SEO for Therapists: A Comprehensive Guide
I realize there’s a lot to learn when it comes to SEO. Even if you’re working with a professional to optimize your site, you may have questions. Today, I want to give you some resources to help you answer some common questions we’re frequently asked.
This blog will answer the following questions:
- What is SEO
- How do I get Google to notice my website?
- Why should therapists invest in SEO?
- How can SEO help you attract the right clients?
- What is a keyword and how do I use them?
- Is there anything I should do before optimizing my website?
- What’s a meta description and how does it help?
- What is readability and why should I worry about it?
- What about photos? Are they really necessary and should I optimize them?
- I know internal links are important, but where do I put them?
- Do I have to blog?
- What are backlinks and how do I get them?
- Should I consider hiring an SEO specialist?
- Does having a Google My Business help my SEO?
- Does social media help my SEO?
- How do I know if SEO is working?
What is SEO?
If you’re new around here, you may be wondering what is SEO? SEO stands for search engine optimization. The goal of SEO is to help you get to the top of the search results on Google or other search engines. Therefore, SEO refers to any changes you make on your website with the goal of getting it to show up higher organically (without paying for ads) in search engine results.That sounds pretty great, right?
Want to learn more?
Check out my Common Questions About SEO
How do I get Google to notice my website?
Getting to the top of Google requires optimizing your website. Every company has a different strategy on how to do this. But it essentially boils down to three components: technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO.
- Technical SEO: This incorporates the aspects of your website’s infrastructure that impact user experience. Some examples include: how quickly your site loads, the structure of your site, having duplicate or plagiarized content, and submitting your sitemaps on Google Search Console.
- On-page SEO: On-page SEO is the fun part. This is when we work to make your page speak directly to your ideal client. This includes things like simplifying the readability, adding subheadings, a call to action, the other services section, and adding and optimizing photos.
- Off-page SEO: This includes things from external sources that boost your site’s credibility. This includes: adding external links, getting backlinks that point to your site, marketing efforts, and getting on therapist directories.
Want to Learn More? Check Out These Blogs:
Understanding the Three Main Components of SEO
The Importance of a Holistic SEO Approach
SEO Worksop: Website Speed and SEO
Setting Up Google Search Console
Why should therapists invest in SEO?
Simply put, getting to the top of Google helps you reach more clients and provide them with high-quality mental health services.
Perhaps you’re building or scaling your private practice and need to increase your caseloads. But, you’re finding that’s tough when no one knows about the services you offer. Enter SEO. It is a powerful marketing tool that can help you build your know, like, and trust factor with clients before they even walk in your door. If Google ranks you well and you answer the queries of your ideal client then you are likely to build their trust and compel them to call you.
Investing Time and/or Money
The truth is that if you were smart enough to finish grad school, get a professional license and open your own business you’re probably smart enough to learn at least the basics on SEO on your own. But should you? Or is it time to outsource? It’s really a time versus money situation. You can invest a lot of time in learning to optimize your own website through online courses or training/coaching programs. Or you can pay someone else to optimize your website, although even then there will be somewhat of a time investment as you provide them instruction, feedback, etc. It’s really a matter of where you fall at this point in time on the time versus money to invest and what your personal preferences are.
Curious? Check out these SEO blogs:
3 Reasons Helping Professionals Should Invest in Hiring an SEO Expert
Is SEO Important for Mental Health Professionals?
How can SEO help you attract the right clients?
Our goal when we optimize websites is to not only get you clicks on Google but help you attract your ideal client. We do this by thinking like your ideal client. We do our best to determine what words, phrases, and questions they may be typing into a Google search query. Then, we optimize your website for these words. This helps you not only fill your private practice with paying clients but fill it with the right clients. For example, I’m sure it’s preferable to get calls from clients who live in the states you’re licensed in, SEO can help you do just that and eliminate calls from individuals living in places where you’re not licensed.
Check out this blog about content:
Adding Content for SEO and Your Clients
Is there anything I should do before optimizing my website?
Yes. There are definitely some things you should consider before investing the time or money in optimizing your website.
- Does your website look the way you want it to? Before you invest in SEO, you should do the bulk of the design work and make sure you love the way your website looks.
- Create three to five service pages.
- Make sure each page has 500+ words
- Add your location or physical address to every page of your website
Blogs about things you should do before investing in SEO:
Is Your Website Ready for SEO?
The First Three Things You Should Do For SEO
3 Non-Techy things You can Do to Get Your Website Ranking
Not Sure Where to Start With Your New Therapy Website?
The 4 Things Your Counseling Website Must Do
What is a keyword & how do I use keywords?
