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The SEO Therapist
I hear of so many clients who have such a hard time finding a therapist who has openings, and yet I also hear of many therapists who report that they get few calls from potential clients. Why? Most people search Google to find a therapist these days, just like we use Google to find pretty much anything we need. The problem is that therapists are not marketing themselves effectively if at all online related to Google search results. 

I hear the same stories from practitioners time and time again: "I tried networking, printed materials, I have a website, and I even got myself on PsychologyToday.com.  Yet still, I do not get any calls!" 

People start to wonder... maybe it is too nice out or due to the snow? Maybe people do not like what I wrote? I must've put in the wrong number! Do I look too young/old? Not glamorous enough especially as compared to some of these therapist photo shoots?! Therapists get excited when they get an occasional call only to be let down by a spam calls or psychiatry requests. 

I was able to carry some clients to my private practice after leaving the clinic which was in a totally different location from my private practice, and developed word of mouth referrals. The issue was, I can only see so many kids and although it is a speciality area of mine, I work with adults too and wanted a caseload of more adults than children. 

I knew networking with strangers was a bit too far out of my comfort zone, so I decided I would get a website. I had some inclination towards computer work and I did not like any of the web templates I found so I made my own from scratch. The site alone did not help much in getting new clients although parents who were referred by friends loved my site and what I wrote. I was wondering why adults were not finding me and realized, why would they? Having a website does not mean people can find it, and there are just so many therapist listings on online directories like PT as well. 

I knew that a lot of clients do not even know about online directories and they must be searching for therapists on Google, so I started pretending I was a client looking for a therapist in my area and did some searching on Google. I paid close attention, researched sites, looked at page source coding, and without knowing what it was I started doing some SEO research. I later heard there was something much bigger than what I was doing but including my work in it, and it had this wild name: Search Engine Optimization, which was pretty much still new to most people in 2011.

I taught myself everything I could about SEO and experimented with it. I even created my OWN SEO methods from research, implementation and analysis of the results overtime. It is a ton of work and most find it tedious and unbearable yet I was fascinated by it. 

There is nothing like hustling for your own business to get you to be more expert than pronounced experts. Some SEO companies do very little work for their clients whether they are being dishonest, or are just not really SEO people and more so web designers who are unfamiliar with many SEO principles and techniques. I give it my all by using my proprietary information and methods that I've spent years learning and crafting, especially for therapists. Of course it helps that I am a therapist as well.

I now get anywhere from 1 to 10 calls a day. Glad to say I have clients coming out of my ears. And turns out adults really like my website too!

I actually had people I know suggest to their lawyers, doctors, and even mechanic friends to reach out to me. I did SEO work for them and was happy to see the same great results. I still identified as mostly a therapist though but in the past year something just clicked for me. I really love this SEO stuff. And seeing clients full-time, as rewarding as it is, can also be very draining. 

I made the decision to gradually wind down my caseload to about 10 clients by not accepting new clients and finally do what everyone has been telling me to do for years, even before I knew how skilled I was at this... SEO. I wanted to do it for MY people though. I know what it is like being a talented therapist, having clients out there who are trying to find a good therapist and would love to work with you but have no clue you exist. It is a lot of work, I know I can help, so why not provide it? SEO for therapists!

Most people these days find their therapist online. Surprisingly many clients have never heard of PT when they call me and I tell them I do not have openings but that they can try them out. They say "I just went on Google, typed in therapist for xyz in the area and you were right there next to the map. I also saw you somewhere else on the list". The funny this is, even though PT dominates the first 2 or 3 spots after the local listings (read more about this here), I show up typically right after as well as above PT because I am in Google's coveted local pack near the map and little phone icons where everyone wants to be and PT is not allowed. 

Many clients are drawn to my titles in Google too and like that I am my own entity unlike PT which takes them to a sea of therapists they have to try and sift through. When they see I have my own link and website on Google it looks more impressive. It is also a personal connection for them and legitimizes me. Of course, SEO is not everything, and you still need to have good content which actually is in a way a big SEO component anyhow. That said, there are still people who do not even click on my website and can just click on the phone icon next to my website on Google. Makes sense... they are distressed, they want help, and there I am with just one click!

I hope it was helpful learning a bit about my journey with SEO. It is hard work but interesting to me and I love being another woman in the tech world as well!  It feels great to help both clients and healthcare providers. 

Here are 7 organizations supporting women and girls in tech.

Hello, my name is Michelle Ambalu. I am a mental health professional and also known as The SEO Therapist. I've been in private practice in Long Island, NY for the past seven years and also provide search engine optimization (SEO) services for psychotherapists looking to build their practice by making themselves more visible to clients online who are searching for a therapist in their area.

Michelle, The SEO Therapist
I myself started my practice while I was still working part-time at a clinic.  I knew it would be a good idea to start with a high in demand niche service that I was known for, which was providing counseling for children ages 5 to 10 struggling with anxiety.
Tags: Michelle The SEO Therapist, women-led tech businesses, seo for mental health, marketing for therapists.