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The SEO Therapist
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SEO Blog for Psychotherapists

Some basics that therapists need to know related to SEO

by The SEO Therapist on 09/04/18

Google is the most used search engine today and ranks all the content out there in the world according to what their search engine bots determines to be most helpful and relevant to searchers. 

Here are the main elements related to search and some SEO tips:

1. Keywords and Search Phrases

Keywords are what you are likely familiar with. When clients are looking for help they type in either a phrase or a few keywords such as "help for dealing with anxiety" or "therapist, anxiety, Farmingdale, NY". Optimizing your website completely for keywords without keyword stuffing or turning off clients is a part of SEO. It is a piece of what helps clients find you. 

Google is looking not just for words, but quality without spam or overdoing it. Google is now able to understand context, surrounding text, and synonyms so you cannot just stuff your page with keywords and would probably would experience a drop in rank if you did. 

When you have quality writing with good SEO signals, you have have the chance to attract more clients and may even get the clients who you are the best fit for.

2. Your domain name (not to be confused with page titles)

Having a great domain name does not suddenly get you to rank, and without all the rigorous SEO work even an amazing name will not get your site to rank, but it is the one SEO strategy that is the easiest to accomplish in proportion to its impact. 

Make sure, as a therapist with a local business, to have at least two of these keywords in your domain name: what you do, your location, who you treat. You do not want a domain name that is too long (more than 4 words) and still want humans  to easily read and remember what your domain name is! :)

Also, once you get a domain name, you do not want to change it because doing so erases nearly everything you waited and worked for. You will have to wait for Google to trust you again. Luckily you would still (I hope) have your subname and pages with your amazing content and SEO structure so that at least with time you can rank again without having to redo everything except that the waiting and unknown is very difficult!

Lastly, did you know that the longer your domain name is around, the more Google trusts you? A ten year old site with two relevant sentences can outrank a one month old site full of content for this reason.  I call this the 'Bob's diner' effect! Bob's dinner may not serve variety and the food is okay, but they have been around for years and consistent so they bring in a ton of people due to trust and reliance!

So, even if you are not ready to complete a whole website you can still come up with and buy a great domain and just put your location, town, number, and a paragraph or two about your services on a page attached to it until you are ready. It will give you a little boost with Google when the time comes.

3. NAP (Name, address, phone number)

Your NAP needs to be consistent throughout your pages and other web content. Make a choice about whether you want to use your given name or business name, or both and stick to it in the same order everywhere.

4. Niche it up! 

Along with your general practice information, it is a good idea to have at least one niche specialty page. It gives you a boost in ranking faster in early stages and your won't have to compete against as many people in a search. The niche I chose was working with children, and I had a detailed page devoted to it. I did not just simply state services with a couple of sentences, but really tried to connect with the potential parent of the client. Google, believe it or not, understands different styles of writing and looks for length as well.

5. Your Content, content, content...

I bring this up often because it is so important. Provide relevant, quality, detailed content. It will help you tremendously and you can never go wrong with it. Google loves it, clients love it, and you will love it too after you write it out and see the results.  :)

Tags: Seo for therapists, what therapists need to know about seo.

What NOT to do with SEO

by The SEO Therapist on 08/30/18

SEO can be daunting to think about, especially as a therapist with a private practice. Nonetheless some of you may have an interest like I did in it and want to begin that journey. OR you consulted with an SEO company and they shared with you some of what they plan to do but your intuition is telling you something may not feel right. Of course you can also just read on if curious about what NOT to do with your SEO. I commend you on even looking more into SEO and for trying some of these out and brainstorming. At first you feel cool and stealthy with these ideas but they have been tried out and kicked out or ignored by Google. You may have come up with a great idea and be on to the next SEO trend even if you do not have tech knowledge yet, but do yourself a favor and at least stay away from bad SEO techniques after you read this. I refer to any of these practices as an S-E-NO!

seo mistakes

1. Keyword Stuffing. It is tempting when you learn of keywords to put them all over your website. This however if in excess with little surrounding context or repeated too many times in a row is referred to as stuffing. Your efforts will either be ignored by google or if it is SO over the top you could even get deranked by them for a while. Yes, it is good to incorporate keywords and related words and content but it has to be done the right way.

