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Grow Your Counseling Practice Using SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Optimizing your website means making the value of its content, organization and layout clear to  the artificial intelligence (AI) crawlers (spiders) that search engines use to collect data.  These search engines want to get reliable, helpful and quality information to their users. SEO identifies keywords that consumers use most often when they go searching for information.  And then SEO looks for quality content that uses these keywords to offer back to the searcher.  

Great websites weave these keywords into the content of their webpages, blogs, infographic content and links to optimize the quality of their content for SEO crawlers. Strategic keywords are woven into as many places within the web content as possible so that the site will get noticed by Google as well as other search engines. Search engine software scans the content of billions of pages and notes and indexes the use of these keywords. The desired end result comes when a consumer types “best counselors for anxiety near me” into the search engine and the result of their search gives them your business name, address, phone number, menu, weekly schedule, etc. on the first page of their search. 

How can you use SEO for therapists to grow your practice?  

What steps can you take to improve your SEO for counselors so you get connected with the best clients for you? These five suggestions will help you with your next step!

Make your Website Mobile-friendly!

According to 2019 statistics better than half of all searches were made with a mobile device. You can see how a mobile responsive website is not only imperative (come on, you know that MOST people look for you on their phone), it lets people know that you know they want easy access to information and that you’re there to provide it. 

Don’t make millennials resize your page so they can find your buried phone number. This is not an age of ‘coy’. This is the era of getting your message out, easily digestible and accessible from any device. Let them click, click, call. Let them engage.

With these facts in mind, it is really important for SEO for mental health professionals that you make your website mobile-friendly. It will require time and effort, and possibly some help from a web design professional, but it will be well worth the time, money and effort to optimize your site for mobile. Potential clients who can’t navigate your site or have to resize images to get vital info from your site on their phone will likely move to the next therapist rather than move to their computer to get what they need.

It is also vital that your site uploads quickly on both desktops and mobile phones. Research suggests that potential clients tend to move on to a friendlier site if yours won’t load quickly enough. It should take less than 3 seconds to load your website to a mobile or desktop.

Identify and Advertise your Specialty

When thinking about focusing on SEO for mental health professionals, a key priority is to identify and advertise your specialty as a therapist. Narrowing in on your specialty, your counseling niche, can assist your private practice build for greater success. Highlighting the specific therapy and style of counselling you provide in your website description can also raise your ranking in search engine results.

A concern might be that by advertising your specialty you may limit your pool of potential clients. However, when you list yourself more generically as a therapist, you will get lumped in the listings  and compete with all of the other therapists in your area. On the other hand, by identifying yourself as a therapist who specializes in treating adolescents and adults who suffer with PTSD or children and adults with anxiety, or marriage and family counselling, you will  attract clients who need help working through the very issues you can help them resolve. The big benefit for your practice is that if you are one of only a few counselors of your type in your area, then anyone searching for your specialty is more likely to find you first.

Use Title Tags

Search engines look at title tags to determine what the content is in each of your website pages. This is why title tags can play an important role in your SEO for mental health professionals strategy.

Key tips for your Title Tags:

  • Title tags shouldn’t be longer than 70 characters, spaces included. If they are too long, the search engines will cut them off and they become almost useless..
  • Make sure you place your keywords in order of most important to least important.
  • Separate your keywords with pipes | (not commas, periods or dashes) |
  • Keep each title tag as relevant to your private practice as possible.
  • Never use duplicate title tags. Each page must have a unique tag for SEO purposes.

Create Quality Relevant Content Frequently

Quality content will continue to be a key determining SEO factor.  Therefore, creating content on vital topics that people searching for information about your counseling/therapeutic specialty will find helpful is a first priority. Begin by identifying these topics, then write or get professionals to write high quality and high impact content in your blog, in your newsletters and on your website.  Quality content will soon get noticed and shared by others through social media and will inevitably lead more people to your website. 

