Since most therapists have what is called a static website (there are not often changes or new content added) we have to add fresh content in different ways. The blog post is one of those ways. Frequent blog posting can engage your potential clients and help your SEO. First, I must say, the most important, tip in content writing is ALWAYS writing content your reader will be interested in. If you write boring content, it does not matter how many people come to your pages because they won’t engage.
Many of us are also trying to market in multiple locations, which is quite hard. I market in both PA and CA for my counseling services. I have intentionally optimized different pages for different states. However, that won’t necessarily be enough for many of my keywords. My Bay Area optimization has decreased since I moved and tried optimizing in PA. In order to get Google reminded about my Bay Area work, I recently wrote a blog post called Bay Area EMDR Intensives. My keywords were location (Bay Area, EMDR, and EMDR Intensives. Sometimes it can help us rank by working with less competitive keywords. EMDR Intensive is going to be less competitive than counseling will be. I may not rank for counseling but I am ranking for EMDR intensives.
4 SEO Tips for Blog Posts
Develop a strong headline. This headline should use one or more keywords. A title with a number in it gets clicked more often.
Google is suspected to be rewarding longer posts. Write a minimum of 300 words and strive for 1,000 words.
Use headings to break up content. You can see how I did it in this post. There is a heading that says Writing Good Content for SEO Optimization and then a second one that is in a small heading font that says 4 SEO Tips for Blog Posts
Have strong page titles and page descriptions. Do this on all pages and posts. You do this behind the scenes of your website. Below you can see a screen shot of a google search for EMDR intensives in PA. One of the counseling pages I targeted for those keywords did show up. I am indicating what the title is and what the description is.
Keeping fresh content on your website is an ongoing task. It is easy to forget and then a year goes by without posting. (2020 anyone?) However, it is important to keep up this work, and if you get off schedule, just start up again.
Making Video Content for Your Website-You Need a Video!
Video content on your website is a great way of connecting to your potential clients. Over the years, I have done several videos for my counseling website. The first was made with an actual video camera. Subsequent ones have been made using my computer or iPhone. Today I just made a new video using my iPhone and using a tripod selfie stick with a remote. This means no awkward lean-in and lean-out to turn off the video.
Since we can make videos about ourselves now there is NO EXCUSE for not doing it! I know you will come up with some like I don’t want to see myself! I get that for sure. I hate watching videos of myself. As I recorded today’s video I must have done 10 takes. My shirt was the wrong color. My shirt had lint on it that showed up dramatically in the video. I said UM too much. But it is important to persevere. Clients need to make a connection with you and if you are not seeing people in person your website is how you are going to make that connection.
Once you create the video you may or may not want to edit it. I put my video into Imovie and was able to clip the end a bit. It took a second for me to turn off the video (even using that remote) and it seemed awkward so I just clipped the video two seconds.
When you are done you upload the video to YouTube. You should create a business account there for this purpose if you don’t have one already. You upload your video, put in a good title and description using your keywords, and publish it.
YouTube will give you a link that you can then post on social media or on your website to showcase your video. Look how I did it here.
Having videos on your website will both help engage potential new clients and help with your SEO. It is a win-win.
I teach a Nuts and Bolts of Starting Your Private Practice Class. One of the aspects people struggle with the most is marketing their practices. Therapists seem to have an aversion to marketing. Which I get. Our product is related to us. Selling our product is in some ways selling ourselves. I can see why that can feel gross.
However, if you want a successful practice, especially a private pay-only practice, you need to market hard and consistently. That includes an excellent website and social media marketing. I talked to a colleague today who said she spent an hour a day marketing on Facebook. Groan at your own risk. This person has a very successful group practice that is all private pay that is almost always full.
There are a few aspects to this. One is developing your marketing message which, I will discuss today and a second is the ways to deliver it, which I will discuss in my next blog post. Be sure to sign up for my mailing list if you want to be notified when I publish that post.
Why do you develop a marketing message?
To attract your ideal clients. You don’t want to just get clients you want to attract the clients you work with best. Pre-internet we developed our connection with clients in the first session. This engagement has to happen in about 30 seconds when a potential client finds your webpage. If you don’t connect with a potential client quickly on your website they will click to the next site.
How do you connect with a client that quickly?
Let them know you get them and their pain. Show them you are safe and they can relate to you and you can relate to them. The best way of doing this is by having a video on your website. Again I hear the groans. How else is a client going to connect better than hearing you speak? You can have content and a picture (and you better have both!) but a video gives your potential clients the strongest way to make a connection with you. On my counseling website, I have a video I made with an i-phone showing me as I am. I am an authentic therapist and I believe this comes through in my video. You can also spend some money and get a more professional video. I get that it is hard. I myself struggle to watch myself in a video. But I have heard from clients that are referred to me that my video and website spoke to them. That is the connection you want to create with your potential clients.
