Therapists are often told they should maintain their blogs. To not only market themselves and their services, but to share their knowledge. As a therapist, you may get behind on blogging due to being busy at your practice. Or you struggle with blogging because you can’t find the inspiration. It all makes sense. However, this creates opportunities for therapists to turn to pre-written therapist content and pre-written social media posts. 

This pre-written therapist content may be convenient but comes with perils. Ones that can directly affect your SEO and cost you clients. In this blog, I will talk about the perils that come with pre-written therapist content and pre-written social media posts for therapists. 

Duplicate ContentShows duplicate content and Google not knowing which one is original. Represents how pre-written content can be duplicate and affect SEO.

First, I want to put it out there that I understand why a therapist would want to choose pre-written therapist content. It’s convenient and makes it easy for a therapist who is busy, doesn’t like writing, or isn’t good at it. However, when you choose services that provide you with pre-written blogs, pre-written social media posts, or just pre-written therapist content in general, you risk the odds of having the same material as someone else. This is called duplicate content. Duplicate content is when content is similar or even the exact same content on other websites or even your own. 

These services don’t take away options once someone chooses them. The services tell the clients they can personalize them and hope that some will. So maybe the posts will be less identical. But, why did you choose a pre-written blog or social media post in the first place? So you didn’t have to write it yourself. So, the odds of someone personalizing the pre-written content to where they are not even a sliver of the same is very slim. Which means there is duplicate content on your and another person’s page. This also means Google will notice there is duplicate content and there can be consequences.

Google Will Find Out

Why should you worry about duplicate content and Google finding it? Google states in their terms of service, “We want to maintain a respectful environment for everyone, which means you must follow these basic rules of conduct: – comply with applicable laws, including export control, sanctions, and human trafficking laws -respect the rights of others, including privacy and intellectual property rights”. Google then goes on to say “Your content remains yours, which means that you retain any intellectual property rights that you have in your content.

For example, you have intellectual property rights in the creative content you make, such as reviews you write. Or you may have the right to share someone else’s creative content if they’ve given you their permission. We need your permission if your intellectual property rights restrict our use of your content. You provide Google with that permission through this license.” Google clearly states that they need your permission to share your content. Just like you need permission to share others’ content. This is why the license to use Google is the agreement to share your content with them. So they can use it to track patterns of data along with preventing spam, malware, and illegal content.

Google also goes on to define your content as “Your content: Some of our services give you the opportunity to make your content publicly available — for example, you might post a product or restaurant review that you wrote, or you might upload a blog post that you created”. So, to specifically highlight that Google even points out that blog posts that people write and share are covered by intellectual property rights. This means if the owner of the original content finds out you’re sharing their content without their permission, you can be sued.

Ownership of Pre-Written ContentShows the words "Intellectual property" with designs around it. Represents how blogs are covered by intellectual property law.

So having large amounts of duplicate content can have some negative impact on Google rankings. They claim it is highly unlikely but can happen. But, Google will also not be sure who the original content’s owner is. Unless you submit a DMCA request to claim ownership of the content. A DMCA is a legal request also sent to the infringing website owner requesting the content to be removed. Also, Google will also be unsure of which version of the pre-written content to keep in its indices. This will lead to Google having to decide which version of the content is the most trustworthy and which will be linked to during search results. 

The trouble for you as the website owner with the duplicate pre-written therapist content, this means you might not be getting recognition or credit for the content. Google will have to choose one site to be the authority on this blog post’s content. They will divert all search traffic from Google searches to the one they deem the most trustworthy and less to the duplicates. This means, if Google does not deem you the original content provider or the authority on this topic, you will not get any search results for it. It can also negatively impact your rankings.

 

Google Penalties 

Google has also stated that in some circumstances, that duplicate content can lead to penalties. Or, the complete deindexing of a website. However, there is no specific duplicate content penalty, and mostly happens to websites that scrape content from other sites. But, this means that if your website has an excessive amount of duplicate content, Google may completely deindex your website where it will not come up in search results at all.

It is rare but if Google notices that you are continuously posting pre-written content that is posted on other sites, it could be a cause for concern. It could put your website and all of your hard work in harm’s way. Also, it could also damage your credibility. However, as stated above, the original owner of the content can submit a DCMA request to have the content removed from your website.

