How to Improve SEO for Therapists and Counselors [Rank in Google]
“Marketing is a key area that tends to intimidate the most. Therapists and counselors don’t like to be “salesy” in any way. To make it easier for you, don’t see marketing as a difficult task of trying to get people to give you money. But rather, see marketing in terms of developing relationships” — Gordon Brewer.
Here’s the truth: You need to market your practice like a business person. If you need help from a trusted digital marketing expert, book a free consultation with Scott Keever today.
If you’re the best therapist or counselor in your state but have no patients, what’s the point?
Life is full of ups and downs. People undergo physical and mental stress at home and work. Mental stress or illness can affect how people relate to their family members and coworkers, according to BetterHealth Channel of Victoria State Government,
Many times, people need help to build better relationships with their family members and co-workers — and to live a better life.
As a therapist or counselor in private practice, you can help as many people as possible to understand their unique situations and how they can improve their lives.
However, as noble as your intentions may be, you still struggle to get as many clients as you want.
This is a difficult situation that you need to address. Getting more clients to your therapy business means you can help more people and make more profits from your practice.
Perhaps one source you have not given a lot of thought to is search engines. Here’s why you should pay more attention to it: search traffic converts, on average, 10X better than traffic coming from social media platforms. In fact, over 94% of people use search engines to look for information online.
The truth is that many of your potential patients use search engines when looking for the right professionals.
This guide will teach you how to show up for therapy-related searches in Google search results and attract more patients to your practice.
Here are some of the proven SEO techniques you can use today to drive traffic to your private practice’s website, land new clients, and increase revenue:
1. Content Marketing Strategy
Your website content is the pillar of any SEO strategy you may have for your website. The content is what determines the searches your website will show up for in Google.
According to Paddy Moogan, links that point to a page are still the most important ranking factors in Google.
Having said that, do you have a content marketing strategy?
Having content on your website isn’t about writing whatever comes to your mind. Your content should aim to achieve a definite goal (e.g., attract leads or educate existing clients).
If you’re targeting potential patients for your therapy practice through search engines, then you need to produce content that meet searchers’ needs.
What does someone looking for a therapist input/enter into the search box? What’s the best information they need for those searches?
The key is about providing the right information to the right people at the right time.
What are the steps to take to inform your strategy?
i). Keyword Research
Conducting thorough keywords research to determine what search terms potential clients use may be a boring task. But it’s an important step you must take to nail your content marketing strategy.
Because it eliminates guesswork and gives you insights about the information search users (i.e., your ideal clients) need.
To make your keywords research effective for your therapy practice, you also have to research local keywords. To rank higher in the search results pages, focus on long-tail keywords as they’ll drive roughly 70% organic traffic.
As a therapist, you want clients who live close to your practice. For your potential clients too, they want a therapist nearby. And this usually reflects in their searches as they add locations to the queries.
Some examples of these keywords are:
- [city] therapists
- Best Therapists [city]
- [city] therapy practice
- Therapists near me
To research your keywords, there are many tools you can use. I prefer to use either KeywordTool.io or Ubersuggest.
In this post, I’ll show you how to use KeywordTool.io and Ubersuggest. You can use these tools for free.
KeywordTool.io draws suggestions from Google’s autocomplete. These are keywords similar to your keywords that users have searched in the past. More so, KeywordTool.io will give you a more extensive list than what you see below the search box.
To use the tool, visit the website and enter your keyword and the country. Click on “Search.”
This will show you keywords similar to what you entered. There are also other details like Search volume, Trends, Competition, and Cost Per Click (CPC), but you’ll need a paid account for this.
These keywords suggestions let you see other queries from your potential clients.
Another tool you can use is Ubersuggest. This tool provides details about your keywords and is completely free.
To use this tool, enter your keyword and select a country. Click on “Search.”
This will give you details about your keyword like Search volume, SEO difficulty, Paid difficulty, and CPC.
You can also have other information like keyword suggestions and information about those keywords.
Furthermore, you can view the search engine results page (SERP) of the keyword to see the websites currently ranking for it.
