female therapist works in her at home office writing blogs after researching seo keywords that her ideal clients are looking for. She learns tips from members of the Simplified SEO consulting staff

On-Page SEO for Therapists, Psychiatrists & Mental Health Providers

On page SEO is one of the most important aspects of getting a website to rank well on Google. It involves optimizing your website so that Google understands what your website is about, and ranks it higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). There are many different on page SEO techniques that you can use, but we will discuss some of the most common ones that we recommend private practice owners target in their SEO efforts in this blog post.

What is On-Page SEO?

So…let’s start with the basics. What is on-page SEO?  On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing content on your website (service pages, your home page, your blogs, etc) for search engines. I like to think of it as what you do to make it crystal clear to Google what your page is about. You’re demonstrating to Google the value your page offers to website visitors looking for information ona specific topic.

On-Page SEO as Part of Your Bigger SEO Plan

When I first started optimizing therapist websites 5.5 years ago, we were able to add a few specific service pages to a website, do a little on page SEO (even with very imperfect keyword research) and the site would start ranking well.

SEO is a bit more complicated now as more and more people in the mental health field are taking the time to create a comprehensive SEO plan. Your on page optimization should be part of a larger SEO strategy that includes keyword research, off-page optimization (link building, guest blogging, etc), local SEO (including both on and off page elements) and technical elements as well.

However, I still find that On-Page SEO is a critical piece of the puzzle. And if you do everything else but don’t do On-Page SEO, Google will come to trust your website more but won’t have a solid understanding of what your page is about. Therefore, without solid on-page SEO you’ll never rank as well as you could.

Specific On-Page Techniques Private Practice Owners Should be Using

Some on-page SEO things you may want to work on if you’re optimizing a specific page of your website:

High Quality Contentgreat content writing word cloud in a art sketchbook with a cup of coffee - business writing and content marketing concept

Great content! First and foremost, make sure you have quality content on the page that really provides valuable information to website visitors! Google likes content that is well written, relevant to the topic and comprehensive.

Title Tag & Meta Descriptions

Make sure you have a unique title tag and meta description for the page. This is what will show up in search engine results pages, which can help draw people to click on your link over someone else’s. We’ve written a lot of blog posts about this in the past including a recent one with examples of how you might write these for various pages of your site.

Headers (H1, H2 etc.)

Make strategic use of headings & subheadings. Google uses the H1, H2, etc tags to “figure out” what your page is about. Each page of your website should generally have one “H1” or title of the page. Then, the page will be divided into several H2s and possibly use some H3s.

H2s should be a short description of what’s below that. For example, on this page an H2 is “Specific On-Page SEO Techniques Private Practice Owners.” As Google would assume, the section goes on to describe specific on-page SEO techniques.

Then, you’ll notice that I am using H3s on this post to describe sub-topics. For example, this particular section has an Level 3 heading, or an H3, that reads “Headers (H1, H2 etc.).

Photo of a child on a frozen lake representing how a Canadian therapist might carefully choose a hopeful photo such as this one as part of their on page optimization plan. Carefully choosing & optimizing photos is a great on-page SEO strategy.Use Photos Strategically

Use photos to break up text and illustrate points. However, it’s important to make sure the photo file size isn’t too big as that can slow a page down. Additionally, you can get more “SEO juice” from photos if you make sure to name the photo file something relevant to the topic and include ta keyword phrase in the Alt tag for each photo.

Use Keywords

Naturally include keywords a couple of times on the page. However, make sure it’s natural and doesn’t compromise the quality of the content. I think people can get overly stressed about this. My advice is to write the page without worrying about keywords. Then, go back through the page and see if there’s a natural way to include your keywords.

Consider Readability: Is Your Page Easy to Read?

Make sure your website is easy to read. This is a huge issue we see on private practice websites. People want to fit as much information as possible into a small space. And, you really know what you are talking about. So, it’s easy to fall into the trap of using words that the average person may not understand.

When I talk about readability, some people immediately respond, “But my ideal clients are educated.” That may be true. However, YOU are the expert at mental health at the moment. So, even if they have a Ph.D, if it’s not in psychology, then they may have trouble understanding some of the words you use.

So, make sure to use language that is easy for everyone to understand and break up text with images and other visuals.

Internal Linking

If you have other relevant content on your website, link to it from the page you are working on. This is an important part of creating content that Google loves. By linking to other pages, you’re helping organize your website in a way that Google can understand. Additionally, internal Links help point people who do visit your website to other pages of your site. The more they read on your site, the more likely they are to become a client.

External Linking

This is similar to internal linking, but you will be finding other websites to link to. This will help Google understand the topic of your page and give your website “social proof” that other sites are talking about the same topic.

So, I generally recommend using one or two external links when it’s appropriate. Just make sure they are to other authoritative websites and that they open in a new window

Take On-Page SEO One Step at a Time

On-page SEO can seem overwhelming. But, the best way to tackle it is one page at a time. Just focus on making each page of your website the best it can be in terms of SEO. That way, when visitors arrive at your page, they will find helpful and relevant content that is easy to read and navigate.

This may only be one component of your SEO plan, but it’s a really important one. So, take some time to make sure key pages on your site are fully optimized. It will be worth it in the long run!

On-Page SEO Training on a Cruise This JulyPhoto of a princess cruise outside Vancouver, Canada representing the princess cruise we'll bring private practice owners on from LA to Hawaii in July. We'll focus on teaching private practice owners on-page SEO in training sessions.

Have trouble finding the time to optimize? Or maybe you find yourself feeling stuck or overwhelmed by the process. We are offering a really unique SEO training experience this July. The number one concern we’ve heard from our training clients is that they have trouble finding the time to put into practice what we teach. So…we’re looking to solve that problem. We’re asking that you set aside a little time to focus really intently on learning these techniques, applying them and receiving quick feedback from us.

Join us for a 14-day SEO training cruise leaving out of LA, visiting 4 Hawaiian Islands and a final stop in Mexico. We’ll have ten days at sea where you’ll receive lots of training. Danica and I will go more depth than we’ve ever gone before teaching you on-page SEO techniques with real time feedback and lots of 1:1 support. Then, you’ll have the added benefit of some amazing digital marketing training and support from our friend Ernesto who is a true expert on video marketing, social media and more for therapists and mental health professionals.

Can’t make it on the cruise? We’ll be sad to miss you. We do offer a variety of other SEO training opportunities including affordable DIY courses, small group intensives each semester, various webinars on specific SEO topics & an individualized 12-week training program.

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