This Affects Your SEOShows a notepad with "SEO" and a magnify glass. Represents how SEO can be affected by pre-written therapist content.

As I mentioned above, Google won’t know who wrote your content originally. It will just see that the pre-written content is duplicated on multiple pages. It will have to choose out of all the duplicate content who receives the authority, and trust. Along with getting the Google search results rankings. This means that if you’re not the authority or main page, you can really lower your rankings if you continuously use pre-written content that is also used by others.

However, if you are the main page or the authority, it can also have a negative impact. Your rankings may be strong at first but as more people duplicate the same pre-written content, it will slowly impact your rankings. This will also lead to people finding your website and content less and less, which leads to fewer clients. No therapist or private practice wants that.

How Does Pre-Written Content Affect Your SEO?

Besides leading to fewer rankings, duplicate content can result in less organic traffic as Google likes to avoid ranking pages that use duplicate content found on other websites and pages. This can be from someone scraping your content, having multiple of the same pages on your website, or even having printable versions of your URL. 

Sometimes Google doesn’t want to rank it at all and will even refuse to index your pages with duplicate content. Which means your content isn’t even searchable on Google. Which can burn your website’s crawl budget on all your duplicate content. For the person who wrote the original content, it can lead to a dilution of backlinks. It can even look as if they purchased backlinks, which is a way to lessen credibility.

Ethics

Now, not only can it affect your website and rankings, but it’s not ethical. Some services will take content from other sites where the content is original and use them for pre-written content services. This not only will affect you by having duplicate content on your site but affect the original content’s owner because their authority on the topic will be questioned. It also will appear as if they have duplicate content when they wrote the post. It also will hurt their SEO. 

Which is an unfair byproduct of this process. However, the original content that they expertly wrote where can end up on the website of a therapist who is not an expert on that topic. It leads to the therapist who chose the pre-written content advertising they are an expert. When in reality, it was content pulled from an expert’s website.

As a Copywriter, I Would Prefer You Wrote Your Own Blogs

I am the copywriter for Simplified SEO Consulting and I write for our clients by request. I absolutely love my job as I get to write about interesting topics and tailor all content to the client’s voice. I’m saying this because I would rather you, a therapist or mental health professional, write your own blogs and social media posts over using pre-written, canned content. If you’re struggling with writing for your website, consider hiring a copywriter. Because a copywriter will be able to individualize your content and you won’t have to worry about it being a duplicate. 

 

Here are some of our favorite SEO Sources and what they say about duplicate content:

About the Author:Lynsey, SEO Content Writer for Simplified SEO Consulting

Lynsey is an SEO Content Specialist at Simplified SEO Consulting. At Simplified, Lynsey enjoys writing original content for clients and their practices. She realizes that writing quality, original content is important not only to her clients, but to their practice and the clients that go there too! Especially, with the content being used as a resource or even just to boost a client’s SEO. Her goal is to always create content that resonates with the client and learn as much as she can along the way. She is passionate about providing copywriting services for psychiatrists and therapists.

Schedule your next consultation if you’re ready to see how Simplified can serve you!

Do I have any other Story Brand fans out there?  If you haven’t read Donald Miller’s book “Story Brand” yet, I highly encourage you to pause for a moment and go purchase it on Amazon.  I’ve read through it 3 times myself, participated in a small group study where we went through it together, and created several versions of a brand script.  It’s just an all-around great book for every business owner to read.

*pausing now so you can purchase the book*

Ok, hopefully, you’re continuing to read because you’ve now purchased this wonderful marketing book.

In general, Story Brand has great advice for therapists.

Now, hopefully, I’ve made it clear that I REALLY like Story Brand and I think Donald Miller’s marketing advice is generally golden.  Some of my favorite things I’ve learned from Story Brand:

  • As a business owner, you are the guide in your marketing, not the hero.  Our customers are the hero.
  • Keep your messaging simple.  This is especially true on websites.  We want a client to be able to immediately tell what service we offer when they land on our website (Donald Miller calls this the caveman test), so I often work with SEO clients on simplifying their language in their writing, adding a clear call to action button and even simplifying the navigation bar so people can easily navigate a website.
  • Your website should have a clear, short statement explaining what you do “above the fold” or before someone scrolls down.
  • A website needs clear calls to action.  It shouldn’t be difficult for a client to figure out what to do next or how to get ahold of you.
  • Paint a clear picture of how your service will help the client.  On a website, it’s important to do this through having positive, outcome-based pictures.  Photos quickly convey how someone will feel after working with you.