How you will maximize the incredible marketing power of SEO should be forefront in your mind as you craft your brand messaging in each of the following types of content:

Regular Blog Postings

Blog posts are topical articles aimed at informing potential customers who are interested and would benefit from your products and services. Your articles are published on your website and are free of charge to any user.  Types of articles often include:

  • Lists of tips and problem solvers 
  • How-to guides 
  • Editorial opinions and/or topical analysis 
  • Answers to common questions 

White Papers, Checklists and Guides

While similar to blog posts, these informational give-aways are more in depth, with greater detail and insight, and available for download in PDF format. Unlike blog posts that are free to any user, white papers and guides are content that gets leveraged into offers.   These “offers” are available if the user provides their email or other information in order to download the document. This just means that the content of the offer has a dollar value, but will be given for free in exchange for something else of value – the user’s contact information. Examples include: 

  • Multi-step guidebooks for improving an area of business (like this one).
  • In depth research into an area of business or a popular hobby/interest.
  • Lists of how-to’s covering a vital area of counseling/therapy. 
  • A group of user-friendly templates that are ready for quick and easy use. 
  • New insight or info on popular topics still not available to the public.

Videos

Anything that you can write about you can create a video about.  And while informational content is king, visual content (video) is the emperor of content delivery.  Well done videos are incredibly effective communication tools for explaining difficult topics and complex ideas in a short amount of time.  What is more they are easily deliverable through most digital marketing streams:

  • Websites 
  • SEO  
  • Pay per click ads 
  • Social media
  • Email campaigns, etc.

Optimize Your Off-Page Options

Off-Page optimization is concerned with, “all the measures that can be taken outside of the actual website in order to improve its position in search rankings.”

This just means using methods of connecting with potential clients on social media, generating superlative reviews, taking advantage of Google apps, etc., to build up traffic to your website.  By doing this you will eventually generate higher search engine rankings.

It simply requires you to make good use of free tools and connect with your clients.

Client Interaction

It is so incredibly vital for you as a mental health professional to connect with your audience, meaning your potential and current client base. Not many people are going to have a sudden epiphany that they should connect with your practice on social media. Reaching out to them first  is vital.

The good news is connecting with potential clients is easier than it seems. Keeping active on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms is crucial. Use them to promote your current blog post or an Ebook you’ve recently written.  And in the process build trust with your audience by giving updates on counselor additions or revised practices.

The reason client interaction on the internet is so vital is because these communications generate reviews. And with SEO positive reviews signal search engines that your practice and services are working and legitimate. Reviews are really important because::

  1. They lead to valuable inbound links
  2. They carry a lot of SEO “clout” for your website
  3. They have special benefits with local/regional SEO strategies which is where most private practices draw clients.

Free Tools

Everyone loves to add tools to their toolbox, especially free tools. These are a few that will help with off-site optimization.

Google Analytics: 

Allows you to measure your advertising return on investment (ROI), keep track of your social media results, monitor your website traffic, etc,. The best thing is it is relatively easy to use..

Google Trends: 

Enables you to discover the latest trends and other relevant data from Google. Google Trends can be especially helpful for deciding on your SEO keywords.

Broken Link Finder: 

If you take our advice and include a lot of internal and external links, this broken link finder tool will go through your site and check to make sure your links are still functioning and still linking with the external sites.

Final thoughts 

When it comes to using SEO for therapists or SEO for counselors this information is easier said than done. The good news is that you have options.  You can implement these ideas yourself.  You can hire a marketing guru for your business, to lead this process and contract with a team of marketing experts who will carry out the step by step strategy. Or, you can approach a full service marketing agency with your goals in mind, and work with them to hone your brand, design an overall marketing plan that is tailored to your counseling/therapy practice, and let your marketing agency develop and grow your quality inbound leads. 

Here at zo agency we work to build long term relationships with our clients. We call it Tribe! 

We will work diligently to discover your vision, your passion, your needs, your hope and dreams for your practice and then will create an overall marketing plan that meets your needs and fits your budget.  Visit us today at www.zo.agency

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