If you’ve been in the counseling business for a while, you probably have a website. Have you ever wondered whether your website is helping you or hurting you? It’s basically all about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and whether you have it or you don’t. That and content have been the two biggest ways I’ve learned to help my business.
What SEO Is and What It Isn’t
SEO has to do with making it easy for people to find you on the internet based on what keywords are most-searched and tie into what your business is about. For example, if you do trauma therapy, you want to use trauma as your keyword on your website and in blog posts, you make on the topic. You also want to have your name and town listed frequently on your website such that people looking in your area will be more likely to find you. It’s a way of making whatever you have on your website be as relatable to people who are looking for your kind of service as possible. There’s not a whole lot else to it, but I will explain more about what I’m talking about.
Key Ways to Increase Your SEO
- Use of city or town your business resides on your website and in posts
- The name of your business on most or all of the pages of your website
- Use of keywords that are frequently searched in blog posts and specialty pages.
So How Can I Do This on My Website?
The simplest thing to do is to look at your website and see how often your the name of your business and the town it resides in are mentioned on your webpages. Google likes to see these listed prominently and frequently so they’ll get the idea you want people to know your name and where you’re located. You can also put these on names for pics you use on your website, as Joe Sanok has referred to abundantly in some of his posts and podcasts on the topic. These are basically simple things that you can do if you go through your website and just add them in. It’s easier with a Squarespace site than with some other platforms, such as WordPress, but it depends on how tech-savvy you are.
The other part is to blog regularly to add pages and content to your site, which Google generally like. However, if you’re adding content just for the sake of doing it, that’s not going to necessarily help that much. You want to reach your ideal client, and time spent brainstorming topics for blogs that help answer questions they might have can be useful. Thinking of questions they might have even before they think about looking for help can be very useful, as Sam Mallikarjunan has spoken about. There are keywords that need to come up repeatedly in your blog posts, and these are specific to your ideal client population. Using the example above, if you specialize in treating trauma, look for keywords that are specific to that population. You can look and see how widely searched these are on Google easily if you use Google Ads (formerly Adwords), using one of the tools called Keyword Planner.
If it is highly searched (probably with thousands of searches each month), and especially if the competition level using the word is listed as ‘low,’ you stand a good chance of people finding that blog post from your ideal client population. List the keyword as a tag in your post, and make sure you have it several times in the post (but not too often), and you have a good blog post. Just add an interesting picture (that you paid for or got from a verifiable free source that you took a screenshot of and saved to avoid nasty legal trouble), and voila! You’ve got a good blog post. The length of the post is ideally between 500 and 800 words, it can be lower if there is low competition using that word. If you also have a video blog you can do on Facebook or You Tube that goes with the blog post, that can be inserted in your post to make it more appealing to your audience.
Building Over Time
The other thing to try and do is write and post blogs on a consistent basis, ranging from once a week to bi-weekly. Then, check your website periodically using the stealth mode in Google Chrome to get a realistic take on how you’re ranking based on some search terms for your specialty area(s), such as ‘trauma therapy Austin’ where I’m based, and you can see how you’re doing.
Comparing your site to your competitions can be helpful as well. If you are in a highly competitive area like I am, it can be discouraging at first, but persistence pays off. I finally am ranked first in Austin for one of my specialty areas, so it can be worth it, but you have to stay at it. Using SEO and building content are the tried and true ways to improve your Google search ranking and attract your ideal clients. Best of luck to you in your efforts!
Scott Kampschaefer, LCSW is a private practice therapist in Austin, Texas. He has an extensive background in working with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder at a clinic for older adults with these disorders in Austin. He now works with adults and adolescents of all ages in private practice.