s an article I wrote specifically about best practices using subheadings in a way that’s helpful for SEO in the mental health field.

5. Optimizing Photos

I recommend using keywords in both the photo file name and the alt text.  In fact, you can fit in some of the keywords you don’t know where else to use on your website here.  Once you’ve picked a photo that goes well with your page, you can change the file name for the photo to include a keyword and specify the alt text for that photo. This is what will be read to someone using a screen reader when they visit your site.

6. The URL Slug

When I’m creating a new website page, I’ll check the url slug. I want to keep a url slug short, on topic and include 1-2 keywords.  For instance, the slug for this page is “Keyword-placement-website.”  It communicates that this post is about keyword placement on a website.  It’s relatively short and easy to type and on topic. However, “keyword placement” is a keyword I want to target for this blog post as well.  Here’s a great Yoast article if you want to learn more about optimizing a url slug.

*Important note here: If you are going back and changing the slug on a page that’s already been published on your site, be careful.  You will likely need to create a “url redirection” as well to avoid 404 errors.  So, you may want to start out by just using keywords in the slug of new pages you create.

Graph showing Growth of a small business after starting a monthly seo package from Simplified SEO Consulting.

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 “Top of Google” 2.5 Day SEO 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.

You have a great therapy practice, but do you even exist without a website? Not in today’s world! Check out these free, relevant resources for mental health professionals. If you want to learn more about how we can help your therapy website rank higher in the search results, book a free consult. I’d love to talk with you about which services could help you help more people.

I am not new to WordPress. For years, I had the responsibility of keeping up with my office’s website on the our local University’s server. Y’all, it was the Wild, Wild West when we first set up that site! I am definitely a DIY-er on a lot of things, but this was overwhelming. Coding? Site navigation? Design? We weren’t even thinking about meta descriptions and SEO at that point! After supervising two huge redesigns, I learned a ton about site upkeep, plugins, widgets, themes and accessibility (more on that next month). But, I did not know how to launch a brand new, DIY website. In fact, I thought all you had to do was purchase a domain on Google and WordPress would magically make it happen.

Nope. Not so much.

Well…sort of. You can go through WordPress.com, which is what I did with my birth services site a few years ago. Whoops! Don’t do this, unless you want to spend a bunch of money to “rent” the space. I can’t even get Yoast SEO tools on the site without upgrading to a more expensive package! No, thank you.

So, how do I get started with my therapy website?

First, you need to have a clear vision and mission for your website. This will help make the decisions much easier to make while getting setup. You do not have to have a fancy brand kit, but you will need to make some aesthetic decisions eventually. Don’t worry, these can be changed! Having a budget for what you are able to spend on basic website setup now, and on an annual basis, would be helpful. This is especially important if you have “shiny object syndrome” like I do. There are a ton of people who would love to sell you a bunch of bells and whistles online. Of course.

Okay, great! I have time and money. What’s next?

Short video loop of 4 adults from the show Seinfeld doing a celebratory looking dance with fast feet and hands in the air. From Giphy. Celebrate your SEO wins for your therapy business with Simplified SEO ConsultingNext, I HIGHLY recommend you block out a day to do the basic launch for your mental health or therapy website. Can it be done in a few hours, here and there? Sure. But, if you’re like me, focused time is way more productive than pieces. If you are able to immerse yourself in the training, and set up your site as you go, you’ll end your day of action with a live website! Celebrate your wins, folks. You deserve it.

Didn’t you say there was training involved?

Finally, get yourself registered for the FREE Yoast SEO Training on WordPress for Beginners. Like I said, I was not a beginner, but wanted to approach the process as a beginner would. This way, I could catch up on any features, tips and tricks that I didn’t already know. Let me tell you, I am so glad I did it this way! Was some of it a review of information I already knew? Sure. Of course. Here’s a hot tip for those modules that are more of a review for you:

Hot Tip: You can adjust the speed of each video! 1.25x was a decent pace for me to still listen for new concepts without feeling like I was “wasting” time. (Because NO ONE has extra time, amirite?)

For those of you who are less auditory, there are PDF pages with every module that provide more details than the videos. I started the training watching every video, then reading the PDF, then taking the quiz for that module before moving on to the next. After a couple of topics, I either just watched the videos or just read the PDF, depending on my comfort level with the action steps for the concept. Basically, you can do this however YOU learn best. Yes, this is the instructor in me talking now.

Wait…there’s a quiz?!?

Yes. Yes there is. Quite a few of them, actually. I was sort of hoping you wouldn’t notice that part, perhaps? In order to get your certificate at the end, you must score at least 80% overall. (Yes, you can re-take the quizzes after you’ve reviewed the answers and the concepts again…it’s really not that bad) Actually, this was a fun part of the training! As a high-achiever, you know I needed to do well on those quizzes and get that certificate.

