What is SEO? How can it help you rank higher in Google? Are there things you can start doing today to start optimizing your website?
In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks with Jessica Tappana about how to get more clients by ranking higher in Google, what SEO is and things you can do today to ensure that Google recognizes you.
Meet Jessica Tappana
Jessica Tappana is a licensed clinical social worker, trauma therapist, group practice owner & SEO guru. She is also a Christian. At Simplified SEO Consulting, Jessica helps therapists around the world show up higher on Google to get in front of their ideal clients and build their private practices.
Jessica and her team offer both SEO Training services for practice owners wanting to learn to optimize their own websites and “Done for You” SEO services for those wanting to save time by outsourcing to a team of SEO experts.
In This Podcast
- What is SEO
- Things you can do to help you rank higher in Google
- Consistency of blogs
- How to get the best ROI and can social media help with SEO?
- SEO packages available
What is SEO
You have to start learning to put up more than just a nice website if you really want to give Google the information it needs to rank your website.
When people do a search online, Google will scan your website to see if it has what it takes to provide that person with all the necessary information they need. You have to be really clear and let Google know what your website is about and when people are looking for a particular service you want to be ranked first.
Things you can do to help you rank higher in Google
- Add content to your website regularly
- Give really specific content by writing blogs of at least 500 words
Consistency of blogs
It’s less important what day and time you do, its more important that it’s consistent.
Google assumes that if you’re regularly updating your website, that it’s going to have more useful information. The rule of thumb is to post twice a month, pick the same 2 days every month.
A backlink is a link created when one website links to another. Backlinks give you credibility in Google’s eyes and it’s very important that you get other websites to link to your site.
You can get backlinks to your site by being put featured on directories, getting interviewed by the media and writing guest blog posts.
How to get the best ROI and can social media help with SEO?
When you try to invest a little bit in a lot of things, this tends to not work out as well. The recommendation is that you pick 1 or 2 areas to really invest in such as consulting and SEO.
Social shares can help boost your SEO when it links back to your website.
SEO packages available
Jessica offers 2 packages:
- Done for you SEO – you’re a busy counseling practice owner wanting your website to rank on Google but you just don’t have the time to do the SEO work yourself
- SEO training – you’re an independent-minded “Do It Yourself” type of business owner
- 5 Myths To Starting A Faith-based Practice | FP 12
- Grow Your Practice to a Group Practice with Start and Scale a Group Practice Mastermind!
- Email Whitney: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Faith In Practice Facebook Group
- Free resources to help you start, grow and scale
- Apply to work with Whitney
- Consult With Whitney
Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.
Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.
Thanks For Listening!
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Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host Whitney Owens recording live from Savannah Georgia. The purpose of this podcast is to help clinicians start, grow and scale their private practice from a faith-based perspective. I’m excited to announce that we’re going to be starting a mastermind. If you haven’t heard about this already, I’m really excited about it. It’s going to be starting at the end of March and the purpose of the mastermind is to help people learn how to start and grow their private practice from solo to a group practice. What makes this mastermind unique though, is that it’s going to be run by two consultants, myself and Alison Pidgeon, who is a group practice growth guru. So, there’s a lot of Gs there, but she is amazing, has been helping people grow private practices to group practices for years and has a lot of great content.
And then I’m going to come alongside her and offer some other tips as I’ve grown my group and help you learn how to grow a group. So, if you’ve been thinking about going into a group practice and been unsure about hiring clinicians. this mastermind is a good time to consider doing that. The group starts at the end of March on March 31st, and it’s going to run for six months. If you’re thinking I’ve been wanting to start that group and unsure, please send me an email it’s email@example.com. So, let’s set up a phone call so we can talk about if the mastermind is a good fit for you. We want to make sure that you get the best return on investment for your time, your energy and your money. I have found mastermind groups to be highly successful in the past for myself and with the other people I’ve been in groups with.
Honestly, I’ve made some really great friends through the masterminds and we still talk and encourage one another. So, masterminds can be extremely helpful. So, I really want you to prayerfully consider if now is the time for you to start a mastermind group. And like I said, send me that email so that we can connect about that. Well, in today’s episode, I’m interviewing Jessica Tappana. She is amazing, a dear friend of mine and has really great content to offer you. When we’re looking at our websites, that is the number one way in most cases that people are finding out about your practice these days; is through Google. And so, Jessica can help people rank higher in Google by doing lots of things like search engine optimization, meta descriptions, back links, all that stuff, technical jargon, that when I started private practice, I had no idea what all that was.
