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