Anyways, I could go on and on about all the things he got very right in his book.

There is one place I disagree with Donald Miller’s advice….

There’s just one place I disagree.  And I know I might ruffle a couple of feathers by disagreeing with such a genius marketer.  But I can’t help it….

At one point in the book (page 154 in my well loved copy), Donald Miller recommends that you delete half the content on your website. In fact, he says your website should have “very few words.”

*Gasp*

In fact, this is something I’ve heard Donald Miller repeats when he speaks and that he’s very, very critical of websites (like mine) with a large amount of content. As someone who helps therapists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals with their SEO every single day, I disagree.  

Why do I disagree?

Because if you delete half the content on your website it will be much more difficult to get your website to the top of search engines.

Google needs your website to have enough content that it can figure out what your website is about. It can’t rank you for the searches your ideal clients are doing unless it realizes that you have information bout that topic!  You may have heard the phrase, “Content is King.”  This is SOOO

500 Word Minimum for Therapist Blog Posts | Simplified SEO Consulting true when it comes to SEO.  I’ve told you before that Google likes lots of content.

It is well established in the world of SEO that Google ranks sites with more words higher.

Google assumes that if you have the word “divorce” on your page you know what the word means.  If you have a paragraph about “divorce” on a page all about life transitions you may know a little about the topic.  But if you have a whole page with lots (500+) of words? Wow, Google now assumes you’re an expert. When someone is searching for tips for getting through a divorce, Google now understands that your website has the information that person is looking for!!

So, how do we stay (mostly) true to Story Brand while also getting great SEO?

Question mark and man to show how this post answers several questions about SEO & Storybrand for therapist & private practice websites.I believe it’s possible to both stay true to Story Brand and create a well-ranking website with tons of content.  We use your brand script to make sure we really understand your services.  Then, we sprinkle the phrases you’ve used throughout your site as we optimize.

Most importantly, we simplify your message by using your brand script when we write headings and subheadings on your page.  We know nobody reads big blocks of text on a website.  But they do scan the page.  Therefore, the subheadings are what people are most likely to read on your page.

We use this knowledge to our advantage.  Subheadings on your page absolutely need keywords in them. However, they also need to be written more carefully than anything else on your page because they are what your clients are most likely to read.  So, the subheadings should be very easy to understand and clear.  In other words, they should be written with your brand script in mind.

Can I still use the Storybrand wireframe and rank well on Google?

Absolutely!  I’ve seen several website that use the Storybrand wireframe and just add more content.  I also think it’s ok if your home page has fewer words.  That is, after all, the page most people will see.  I recommend people prioritize design & carefully chosen wording on their home page.  Then, you have some carefully chosen service pages explaining that you are an “expert” on treating your ideal clients.  These service pages should use Storybrand but will likely have more words on the page than Storybrand recommends.

So, don’t throw the recommended wireframe out just because you are adding more content to your site.  Just know, at least on some pages, you’re likely adding more words than a Storybrand professional would recommend.

Content still needs to be quality content

Now, I don’t want you to misunderstand me here and think I’m just telling you to go add a couple thousand words of text to every page of your website.  Content for content’s sake is not necessarily good. A huge part of what my staff does is help our clients strategically choose content that will both be very useful to your clients and improve your SEO.  And when you’re creating content, you still want to keep in mind the principles of Storybrand.

For example, I strongly recommend blogging regularly as part of your SEO Strategy.  You can write excellent, really informative blogs that provide some great tips to your ideal clients. In fact, I often assign my old blog posts as homework to clients or my client care coordinator will send out an old blog post for someone to read while they wait for their first appointment! However, I think you’ll write even better blog posts if you remember that even in those you’re setting the client up as the hero. In the blog you’re saying, “Here is a tip that will help you conquer your anxiety dragon. It’s a tool that will help you on this quest.” Not, “I’m so smart that he’s a magic technique that will solve your problems for you.”

