As a mental health therapist, for the last 10 years I have had a full caseload and a filled up waiting list. When I first filled up all my appointment slots I was still scared that eventually, as my current clients started to end therapy, I would go back to living in anxiety about where and when my next client would come from.
I remember when I was first starting my practice I had absolutely no idea how to market myself. And I don’t think I even realized that until I opened up my practice. I had signed up for all the therapist directories, made a website and told all my therapist buddies that I had started my practice and was ready to receive referrals. And then, crickets. Nobody called or emailed. I sat by my phone, waited patiently for my inbox to fill up and I got zero people to contact me.
I only had a couple months I could go without turning a profit before I’d have to find a job at an agency or work retail again. I have always been interested in technology and even more fascinated by Google. I didn’t quite understand how Google search worked but I figured that since I was already interested in the industry I might be able to grasp all the tech language and the steep learning curve that was sure to come with it. Besides, I had no clients and an empty office. So all I had was time to try and figure it out.
I dove in one day and scoured the internet to find out all the inner workings of why some websites out ranked others and exactly how to get my website to show up on the first page of Google search results. The first thing I found out was that Google did not want to keep everything secret when it came to website owners understanding how to rank high in search. Sure they wanted to keep the secret sauce hidden so that other search companies didn’t steal their search algorithm, but all in all, the information you needed to rank well was plain to see. Don’t get me wrong I had to spend a week or so reading through guides and articles, but at the end of that week I had a good enough understanding of how to optimize my website so that it ranked high in search results.
Search engine optimization
The process of moving your website up in organic search results is called search engine optimization, or SEO. Since learning about SEO 10 years ago the basics are all still the same. There are three basic things you must do in order to rank higher than your competition. Those three things are:
- Find out what your clients are typing into Google when they are trying to find a health practitioners. This is called “keyword research.”
- Once you have identified the keywords that you would like to rank highly for they need to put in the right places throughout your website. Even though it’s not hard to put your keywords in the right spots, it does take some specific knowledge about where exactly they should live. It’s important they are where they should be so that Google can understand what keywords you’d like to rank for.
- Get as many other websites to link to your website. Links work like votes. The more votes you have, the higher you’re going to rank in search results.
SEO is a bit different for each industry. That is because people’s search habits change depending on what they are looking for online. A search for celebrity gossip is going to be completely different than a search for a private health issue. Much more detailed research and time will be spent trying to find a practitioner that will treat a personal and often times vulnerable medical issue. And even though every person has a different relationship with their mental and physical health, their search habits can be extremely similar.
Ten years of research
Over the past ten years I have become obsessed with SEO for therapists and wellness providers. The number reason I have never had a shortage on clients in the past decade is because I rank high on the first page of Google for the search term “codependency therapy portland.” Go ahead and click on that search querry. You’ll see my website, jeffguentherlpc.com displayed within the first four results. That’s how it has been for years. I get over 5000 visitors from that search term a year. I get between 5 and 10 new client inquiries each week.
I have also created the number one mental health directory in Portland at portlandtherapycenter.com. Search for “therapy portland” and the vast majority of the time I’ll come up as the number one result. That search term, which is the most popular, along with over 50 other search terms related to finding a counselor place Portland Therapy Center high on the first page of Google results. The only reason that site is successful and attracts over 11,000 monthly visitors looking for therapists is because it is fully optimized for popular search terms.
I have been able to pass on my knowledge of SEO through this website and through workshops that I put on for my local community. I have have helped hundreds of therapists move up in search and attract a full caseload of clients. Applying successful SEO techniques has liberated therapists and wellness providers from the anxiety and scarcity they were living in before they optimized their websites. Now they can concentrate on what they do best, which is treat clients.
If you’d like to get started on understanding how to apply SEO you can download this free workbook that will walk you through some of the basics.
A step by step guide from beginning to end
The Practice Academy, which is this website you’re reading this article on, publishes an article and free downloadable content practically every week that will teach you how to do these three things, plus dozens of other important things, that will allow you to perform well in search results and attract more clients online. However, I have never put together a full online course with videos and work books that guide you through the whole process from begging to end. On December 8 I will finally release what tons of practitioners have been begging me to do. I will provide you with everything you need to do in order rank higher, fill up your caseload and feel free from the stress of hoping people will be able to find you.
The online course will be available for a very limited time. If you would like to know how to get access to this premium product be sure that you’re signed up for the Practice Academy’s mailing list. I can’t wait to show you what I have created for you. You’re going to love it!