What is in your marketing message?
The first thing is speaking to pain points. The client needs to believe you understand them. The second thing is expressing why you as their therapist versus the many other therapists out there? What gives you the expertise to help them? That should not be expressed in I was trained in psychodynamic therapy and practice DBT. That means nothing to most potential clients. They want to know you can listen and help them develop skills that will change their lives. The third piece is to showcase your personality. You must give the client a sense of who you are in the room (see the video statement above). Many people do not understand how therapy works. They can be intimidated by the process. You want to help them see you are a professional but, also a human being that can help them. The final piece is a brief call to action. For us, that is usually a statement that says call me today for a free 15-minute consultation.
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Feel free to reach out anytime if you want to hear more about how I can help you with your marketing message.
So I have written and done videos on whether or not you might want to have a Yelp Listing. Today for those that have one, I have created a video of behind the scenes of your listing. This is a bit similar to the one I did on Google My Business Listings a few weeks ago. I know many therapists get overwhelmed by anything tech related. This weekend I was at a gathering of trauma therapists and I met someone that had seen my Google My Business Listing video and found it super helpful. It was so nice to know someone watch one of my videos and found it helpful! So I am motivated to continue to create this content.
So one of the biggest things I tell people at my Search Engine Optimization Course is to make sure you claim your Google My Business Listing. These are free listings that often come up first in search results. Once you claim the listing then you should add as much content as possible because we all know that Google loves lots of content. There are now even some new things you can do such as adding products and services and even offers. Those, of course, work best if you have a product line as having a sale on therapy hits some ethical edges.
I have filmed a video on the ins and outs of Google My Business below. I hope you let me know other topics you would like me to cover in my new video series.
I recently ventured into the world of making videos for both my counseling practice and for this business. My first video was in regards to Psychology Today profiles. You can watch it below. I talk about 4 tips for creating a better Psychology Today profile.
Create connection-this is the main goal of such a profile. In today’s world, we have to create a connection with clients before they even get in our door. Your profile must do that.
No jargon-Many therapists go into lots of language about techniques and conditions etc and what the potential client wants to know is can you help them
Piggybacking on that is to speak to the pain points the client has. Speak directly to their symptoms and experiences. This is where you create a connection. You show the potential clients that you see them and their pain and that you can help them with it.
Speak to the client and not about you. Most clients do not care about your degrees and training. They want to know that you can help them. You can have that information available on your website on your about me page for those that are interested but really what a potential client wants is to know how you are going to be in the room with them.
So I was recently shredding some old files. As I went through them I saw that a lot of clients I worked with at that time (7+ years ago) I only saw for a few sessions. This really struck me because right now in my practice that rarely happens. I market to my ideal client. I do a phone screening to follow up on whether they are my ideal client. Most of my new client come to me via my website so they already feel like they know me and often just call to set up the appointment. They don’t have questions they want to ask they are already engaged with me before they have even met me.
Like many people when I started my practice I felt like I had to take every client coming through the door. I wanted to be full for financial reasons and I wanted to help each person that took the time to call me. In the last few years, I have very much shifted my approach. I know the clients I work best with and those are the clients I market to and that I accept into my practice. There are other clients that call that may have other needs that I could work with but I choose to let them find someone that works with what they need as a focal point.
It can be hard to turn away clients but I feel like when keeping a narrow niche I do my best work and that is of benefit to both me and the clients I choose to work with. Many new therapists (and even seasoned ones) can work from a starvation perspective. If I don’t take every client I will end up with no clients and then I will have no practice. It is not a good place to practice from. It can lead to taking on clients that you later do not enjoy working with which means you won’t do your best work.
I think it is also important to recognize your niche may fluctuate over time. You may shift in who you want to work with or feel capable of working with. Many therapists that have faced grief in their personal lives have stopped taking clients struggling with loss into their practice. It is okay to make those changes. You should just update your marketing to reflect whomever your ideal client is at any given point in time.
Facebook marketing is becoming a new way to market your practice. Here are Five Tips to get you started on Facebook advertising.
Engagement is everything. I am a member of a variety of groups on FB including many therapists groups. Be engaged with others. Build relationships. You can do that even online. The biggest benefits I have found from social media are the relationships I have made online.
Engagement also includes being active when other people you follow post. Many people create a Facebook Business Page and then post. That is great except no one will see your posts unless you build an active audience. That means others have to be clicking on your links, like your posts, and sharing your posts. For people to be motivated to do that you need to share excellent content and engage with them on their posts. I am less likely to like and/or share a post from someone who has never engaged with any of my posts. Trust me I know who they are.
Posts from your business page should not be constantly clinical or promote your work. Boring! People won’t engage and thus fewer people will see the posts. Post things that are of interest or funny. Posts with graphics always get more engagement. You should have at least four posts of interest to every marketing post.