So, she’s going to walk us through some steps in this episode to help you do that. And I want to encourage you to check her out as well, simplifiedSEOconsulting.com to get more tips. She’s got a great blog that you can get for free and get all that great information. And so, I’m on our blog and sometimes I get that and I go, “Oh, this is a great tip,” and I can use it immediately. So, it’s really awesome. So, let’s just go ahead and jump into the episode with Jessica Tappana on how to rank hire on Google.
Hello. And so today on the podcast, I’ve got a dear friend Jessica Tappana. Jessica is a licensed clinical social worker, trauma therapist, group practice owner, and she is the SEO guru. She is a Christian as well. She owns Simplified SEO Consulting, she helps therapists around the world show up higher on Google and get in front of their ideal clients, and help them build private practices. Jessica and her team offer both SEO training services for practice owners, wanting to learn to optimize their websites in the Done for You SEO Services, for those that are wanting to save their time by outsourcing to a team of SEO experts. So excited to have you here today, Jessica, how you doing?
[JESSICA]: I’m excited. Any opportunity to chat with you at Whitney is always a good time.
[WHITNEY]: Oh, you’re way too kind. So why don’t you kind of share, I know you do a lot of SEO. We’re totally going to get into that, but we’d love for you to share a little bit about yourself and your family and a little bit about your private practice.
[JESSICA]: So, I started my private practice, I guess a little less than three years ago. Three years ago, I was still in like that phase where I had, I think I’d chosen a first little office and had a business plan and all that good stuff, but I was supposed to be a solo practice. The vision was, I was going to sit in an office, see five clients a day, and it was just going to be that. That was the dream. And then I, had a couple of friends approach me about sub-leasing my tiny office and I said, “Sure.” And then from there we grew and started taking on 1099s. And I joined the Practice of the Practice third group mastermind. It turned into a real group practice and I taught myself SEO because everybody was telling me that the way to grow a group practice was to go out and do a ton of networking.
And I love the idea because I really do love people, but I had this newborn at home and a preschooler and didn’t like taking the time away from them. I don’t know about other places, but a lot of our networking stuff is in the evenings or also be in the middle of the day and take away from my ability to see clients, which I couldn’t afford. So, SEO was something I taught myself to do by reading books and looking at blog posts and video, YouTube videos, all that good stuff, usually between like 9:00 PM and midnight and quickly learned to get my own site to top of Google. And now we have a really steady stream of referrals for our therapists because people are looking on Google. And so at this point, I guess we have, six or seven, six right now and the seventh person that’s getting ready to join our practice, we have a virtual assistant, we just decided to expand having two virtual systems in 2020, and I’m looking to bring on like a clinical team lead type person in my private practice as well.
[WHITNEY]: That’s great. That’s great. And it’s Aspire Counseling?
[JESSICA]: That’s right, yeah.
[WHITNEY]: Great, great. So that’s awesome. So, you went from solo to now seven in how long?
[JESSICA]: A little less than three years.
[WHITNEY]: That’s awesome. So, hey people, you can do it. And you can really do it if you use SEO. So, Jessica also tell people, you were talking about your little one and so how many kids do you have, their ages and kind of how that goes with your practice? How do you work and be a mom?
[JESSICA]: Oh, wow. Whitney, we could have a whole hour talking about this. In fact, I think we have before. I have a two and a half-year -old, and she is the reason I started my practice because I didn’t want to put her in daycare as much as I’d put my son in daycare. It was really hard. I went back to work when he was six weeks old and by the time he was 10 weeks old, he was there. I was remembering it today he was there from 7:15 in the morning until five at night. And I just couldn’t do that with her. So, she’s two and a half now and then my son is six and a half and they are both amazing, amazing children. I just adore them. And, luckily, I have a husband who was supportive of my crazy dream to start a private practice, but having that has allowed us to really meet my children’s needs.
My son has ADHD and you know, he just does really well in school. If I have frequent contact with his teachers, we found just kind of him knowing that there’s that consistency that we’re just, you know, at least waving to each other when I pick them up is great. So, having a private practice means most days I pick him up from school. We just arrange my schedule that way and it’s really been, my daughter today was her first day, actually a full day preschool. Before that she’s been able to just make do with part time babysitters. She’s just at a point where she was ready for that next step, but we’ve, I think that starting a private practice was one of the best things I ever did for my kids and for my balance. And every business decision I make is about like, what are the needs of our family even when we’re deciding, you know, what conferences to go to or that sort of thing. And my husband, we’ll just sit down and say, “How does this affect my husband. How does this affect our children?” And that’s really how I’ve built. My business has been keeping my family’s needs on the forefront of my mind.
