SEO for therapists is an effective way to get new clients and grow your practice online. Here’s how to grow your therapy or counseling practice with SEO in 2023.
For therapists, SEO is a critical component of digital marketing that can help your mental health practice get found when someone searches keywords related to your practice or therapy services.
SEO For Therapists: How to Improve Your Practice’s Search Presence
In this post, we share 11 ways to improve SEO for therapists to get more clients in 2023. These are proven SEO tips and strategies to help you optimize your site for users and search engines, rank higher, and attract more ideal prospective clients to your site.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of improving your website’s rankings on search engines for searches relevant to your practice and services in order to drive targeted traffic to your site that can lead to new business.
Here’s how to grow your therapy or counseling practice with SEO in 2023:
1. Keyword Research
Keyword research sets the foundation for successful SEO. Keyword research is the process of finding and evaluating search terms that people enter into search engines in order to create content that has a high potential to rank for terms relevant to your practice.
For therapists, the keyword research process includes identifying search terms and their related topics that are relevant to your practice and services, and then creating and publishing helpful content that comprehensively covers these topics and terms.
In the context of SEO for therapists, example topics and keywords to target include the therapy services you provide, the locations you serve, and helpful tips, facts, or statistics related to your services, expertise, or industry.
During keyword research, a good strategy is to organize the terms you find as:
Think about the keywords your ideal clients are searching for in your local area, such as “therapist in [area]”, “individual therapy in [area]”, or “couples counseling in [area]”.
For local SEO, a good practice is to publish localized pages on your site for each mental health service you provide. This includes mentioning the location in the page’s search title, the main header, and naturally throughout the content.
If you see clients in person, it can help local SEO to share your business address including a local phone number on the page. You can also provide directions or embed a Google map into your page to improve the user experience for local prospects.
Low Competition Keywords
Usually longer, more specific phrases with 4-5 words like “therapist for teens with ADHD” or “depression counseling covered by insurance”. While these terms tend to be searched less often and generate less traffic than 1-3 word searches, they often lead to higher conversion rates when you have content ranking specific to these searches.
High Competition Keywords
Broad 1-3 word keywords or phrases that are searched more often and as a result have a higher potential to drive more traffic to the top-ranking websites. Example terms include “therapist”, “psychologist”, “anxiety therapy, or “couples counseling”.
A Keyword Ranking Strategy
To rank for highly competitive terms/topics, an effective strategy is to create content covering less competitive topics that are closely related to these terms.
For example, if your goal is to rank for “anxiety therapy”, consider publishing content like “x proven ways to reduce anxiety”. Then, make sure to link to your primary “anxiety therapy” page from these pages.
Over time, your site will include a “cluster” of helpful content related to anxiety therapy, as well as many links pointing to your “anxiety therapy” page from extremely relevant pages. This will build up your site’s authority on the topic compared to other websites.
Also, make sure you have a page structured to rank for the broad term over time.
For example, if you want to rank on the 1st page of Google for “licensed therapist in Chicago”, check out the top-ranking pages that appear for this search term in order to gain insight into what kind of information Google is favoring for the term.
Helpful Tools for Keyword Research
You can use Google Keyword Planner to find keywords to target for free (this is a tool located inside Google Ads). Here’s what it looks like:
You can also use Google Search Console to understand the keywords your existing website pages are showing up for, including clicks and search impressions. These are super useful free tools for keyword research and understanding what works over time to make more informed, strategic decisions.
You can also search a keyword in Google to check out the “Google Suggests” results for insight into related terms people are searching, which are shown in the dropdown menu as you’re typing in a search term. The “People also ask” and “Related searches” sections of Google’s search results page can provide you with valuable searcher data as well.
Another free keyword research tool you can use is Google Trends. This tool is useful for analyzing frequently used search queries and their popularity over time on Google Search for different regions and languages.
All of this keyword data can help you determine which pages of content on your site to improve or expand upon, and which new or supporting topics and keywords to start creating fresh content around to move the needle on your practice’s SEO efforts.