With keywords research, you can have as many as 10 keywords that have the right intent which your potential clients use. The keywords you’re looking for are those that have a high volume and low competition.
Scott Keever and Team can help you find best-performing keywords in your market and help you to rank your website in Google. Book a free consultation
ii). Publish posts on your blog consistently
First, make sure your private practice website has a blog attached to it. This is important if you want to rank in Google. Because it’s a lot easier to rank a blog in Google top 10 results than it is to rank a website.
The Inner Canvas is a therapist’s website that has a blog installed. How cool.
Once you’ve installed a blog on your website, the keywords you want to target will determine what your content will be about. Your main task is to provide the right information that will satisfy users who search for your target keywords.
To create useful content, you have to consider the following:
- Quality: Your posts must have enough details to be able to answer users’ queries.
- Keyword density: It’s important to include your target keyword in your posts. But keyword stuffing would get you a ban by Google rather than a higher search ranking.
- Easy to read: Do you fill your posts with excessive technical language? If visitors don’t understand what you’re saying, they’ll bounce from your website rather than take the action you want. You should engage in copywriting and use short sentences and paragraphs to improve the user’s reading experience.
iii). Posting Frequency and Length
How often should you post on your website? It depends. According to HubSpot, companies that published over 16 blog posts per month get 4.5 times more leads than those that publish between 0 and 4.
But not everybody can keep to that number. Whatever schedule you pick, it’s important to keep to ‘that’ frequency. Whether you post twice in a week or twice in a month, it’s necessary to keep to it.
How long a post should be has been a subject of arguments over the years. Is there a magic number that automatically gets you to rank on top of search results? Backlinko analyzed a million search results and found that the average number of words in a post at the number one rank is 1,890.
This shows that long posts tend to perform better than short posts. But filling your posts with unnecessary information just to make it rank will achieve the opposite.
The main determinant of how long your post should be is if it has provided enough explanation to solve users’ questions or needs.
To Google, the rule is to provide the best content possible for your audience. For a wide topic, your content will naturally be comprehensive and rich while it will be short for a narrow topic.
iv). Types of Content
Not everybody enjoys reading content on a web page. Nielsen Norman Group found that an average website visitor will only read between 20 to 28% of the words on a page.
It’s necessary to have your content in other formats like videos, podcasts, infographics, etc. This makes your content available to a wider audience.
2. Submit Sitemap and check the number of indexed pages
Your Sitemap is a piece of document that tells search engines about the pages on your website. Presenting your Sitemap makes it easier for search engines to access your website content and index it.
To submit your website sitemap, navigate to your Google Console dashboard and click on “Sitemaps.”
This will take you to a page where you can enter your sitemap URL.
It’s important to remove any private information from your sitemap as it’s available to everybody.
Another detail to check on your Google Console account is the number of indexed pages. Note that search engines will only show pages they have in their index. If your pages aren’t indexed, there’s no way it’s going to show up for a search query.
To check the number of your pages already indexed, go to your Google Console dashboard. Click on “Coverage.”
When you click on this, it’ll show you the number of errors, valid pages with warnings, valid pages, and the pages excluded from search results.
You can check for more details when you scroll down. To know the pages affected, click on any of the information.
3. Local SEO
If you want to attract clients in your locality which I know you want, it’s important to improve your local SEO. Local SEO includes steps to optimize your website for visitors who live in your state, city, or country.
This is so important since you’re a Therapist or Counselor and needs to work with patients and clients whom you can meet face to face (in most cases). 17% of people who search for a therapist will visit a business in 24 hours. [source]
Having an improved local SEO means your practice can show up in the Google local map pack which features 3 businesses on the front page like this:
Having seen the impact of local SEO, what are the steps to take to improve your website’s local SEO?
Let’s find out…
i). Add your therapy practice to Local Listings
One way to show your authenticity as a business is the number of references you have online. Each local directory that your practice appears is a reference.
To release results for a local search, Google has to certify your business as a real business. Google conducted a study and found that half of the clients who conduct a search for a local business visit an office or store within 24 hours. [source]
The best way to get your therapy website to rank higher in local search results (especially in the Local map pack) is to claim your business in Google My Business and get credible citations).