[WHITNEY]: Oh, I love that. You know, and in the Practice of the Practice world, we’re all about how do we balance our work and how do we make our work work for us? You know, how do we let our family and our personal lives come first and work comes around that, or it helps really fuel the kind of life that we want? And you’re totally doing that. And I love it. You’re always inspiring me too. We do have lots of conversations and just to say, that’s the importance of like getting involved in some kind of group of people who are like-minded, if it’s a mastermind or a Facebook group, or just friends, like people who have the same ideas in business and in family, because we really need each other when you’re trying to push forward in your business, but you’re also not wanting to set your mind on something when you should be setting it on. It’s really good to have those connections. So yeah. So, Jessica, could you, I love how you just talked about SEO and how you used that to help get the life you wanted. So, tell me a little bit at the beginning, when you started implementing SEO onto your website and you were kind of learning for yourself, what happened to your practice?
[JESSICA]: Well, we, so I was at the point, I’ve helped people with SEO in kind of all stages of practice. The stage of practice I was when I first started learning was, I’d had this, the joke is this is my like part time, that the private practice was supposed to be three days a week. All my kids were at school and it’s obviously turned into pretty full time, but I really only had a sitter a handful of hours a week, and so I wasn’t supposed to be working full time, but when I filled up pretty quickly, we kept getting calls. And so, I decided to bring on a 1099 because my husband was kind of like, “You don’t want to work 50 hours a week by just taking on more and more clients.” So, I added a clinician, but all those calls coming in were people that were referred to me personally.
And so, while I had these two, I started with two clinicians I had very carefully vetted. I really, really trusted them, but everybody that called wanted me because that’s who they were told that that’s who they were calling. And so, making that switch from people calling for Jessica versus people calling for Aspire Counseling was kind of challenging. When I started, you know, putting the kids to bed and then working on SEO at night and we started getting ranking and people started calling for Aspire Counseling, it was so much easier, especially once I started having a VA answer the phone instead of myself. Even when it was me, people were calling for Aspire Counseling and so I could offer them any of these Aspire Counseling therapists. And I actually firmly believe that I’ve been better serving clients because we now have therapists with different strengths even, you know, I have two therapists that are both trained in very similar things.
They’re both trained in trauma therapy and DBT but when a client calls, we’re able to also describe their personalities and make the fit based on personality and based on training. But all of that is because they’re calling our bigger agency, not because they’re calling for a specific individual. And so therefore we just started growing really, really quickly. I actually just have been amazed by the ability, actually we added a new therapist in the middle of December, which anyone out there knows is like a terrible time, just a terrible time to add a new clinician because nobody’s calling, nobody’s coming in in December, but we did. We got some calls. To make it more interesting though, she had a totally different specialty. She specializes in chronic illness and like hospice caregivers, not really a population my practice had ever targeted before, but because we already had generally good SEO, I was able to put up a page about her specialties and we were able to get, I forget how many appointments she had in December, but it was a decent number.
At this point this week, she had 10 appointments. I haven’t checked but I know she has at least three consults scheduled for next week. So, for me —
[WHITNEY]: That’s awesome.
[JESSICA]: Yeah. It’s just, that to me is the power. I’m like, “Wow, we took a totally different specialty, a brand-new therapist. She wants 15 clients at this rate, you know, within a couple of weeks she’ll be full.
[WHITNEY]: Wow. There’s the power of search engine optimization right there. So, let’s talk about kind of what you do with, well, first of all, before we go there, why don’t you talk to people just in case someone doesn’t know, what is SEO and like, how does that work in Google in a real basic way?
[JESSICA]: That’s a really good question. So, search engine optimization has basically, there’s a, when you type something into Google, there are about 200 factors that we know that Google uses to try to decide which websites to put at the top. And the really cool thing is that Google actually wants clients to have well, they don’t call them clients to have people that are doing searches to have a good experience with Google because they want to remain on top. And this applies to any search engine, I think, but I usually talk about Google since that’s the most popular. So, people do a search and then Google tries to scan your website and say, you know, is your website, does your website have what it takes to provide this person with what they’re looking for? What’s interesting is a lot of times we just don’t naturally without knowing what Google’s looking for, give Google enough information or the right information.
And so, search engine optimization. I like to think of it as like a puzzle, like, “Hey, we’re trying to fit just the right pieces in so you rank well.” But I think that now I’m kind of almost switching my own view of it and seen as now like how do we be the most helpful to Google and really most clearly say to Google, and this is what my website is about. And therefore, when people are looking for this kind of service, I want you to rank me first. And so, we give Google information so they can do it. And that’s what SEO, search engine optimization is all about, just providing Google with that information so that they know when to rank you. I think as therapists and I was this way, I created a beautiful website, I was so excited about my website and then nobody found it. And for a while that was okay because I was getting lots of calls from other places.
