Top 5 Elements of a Successful Profile Directory
As therapists, whether we like it or not, it is usually essential to join online mental health directories. One of the first places potential clients look to find a counselor is online. Since the big national mental health directories, such as Psychology Today and GoodTherapy, have so much authority on the internet, they are often first on search engine result pages.
For our future clients that are searching for a good match, filtering through counselors and reading through different profiles is convenient. But after a while, all the therapists that are listed in a directory may start to bleed into each other. If you don’t stand out, users may not even click on your profile. Or if they do click, they might quickly click away if they can’t find the information they need (generally about qualifications to treat their issue) right away.
I run a local mental health directory and an alternative healthcare directory serving the Portland, Oregon area. The mental health care directory, Portland Therapy Center, has been a big success since launching in January of 2014. The site gets over 10,000 visitors a month and features hundreds of local therapists. One of the best parts about operating the directory is that I get to collect tons of data on what potential clients are looking for in a therapist. There are elements of both art and science to attracting clients on a big directory. I have been sharing a lot the data, plus other online strategies, on the Practice Academy website. In this article, I am going to go over the top 5 most important elements of a successful profile on a therapist directory. If you are a mental health practitioner, I hope you will find this useful!
1. Profile Photo
The first thing that clients are going to take notice of is the photo you choose for your profile. There are absolutely some photos that get clicked on more than others. The good news is that it doesn’t matter how good looking you are in your photo (subjective anyway!) or if you’re a male or female. What matters most are seven different things that you have complete control over.
- Composition – Make sure the shot isn’t an extreme close-up or a distant full body shot. You’ll want to make sure that the top of your head, down to about your chest are centered in the picture.
- Location – It really matters where your photo is taken. Clients click on more photos that are taken outside. So find a nice sunny day, stand behind something green and natural and strike your best “look at me! I’m being casual in a park” pose.
- Lighting – Natural light is important. If you do decide to stay indoors, open up the blinds and make sure the room is filled with sunlight.
- Contrast – You’ll want strong contrast in your photo. Your beautiful face should be sharp and crisp while everything behind you fades and blurs into the background. Contrast helps to convey emotion and will engage viewers.
- Smile – this may seem obvious but be sure to smile! Make sure it’s not a weird smile though. Either a friendly closed lip smile or a slightly happier smile showing your top teeth.
- Dress Nice-ish – You don’t have to get dressed up for the prom but you shouldn’t be wearing your lazy sweatpants. Think professional casual and you’ll be good to go.
- Dogs Allowed – This one is extra credit. If you have a cute dog, throw it in the picture. Clients respond well to photos with dogs. If you happen to find yourself in the park, I’m sure a dog owner wouldn’t mind if you stole theirs for a bit…just saying.
2. Writing Tips
Writing content for a directory or business listing is different than writing for your own website. You only get a limited amount of space which means you have to make an impact and create a good impression quickly. Based on industry best practices, along with the data I’ve collected operating healthcare directory websites, I have a few simple tips to get the most out of your listings.
Writing concisely means choosing your words deliberately, constructing your sentences carefully, and using grammar properly. Concise writing gets straight to the point and is easy for readers to understand.
Concise writing does not always have the fewest words, but it always uses the strongest ones. The goal of concise writing is to use the most effective words. Therapists often fill sentences with weak or unnecessary words that can be deleted or replaced. Go through your content sentence by sentence and check every word to make sure that it is providing something important and unique. If words are redundant, they can be deleted. If words seem vague, try replacing those words with stronger, more specific words. Are you over-using adjectives (less is more)? If you can cut out a word, always do.
Use Approachable Language
Avoid writing in a tone that is too formal. Pretentious language creates distance between you and your reader, when you should be seeking to make a connection.
Express your ideas and information in conversational sentences. To test this, try reading your copy aloud. How did it sound? Did it feel natural and like something you would say in person? If not, try again until it feels genuine. Sterile language creates distance between you and your potential clients. And conversely, using language that reflects an authentic representation of who you are and how you communicate will create a feeling of closeness. Clients want their therapist to be friendly and easy to talk to and successfully conveying those traits in your writing will serve your business well.
Don’t assume that your reader knows anything. That’s not to say that you should speak to people like they are dummies. You need to carefully make sure you are avoiding a condescending tone.
The content on your profile should not be written for an academic crowd. It is written for a client that may not know much about the mental health industry. Never use a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. Limit your use of abbreviations and acronyms.
3. Show your Authority and Develop Trust
These suggestions may take you a little more thought to implement, but they will truly take your directory profile to the next level. It’s important to foster trust and hope in order to give your readers the little push they may need to reach out for an appointment.
As a mental health professional, you need to develop your own credible voice as an expert in your field – present yourself as the authority you are. Many times, authority is the first thing that potential clients are looking for in a healthcare practitioner. Don’t be afraid to boldly and proudly state your expertise. This is no time for modesty.
To convey authority through your writing, present your ideas and thoughts clearly and with confidence. Presenting your copy in a concise and effective manner, as outlined above, will go a long way towards establishing your authority. Making emphatic statements, rather than dancing around topics with quantifying language, conveys authority and also signifies believability to readers.
Your prospective clients need to feel like you know your stuff. People respond to those who come across as intelligent and well-informed, so stay on top of trends in the field and make an effort to convey your knowledge through your copy.
When you are writing your content, make sure that you definitively and purposefully present yourself as the authority that you truly are. You can display your authority by writing about your education, trainings, certificates, and years of experience treating specific issues.
4. Choose the Right Issues to Treat
DISCLAIMER: I am in no way trying to encourage therapists to market to clients if they don’t have the appropriate training to treat them or the mental health issues listed in this blog post. The information that I provide in this article should be used ethically and responsibly.
Recently, I wrote a blog post about the top ten issues clients want to work on in therapy. The information was taken from the mental health directory that I run. When visitors to the site look for a therapist, they can search by the mental health issue they would like to treat. If you treat the top mental health issues in the list, it would be wise to feature them prominently in your profile listing.
However, something to take into consideration is that the top issues are often treated by the majority of counselors. So choosing to feature issues that are still popular, but a little further down the list, may end up attracting more referrals because there is less competition.
Here are the top ten issues selected:
- Relationship/Marriage Issues
- Child or Adolescent issues
- LGBTQ issues
- Family Conflict
- Personal Growth
- Self Esteem
- Gender Dysphoria
5. Choose the Right Treatment Orientations to Feature
The same disclaimer goes for selecting treatment orientations on your profile. Most of the popular therapy directories allow you to select treatment styles and psychological theories that you employ in your practice. Users of the directories can typically filter for therapists based on what treatment style they would like their counselor to specialize in.
The following are the top six treatment orientations selected by therapy seekers. The top six are chosen over 45% of the time.
- Cognitive Behavioral Treatment (CBT)
- Mindfulness Based
- Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
- Somatic Therapy (Body Centered)
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Something important to keep in mind is that a successful therapy profile does not need to check off every single element listed in this article. There isn’t a perfect profile out there that checks off every item. This data should be used as a guide and only implemented into your profile when you can naturally and organically integrate the suggestions and information.
If you would like more information on how to attract more clients through your directory listings, website or blog, access tons of free information at www.thepracticeacademy.com.