In my working life, I wear two hats (proudly). During the 9-5, I'm a happily employed Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist providing psychotherapy to individuals and families working towards emotional healing. During the rest of the time (when I'm not hiking, rock climbing, or sleeping), I'm often writing.
Marketing and running a business is a skill- and, at times, the learning behind these elements was harder than the courses I took in my Master's degree program in counseling.
SEO and website design for therapists matters- possibly even more than word of mouth. Let's get into what you need to know.
Make a Beautiful Website
Picture this scene. A new client walks into your private practice. Unfortunately, it's a mess. The lighting is wrong, you have trash on your tables, and there is visible dirt on the couch and coffee table. What's worse? The therapist next door is playing really loud music.
How is this potential client going to feel sitting down in your office? Disoriented, confused, a bit disturbed?
Now think of your website. Is it messy? Cluttered? Slow? Boring? Whatever it is, your website is the single best way to market your therapy practice. That means having an optimal site is non-negotiable. Whether you plan to DIY or outsource to professionals, this isn't just a "nice-to-have" afterthought. Aesthetics matter- don't take them for granted.
Keywords, Keywords, Keywords
When people search for a therapist, they don't just type your name into Google (because that would require them knowing who you are!). Instead, they type phrases like best therapist in Orange County or therapists for depression or Do I need therapy?
If SEO represents a dinner, think of keywords as the appetizer. They look good, taste good, and they introduce you to what's yet to come (the main event and course). If the appetizers don't work with the rest of the menu, you'll be sitting at the table confused and disoriented about what to expect- just like potential clients might be if they land on your web page.
The idea behind keywords? You want each blog to weave in keywords seamlessly. Fortunately, you don't need to do all the work yourself! There are many awesome (free or low-cost) plugins and websites like Yoast or KW Finder that can help you decipher which keywords are trending- and which ones people are searching.
And, remember: long-tailed keywords are your friends! You probably won't rank very highly for the generic keyword, therapist, but you can absolutely rank well for the longer keyword, depression therapists in San Diego.
Include a Call To Action
Ideally, you want your readers to engage with your website content- not just passively consume it. You want them to read your words, click around on your site, and (hopefully!) call you for more information because they want to become a potential client, right?
Just like clients may need direction, your readers do as well. A call to action at the end of each blog post orients readers to the next step. It can be as simple as contact me for a free consultation or take the first step towards changing your life or I'm now accepting new clients- click for more.
You want the directions clear, concise, and to the point!
Write Dynamic Content
As we're talking about dinner menus, your blogroll represents the entree. Your blog posts epitomize who you are and what you represent as a therapist. They tell the story about your work, and they supersede most anything else.
Whether you're writing about the benefits of group therapy, five ways to cope with depression, or how to heal after divorce, let your content express who you are as a therapist.
If that feels intimidating, that's because it can be. However, you are a therapist! You know what kinds of problems and concerns people have. Use your blog as a springboard to provide the answers and insight you have within you!
Nicole Arzt is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and professional freelance writer. She is passionate about helping people uncover and unleash their authentic selves (both in her therapy and written work). Nicole enjoys blogging about mental health, addiction, and self-esteem.