But then when I had expanded to that group practice, I was so confused. I’m like, “I have a website. It looks nice. Why is nobody calling?” And I started doing Google searches and I wasn’t showing up. And it was just so frustrating because I didn’t understand this concept. And I’ve noticed time and time again, those are the messages that I get from people. People are investing, you know, sometimes, tons and tons of their time and sometimes thousands of dollars in a website that they’re happy with, they like the look of, but it just isn’t showing up. And that’s where we come in. Or, you know, there’s lots of ways that you can use SEO, learn SEO. We try and make it as efficient as possible. Or there are lots of different people that you can outsource to. We go really, really in depth. But that’s where you have to start learning to do more than just put up a nice website if you really want to give Google the information it needs to rank your website.
[WHITNEY]: That’s great. So, let’s go ahead and do a couple of tips. So, let’s say someone’s listening right now and they’re like, “Hey Jessica, what are a couple things I can do today to make my website rank higher?” What would you say?
[JESSICA]: I would say that where it starts is with adding content to your website. Most therapist’s websites that I look at don’t have enough content to rank well. Google, you know, might see that you have an individual counseling page and it has a list of all your specialties. When you’ve tried to put a lot of specialties in there, you don’t, you know, make any move down, but you say, you know, “I offer individual counseling,” and you have this list of anxiety, depression, marriage problems, divorce, discernment, and premarital counseling. And so, Google is “Okay, great.” You know how to spell anxiety,” but Google’s not going to rank you because you know how to spell the word. They assume someone that’s looking for the phrase anxiety treatment, or how do I help my anxiety like once more than somebody they [inaudible 00:17:13] the word.
And I know it’s been a little sarcastic there, but you just haven’t given Google enough information. I know you’re saying that you treat anxiety because you’re, you know, you’ve had training and experience there, but Google doesn’t know that yet. So, then you go and maybe write a paragraph about anxiety and how you help with anxiety. So now Google’s like, “Okay, that’s a little bit of information.” And honestly, in some really noncompetitive areas, just writing that might be enough, but for most of us, we need to go a little bit for, one step further. And so, we’re going to need to create an entire service page about how we treat anxiety and our approach to counseling for anxiety. And then Google looks at that and they’re like, “Wow, they wrote 500 words on anxiety counseling. They must really know this topic.”
And so just giving Google that content is a great place to start. Also, blogs are another wonderful place to give really specific content. So if you do anxiety, you now have an anxiety page, whole page with at least 500 words on anxiety, but then you also maybe write a specific blog post on three tips for dealing with social anxiety, five signs that you have OCD, whatever, so that you have more specific topics in your blog posts. And again, I write, you know, at least 500 words on those as well. Preferably it’s better to have something than nothing for sure. And again, you know, blog posts are another great way to just have a nice rich full site that gives Google lots of great information about what is on your page and who to send to your page.
And if you have all those blog posts about specific tips for coping with anxiety and specific types of anxiety disorders, and that means a landing page that they all went back to, Google is going to say, “Wow, this person knows their stuff,” and start sending people that are looking for help for their anxiety to your webpage. So, if that sounds overwhelming, like write a page, write blog posts, you get a whole bunch of content on there, just start with creating a page and getting content on there. From there there’s about a thousand other things that you can do to optimize, but that’s really the basis. That’s where to start. That’s your stepping stone?
[WHITNEY]: Oh, that’s so helpful. I love how you, you know, even you call yourself Simplified SEO Consulting, but you do, you, you take a concept that’s difficult, I think, and you make it simple for people. So, I love the simplicity of that, of, “Hey, get 500 words on a sheet on something that you’re interested in or that you want to specialize in and get it out there.” Like that’s what it is.
[JESSICA]: We have to have a place to start. Like so many people start hearing all these terms thrown around. I think even I have a tendency to sometimes be like, “Well, you can work on this and this and this.” And it sounds very overwhelming. And so, and then people do nothing because they’re so overwhelmed or they try to do everything and don’t do it well. So, I think that really having it broken down into like, where do you start? And for me, if you’re starting with content, and then we can also, if you want to talk a little bit about back links, like if you start, at least content for me is the first place. If you start with creating lots of content on that page, that is really going to set the, you know, it’s going to set up the stage, there’s likely, depending on your area going to be additional work you’ll have to do, but it’s a great place to start.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah, that’s awesome. You know, when we were at Slow Down School and for those of you don’t know what Slow Down School is, Joe Sanok’s Practice of the Practice runs a week long retreat for people who have higher level practices. A lot of group practices or single practice owners who’ve been doing it for some time, it’s kind of catered to them, but it’s a week of just slowing down and being thoughtful for ourselves in our own personal work, but also thinking about our businesses and moving forward. So, we spend the first few days slowing down and the rest of it kind of moving forward out of that place of rest, we kind of can spring forward with more creativity. When I was there, Jessica came and did some SEO and she did a presentation. I don’t know, it was probably two-hour presentation and I had so many great notes.
