5 Tips To Improve Your SEO
The most excellent Melvin Varghese invited me to speak on his Selling the Couch Podcast. I actually struggled with a topic until he suggested SEO. Duh of course this is something I consult on along with helping those getting started in private practice. I wrote this blog post so that those listening to the podcast could have easy access to the resources I mentioned after the show. The podcast is now live and the link above takes you to the podcast and also links to things we talked about it the podcast. Very exciting.
1. Define Your Niche
I know this sounds unrelated to SEO but until you define your niche you won’t be able to develop your keywords. Your keywords are the basis of your SEO work. I do a lot of workshops and this is what therapists’ struggle the most with. “But if I say I work with anxiety, no one else will call me!” This is simply not true. You need to define the issue or client you want to work with and then write your content directly to engage them. Your website is there to bring in your ideal clients and if you can’t engage them then any SEO work you do is for naught. Once your niche is defined then you can define your keywords. Keywords should always include your name (on your about page), your location, and your niche specialty. Each page on your website should have its own keywords. (update 11/28-check out my new post on keyword research here)
2. Use your keywords effectively.
Notice I put this after mentioning good content. Google emphasizes that good content is the most important aspect of SEO. You want your content to engage your ideal client. Once you have that you can then make sure your identified keywords are in some specific places. You want to have your keywords in your page titles, alt tags when appropriate (these are tags for your pictures), page description, headings on pages, and in your content. Google does not need to see a word 25 times on a page to recognize its relevance. If you have it there it will be seen. The old days of putting a long list of words on the bottom of the page are over. Google will identify that as keyword stuffing and may penalize your site. (update 11/28-check out my new post on keyword research here)
3. Optimize your Page Speed.
How many times have you clicked off of a page because it took to long to load? Google’s algorithms recognize this as an issue and want your pages to load quickly. There are several places you can test this. If you have WordPress there are many plugins you can use to improve your page loading speed. The most important is to have a cache plugin. I currently use W3 Total Cache. For any website you want to make sure any images are optimized because large images will ruin your page load speed. Here is an article about optimizing images for more details. If you have built your site on a platform other then WordPress you should direct page speed questions to them.
While speaking with Melvin he recommended a free website where you can size your images. It is called PicResize.
4 Have a Mobile Friendly Site
As of April 2015 Google has said it will penalize websites that are not mobile friendly. Most new themes are made as responsive, which means they are mobile friendly, however I have added it here because I recently worked with someone that had a new website built and it was not mobile friendly. If you hire a web designer be sure to ask them what they know about SEO because many designers are not familiar with SEO and this can cause you issues later.
Here is where you can test and see if your site is mobile friendly in Google. This is a yes or no test result.
5. Be active on social media.
I know many therapists are resistant to this one. However, it is important to be active on social media for several factors including SEO. Your business having and using social media accounts is a factor in SEO ranking. If you write blogs (bonus for using keywords in them) and post those blogs on social media you will drive traffic to your site, which also is a factor in SEO ranking. In addition, some social media accounts can show up in search on their own. My Facebook Business Page shows up as a search results when my keywords are searched. If your name is showing up more then once in the results then it gives an appearance of expertise. I have also known therapists that have gotten clients from social media posts; Facebook in particular has worked effectively for this.
Here are some additional great free SEO resources.
The MOZ Guide to SEO is a great beginners guide to learning SEO.
Yoast has a WordPress Guide for SEO. Yoast is the go to plugin for SEO for a WordPress site.
updated January 2017 with the link to the podcast.