An Ultimate SEO Checklist for Your Private Practice
Well, here you are. You have an awesome website, a definitive goal … and a lot of confusion about SEO.
Don’t worry, we hear your concerns. If you’re already a Brighter Vision client, you’re in luck. As a Brighter Vision client, you can trust your Developer to do all of the on-page optimization for you.
And if you’re not a client? Well, you should be. But that’s why we’ve created a non-intimidating, step-by-step search engine optimization checklist for your private practice website, intended to help both you and your private practice thrive.
Want to learn even more about SEO?
We’ve created an online course to help you super-charge the SEO for your therapist website called The SEO Playbook
We’re showing you the different ways you can optimize your private practice’s website through search engines, leaving out the boring, techy web jargon, and breaking it down, just for you.
In this post, you’ll learn about:
- URL Optimization
- Finding the Right Keywords
- Choosing Title Tags
- Keeping Content Fresh
- Client Interaction
- Free Tools
Already know the basics and want to fast forward to the checklist?
So, what exactly is SEO?
You’ve likely heard of Search Engine Optimization, and that it’s important. But you probably don’t know how or why it’s important, or there’s so much techy jargon that your eyes gloss over while trying to read about the benefits in all its glory.
Psst… if you haven’t, check out our quick and easy SEO breakdown here.
While many people may think that free traffic is the reason to optimize your website, the main purpose of SEO is really for potential clients who are looking for your services to find you, through specific and high-intent searches through search browsers.
According to Search Metrics, On-Page Optimization, or on-page SEO, refers to “all measures that can be taken directly within the website in order to improve its position in the search rankings.”
Meaning, anything and everything that can be done on your website to get your site on the first page of Google, including your URL, title and meta tags, updating content, and link building.
A URL is your web address. Clear and simple URLs confirm to potential clients that you and your practice will provide what they’re looking for. People searching for specific services are more likely to trust and click on URLs that are easily deciphered and simple enough to remember.
Each of these URLs tells potential clients what the practice’s niche is. Let’s break it down further.
- Therapyfortrauma.com makes it pretty obvious that the practice specializes in dealing with different forms of trauma.
- Coloradofamilycounseling.com does the same as mentioned above, but hones in on the niche further by adding a location to the URL as well. Now when potential clients search for ‘Colorado Counseling’ or ‘Family Counseling Colorado,’ this URL will come up near the top because of the URL’s narrowed demographic.
URL decisions have you feeling overwhelmed? We get it.
Pro Tip: Write out key phrases and words you’d like to use in your practice website’s URL. Play a little mix ‘n match to see what flows, what sounds right and what narrows down your niche best. We like to use GoDaddy to search available domains.
If you can’t find a keyword-rich URL, you can always always go with a brandable name. While it won’t pass along the same SEO power that a concise, keyword-rich domain would, it’s better than stuffing a domain with numerous keywords just to find a good one.
Finding the Right Keywords
A little research never hurt nobody.
Yes, it can be tedious, but it’s so, so worth it. Target keyword phrases should be a few (two to four) words that conveys your website page’s or blog post’s message or core topic. If you could wish for your website or article to rank highly for any phrase, this would be it.
But how am I supposed to determine keywords?
It’s simple. You know your private practice better than anyone else. Start by doing these two things:
1. Check Out The Competition
Visit the websites of your top three competitors, or other practices in the same field as you. Read, and we mean really read through their website’s content. Look at their blog posts and make note of what topics they focus on and what keywords they utilize.
Search those keywords on a major search engine (we love Google, but Yahoo and Bing work too). When searching their terms, does their website come up on the first page of results?
If they’re ranking well, that indicates the terms they use are working – Use this as an opportunity to jot down some you could use as well.
2. Do Your Homework … We Mean Research
Lots of SEO folks out there say to use the Keyword Planner from Google. And that’s great for bigger companies. For a private practice, we think it’s a little overkill. Instead, use Google Suggests.
For example, a search for Boulder Therapist reveals:
This can lead you to write an article on ‘Affordable Therapy’ and help distinguish the value of therapy and discuss your rates.
Create a list of topics related to your practice. A good place to start is thinking about the clients you already have. What category do their problems fall under? What are their specific needs and what do you offer to solve their problems?
Write these down and let that brainstorming sesh run wild.
Not sure where to start?
Fill out our Ideal Client Worksheet now and see what the needs and pain points of your ideal clients are.
Keep in mind, you’ll want to find keywords that:
- Are searched for often. This means there’s a definitive need for what you’re offering. Any searches promoted by ‘Searches related to X’ have a high enough search volume to warrant writing about/optimizing for
- Are supported by your content
- Use keywords that make sense and are relevant to your site. Choosing terms such as ‘male counseling’ or ‘individual therapy’ don’t make sense if your practice provides solely women’s group therapy.