And this stuff she’s talking about is stuff that I started using on my own website that I found helpful, but I just also want to throw a few things out, Jessica, that you told me that I think are really good to say to people. You know, you were talking about the blogs. One thing that you had said was the consistency of blogs. And can you talk a little bit about, why is it important that you post at the same day, or how often do you post a blog and how does that impact SEO?
[JESSICA]: Yeah, Google assumes that if you’re regularly updating your website, that it’s going to have more useful information. So, it will have the most up to date information. It also likes, like I said, like Google really does want to provide the best possible results. So, they assume if you’re regularly turning out content that that’s a really good, that it’s a really good sign that your users know what to expect. That they know that, “Hey, I’ll come back every Tuesday and find a new blog post from Whitney.” So, it is very important. Like I’ll have people, they’ll get really excited about SEO and they’ll write like 10 blog posts and they want to publish them all that day. And I’m like, “Oh, but you’ve got a gold mine right there. Like don’t just publish it that day because then you get essential credit once for publishing a bunch of new content.”
Instead I encourage them to spread it out. For most people, kind of the general rule of thumb that I tell people think of is twice a month. Pick the same day every month, you know, the same two days every month. Maybe do it on I’m thinking probably first, the 10th and the 25th. That’s when I do my distributions. So, you know, those might be your two days that every month on those two days, you’re going to post it. For other people, it’s every other week, every other Tuesday. We tend to do Tuesday mornings on my website. We discovered that by looking at our Google analytics data, but I don’t want to get too much into the weeds here. Any time, it’s less important what day and time you do and more important than it’s consistent. I think when I was first really determined to work on my SEO, I tell people this and get a good laugh sometimes, but I actually was posting twice a week because I just was so determined and that was okay because I did it consistently for a few months.
Now we do not. There’s no way, my practice does not do twice a week anymore. Lately it’s been once a week, it had gone down to about once a month for a while. With our new therapist, we’ve been trying to rank well for her keywords and so we’ve been doing about once a week again for the last five weeks or so. But what is important, and just because I say it needs to be consistent, it doesn’t mean it needs to be consistent forever. Like I said, I have changed my frequency a few times, but I keep it consistent for a while, at least. So, Google learns that it’s pretty reliable that I’m going to have new content about every X amount of time.
[WHITNEY]: Great. So, you did mention backlinks and could you talk a little bit about what is a back link and why is that so helpful?
[JESSICA]: Yeah, so it’s one of the few things that we can’t do for people. So even when I have people on my Done for You Services, they’re part of a Facebook group where I do a lot of Facebook Lives and stuff and I’m always saying like, “This is like so important that even if I’m optimizing your pages, I want you trying to build your own back links.” Google actually has a policy. It gets paid back links. So, let me back up a little bit first, I guess, and start with what a backlink is. A backlink is anybody who on another site points back to your website? So, any other site that points back to your website. It’s kind of like somebody voting for you in an election, right? They’re saying, “Hey, like I endorsed this website. I think that there is something so useful on Whitney’s website, that if you’re on my website, you might want to go to her website.”
I’m using your website as a reference. And so when you think about there’s some people out there who’ve gotten, you know, like if you think of like the Gottman website, for instance, every couple’s therapist out there is probably linking to the Gottman website, not every couple’s therapists, every Gottman couple’s therapists, because it gives them some credibility. Like, “Hey, I know about this great method. I’m trained in Gottman.” So, they’re like hundreds of thousands of backlinks and so now they have excellent SEO. If you search for Gottman on Google, I did it once and I’m sure it’s still the same, then the first website that comes up is their official website that everybody’s giving all these backlinks to. So, backlinks give you credibility in Google’s eyes.
And from everything I’ve been reading, like in, as we move forward, that’s going to be one of the big, one of the best things you can do for SEO. There’s other things that are important too, but getting back links is great. And so therefore that’s one of the strategies that I’m kind of always talking about like, how do you get back links? And there are a lot of different ways to get other websites to link to your site. They can range from pretty simple things like, try and get on a directory. I know in my area, our school district has a list online of therapists that parents looking for a counselor for their kids might go to this list and find somebody on it and so I’m on that list. You know, that’s a backlink. That’s all I did for that; was say, “Hey, I’m a therapist in this area. Can you put me on the list?”