More citations give your business a better credibility. BrightLocal found that businesses that appear in the top 3 of local searches have an average of 85 citations.
It’s vital to add your business to popular directories, directories in your locality and professional directories. Some directories your practice should appear on are:
- National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) Directory
- American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy – AAMFT.org
When adding your business to local listings, you should ensure that your practice Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) are consistent across all listings.
Providing different information on different platforms can lead to confusion for search engines and consequently a lower ranking.
ii). Create your Google My Business page
Talking of local SEO practices, one of the most important local listings your practice can appear on is Google My Business. Having a Google My Business page for your therapy practice allows potential clients to find your business on Google.
With your practice details on Google, this can serve as your online business card where potential clients can get all the important information they need to reach you. If you don’t have this page for your business, navigate to Google My Business and click on “Start Now.”
Next, you have to fill out important details about your business. When you’re through entering your business information, you can then verify your business. Google will give you different options to verify your business. Choose the option that works for you.
After verifying your business, you can take a full control of your page. You should post regularly on your page to keep it updated. This would include important information about your business and promotional offers.
It’s always better when your current and past patients blow your trumpet. When people post reviews, potential clients can see what these people think about your practice. It’s an effective way of attracting more clients.
In a study by BrightLocal, they found that 85% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.
However, as important as reviews are, you may have many satisfied clients and still have a few reviews. This is because your patient is probably not thinking of writing a review, no matter how satisfied they are with your service.
To increase the number of reviews on your Google My Business page and other local directory pages, you need to ask your clients to drop reviews.
4. Building Links
Links are a vote of trust from other websites to your own. For example, a link from a counseling website to your own website. [source]
The right links will dramatically push your website to the top of Google.
Link building is one of the most profitable activities you can involve in as it is one of the most important ranking signals. Building backlinks is also a difficult task as it depends on other people’s perceptions of your work.
To build backlinks to your website, some of the steps you need to take are:
i). Guest Blogging
Blogging on other websites is a way to establish your expertise as a therapist or counselor. This also gives you a bigger audience as you can reach new people that don’t know you before.
Added to these, you’ll usually get a link back to your website. Here’s an example of a guest post with a link back to the author’s website.
ii). Get featured on Podcasts
When you feature on other people’s podcast, you have access to the website’s audience. Most importantly, your website’s link is included in the podcast’s description.
Here’s a good example:
iii). Posting in Forums
There are online forums for virtually every topic/subject you can imagine, including therapy and counseling.
Sometimes, people post their issues on discussion boards to seek assistance from forum members. As a therapist, you should belong to relevant forums to build relationships with fellow professionals and potential clients.
In some cases, a forum question could be on a topic you’ve addressed in the past on your website or blog. You can provide a brief answer to the question on the forum and refer the poster to your website for further readings.
iv). Participating in local and medical events
Showing up for local events, especially those associated with the medical community, can give you a better access to other professionals and potential patients.
This is an effective way of gaining local backlinks as website reporting the events can mention your website and add a link.
Building the right link is hard. But we can help you. Book a free consultation now.
5. Mobile optimized website
For many people searching for a therapist, they’re doing so on their mobile devices. In fact, it’s estimated that about 60% of Google searches are done on mobile devices.
If your website doesn’t display properly on mobile devices, it means you’re at the risk of losing the highest share of visitors to your website. Apart from that, you run the risk of your website ranking low in search results.
This is because Google has started Mobile-first Indexing to meet the demands of its mobile users.
This means the mobile version of your website will be indexed first before your desktop version. If you have a poor mobile site, it may lead to a poor ranking.
How do you know if your website is optimized for mobile devices?
You can use your Smartphone to visit your website. How accessible are the elements of your website? Added to that, you can also run the Google mobile-friendly test. Enter your website address and click on “Run Test.”
This will show you whether your website is mobile-friendly or not. You’ll also see suggestions on what to do to improve the mobile-friendliness of your website when you click on “View Details.”