Content is only one part of good SEO strategy

Now, just because I’m talking about how I recommend adding more content to your website than Donald Miller recommends does NOT mean I’m saying adding a bunch of content should be the focus of your SEO Strategy.  First of all, content that isn’t carefully chosen isn’t helpful.

However, it’s also important to note that content is only one piece of the puzzle.  You also want to address technical issues on your site, have a secure website, make sure you’re using the type of words your ideal clients might use, build lots of backlinks to your website and so much more.

So please, know that you need to add content to your website if you’re created a website that follows Storybrand closely but isn’t ranking well. But also know that just word dumping on your website won’t alone get you great SEO.

Our SEO consultants love to work with Story Brand fans!

The truth is, my favorite new trend with SEO clients is that many are sending us their brand script!  This is so flipping cool.  It makes our day. Or week. Or month.

If you do the hard work of reading Story Brand and creating a brand script, it helps us clearly understand your message. This helps us be more clear as we optimize your page.  It informs everything from your meta descriptions to the internal links we place on your site.  Most importantly, we try to incorporate elements of your brand script when we’re writing subheadings on your page.  This way, your website does a better job of converting when people do a quick scan of your page!

Have your brand script ready and want to start focusing on SEO for your website?

You’ve read Story Brand, have a clear picture of how to describe your services and have even made some changes to your website. Now you’re just ready to get that website in front of more people while still maintaining a clear message.  That’s where we come in!

Search Engine Optimization helps you get your website out there in front of more people.  At Simplified SEO Consulting, we offer several options to help you do this.  If you’re the DIY type, we have online SEO courses including a comprehensive one that takes you step by step through our favorite SEO techniques.  We also have a 12 week SEO intensive if you’re looking for support and guidance to optimize your site. On the other hand, if you find your just too busy to worry about SEO yourself, our staff can optimize your site for you with our “Done for You” services.  Even with this option, you’re welcome to send us your brand script and we’ll do our best to incorporate the simple messages you’ve come up with as we optimize your site.

How to start working on your SEO

We help therapists, psychiatrists, counselors other small business owners (generally in the health and wellness industry) get their websites ranking well on google.  Getting started is easy!

  1. Set up a free 30 minute Zoom appointment to talk to one of our SEO specialists about which service is the best fit for your needs.
  2. Begin learning to do SEO yourself or working with our staff through a monthly “done for you” package.
  3. Watch your website begin moving toward the first page of Google.

You have Google Analytics installed for your counseling website.  In fact, you’ve even looked at Google Analytics a few times.  But what do all those numbers mean?  How do you actually USE any of the data?  Every time you look at Google Analytics you just feel overwhelmed and to be honest a little annoyed.

You’re a therapist. You are good at connecting with people. Crunching numbers and pouring over random pieces of data on the computer just doesn’t sound appealing.

I get it.  There’s a TON of data on Google Analytics.  And the truth is that some of it is more helpful than other pieces of information on there.

How to Start Using Google Analytics Data

I’d love to help simplify things a bit and break down just a couple of pieces of information you can find on Google Analytics that might be helpful.  Here are a few questions that Google Analytics can help you answer:

How many people are coming to your site?Two happy people looking at a website. Simplified SEO Consulting offers monthly SEO packages for counseling practice owners.

A great place to start on your Google Analytics account is the top of that main page after you login.  This has some great basic information.  First up, the number of users is exactly what you suspect-the number of people (or devices) that have viewed your site in the given amount of time that you’ve chosen. Sessions is slightly different, because it takes into account that the same person may look at your site several times before calling, so your number of “sessions” is typically higher than users.

While there really isn’t a magic number of website visitors or sessions you want to aim for, you do want to look at this number occasionally. In general, you want to see that as you’re improving your counseling website’s search engine optimization, the number of people visiting your site is increasing.

Where are people finding your website?

You can also use Google Analytics to figure out where website users are coming from. Google Analytics shows you how many clients come to your site directly (they just typed in your web address), through clicking on your link from social media, or another referral (usually through a backlink on another site). After I post a new blog post to my social media sites I sometimes check in real quick to not just see how many people went to the blog post, but how many found it through my social media sites to help me determine if it’s really worth putting these things on my social media pages. Google Analytics can provide you this information for each day.