And they put me on it. And so, you know, directories can be one of the easiest places to start. Some of the more complicated ones are getting interviewed by media. Sometimes that can be difficult to build those relationships, but it’s really worth it. I recommend using Help A Reporter Out. And then another, one of my favorites is, writing guest blog posts. Keep in mind, I like writing blog posts. So, for me, I’m like, “That’s a great way,” but for some people that’s really intimidating. However, if you can get other people that you write a guest blog post for at the bottom, usually there’s like an about the author type section about the guest author. And if that links back to your website, that can be a really high-quality back link as well. Especially if you’re writing guest blog posts for people that are pretty established and are working on their own SEO. So those are just a couple quick —
[WHITNEY]: Oh, that’s great. Well, gosh, I love getting all the information. This is good. So, I’m going to throw a question out to you. We didn’t talk about this in advance, but I think you can answer this. I get this a lot from people that I’m consulting with when they’re thinking about what’s the best return on investment with their money. So, they’re thinking, “Okay, do I invest all this money in my website, my SEO, indexing pages, all that stuff, or do I invest my money into social media marketing?” So, I’d love to hear your thoughts on that part. And along with that is does social media actually help your SEO for your website?
[JESSICA]: Okay. Great questions. So, let’s start first with the, like how to get the best return on investment. I think some of that’s personal. I think one thing I see is people that try to invest a little bit in a lot of things and that tends to not work as well. So instead I typically recommend that people pick like one or two areas to really invest in. Maybe you’re going to invest in consulting and SEO, that’s great. But if you’re trying to invest a lot in social media, a lot in Google AdWords, a lot in SEO, a lot in, sorry, not a lot, a little bit in SEO, a little bit in social media, a little bit in Google AdWords, a little bit in this, a little bit in that then you’re going to end up maybe not getting the depth on any one thing to get a really good return on investment. And so I think looking into a couple of different options and choosing which direction you want to go, going with it for a couple of months and seeing what results you get and knowing wo whichever method you choose, asking whoever you’re talking about investing with, like, what is the typical return on investment?
Because some things are more immediate. Like Google AdWords is pretty immediate. You get, you know, that day listed really high. However, the minute that you stop paying for Google AdWords, now you’re not shown anymore. So personally I really like SEO, I’ve heard a lot of people, a lot of my former clients are now, you know, six months or a year out sending their friends to us because they’re saying to their friends, like, “Investing in SEO was the single best investment I made in my practice.” But SEO doesn’t happen overnight. You have to first of all, I always say like, start with a website. You like start with a website that’s done well and that you want to stay with for a little while.
Then once you have a nice website, it’s going to take of depending on your area. I typically tell people to plan on working on SEO for about six months. We might get some pretty nice numbers the first couple of months, depending on how old your website is. If it’s a brand-new website, it’s going to take us a little bit longer to even get those nice numbers, but pretty quickly, we’ll get you some nice numbers maybe within two months or three months. But then it takes time to perfect the SEO and to have enough people do searches. By the end of month three, I like to hear that people are getting phone calls; is always my goal, but still, you know, they might not be getting a lot of phone calls. And so usually by the end of month six people are well, we’re so busy now we’ve moved to a new location. We’ve added additional clinicians. Those sorts of things.
But it does take time, and then what I really enjoy hearing is from people a year out, they’re like, “Wow, we’ve had a consistent, you know, we’ve had the consistency. Even though I haven’t paid you at nine months for anything or for just the minimal alumni package, we’ve continued to rank well.” It’s why I really like SEO specifically as a return on investment from that perspective.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah, it’s that gift that keeps giving, you know. It’s the same as a podcast. It’s like you get on a podcast, your interview’s live for a very long time or forever, you know? And so, people might find out about you way later, even if you interviewed two or three years ago, and once you’ve put all that time and money into good SEO, it sticks.
[JESSICA]: It does. And SEO does change. And so that’s why we started offering alumni packages a while back that are a lot less intense, but a little bit, because, you know, Google might release a new algorithm and you might, but it’s usually not a huge hit. It does depend, like we do keep an eye on our alumni who give us access to their data and stay on kind of our alumni plan because every now and then somebody that I worked with about six months ago had a drop of about 200 last month. And so, I immediately sent an email to her and I was like, “Okay, we’re going to do this and this, and I recommend, you know, if that doesn’t work that you try this. And so, it can, but in general, as a general rule of thumb, SEO is one of those things that you have to work really intently on at first and then once you get to the top, it’s at least for a long time going to stay up.