Most times, your website is mobile-friendly once you have a responsive theme.
However, some businesses build their mobile sites separately. They have to ensure that this mobile version is easy to use on mobile devices.
7. Improve Page speed
Today, users expect web pages to load fast, or they bounce away from those pages. In the early stages of the internet, most pages were plain HTML.
But more elements were added to make the pages more beautiful and functional. Thus, pages became heavier.
Nevertheless, visitors to your website expects a fast-loading website. The longer your website takes to load, the higher the bounce rate. In fact, 53% of people abandon a website that delays for more than 3 seconds.
A high bounce rate is a negative signal to search engines and can lead to lower rankings. To improve your website speed, the first step is to know your current website speed.
Some tools you can use are Pingdom, GTMetrix, Google Mobile Speed test, etc. I’ll show you how to use Pingdom here. Pingdom is one of the most popular speed test tools.
To use Pingdom, visit the website and click on “Tools” at the navigation bar. In the bar, enter your website URL and select the server to use for testing.
The tool has servers in different locations around the world. To select a server, select one that is close to where your ideal visitors are.
The tool will test from that location and this will give you an insight into how fast your potential clients can access your website. After this, click on “Start Test.”
You’ll get details of your website performance grade, speed, the percentage of websites it’s faster than, and size of the page.
You’ll see the details of your performance below. Here you can see where your website performs woefully and what to do to change it. This can serve as a checklist of activities to do to make your website faster.
After knowing your website speed, there are some actions you need to take to improve your website speed and reduce load time. Some of them are:
i). Use compressed images: One of the biggest contributors to a large page size is images. When images increase your page size, the load time goes up. You can compress images to reduce their size and make your page load faster.
ii). Use a content delivery network (CDN): When you use a CDN, your media files are hosted on an external server and this helps to reduce load time.
iii). Use a fast host: Sometimes a website load speed could be low because of a slow host. Using a premium host will make your website load faster and provide a better experience for visitors.
iv). Use Google AMPs: Due to the large portion of search traffic coming from mobile devices, Google initiated the accelerated mobile page (AMP) project.
This is to make mobile pages load faster. AMP project claims that its pages load in less than 0.5 seconds. There are currently about 31 billion pages using AMP online.
8. Perform Competitive Analysis
When you search for important keywords to your therapy practice, you’ll see that some practices already rank for these keywords. But it goes beyond keywords. You need a complete analysis.
You have to do better than what these competitors are doing to replace them in the rankings. But first of all, you have to know what they’re doing. How did they attain their high rank?
Some aspects of their online presence to check are:
i). Content Strategy
You have to visit your competitor’s website and see the content. How detailed is it? Do they have a blog? How often do they post on their blog?
What are the topics they focus on? Do they post other types of content apart from the written content?
These are the questions you need to answer with regards to your competitors content. Understand your content strategy process will help you to create a variety of content that appeals to your patient and clients. [source]
ii). Top Keywords
Even with keyword research, you may still miss out on some keywords that your competitors are ranking for. In some cases, these keywords could be profitable keywords that you should target.
To know these keywords, you’ll have to use tools. One tool you can use is SEMRush. It helps you to perform competitive analysis.
To do this, enter your website address into the tool. You’ll see your competitors based on the content on your website.
You can pick your competitors’ website addresses and insert it into the tool to get more details about their keywords. You can see their top keywords.
You can also use the keyword gap tool to find keywords that your competitors are ranking for but you’re not.
If a therapy practice shows up in the Google local map pack and other local searches, they’re probably present on many local directories.
Another way is to use a tool like BrightLocal to find those citations where your competitors are listed.
To attract more patients for your therapy practice and build relationships with them (which is the right way to market your practice), you “REALLY” need to optimize your website with your target keywords (especially the long-tail keywords), build high-quality and natural links, optimize for local searches, and improve your website design.
When you do that, you’re positioning your website to be accessible by patients and clients who need a therapist or counselor to help them out.
If you have any questions about marketing for therapists or how to execute advertising for therapists, book a free consultation today.