Not only can google analyze this, but they can even now understand what styles of writing people use which is pretty amazing, such as knowing if the site is scholarly, entertainment based, research based, and hundreds of other styles. Cool, right?

2. Creating random, low ranking, no content websites that link back to your site. This attempt is a waste of time. Google does not care about two low ranking websites pointing to one another. It is better to get very relevant high content sites to point to you that are already ranking well. And for sure do not get a friend in a totally different business to hide your website somewhere on their site. I once saw a therapist's name and website hidden inside the coding of a gardening business website. This can get Google to see you as less important and deranked.

3. Have your home/landing page with just one big pretty picture and then just a few sentences about you. This is not related to spam or penalties but if you are trying to rank your homepage, a nice picture will not help you. You need 350 - 600 words or more on your home page with a chunk of that preferably 'above the fold' which means in the area you can see without scrolling down. This does not mean your content below that in other areas does not count, but you for sure need this on your homepage. I love a nice big photo as well. What I do is put summary text over  the negative space of that photo and then more detailed text under it.

4. Duplicate Content
Remember how worried we were in school about plagiarism because even quoting can be counted as such if not done right? And learning that even copying our own previous work can be considered plagiarism as well? Well, the idea is the same with duplicate content online. I am not referring to a few words or sentences or your main business info but rather paragraphs of the same exact content. For example, if you have your PT profile content, and then post the same thing on your website, Google could see that as duplicate content and derank you. OR what could happen is Google sees that your PT does not really change, so when it sees the same stuff on your website it does not bother doing a full crawl because it assumes there is no fresh content anywhere else in the site even if there is!

Sometimes people also make a few websites with the same content thinking it will help but it does not. Even if Google recognizes the content is from you and not some catfish, your efforts will just be a waste as it is not counted as fresh content.

5. Advertising by posting on Facebook
Many therapists hear social media and then decide to post about articles or therapy related topics. Not only will your friends be the only one seeing this likely, but even if you set the privacy to public, you posting from your personal page will not do much unless you keep linking your website, many click on it, and you get hundreds of likes regularly. Sharing your business page has the same effect. 

If you have a ton of friends who would actually like and visit and share your site once a week, great! If you are like most people this will not happen. Also, unless people share your site, and those viewers happen to want therapy from you in your location, you are pretty much just advertising to your friends. This is not 'bad', and if you are good at real social networking then great, but that is not SEO or google related really, it just means you are well connected socially and sales person...a good marketing tool but not SEO.

The worst is when an SEO company has you pay them over $1000 and a hefty monthly fee for just 'social media advertising' and all they do is post on your fb business page some random therapy articles or memes or support quotes with pictures of people meditating, holding a small plant, or a sunrise. There are even less people seeing your business page than your personal page unless you have a huge following for some reason of real people who are actually interested. Honestly, you are better off asking your 17 year old niece to link to you on facebook with interesting hashtags because if she has a real following from posting cool selfies, about music, and teen angst, you will probably get a bunch of teen referrals with straight up social media (still not really seo but neat to think about). If you know 17 year old willing to do this every few months you are lucky!

6. This is more of a hiring warning.
Never go with a company that promises you they can make you number 1 on Google. They do not own Google, and should not be making this kind of promise based on that alone. They should be saying that based on their experiences so far since they have been doing this they have gotten their customers on the first page of Google and in the top five. 

If they get someone to number one it is likely for a very long and specific search phrase, in a non-competitive area, or they are not familiar with our business including mass directories like Psychology Today. Companies should always first analyze your business and competition and run a search test before even thinking about saying it is likely they can get you to number 1. It is possible  though in certain areas that are not so competitive or not as populated. 