And we talk a lot to our clients about, “Okay, you’re ranking well now, how do you keep your rankings? Well, let’s keep it two blog posts up per month with at least basic optimization. Keep doing guest blog post every once in a while, or be on a podcast every once in a while, to get that back link. And if it is, it’s the gift that keeps giving. It’s not like AdWords where the minute you stop paying you no longer rank anymore. Like with SEO, people who worked with me a year ago are ranking even better than they were a year ago, because they’ve continued to do at least tiny bits here, there.
[WHITNEY]: That’s good. So, does social media actually help with your website SEO?
[JESSICA]: This is one of those emerging areas that I want to keep an eye on. Based on what I’ve read right now, it looks like social shares can make a difference. And so, anytime you get essentially a backlink kind of from a social media site, it can help. So, Facebook and Twitter are the ones that are talked about more often. Pinterest also, I’ve heard, talked about where like your Pinterest little graphic links back to a blog post you’ve written. So those sorts of social shares can help. It seems at least like there is a correlation. Again, we don’t always know correlation and causation when it comes to SEO because Google’s algorithm is super-secret. Like they don’t tell us. They’ll sometimes get to us a little boat and we’re like, “Well, yeah, that sounds important.” But in general, we don’t have access to Google’s algorithm, but there have been studies have shown that pages that rank better do tend to have more social shares.
And so that’s why if you have a Google account, if you have a Twitter account, it is great when you post those new blog posts, put them up. I was just talking with my own VA this, and we were kind of developing a more intense social media strategy. I’ve never focused a ton on social media because it is more of a long game, but especially because it can help with SEO. Kind of our plan is once a week, she’s going to post a blog post. If we don’t have a new one that week, she’ll post an old one. And then once a week, she’ll either post about one of our services with a link to that service page, or like a quote from one of our therapists that links back to that therapist page. So just getting some social shares out there for our various webpages and we’re targeting for now Facebook, Twitter, and we have, an Instagram account because we work with a lot of young people.
However, our Instagram account, you know, we have the one link in the bio and we don’t typically change that. And so, we’re not going to be getting a ton of social shares and necessarily from that. But for our population, because we’re targeting young people and because we now have the bandwidth I now have [inaudible 00:34:43], so we can go ahead and do that, where we offer the Instagram account as well. But from an SEO standpoint, ones where you can share the link such as like Facebook or Twitter, would be a little bit better to invest in.
[WHITNEY]: Well, thank you for all that. So, so good to hear. So I would love for you to share like a little bit about kind of the work you’re doing with the SEO, some of the packages you offer and options and, you know, one thing I love about Jessica is she doesn’t just throw stuff out there. Like she is really thinking about, what’s going to be most helpful for you and your practices? So, she’ll do consults just to figure out what your actual needs are and then she creates all these different packages, different options in person through Zoom or whatever to meet everybody’s needs and making sure that you’re getting the best service you can. So that is awesome. Can you talk a little bit about what those packages are?
[JESSICA]: Yeah. So, our packages have evolved over the past year and a half just based on what our clients have said they need. And so, in general it falls under two umbrellas, the first is Done for You. Some of our therapists are like, “Hey, I probably could do this. Or maybe I really don’t believe I could.” But the bottom line is return on investment. Like my time is really valuable and there are other ways I should be spending my time. I just want to outsource to you. That’s our Done for You. When we do Done for You, we have a whole team of SEO experts, at least two people look at every single page on your site. We have one person that will do like the basic level of work and then a supervisor will look at it and then I come in and do a third round. I set aside time specifically to work on the pages that don’t seem to be responding the way that we want.
Every month, it seems like there’s one or two really stubborn websites that just don’t make the progress that we would like them to. But at least at the end, we’re able to say, “Hey, three people looked at this. Like I’ve spent hours on this. Here’s what I suggest we try to do differently next month, let’s try targeting their front page or whatever.” And then the other option, I actually started this business only offering SEO training. I just kept hearing that people wanted the Done for You. So, we’ve offer that and that now is a huge part of our business, but I love training people do their own SEO, or interested. And so, we have now an online course, which is a really nice price point for people just wanting to start, and then we also have in-person workshops now that I’m really excited about.
