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  • Writer's pictureAvivit Fisher

Boosting Your Online Visibility: SEO Tips for Therapists

Therapists are really good at helping people heal. If that's your superpower, you've probably spent years in training and honing your clinical skills.


Unfortunately, that's not enough to help as many people as you've set out to help. Your clients need to find you first. Having a strong online presence is a necessary component for building a successful therapy practice. In this day and age, it's probably as important as having your license. Why? Because people look for healthcare-related help online first.


To make life simpler for you, this article will give you tips for boosting your online visibility and teach the must-have SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tactics for therapists in private practice. Ready? Let's go!

SEO for therapists

Why SEO is so important for therapists


Did you know that over 70% of people search online for mental health information and resources?


This means that people are turning away from word-of-mouth referrals to doing their own research online. In fact, we can see how many people look for a "therapist near me" word combination in any given month.


Here's an example:

seo for therapists keywords

450,000 monthly searches in the US for the keyword "therapist near me". That's wild!


This means that if your practice is not online and if your website is not optimized to be easily found, your chance of attracting new clients will decrease significantly.


So if your goal is to consistently attract new clients to your practice, you need to be intentional about your SEO in addition to generating referrals.


That being said, it's important to remember that SEO is a long-term strategy. It takes time and effort to see results, and there're no guarantees of instant success. That shouldn't discourage you because investing in a solid online foundation like SEO can pay off big in the long run and help you establish your practice as a trusted authority in your field.


Understanding the basics of SEO


For many, SEO sounds like a very technical and intimidating term. So before I jump into tips and tactics, I first want to unpack the fundamentals. Let's start with terminology.


  • What is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It's the practice of optimizing your website and online content to improve your visibility and rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs). Simply put, it's a way to improve your website to help you end up on the first page of Google results.


  • How do search engines work? Search engines like Google, Bing, Firefox, and others use complex algorithms to crawl and index websites and web pages. So when someone enters a search query (ex. "therapist near me"), the search engine uses its algorithm to determine which pages are the most useful for the user. A search engine's goal is to rank the most relevant and reputable pages to satisfy the user's search as quickly as possible. Its algorithm caters to users first and so should your website.


  • What are keywords? Keywords are the words and word combinations (phrases and questions) that people enter into search engines to find information on a particular topic. For example, if someone is looking for a therapist in their area, they might search for "therapist near me" or "psychologist in [city name]." By adding these keywords to your website content, you can increase the likelihood of appearing in search results.



Conducting a keyword research for therapy practices


I won't lie, conducting keyword research is a time-consuming task. That's why we offer it to our clients who want to invest in content marketing.

It's the process of identifying the search terms and phrases that people use to find information on a particular topic. For therapy practices, some of the generic keywords may include "counseling services," "mental health support," or "therapy for anxiety." But often, it goes deeper. Depending on your niche and brand, having a list of more targeted keywords can be a treasure trove of quality website traffic and good clients.


By targeting the best keywords for your website content, you can improve your chances of appearing in search results for those queries.


Conducting a keyword research

Although there're many different tools and techniques you can use to conduct keyword research, let's start with these easy steps first:

  • Start with brainstorming your keywords: This is a straightforward step of listing every term you think of that people may use for looking up your practice online. The list should include keywords that have to do with location, your specialty (e.g. "couples therapy," "child therapy," etc.), and common mental health terms. Useful Tip: if you need help brainstorming, input a word you think of into Google Search and put your cursor next to it. Google will suggest other search queries related to your word, like so:

keywords for therapists


  • Use a keyword research tool: There are many keyword research tools out there. You can use Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and SEMrush. My favorite is Ubersuggest which also offers a free plan. But essentially, all these tools can help you identify additional keywords and provide data on search volume, competition, and related keywords.

  • Analyze your competitors: Take a look at the websites and online content of other therapy practices in your area. I can't stress enough the value of doing competitive analysis for your marketing in general and SEO in particular. Make sure to look at what keywords they're targeting on their websites. How are they ranking in search results for those keywords? It will give you insights into what's working for others in your field.

  • Refine your list: This is the most important step of this process. After all the work of gathering a list of potential keywords, you'll need to narrow it down to the ones that are most relevant to your practice and have the highest search volume. Remember, it's better to target a few highly relevant keywords than try to rank for every possible search term.


