How to Improve SEO for Therapists, Counselors & Private Practices
SEO. Search – Engine – Optimization
It’s a buzzword you hear all the time from your web developer, your consultant, your colleagues and maybe even from your own mouth. But do you really know what SEO means? And what it does? And how to improve it? And how it helps your business?
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Okay, okay let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s break this down and start from the beginning.
What is S-E-O?
The ‘technical’ definition according to Wikipedia, is that SEO is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results.
Wikipedia is saying that SEO is all the stuff that you can do to your website to help your site get listed as high up on the first page of Google (or Bing or Yahoo! but I’ll just be referencing Google for sake of clarity) as you can get it. It’s also saying that SEO refers to how your site is ranked on Google WITHOUT you dishing out any money. See, Google reserves a few spots at the top of the page for websites that have PAID to be there. This is called search engine advertising and you pay for these spots on search results.
The photo below highlights the paid listings so you can clearly see the difference:
So, how can I get Google to rank my private practice website on the first page?
Before we talk about how to rank high on Google, let’s talk about how the search engines work.
Google has a responsibility to its users to give them the best and most relevant search results for their search queries. When a user searches for something in Google, they expect to find what they are searching for without having to dig through pages of pages of search results. Google wouldn’t have the great reputation that it does if it wasn’t providing the best and most relevant search results every time someone searched for something.
Search engines will crawl the internet and collect data from websites. When they do this, they will pick over the entire website’s content and store it in a databank. This is essentially Google’s way of indexing and trusting websites. This way, when someone searches for a keyword or phrase, Google will be able to give out the best and most relevant results.
Since search engines are crawling your website and finding relevant information for a user’s search queries, you want to make sure that you using specific keywords and phrases throughout your site.
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Using keywords and phrases throughout your website to attract therapy clients
You need to be including words and phrases throughout your content that you think your ideal client will be searching for in Google. If you are a therapist that specializes in addiction and substance abuse, include these keywords as well as synonyms of your specializations throughout your site’s content. By doing this, you are giving clues to Google of who you are and what you do. You will start to rank higher for these specific words and phrases the more you use them throughout your content.
Google (or any search engine) will crawl through your content to understand what your website is about. The first place that Google will crawl will be your page title.
If you have a WordPress site, you can go in and edit your page title as shown in the image above.
Make sure you are including keywords that you think your ideal client is typing into Google to find a therapist (like you!). You want to make sure that your title pages are a descriptive and accurate representation of who you are and what you do. At Brighter Vision, we do all of the page title writing for you so you never have to worry about it. But if you aren’t a Brighter Vision client, we got ya covered, too. Here is a great tutorial we wrote on using Yoast SEO on your private practice website and writing your Titles and Descriptions yourself (But seriously, what are you waiting for? Get started on a 14 Day Free Trial and see how much easier we can make your life).
Next, Google will begin to crawl through your content to get a better idea of what your website is about. So long as you were thoughtful when writing your content, it should naturally have enough relevant keywords and phrases to help Google understand what the page is about.
To get a better understanding of what this looks like in real life, take a look at Jennie Mazza Jone’s website. She does a great job of including the keywords/phrases: child, children, kids, play therapy, parents and parenting throughout the content on her website. She, therefore, is the first private practitioner to come up in the Google search: child therapy in Clinton, NY.
What you can do RIGHT NOW to improve your private practice SEO
Think about what your services are, what you specialize in, who you want to treat and what you want to be known for.
Think of relevant words and phrases that match these questions.
Now that you have those thoughts front-of-mind, go into your website and include these words and phrases throughout your site. Consider writing a blog post where you can share your expertise and knowledge about one of your services. Writing blog posts will not only show your potential clients that you know what you are talking about, it will also help with your SEO.
Another thing that you can do to your website to increase your visibility on Google search results, is making sure your meta tag descriptions include who you are, where you are located and what the page is about. Your tag meta description is also known as your page description. Here you can see an example of what a meta description is:
Your meta tag description is also known as a page description and gives a short description of the content on any given web page. Search engines display this description in it’s search results so you will want to make sure your meta tag description gives a good representation of what your page has to offer. You can go in and edit your meta tag description by laying down HTML code on your site. If you have a Brighter Vision website, we will take care of all of your meta tag descriptions for you. If you have a WordPress site, consider downloading a plugin like Yoast SEO that will assist you with this (and again, here’s that tutorial for you on Therapist SEO).
Getting found with local SEO
When you rank for local SEO, you show up on the map in a Google search. This is a huge benefit to your business because people are generally drawn to pictures and when they can see how close your business is to them, they may consider you above other search results.
This is what local listings look like for the search phrase: therapists in San Diego.
The first step in getting ranked in local listings is to create a Google business listing. From there, you can create even more local listings by setting up a Yelp page, getting a Facebook page with your current address and getting listed in local directories.
** IMPORTANT NOTE ** – Make sure your address is identical on every single page and on every single listing you have. This is an important ranking factor in Google’s eyes.
Getting mentioned in local newspapers/online websites will also help your local SEO. Did you recently open an office? Did you move? Think of something you have done as a private practitioner that can get you mentioned in these local listings.
You can also mention your city throughout the content on your website to increase your chances of getting listed in one of the three coveted local SEO listing spots. Consider writing an article about how the weather in your city (is it particularly rainy or sunny?) can affect one’s mood and well-being.
It is important to remember that SEO takes time! Think of SEO as a garden. You first need to plant the seeds by sending the right signals to Google with a great website and great SEO behind it. Then, you need to water the garden by adding relevant and helpful content to your website. Over time, your garden will grow and flourish, just like your listing on Google.
Two final notes:
If you’re interested in learning more about ranking higher in the search engines, definitely watch this free webinar on SEO for therapists.
And if this is too overwhelming, or you just don’t want to do this yourself, let Brighter Vision take care of it for you. Contact us today and let us show you how we can help you grow your practice.