Choosing Title Tags
A title tag tells search engines what each page on your website is about. Title tags play a pretty big role in your SEO strategy.
Let’s take a look at some great title tags and how they show up on Google, using the search term “Child Therapy Denver.”
A few quick tips on Title Tags …
- Title tags should be a maximum of 70 characters long, including spaces. If they’re too long, they’ll get cut off by search engines, and then the point is almost moot.
- Place your keywords in order of importance, from most to least.
- Separate your keywords with pipes | (not commas, periods or dashes) |
- Keep it relevant to your private practice
- DON’T duplicate title tags. Every page must be different for SEO purposes, so don’t replicate what you’ve already used.
Keeping Content Fresh
Now that you’ve got your keywords, it’s time to put them to work. We know, we talk about content A LOT, so it must be important, right?
Let’s talk words.
As a general rule of thumb, informational web pages should be a minimum of 250 words, but the real SEO sweet spot is 450.
Woah, hang on, 450 words seems like a lot of writing.
It’s actually not. Take a look at these service and about pages below, and 450 words might not seem like such a feat anymore.
Now that you have your 450 words, grab that keyword list and let’s get to work.
First Words: The first paragraph of your content counts most heavily for SEO. Drop at least one keyword within the first 150-200 words of your content. Also consider putting your keywords or phrases in bold during the first mention to make it stand out to the potential client who searched for that very term.
Body Text: Occasionally and casually include keywords throughout the body of your text, but don’t force keywords where they don’t seem logical or natural. However, if you stay on topic while writing, this issue shouldn’t arise.
Images: Images raise user engagement on your web page. Not only do images help to break up a content-heavy page, but they can help with SEO as well. An image’s file name and
surrounding text contribute to website relevance for ranking.
Linking: Link to other pages on your own website. For example, on your homepage you write about helping teens with anxiety. Link the text “teens with anxiety” to your Anxiety Services page. You can also link out to other trusted sources with high-quality content if it’s relevant to your private practice. Place those links after your first 200 words.
And finally, keep it fresh. Google loves up-to-date, high-quality content.
Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines states, “unmaintained/abandoned ‘old’ websites or unmaintained and inaccurate/misleading content is a reason for a low E-A-T (expertise, authority and trust) rating.”
The more frequently you update your website’s content, the more often a search engine will visit your website. And when search engines drop by more frequently, the more opportunities your practice’s website has to achieve higher rankings based on new content you’ve provided.
Think your website has what it takes to rank well?
Test your site with our Website Grader now.
Off-Page optimization refers to, “all the measures that can be taken outside of the actual website in order to improve its position in search rankings.”
It’s basically everything done outside of your website (connecting with potential clients on social media, generating great reviews, using Google apps) to generate traffic to your website, which will eventually lead to higher search engine rankings.
We’re talking taking advantage of free tools and connecting with clients, people.
We can’t emphasize how important connecting with your audience, or potential and current client base, is. Next to no one wakes up and decides to interact with your practice on social media — making the first move is important.
And interacting with potential clients is not as hard as it seems. Having an active Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms is crucial. Simply promote your latest blog post or a new Ebook you’ve written, and gain audience trust by giving internal updates such as office or staff additions and changes.
Pssst… Freaked out at the thought of using Twitter for your private practice? Check out our ultimate guide for Twitter here.
Client interaction on the internet is critical because interactions lead to reviews. And positive reviews are great because they signal to search engines that you and your practice are legit.
Are reviews really that important?
Yes! And here’s why:
- They create valuable inbound links
- They carry their own SEO “juice” for your website
- They especially help with local/regional SEO strategies, which is what most private practices tend to focus on
We love tools, especially when they’re free. Check out a few we’ve compiled to help with off-site optimization.
Google Analytics: This lets you measure your advertising return on investment, monitor your social media efforts, track website traffic, and more. It’s fairly straightforward to use, as well.
Google Trends: Trends lets you see the latest trends, data and visualizations from Google. By using this tool, you’ll be able to see what’s trending near you currently along with past trends in your area. Google Trends is useful when choosing your SEO keywords.
Broken Link Finder: So maybe you have a website with a ton both internal and external links. That’s great! Use this broken link finder tool to double check that links are working and that the external sites you’re linking to are still there, too.
There are more SEO strategies and tactics we haven’t yet touched on, but this is a great starting point for new and upcoming private practices.
Download our SEO Checklist, and if you absolutely love it like we do, leave a comment, share it with your friends, and come back soon for more private practice marketing advice.
Want the beautiful therapist website you deserve? Then you’re in the perfect place.
Brighter Vision is the ultimate marketing package for therapists, centered around the best therapist website you’ve ever had. Fill out the form below to learn more about our team of professionals who can’t wait to help your practice grow like never before. 🙂