We had our first one in Kansas City. One of the girls increased by over 3000 spots on Google. Everybody has seen a really significant increase and that’s just really exciting. Basically, for two and a half days, I teach you a concept. I’m like, “Here’s how to do a meta-description. Now I’m going to give you, now I’m going to demonstrate on screen how to do it. And then I’m going to walk around and help you do it.” So you know, you might have like an hour that you’re just writing as many different meta descriptions on your pages, as you want with us walking around, giving you real time feedback, sitting down next to you and being like, “Okay, let’s write one together.” Or, “Hey, let’s try changing that sentence this way to include this extra key word.” That sort of thing. And that’s really fun for me because I love meeting people. And so, we’re just having, we’re so excited to be able to start offering more of those workshops. My staff are like, “How many of these can we do? Can we go to all of them?” I’m like, “Well, let’s start with a handful and see.” But I really, you know, when I’ve been at conferences and done or at Slow Down School when I’ve been in person with people, I just find that that’s a really effective way to in the moment, let’s just start optimizing.
[WHITNEY]: Oh yeah. And even the time that we’ve spent together, a couple of different times actually you’ve given me some great, great tips. I mean, one of them was about just changing some of the titles on my pages. And Jessica is able to, when she does work with you, she’s able to kind of look at what are the hot hits in your area for Google, because some areas, for example, adolescent counseling is going to be best to say, or other areas teenage is going, is better to say. And so, she can kind of take those words and put the best ones on your website and that makes a huge difference.
[JESSICA]: Yeah, sometimes it’s the really, you know, quick things that you can do that can make a world of difference. And so that’s kind of why we like, having moved to Kansas to work with people one-on-one. Our online course gives you like some general information and it demonstrates how to do this keyword research yourself or anybody that’s interested. And then, but in person it’s like I’m sitting there right there with you, like, “Okay, let’s look at the, you know, when I type teen counseling and get this other list and it talks about how difficult it is and how many people look for each of these words, like, how do you narrow it down from there? How do you choose?” I also have a lot of blog posts kind of on those sorts of things, keyword tools that we use and where to put keywords and such on your website. But then I try to really help people narrow it down.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. Yeah. So, your email list, I’m on it. It is really helpful. You know, sometimes I’ll just take it and read whatever the tip is for that log and use that on the website. And so, if people are interested and, you know, getting to know you work with you, get on your email list, how can they do that?
[JESSICA]: Yes. So go to our website www, or you don’t need the WWW, actually, but simplifiedSEOconsulting.com/faith will take you to a landing page where I’m actually going to have a code for 20% off of any of our online courses as we release more in the next couple of months as well. And then from there you can click on, there’s a button at the top. It says, Learn SEO for Free. If you hit on, if you click on Learn SEO for Free and sign up, you’ll get seven days. You’ll get an email from me telling you about a basic SEO concept and then you’ll be on our mailing list, or there’s a place at the top where you can click and it will take you to sign up for a free Zoom consultation where we just, one of our SEO specialists spends 30 minutes with you saying, “What are your goals for your website? What have you tried so far? Let’s pull up your website on the screen and look at it, give you a few quick tips and then let’s talk about how our services might be able to help.” And so whether somebody is wanting to sign up for an online course using that discount code, which will be [FAITH] for your listeners, or they want to go ahead and sign up for the email series or, do a call with us to see how some of our more individualized services, all of those options they can reach by going to simplifiedSEOconsulting.com/faith.
[WHITNEY]: Great. Oh, we’ll have that totally in the show notes. I really appreciate you giving that to our listeners and, you know, Jessica, you’re always full of like all these tips that you’re giving out for free. You know, and it just goes to say that you really care about people and you care about them doing well on their website and you ultimately care about us having the life that we want. So, I love that and I love, you know, there’s so many people for SEO you can work with, but what I also love about Jessica is she understands the counseling world. She’s been there and done that and she can use that information to really specialize in websites for counselors specifically. And so, I really appreciate all this today.
I want to ask you the final question that I ask everyone. Could you tell me if you wanted to tell a Christian counselor something, or what do you want every Christian counselor to know after listening to this?
[JESSICA]: It is possible to build a successful business and be true to your values, whether your values are, you want more time with your, you know time with your family comes first, or you want to be able to offer really affordable counseling to some members of your community, whatever your values are. And especially as they relate to your belief system, there’s no one way to build a counseling practice, there’s no one way to be a Christian who’s in counseling, and I think if you really search your own heart and do some prayerful reflection, that you’ll kind of discover what those core values are for yourself. And so as much as all of us love giving advice based on what’s made us successful, it’s also okay to go against the grain a little bit and do what feels right to you, because I think that as you get success, it’s just really important that you do so in a way that feels authentic to you personally.
[WHITNEY]: That’s beautiful. Thank you for those words. And thank you so much for your time today and being on the podcast.
[JESSICA]: Absolutely. Thank you, Whitney.
[WHITNEY]: Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also, there you can learn more about me, options for working together, such as individual and group consulting, or just shoot me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Would love to hear from you.
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