2. Content Creation
Publish helpful, high quality content regularly. Search engines love seeing fresh content, so make sure you post something new at least once a week (more if possible) and update existing content over time so Google prefers you over other sites.
Examples of helpful content you could publish as a therapist include service pages, frequently asked questions (FAQs), location-based pages, blog posts, videos, educational resources, or interactive content such as quizzes, polls, and surveys.
When creating content for your website, make sure to include the target keywords of the page’s topic in the title tag and meta description for the given page. This will help search engines understand the relevance of your content to improve its ranking potential.
Also, consider optimizing other elements of your page. Include the primary keywords in the page’s main header and related keywords in sub-headers and image alt tags.
To improve your understanding of the type of content Google favors, check out the official Google quality rater guidelines and E-E-A-T.
E-E-A-T stands for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
The above SEO tips are part of what’s called on-page SEO (also known as on-site SEO), which is the process of optimizing elements on a website (such as copy, images, tags, and links) to rank higher and earn more traffic from search engines.
On the other hand, off-page SEO (or off-site SEO) refers to actions taken outside of your website to impact your rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
3. Keyword Optimization
Incorporate the keywords you’ve researched that reflect the topic of the page you’re working on in the page’s title, meta description, headers, subheaders, and body content.
These are the words that people will type into a search engine to potentially find your site. Make sure they are relevant to your practice and use them naturally throughout your content.
Ultimately, you want the page or post you’re working on to show up in the Google search results for these primary keywords. To do this, aim to provide more helpful and comprehensive content on the subject related to these keywords than the pages currently ranking for these keywords.
Be sure to use keywords in a natural way and avoid keyword stuffing, which is the practice of overusing keywords. This can be considered spammy and can actually hurt your SEO rankings if done too frequently.
4. Image Optimization
It’s important to optimize your images for SEO and the potential for your images to appear in search results such as in Google Image Search and other search engines.
First, make sure images are compressed and sized to reflect the dimensions that will be used on your site to ensure a fast site speed. You can use a tool like Microsoft Paint or the macOS Preview app to resize an image.
If you upload an oversized image, the larger file size can slow down your site for users and have a negative impact on SEO since how fast your site loads including individual page speed is a major ranking factor.
If you have a WordPress site for your therapy practice, there are plenty of great plugins you can use to quickly compress images and reduce their file sizes for faster loading.
When you’re ready to upload an image to your site, be sure to include keywords that describe the image in the file name.
Finally, include similar keywords in the image alt text and title to describe the image, which can provide further insight to search engines on what the image and connected web page are about.
5. Link Building
Link building is the process of getting other authoritative mental health or therapist websites to link back to your own website, linking out to relevant sites, or building internal links between other pages on your website.
Links give search engines a better understanding of the authority and relevance of your content, which can improve its ranking potential over time.
The best way to build links in regards to SEO for therapists is to create helpful content that will be valuable enough for other site owners to want to share and link to.
Examples of helpful content that can be used to naturally build links and generate traffic to your site include blog posts, infographics, videos, and podcasts.
Research potential websites you can reach out to for possible links. To get the best performance from your link-building efforts, focus on getting a few strong links from trusted domains rather than a lot of weak links from spammy domains.
Link building can be a long-term effort, so make sure to stay consistent and monitor your progress with an SEO platform such as Semrush, Ahrefs, Moz, or SE Ranking.
6. Site Structure
Once you start publishing pages or blog posts, make sure your site is well-constructed and easy to navigate for your website visitors. People should be able to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.
An aspect of technical SEO, your site structure is important for SEO efforts because it helps search engine crawlers understand how content on your website is organized, linked, and related to each other.
A good site structure will also include an intuitive navigation menu, a sitemap that lists all the pages and posts on your website, and an internal linking structure that makes it easy for users to find their way around and search engines to crawl your content.
You can also improve the structure of your site for search engines by incorporating internal links in your content to supporting or related web pages and using categories and tags for your blog posts.