Additionally, Google Analytics can show small business owners where their website visitors are located.  This has some value in that you want the bulk of your website visitors to be people who can actually use your services.  While there are some valid reasons for people out of state (or even out of the country) to look at your website, the bulk of your visitors should probably be from the state where your practice is located.

What is Your Bounce Rate & Is that OK?

Bounce Rate refers to people who only look at one page on your site.  It’s actually very common for people to only look at one page on your site.  For instance, if they are searching Google for a specific issue, click the link and read one of your blog posts and then leave your site.  Why? Because your post answered their question.  That’s a great reason to have internal links on your site-to show them what other valuable information your site has to offer! But I’ll save that for a future post…

A big question people ask is what is a “good” bounce rate.  I don’t have a super specific answer here.  I’ve heard that in general it’s really hard to get a bounce rate before 40.  Another site said that around 50% is average. In general, the consensus seems to be that you want to aim for below 70.  But that is for websites in general. I will say that most therapist websites I’ve seen the data for are between 50-70%. I’ve seen some as low as mid 40s or as high as 80%. My best suggestion is to know what the “average” is for your website. When your website seems to be performing worse than usual, re-evaluate and make changes.

Picture of Google Analytics Top of Page. Begin SEO Consulting Services for Therapist Private Practice Owners

This is an example of some of the basic data you’ll see first when you open Google Analytics. You’ll notice that the bounce rate is right at the top.

Which Pages on my Site Need Editing?

Near the bottom of the main page you can click on “pages report.”  I love this feature!  It allows a small business owner to see some great information about specific pages on your website. As counseling practice owners, our home page will typically be the most visited.

The next most popular on a counseling website is generally the “Our Team” page or the owner’s “About Me” page.  But there’s a LOT of great data if you click on the actual page report. Some of the things I like to check out include which of my therapists pages do people go to the most and stay on the longest?  Do any of my therapist’s “about” pages have high bounce rates?  If one page people stay on shorter times and tend to exit off of, I look at if we need to change the picture, add more text, personalize the page with a favorite quote, etc.

Similarly, I look at my service pages….if one has a higher exit rate or people spend less time on the page, I look at that page to see if I can make it more informative, more inviting, add more internal links directing them to other pages, etc.  I see my service pages as some of the most important on our site, because they’re our way of really communicating to potential clients that we understand their specific concerns and really winning them over. Therefore, I pay closer attention to the statistics on these pages compared to others.

Don’t worry about a high bounce rate on your “contact” page or rates page.  After looking at these pages, people have often found the information they need and are either going to

1) Decide they can’t afford you

2) Call your office

3) Fill out and submit the contact form to get ahold of you.

Looking for Help Using this Data to Improve Your Counseling Website SEO?

As a group psychotherapy practice owner myself, I understand the importance of having a well ranking website. One that consistently brings in new clients. I love helping other therapy practice owners. Helping them to experience the excitement of an increase in phone calls once their website is ranking well! My SEO consulting services can help your counseling practice in several different ways.  One way is, I have a secret Facebook group for my SEO Consulting clients.

Practice owners who have purchased an SEO package (whether DFY or DIY) have access to this group on Facebook. This is where I do Facebook lives, share how-to videos and post random SEO tips.  For almost two weeks recently I did a mini series on Google Analytics to help people learn how to use Google Analytics data to make a plan of action for improving search engine rankings.  It has sparked some good conversation in the group with practice owners even sharing specific tips with one another about their unique website platforms (GoDaddy vs. Weebly vs. Square Space, etc).

Simplified SEO Consulting Logo: Improving Search Engine Rankings for Private Practice Owners.If you are a group practice owner ready to really focus on getting your website found, book a free consultation to discuss how my SEO services might be able to help!

I provide SEO Consulting services to therapists and other small business owners interested in optimizing their websites for search engines.  I offer monthly SEO packages where I provide work on your website for you (keyword research, adding alt text to photos, meta descriptions, headings/subheadings, etc.). Or, I offer SEO Training services where I “teach a man to fish” and teach you the skills you’ll need to keep your website ranking well for years to come!  If you’re ready to get started, book a free 30 minute SEO consultation over Zoom video chat.  We’ll discuss your business and which SEO services would help you reach your goals!