As SEO specialists it’s our job to figure out what people are searching for on Google. We first start by asking you what pain points your clients are writing down on their intake paperwork. What language are they using? What service are they asking you to provide?
Next, we use this information and our knowledge of mental health to do keyword research. There are a variety of keyword research tools we use (see the blog listed below) and we determine what words or phrases we need to optimize for.
Then, we use this information to do on-page work like adding subheadings, working on the readability, optimizing photos, and writing meta descriptions.
Check out these blogs about keyword research:
Why Keyword Research is the Foundation of SEO
What to Say on Your Website? Counseling or Therapy or Psychotherapy?
Keyword Placement on Your Website
4 Common Keyword Research Mistakes
Keyword Research Tools for Therapists
What is a meta description and how does it help?
A meta description is what shows up after the page title on a google search. A well-optimized meta description contains the keyword(s) you’re trying to rank for and a call to action that compels the user to click on your link. It’s basically your potential client’s sneak peek into who you are and the service you provide.
Want to learn more check out these blogs:
How Can Meta Descriptions Help My SEO?
How to Write a Meta Description
What is readability and why should I worry about it?
Before I answer this question, I should probably warn you that my specialty is readability so I am very passionate about this topic.
First of all, readability is the practice of making your page approachable and easy to understand. We usually explain it like this. Imagine, you’re at a backyard BBQ and your nephew with no mental health knowledge asks what it is you do? Would you summarize the latest research article you were published in? Share your dissertation or a master’s level thesis paper? Probably not. You would tell him simply, that you are a therapist and you specialize in helping people work on the issues that matter most to them.
Your clients do not want to read a bunch of technical jargon, especially when they’re in crisis. So it’s very important that you are direct and clear with your message. Save the technical words and clinical language for your professional colleagues and speak simply.
Another aspect of readability is breaking down your text into manageable parts, just like I have done in this blog. Separate your thoughts into smaller sections and add subheadings. Some of your clients may hate reading or not have the time to read, so they just want to scan the text. Give them the opportunity to do this by adding clear well-optimized subheadings that convey the overall message of your page.
Blogs about readability:
Readability 2.0: The Importance of Using Approachable Language
How Headings and Subheadings Can Help Your SEO
What about photos? Are they really necessary and do I actually need to optimize them?
In terms of SEO, yes photos are necessary, and yes you need to optimize them. First of all, optimizing your photos is a great place to add keywords that will help get you ranking on Google. Their algorithm scans alt text and photo titles for keywords, so it’s important to add them.
Secondly, adding a meta description to the photos on your website is important from an accessibility standpoint. Take a moment and think about your potential clients who are visually impaired and using screen readers or assistive technology. I would imagine they feel very frustrated when they know there’s a photo but they don’t know what the photo is of. If you add alt text that describes the photo, then their screen reader can read it to them and they will feel included. This helps build their confidence in your ability to be sensitive to their needs.
Blogs about optimizing photos:
Alt Text as an Ethical SEO Strategy
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
I know internal links are important, but where do I put them?
Internal links are an important part of on-page SEO work. We put them in several different places. On almost every page we optimize we add them to in a call to action section and the other services section.
A call to action section is broken down into three easy-to-follow steps to show your ideal client how easy it is to begin services at your counseling clinic. Here’s an example:
- Contact our Los Angeles based counseling center (link to contact)
- Meet with a trained trauma therapist for a free 15-minute consultation (link to therapy team page)
- Begin trauma treatment and find relief from the symptoms of PTSD
The other services section is a place where we list the other counseling services you provide and link back to those pages. Not only does this help you get those coveted internal links, but it also gives your reader the opportunity to visit other pages on your website which has an added benefit and boosts your site’s credibility in the eyes of google.
Curious about internal links? Read these blogs:
How to Use Links and Anchor Text to Boost Your SEO
Do I HAVE to blog?
First of all, you don’t HAVE to do anything. But, if you want to rank really well on Google, then I highly suggest you blog at least two times a month. Getting fresh content on your website shows Google that you’re still relevant. If you haven’t added content in quite a while, Google may question rather you’re still in business and operational. Without new content, they may give preference to other sites with fresh content.
Furthermore, blogging is a great way to target specific keywords that maybe aren’t performing well from a service page alone. For example, say you’re trying to rank for online therapy in texas. Well, everyone is trying to rank for that right now, so it’s challenging to get much upward movement on that particular keyword. But, you could blog about it and talk about the benefits, how online therapy works, and ways to make the most of online therapy and mention your location. Then, Google will see that you’re serious about offering online therapy and will be likely to rank you higher.
