In this episode of the Practice of Therapy Podcast, Gordon talks with Jeff Geunther, LPC about his private practice journey and how he has built his private practice and other business ventures. Jeff is an expert in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and how to grow counseling and therapy practice using their digital assets. Jeff talks about several of the things he has learned about optimizing private practice websites based on his research into how people search for therapists. Jeff tells too how he has used this information to develop The Practice Academy and The Therapy Den, an online directory for therapist.
Meet Jeff Geunther
Jeff Guenther, LPC, is a therapist in Portland, OR. He has been in private practice since 2005 and currently leads workshops on how therapists can build their digital brand and attract more clients online. Jeff is the creator and owner of Portland Therapy Center, a highly ranked therapist directory. Jeff has just launched a new progressive therapist directory for at TherapyDen. Subscribe to Jeff’s newsletter at therapyden.com to get weekly tips on how to grow your business and attract more clients.
Jeff began his private practice journey, like many of us, not knowing exactly what direction to go or how to get people interested in using his services as a therapist. Jeff said he really charged too little for his services thinking it would make his practice grow faster. But what he found was that was not sustainable and began to slowly raise his prices.
The other thing that Jeff did was to begin diversifying his practice by renting out office space for part-time therapists. He mainly catered to therapists that were just starting out in their private practices. He became known in his community as somewhat of an expert and as the go-to person for starting practices.
Over time, Jeff was able to acquire several office spaces around town that he provided for therapists. This lead him to then start a local online therapist directory (The Portland Therapy Center) and begin helping other therapists in marketing their practices. This, in turn, leads to him developing The Practice Academy which teaches healthcare workers how to ethically and effectively build and grow their private practices or small businesses.
Jeff also said his interest in technology and how to integrate it with therapy very much drove his interest to develop the directories and learning tools. Jeff said, when he first went into the therapy/counseling field, he also was interested in computer animation and design. Ultimately he decided becoming a therapist was the way to go. But he continues to be interested in and learn about technology as an ongoing hobby.
Knowing How To Attract Clients
Through Jeff’s different ventures, he has learned a lot about what the public is searching for when seeking the help of therapists. Jeff learned specifically what people tend to click on when visiting a website and what images and copy are more appealing.
Jeff has been able to collect a lot of data through his directories about search terms that people use and what is most appealing to people seeking therapists. He came up with a list of “top 10” search terms that people will use in searching for services on Google and the internet.
Top 10 Search Terms For Therapists
- Relationship and Marriage Issues
- Child or adolescent issues
- PTSD (people actually use this term, but also use trauma)
- LGBTQ Issues
- Personal Growth
- Gender Identity Issues
- Family Conflicts
- Loss or Grief
In addition to these terms, it is important to get more specific around these various issues by using qualifiers. For example, social anxiety or fear of public speaking, vs. just anxiety. This will help with SEO and help you stand out when people are searching for your services.
Connecting With Clients Through Website Copy
Another thing that Jeff and Gordon discussed was being able to connect with clients on your website by writing in a way to connects with them. In particular, your “About” page really needs to show that you understand the problems potential clients might be having. People will connect with you when they know you truly “get” what they are going through right now.
This is all the more reason to develop a niche in your practice. By identifying specific issues you want to work with people on, will only make you more attractive to potential clients. This is especially true when these issues align with some of these top 10 search terms.
Therapy Den Directory
Jeff developed the Therapy Den Directory based on his research and what he learned from developing his local directory in Portland. But more importantly, Jeff wanted to create a directory that had more of a mission. In particular helping people connect with therapists that were progressive and understand issues like racism, homophobia, and other forms of hate.
Jeff admits that Therapy Den is up against a lot of competition in terms of some the larger therapist directories like Psychology Today or Good Therapy. But what makes Therapy Den unique is that it helps people connect with therapists that are sensitive to and compassionate to issues where people feel marginalized.
People Want to Truly Know Their Therapist
One of the huge things that Jeff has discovered through his research is that people truly want to know the person who is their therapist. In other words, they want to know that their therapist truly understands what they are going through by virtue of the therapist’s own life experiences. For example, if someone is going through a divorce they would be drawn more to a therapist that has experienced a divorce themself.
Jeff mentions that therapists seem to fall on a spectrum of completely no self-disclosure to those that share a lot. Jeff says people want authenticity. And what he found was that people tended to pick therapists that were more open about their personal life experiences. The Therapy Den directory is really designed to help therapists share these things about themselves.
Picking The Right Directory
There are so many directories out there for therapists to list with. (Here’s an older blog post I did about this). But as Jeff points out, it’s a good idea to make your decision about which directories to list with based on ROI (return on investment). So if one directory brings you one client, and that client sees you for several sessions, it’s a good ROI. Multiple that by the number of people that are finding you in the various directories, it becomes an even better investment.
People might spend several months researching which therapist they want to see. The more places they find you on the internet, the better impact it has for their decision. It also lends itself to more credibility by your name coming up in several different places.
The other things that directories do is create “backlinks” to your website which helps boost your SEO. Backlinks are kind of like votes. The more you have other websites linking to your website, the more Google recognizes it as being relevant.
Having The Right Pictures
Jeff also has done a good bit of research into how pictures can make difference in “click through rates”. Here are a few tips on your website photos:
- People tend to click on close-up pictures rather than pictures that are full or partial body shots. Outdoor photos are more appealing than indoor photos. Have some greenery in the background.
- Natural light is important rather than pictures made indoors
- Have good contrasts in the picture. Example a clear face with blurry background.
- Your smile should not be too big. Ideally a closed mouth smile or one in which just your top teeth barely show.
- Dress nicely but do not over dress.
- Dogs in the photo with you are a big hit. (It’s the number one way to get a photo clicked on!)
Therapy Den – therapyden.com
The Practice Academy – practiceacademy.com
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TherapyDen/
Email Jeff: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet Gordon Brewer, MEd, LMFT
Gordon is the person behind The Practice of Therapy Podcast & Blog.He is also President and Founder of Kingsport Counseling Associates, PLLC. He is a therapist, consultant, business mentor, trainer and writer. PLEASE Subscribe to The Practice of Therapy Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Google Play. Follow us on Twitter @therapistlearn and Pinterest “Like” us on Facebook.