Danica Wolf successfully completed the WordPress for beginners course by Yoast SEO!

Now, there were a few key takeaways from the training I would love to highlight! These are things that some of our clients have had questions about, so you might be curious too. I’d love to know what else you are curious about, so please leave a comment below with additional questions and/or topics you would like for us to cover.

Key Takeaways For Mental Health Professionals for Your Therapy Website

Module 4.2: Adding images, videos and embeds

Even those who know how to add images could benefit from this enhanced training. However, remember that with our Done For You Comprehensive SEO packages, we can do this for your counseling or therapy website.

    • Notice that GIF I included up there? Yep, fancy right? I didn’t know how people did that until going through this module! AND, because I know how to optimize Alt Text for both SEO and accessibility, that fun little image is giving this post a nice boost in the rankings while ensuring that all who read this page are able to experience the content. If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, I don’t know what will.
    • Maybe the GIF isn’t your thing. That’s okay. I also know that in order to captivate, connect and convert our potential (read: ideal) clients, we need to build the “Know, Like and Trust” factor. One great way to do this is to have more of you and your team featured. One way to do this is to spend a quick two minutes talking about a particular concept, on camera, and add it to a service page! (I know, it sounds scary…but you can do hard things, right?) Perhaps you could do a quick Facebook Live, download it to YouTube and embed the video on your site? If all of that sounds too scary, find a quality clip of Brené Brown for the time being.

Module 6.3 & 6.4: Common Mistakes and Security

Well, if that doesn’t entice you to watch this 3.5-minute video, I don’t know what will! Yes, please…just tell me the common mistakes. Not surprisingly, they are the type of things that we at Simplified SEO Consulting have a tendency to mention every month on Facebook, on consult calls and via e-mail. So, let’s review the top three for SEO, shall we?

  1. Photo of police officer, looking at the camera. Officer is a woman in uniform.Improper Permalink Etiquette: Set them up in a smart, strategic, SEO-enhancing way (or let us) before hitting “Publish”, and don’t touch them once they are published!
  2. Avoiding the Updates: Be sure to update your website, plugins and theme regularly! At least twice a month is best practice. If you have a web developer, they may be doing this already but you should still ask to be sure.
  3. Create a CLU password! Passwords shouldn’t be simple, or easy to guess. Did you know, StarWars made the list of most popular passwords? Yep. We’re not quite as clever as we think we are, huh?
    Get a CLU instead: Complex, Long and Unique!

Module 7.2: WordPress and the Yoast SEO Plugin

Before the training, I honestly didn’t know everything the Yoast plugin could do for therapy and other mental health websites. I’m still not positive I know the ins and outs of every piece (canonicals? crawlability? sure…) What I love most about the plugin is:

Bullet feedback –

Red. Orange. Green. I’ve been driving for over half of my life. I can certainly get on board with a basic stoplight system! Easy. Even as I’m typing this post, I check the real-time feedback every so often to be sure I’m optimizing this blog. (How Meta……get it?)

Readability analysis –

If you’ve been on a call with me, you know my oh-so-shameful secret already. Okay, it’s not really a secret, but it’s my biggest “growth edge” when it comes to SEO for therapy websites. Drumroll, please…I’m an academic. Yep. I have the horrible habit of making things WAY more complex than needed. In fact, I think I had that last sentence written three different ways before settling on its current form? (Checks readability color again)

Snippet editor –

What kind of magic is this?! I know we can’t actually dictate what the search engines choose to feature in search results. But, if we take the time to make it easier for the bots, they should reward us, right? I think so. This is that “secret sauce” that Jessica refers to, the meta description! In the past couple of months, I have learned a ton about meta descriptions. Way more than I knew was possible. If that sounds like a fun venture for you, definitely snag our free, 7-day SEO e-mail course.

To Wrap it All Up

In the final, “What Should You Do?” module, my favorite quote was “…of course, you could outsource this, but it remains a task that requires human effort.” Yes. Yes it does! That’s where we come in. If you are the DIY type, I totally understand. I am too. There are certainly some basics to know that will help you get set up, but ranking well on the search engines is a process that involves a surprising amount of trial and error. To make it easier, we are so excited to finally offer a live crash course in SEO via a weekend workshop! We would love to work with you online and/or in-person.

With affordable, accessible options for all sizes and scopes of clinics, we can help you maximize your online therapy website presence and attract more clients who are already looking for you. To get started, just schedule a free, 30-minute Zoom consultation by clicking here.

Happy helping, however you practice,

~Danica Wolf, MSW
Mental Health SEO Specialist