Lastly, blogging has so many benefits for your ideal client and your private practice. Blogging is a great way to answer commonly asked questions or address commonly discussed issues that are brought up during a counseling session. Perhaps, these are the issues that people are too embarrassed to bring up with a therapist they barely know. For example, how to address a lack of sex in a marriage or I am having scary thoughts, what do I do? These are questions people may google because it’s private and doesn’t require them to be vulnerable with another person. And while you can’t answer these questions in as much depth as you would when you meet with them for therapy, you can offer them temporary relief until they are able to visit your counseling clinic.
Want to learn more about blogging? Check out our blogs on the subject:
Part 1 of the Blogging Webinar Series: Do I have to Blog for SEO?
Part 2 Of The Blogging Webinar Series: Why Does Content Have to be Original?
How to Write a Long Enough Blog Post
What are backlinks and how do I get them?
You get a backlink when an external website links to your website. Typically this occurs when two websites share some common ground. A backlink is almost like citing your resources. It shows that the information you’re providing your client is coming from a reliable source. Backlinks also tell Google that you’re information is legitimate and trustworthy. Google’s terms of service state that they give priority to ranking sites that are trustworthy and relevant.
There are lots of different ways to obtain backlinks. My colleague Alyssa wrote a comprehensive guide to earning backlinks. You should check it out to learn more information about places you can get backlinks. We also offer a backlinks course for people who want to learn more about getting and keeping up with backlinks.
Learn more about backlinks in these blogs:
A Comprehensive Guide to Earning Backlinks
4 of My Most Surprising Backlinks
Getting High-Quality Backlinks: SEO Tips and Tricks
Not All Backlinks Are Created Equal
Should I consider investing in hiring an SEO specialist?
I think this question really boils down to one simple question. Do you want to do it yourself or have someone do it for you? Either option is okay. There’s certainly a wealth of information online on optimizing your website. However, the benefit of working with an SEO specialist is having another set of eyes on your site. We know how to get websites ranking well on Google and draw from our mental health knowledge to help you speak to the needs of your ideal clients. We also have access to tools to do in-depth keyword research and monitor your data.
Want to learn more about SEO and what SEO specialists do? Read this blog:
What Does an SEO Specialist Do?
Does Google My Business Help SEO?
Yes. Having a well-optimized Google My Business Account boosts your SEO because it tells Google where you’re located. Furthermore, it offers your ideal clients another way to find your websites. Lastly, a Google My Business account offers you the opportunity to embed a Google map on your website which tells Google where you’re located.
Please note that if you don’t have a physical address, you can’t have a Google My Business Listing. So, online practices are out of luck. But there are other ways you can tell Google where you’re located. Check out my blog on the subject listed below.
Check out these blogs to learn about Google My Business and SEO:
Google My Business: Optimizing Your Profile
Google My Business for Online-Only Counseling Practices
The Importance of Letting Google Know Where You’re Located
Can social media boost SEO?
Active social media can positively impact your SEO if you are interacting with your followers and sharing relevant content with direct links to your website. But here’s the catch: Google wants to see that they not only visit your site but interact with it and visit multiple pages. Basically, while social media alone cannot boost your SEO, it can help.
Learn more about SEO and Social Media here:
How Important is Social Media for SEO?
Social Media Series: Live Feeds
How do I know if SEO is working?
If you’re investing in SEO, rather it’s time or money, you likely want to ensure you’re getting a good return on your investment. To do this, you need to track your data. Not only does tracking your data tell you if your efforts are working, but it also helps you track where your clients are coming from. For example, data can tell you if your clients are coming from an organic search (SEO), direct searches (when they type in your URL), or social media. Lastly, data can also tell you what the visitors are doing on your website. It can answer questions of how long they are staying on your site and how many pages they’re visiting while they’re on there.
Learn more about interpreting SEO data and getting a good return on your investment:
How Do I Know If My SEO Efforts Are Working?
Quality Content and SEO Return
3 Reasons Why You Should Track Your SEO Data
Google Analytics: How to Use the Data
I am ready to begin prioritizing SEO, what should I do?
If you’re ready to begin making SEO a priority, Simplified SEO Consulting would love to help. We offer a variety of options to support you at different points in your private practice journey. However, we always start with a free consultation to look at your website, ask what your needs are right now, answer your questions and see which of our services would be the best fit. To get started, follow these steps:
- Make an appointment for a free 30-minute consultation with a member of the Simplified SEO Consulting team
- Learn more about our packages and training opportunities
- Start optimizing your webpage and watch your site rank better on Google!
About the Author:
Cory Moss is a Simplified SEO specialist based in Kansas City. 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.
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