My point is, just like we should not promise clients they will be cured in two weeks (and would not even make the claim of cure at all hopefully), SEO consultants should not make similar claims. 

The good news with SEO though is that you are likely to get that visual clear result and be able to see and experience the progress in the moment whereas in therapy it kind of sneaks up later but can be in the works for months or years and we suddenly look back one day and see all the progress over time :)

7. Getting too attached to your name.
Is your name important? Yes, to people, but not to google unless you are a celebrity. Therapists make the mistake of using only their name in their domain name and page titles. Even when SEO people tell them otherwise, for some reason they have trouble with this idea. You do not even have to get rid of your name, and I think your name should in part be there somehow at least on the page name if not the domain. 

You can use your last name and add along your profession and location or speciality keyword... just keep it down to four words total including name (I prefer 3 and none of them include my name). If you have a less common last name there is no need to add your first name. 

Examples: JohnSmithPsychotherapy, AdelmanCouplesCounseling, HoustonAnxietyTherapist are all good names but the weakest is the first, and the best is the last one. If part of your concern is that you want to give people you know personally your website (and in those cases is just easier to be your name), guess what? You can have TWO domain names for a small amount of money that go to the same website! 

When I started out before I knew SEO, my website was just myname.com. I learned on my own to just let go of my name for SEO purpose but still kept that name domain on the side and optimized by other domain name. I liked having on the side at the time also in case someone happened to know me and type just type MyName.com. I started ranking as soon as I went from MyName.com to MyCityTherapy.com. As the years went by however, people are less likely to do this and they would just Google your name. Your website will show up anyhow at long as you have SEO.

8. Pretending to be someone other than yourself, like a celebrity therapist online, but using your address and phone number to get their calls.
Just kidding... had to think of something I never heard of and wild to end on a lighter note! This is not just an S-E-NO but a see you in court and maybe worse-NO. Sounds like a lifetime movie :)

Tags: What therapists should avoid doing with SEO, Ethical SEO for therapists

Negative reviews and how SEO can help minimize their visibility and impact.

by The SEO Therapist on 08/27/18

Some therapists have had the unfortunate luck of getting a bad review and I think everyone worries about this happening to them. 

We work with clients who are already likely to come in feeling generally not well and who deal with multiple stressors that compound their existing conditions. Clients also use us transferentialy and project onto us often. And of course, sometimes therapists mess up too. Usually the client sees this soon enough as a great opportunity to work through conflict with someone they trust. Not always though.  It is no stretch then for all of this to potentially lead to a bad review. 

To hear of a poor client experience whether its sources are real, imagined, transferential or otherwise is disheartening enough. For negative reviews to be seen by the public can be upsetting to existing clients and staff, and also wards off potential clients. Lastly, it just feels terrible.

While there are ‘reputation management’ companies that offer to get rid of reviews by paying the websites they are listed on, or responding to the reviewer, these are not suitable options in our line of work as they are unethical, a liability, and aggressive. These options also tend to be scams that backfire or yield little to no results anyhow. 

I offer a couple of uniquely developed non-interactive approaches which include lowering the ranking of the pages containing the reviews, minimizing a certain review while keeping the page, or strategic ways to get rid of page altogether (just not in the way you might think).

This can work quite well due to the fact that we do not rely on review websites in the way that a restaurant or retailer might.

As for good reviews, it can feel a bit funny getting one though I welcome them especially when it is from a parent of a child I used to work with. It would be interesting for a current adult client to leave me a review and I would hope they bring it up as it is good to talk about and I would wonder what they are trying to tell me and the deeper meaning.

Either way, good reviews are great for SEO! If you are okay with the idea, I suggest having a colleague write you a review and you can write them one as well. 

-The SEO Therapist

Tags: SEO, Therapists, Negative Reviews, Dealing with reviews ethically, mental health

Tags: Blog for therapists, blog with seo tips for mental health professionals, Search engine optimization for therapists