On-page optimization for therapy practice websites

Now that we've done our research, let's roll up our sleeves and get into the nitty-gritty work of optimizing your websites. This is the stage of on-page optimization. On-page optimization means creating a process of organizing the content and structure of your website to improve its visibility and rankings in search results. Here's how you can approach on-page optimization for your website:


  • Optimize your website structure Have you seen those websites that look like online brochures? The homepage is a one-long block of small text and no clear indication of what button to click next. That's a badly optimized website structure. Your website structure should be clear and easy to navigate for both users and search engines. Think of your website as a powerful tool that helps your visitors find relevant information, book an appointment, and contact you. You need to have a logical hierarchy of pages and organize your content into categories and subcategories. Your website's navigation menu should be clear and concise so people can easily find what they're looking for.


  • Optimize your page titles and meta descriptions Your page titles and meta descriptions will be the elements that appear on search results. They should be short, descriptive, and include your target keywords. Make sure that your page titles accurately reflect the content on the page and use your meta descriptions to provide a brief summary of what users can expect to find on the page. Like so:

therapist website title and meta


  • Use header tags Your website is not a book. People won't spend hours reading its content and contemplating what they've read. They land on your site because they're looking for information and need to find it as fast as possible. That's why separating your copy into easily scannable chunks will help your website visitors find what they're looking for faster. Separating your content, using titles and subtitles will also help search engines determine its relevance. Header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) are HTML tags that are used as titles and subtitles to structure the content on your page. Make sure to include your target keywords in your header tags as well.


  • Optimize your content The recent rise of AI writers pushed Google to be more precise with its ranking. Right now, Google favors sites that offer relevant, expert, and authoritative content. To rank higher, your website content should be high-quality, informative, and engaging for users. Make sure to include your target keywords throughout your content, but avoid keyword stuffing (i.e. cramming as many keywords as possible into your content). Focus on creating content that provides value to your visitors and addresses your potential clients' needs and questions.



Off-page optimization for therapy practice websites

Off-page optimization is a little bit of legwork that you need to do externally to increase your website's visibility. Your website is not only ranked by the useful content that you provide but also by the way other websites perceive you. Here are some off-page optimization tips relevant to therapy practice websites:

  • Build quality backlinks Backlinks are links from other reputable websites that point to your website. For search engines, backlinks signal that other websites view yours as a legitimate and relevant source of information. Building backlinks is not easy and will require some time investment. But here're some ways to build backlinks:

- Guest blogging for other websites

- Participating in online forums

- Reaching out to other websites in the mental health industry for link exchanges

  • Use social media As far as I'm concerned social media is meant for driving traffic to your website. It can be a powerful tool if you include links to your website in your social media profiles and posts, and engage with your followers and other users.


Local SEO for therapy practices

Local SEO is especially important for therapists because of licensing. So attracting clients locally should be the top priority in your overall SEO strategy. Here're a few ways you can improve your local rankings:


  • Claim your Google Business Profile listing Google created a free online directory that allows businesses to appear on a map. You can use this listing to direct people to your website, book appointments, and answer frequently asked questions. You can also post updates and event announcements. It's a free and very effective tool for your practice to stand out in local searches. Make sure to claim and verify your Google My Business listing, and keep your information up-to-date and accurate.

  • Use local keywords If you want to come up in search results, you need to be specific. To dominate locally, you can include location words in your keyword list. For example, if you're a therapist in Chicago, make sure to include keywords like "Chicago therapist" or "therapy in Chicago" in your content.

  • Get listed on Psychology Today Psychology Today is the default directory for private practice owners. It's estimated to have 29.6 million monthly visitors land on its site. It's a search engine in its own right and listing your practice in the PT directory is a must in my opinion. But optimizing your profile is what will help you stand out locally. Here's a quick guide to writing your Psychology Today profile.

  • Get listed in local directories Getting listed in local directories like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and even your local Chamber of Commerce can help you with your local SEO. Make sure to claim and verify your listings, and keep your information consistent across all directories


Creating a content strategy for therapy practice websites


One of the most important elements of SEO success is consistency. If you want to continuously improve your rankings, drive traffic to your website and get new clients online, you need to set a content strategy.


Your content strategy will include a plan for your future content topics, the schedule for new articles, an outreach plan for building backlinks, and more. You can start simply, by outlining your topics and scheduling future blog posts.


But if you feel like you're not up for this challenge, you can always outsource it to professionals and invest financially rather than your time.


Conclusion

SEO is a powerful tool that helped many therapists build a sustainable client base. These tips are intended to help you improve the quality of your website traffic, but most importantly, attract the clients who fit your practice best.


Remember, SEO is a long-term strategy that requires patience and effort, but the results can be well worth it.

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