What the heck is SEO?
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is what you do to make your website findable on the internet when someone looks for you. In particular, making your website findable on Google. Ideally, when someone goes to do a Google search for a counselor or therapist in your local area, you would want your name to come up on the first page of Google. And at the very best, “before the fold”, which means near the top of the page before you start to scroll down. Unfortunately, this just doesn’t happen automatically. By focusing on SEO you can help your website move up in its “Google ranking” and become more noticeable to the Google search engine. Google uses sophisticated algorithms that their computers use to find websites.
SEO is sophisticated stuff. Again, there is tons, I mean TONS of information on this out there. One of the best ways to help your sight Google compatible is to use WordPress. Also there are a bunch of plugins that you can use with your WordPress site to help you make your private practice website more appealing to the Google search engine. The plugin that I use is Yoast SEO (https://yoast.com/wordpress-seo/) which basically guides you through making each page SEO friendly.
So here are a few tips to make your site more Google friendly and begin to increase your Google search ranking:
- Have the term “counseling” or “therapy” in your domain name. For example: “janesmithcounseling.com” will help with relevancy in the search engines.
- Make sure the copy or content of your website stays updated and uses “keywords” that are relevant to what you do. Keywords are words that people would use to do a search with. Think about what terms a person looking for you might use. One of the best tools for this is the Google Keyword Tool. You can enter search phrases and it will give you a list of other keywords that people might use to find you.
- Link your website to Social Media. If you have a business Facebook page or Twitter Account, make sure you have your private practice website linked to them. Pinterest and LinkedIn are also great Social Media platforms for private practice therapists to use.
- Try to create as many links to your website as possible. In particular try to create as many “in-bound” or “back links” to your website as you can. Register with as many of the free business listings as you can think of. Google, Yahoo, and Bing all have free business listings that you can register for. Also, put your office on Google Maps. You can also register with the paid directories like the Psychology Today Directory. The advantage to using a paid directory is that they put all the work into SEO on the front end. So if you are listed with them and have a link to your website from the directory, your website is automatically easier to find. The goal with all of these is having links to your website which helps with SEO.
- Start a blog. You may or may not like to write, but if you don’t it would be worth your while to brush up on your writing skills. What a blog does is increase the volume of content you have on your private practice website. The more new and relevant content you have on your site the more it stands out to the search engines.
- Use pictures and videos. Google especially likes videos. Make sure though that your pictures are original or have proper citations. The same with videos. As I have done in this post, you can easily embed videos from YouTube which perfectly okay and Google likes. A resource for pictures that I really love is Unsplash.com. The photos are high quality and free to use as you wish. You can then use an app like canva.com to add copy to your photos (used for the photo for this post). There are lots of others as well.
These are just some of the basics of SEO. As I have already mentioned, the goal of SEO is to make your private practice website appealing to the Google search engine. The more content that you have that directly correlates to what people are looking for, the more likely it is for Google to find you.
Here are a few more resources about SEO for Private Practice Websites. I am a big fan of Joe Sanok and he wrote a great blog post that goes into more detail about SEO.