The most important marketing tool of any private practice has to be its website. The days of telephone books, newspaper or most any print advertising is just not as effective as it used to be. And if a private practice does use print advertising, it should be pointing people to their website.
Just about every week I check out my website’s performance. The way I do that is by using Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free tool from Google that lets you track several key things about your website.
- How people found your website
- Which pages they are visiting
- How long they are staying on your site
- Where they are visiting you from (country)
- Demographics of the user
- How they are accessing the website; by computer, mobile or tablet
- When people are visiting your site
A person can find out a lot using the Google Analytics. It lets you see your growth and what is working and not working about your website. It lets you also see what people are most interested in. If you know all that, you can know where to put your efforts into building and growing your website. And if you grow your website, your practice will also grow!
What motivated me to write this blog post was that when I looked at the analytics for this website, The Practice of Therapy, the number of users had grown significantly since I started the blog a little over a year ago. It went from about 50 unique users a month to well over 2000 unique users. So these are the things I did to get from 50 to 2000.
How I grew my website
So we won’t go too much into the technical side of this here, but the most versatile platform you can use for building a website is WordPress. And to break it down as simple as possible, what you need are:
- Your domain name
- Hosting service with WordPress installed
- Knowledge about using WordPress
My friend Daniel Fava has a course simply titled: A Little Course About WordPress. It’s a good place to start.
Once you have your website basics down and website up, it does take some time for people to find you on the internet. But if you take the right steps your website traffic will increase and you will have more people finding you and ultimately coming to your private practice. That’s where SEO (search engine optimization) comes in. And the best way to increase your SEO is to simply grow your website with quality content.
Here are the things that I did to grow my website:
Have a simple and easy to use format. You really do not need a lot of bells and whistles.
Constantly add and update the content of your website. You should NOT just “set-it-and-forget-it”.
The best way to keep fresh content up on your website is to blog (more about this later).
Everything that you blog about, post to social media.
Use videos on your website. People and search engines just like videos. And having videos is a way for people to make a more personal connection.
Get as many “inbound links” as you can. This simply means having other websites and social media linking to your website. This helps with SEO as well. One tip with this is to list your practice with Google Business and this will also put you on Google Maps.
Make sure the content on your website is what people are looking for and is helpful. In other words, the information on your website should be specific to what you do. For example, if you are a therapist who works with people who struggle with eating disorders, you would want to have a lot of information on your site about that topic.
The way to do this is to make sure your website is full of keywords people are using to to find your services. “Keywords” are simply the search terms. people might use to search for you. A way to do this is to use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner (You do have to sign up for Adwords for this which is free unless you decide to run some ads)
The Importance of Blogging
Blogging is one of the best ways to create more traffic to your website. The reason is that it gives you the opportunity to make a connection with potential clients. Blogging helps establish you as an expert and give your more credibility. It is also one of the best ways to increase SEO.
Blogging does not have to be hard. Some people just do not like to write and it seems intimidating. Blogs like your website, really should be simple. They need to be scannable and easy to read. It is not like writing a paper or a journal article.
If you think about it, how do you read stuff on the internet? I bet like me, you scan. (It would be interesting to know how many people out there are actually reading this. Email me and let me know if you did: email@example.com)
Another thing to consider if you are not a big fan of writing, is to consider “vlogging”. Do a blog but just record yourself on video talking about a particular topic. Then just adding some notes about what you talked about and posting the video and notes to your blog.
Mistakes I made
The first mistake many therapists make with their website is not blogging. Even if you only post something once a month or every other month, it is better than not doing it at all. The more you blog, the more search engines like it. Especially if it is a blog full of quality, relevant content.
Not being active on social media. Besides your website, social media is one of the best ways to engage online with potential referral sources for your private practice. Like blogging and your website, it is important to keep quality and fresh information constantly on your social media pages.
Another mistake is to not keep information updated and fresh on your website. Like I mentioned before, it is not a good idea to just “set-it and forget-it”. Keep pictures and especially information about your practice up to date.
Focused on solving the client’s problems
Finally, it is important to keep in mind that the whole theme of your private practice website be about the client and not about you. This might sound a bit counterintuitive, but marketing experts will tell you that your overall message needs to be about solving people’s problems. You should tell about yourself of course, but the central message should be about how you help clients.
Another important piece to remember is that primary purpose of your website is to get referrals for your practice. So make it easy for people to know how to contact you. If a person has to click or search your site to find your phone number or how to email you, they are likely not to contact you at all. Put your phone number and/or other contact information “above the fold”. In other words, it being one of the first things people see on your website.
Then thirdly, have a “call to action”. Invite people to contact you with copy like, “call today” or “call to for a free phone consultation”, etc. This is a marketing basic. If you don’t ask, they probably will not buy.
Your website is your number one tool for getting new referrals. It is important to make sure your website is working for you and getting your ideal clients. By using these things, you can not only grow your website, but ultimately grow your practice.
By L. Gordon Brewer, Jr., MEd. LMFT – Gordon is the President and Founder of Kingsport Counseling Associates, PLLC. He is also a consultant and business mentor at The Practice of Therapy. Follow us on Twitter @therapistlearn. “Like” us on Facebook.