If you are going to use Facebook ads be clear on your objectives. You can count people calling you, click to your website and a variety of other things. I just got a Facebook credit for $30 and have developed an add that targets my ideal demographics in local cities. I am paying only for clicks to my websites and I am allowing the ad to be shown on Instagram too. My goal is to get my name out into the local communities as an anxiety expert. This may not mean clients now but can mean clients in the future. I will count my success as clicks to my website. Others may only want to count a phone call. Just understand what you want before you set it up. The money can be spent quickly and you can some Return on Investment (ROI). I can be more flexible here since it has an incentive offer.
Do your research first. Here is a great Facebook resourceon what it is to boost a post versus run an ad. Do your research first.
I feel surprised that I feel the need to write this blog post. But this morning I had an interaction with another professional that I would label rude. To me, it seems to be self-evident that when one is interacting with another professional that one should always act professionally. It is both the right thing to do and is something included in most of our professional ethics. However, I see this rule frequently violated. The worst being in professional Facebook groups where I have seen one therapist attacked by another therapist. I have witnessed the same on some of the listservs I am on. While attacking someone publicly is the most egregious of the offenses I have seen I have also experienced therapists not responding to emails I sent them about possible referrals. I have also sent emails to other professionals suggesting a coffee date learn more about each other’s practices and at this point, I have been ignored as much as I have not. I understand people are busy and it may feel strange to have someone you do not know reach out to you but it still seems to me it is always best to respond when anyone reaches out to you regarding your work.
In my practice, I have made it a rule not to refer to anyone who is rude to me or I see being rude to others. Maybe they can be a rude person in private and a great therapist but it makes me question whether that is the case or not.
I have come up with a few general guidelines
If another professional (or potential client) emails you or calls you always respond
If you are in a professional group online always respond in a polite manner or not at all
If you have an issue with a colleague then take it to them directly never address it in any public forum
The rule of always treating everyone else the way you want to be treated is a good rule to always follow
Building a private practice is a lot of work. It means building a successful referral network. Which means establishing yourself as a knowledgeable professional by always interacting in a pleasant and professional manner.
I have been running my Nuts and Bolts of Private Practice Workshop for the last few years. While participants love getting more information on the many details needed in order to start a private practice by far the most popular part of the workshop is when I talk about marketing. Therapists are scared to market, don’t know how to market, and often have a poverty mentality when it comes to marketing. This is not something we were ever taught in school. But if you want to have a successful private practice you have to learn how to sell your practice to your potential clients and the people that might be in contact with your potential clients.
There are a few obstacles to therapists defining a niche and then developing their marketing message
We like helping people and it is easy for us to want to try and help everyone
Poverty mentality-by this I mean we let fear make our business decisions. If we are in private practice and the clients are not coming we get fearful of failing and stop make marketing decisions that are best for the long term but rather focus on short term gains
We aren’t really sure who we want to specialize in working with
We like to do several different things
Once we identify our niche we are not sure what to do with that information
Marketing for most of us pulls us out of our comfort zone. First we need to define our niche. And I believe you can have more then one. I do. I work both with people suffering from anxiety and with people that are transgender or gender non–conforming. So my marketing message has to be distinct for each group.
When you have your niche then you work on the messaging piece. I get tons of positive feedback from people when they call me after seeing my website. They typically say they understand what I do. Now this is not to say that some people don’t hate my website, but that is okay. I don’t care! I know that sounds scary but the reality is I want my ideal client to call me. I work exclusively with anxiety and gender. Of course people are complex and often have other things going on but the clients I want are clients that suffer from anxiety and/or are transgender or gender non–conforming. I do my best work with them. I am energized working with them which means I have a pretty high satisification rate with clients. They knew the therapist they were getting when they picked me and that is the type of therapist they want.
Because the other piece I address on my website and marketing is who I am as a therapist. I am interactive. I am not a psycho-dynamic therapist. If people want that therapist they should move away from my site and find someone that is a better fit for them.
So the reason I get the clients I work best with is because I speak to them. I speak to what they may be going through when they call me. I do it in a succinct manner. A lot of marketing professionals will say you should have a lot more content on your home page than I have for SEO. I have awesome SEO and to me it is important to speak to the clients quickly and effectively. Again that is what my clients want.
So you have to target your message specifically to speaking to symptoms and to how you are in the room. And you have to understand where your clients are when they are looking for a therapist. If they are deeply depressed my guess is that are not going to want to read a lot of information. It is overwhelming. However, if you are working with clients that are in therapy for more existential reasons then they probably want to read more about you.
There are a lot of aspects to develop your marketing message and it can take some time. I had a few bumps along the way. You will know you have it down when you starting getting mostly calls from your ideal clients and when they tell you that your website (or other marketing materials) spoke to them.