Additionally, aim to create different title tags, headers, and meta descriptions across all of your pages and blog articles. Each page on your site should be as unique as possible to avoid confusing visitors and search engine crawlers.
It’s super important to optimize all of your website pages and posts for mobile devices.
More people are using mobile devices to search for therapists and other mental health professionals and check out their sites, so make sure yours looks good on all screens.
Google has made mobile-friendliness an important ranking factor in its search algorithm, so be sure to choose a mobile-friendly website theme or builder and optimize your site pages for visitors viewing on both desktop and mobile devices.
You can use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to test how well a page on your website displays on a mobile device and to see if there are any issues affecting the page’s loading.
If you’re using WordPress, there are plenty of themes and plugins that can help you create a fully responsive design.
Optimizing your site for mobile devices improves the usability of your website, which can help boost its ranking potential on Google’s search engine results page (SERP).
8. Local SEO
Implementing local SEO strategies is super important for therapists, especially if your practice serves clients locally and you want to get in front of more prospects looking for a local therapist in specific cities, towns, or zip codes.
Make sure your website includes the name of your city, state, and relevant keywords related to your therapy practice. It’s a good idea to research local keywords and phrases to incorporate into your content as well.
You should also create a Google Business Profile (also known as Google My Business), which is crucial for most local businesses online.
A Google listing can help get your therapy practice appear in local search results when people in your area search for mental health services. Your Google business listing has a chance to appear when Google’s algorithm detects a locally-searched keyword.
To ensure a good foundation when it comes to local SEO for therapists, you should also expand your presence on therapy directories and local listing sites such as Psychology Today, Bing Places for Business, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Apple Maps.
Search engines like Google tend to favor therapy practices (and local businesses in general) that have an accurate business listing across these popular directory sites.
Additionally, creating content about the area you serve can help potential clients make a more informed decision about whether or not your practice is the right fit for them.
By applying local SEO strategies like localizing your website content, getting listed on directory sites, and earning positive online reviews, you can reach a wider local audience and get found for more local searches in both Google Search and Google Maps.
9. Content Promotion
Use social media to promote your content. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can help drive traffic to your website and can result in other sites and profiles linking back to your site.
Set up social media accounts for your practice and post content that is relevant to your audience. You can also share blog posts, infographics, videos, and podcasts on social media.
Additionally, consider sending an email newsletter to subscribers so they’re always in the loop about new content or promotions from your practice.
You may also consider conducting online workshops or webinars that can help you further expand the reach of your private practice online.
By promoting your content on social media and other platforms, you can increase brand awareness, generate more website traffic, and improve your search engine rankings.
10. Online Reviews
Include customer reviews on your site. These can help boost the credibility of your practice and earn the trust of potential clients.
Make sure to respond to customer reviews promptly and politely, as this will show potential clients that you value their feedback.
You can also ask clients for a review by sending them an email after they’ve had a session with you or have purchased a product from your website.
Online reviews such are an important part of SEO for therapists and can help boost your website’s ranking in search engine results pages.
Since Google is the most used search engine, aim to collect Google reviews to help improve the search presence of your practice on Google.
By collecting and displaying customer reviews on your website and online business profiles, you can provide potential clients with more information about the quality of your practice, which can further increase the trustworthiness of your site and help you get more therapy clients.
11. Analytics & Trends
Last but not least, it’s a good idea to monitor SEO progress using analytics tools.
Using Google Analytics is a great free way to track how often people are visiting your site, the pages they are engaging with, and conversion actions such as phone calls and form submissions. This data can help you determine what’s working and what needs to be improved.
Keep a close eye on the latest trends in keywords and topics relevant to your business and make sure your website is up to date. This will help you stay ahead of the competition and ensure that you’re always offering your clients the best services and related content possible.
By regularly monitoring your analytics data, you can take note of any changes in search engine rankings or traffic fluctuations and make more informed adjustments to improve your website’s performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is SEO?
SEO, which stands for “search engine optimization”, is the practice of improving your site to increase its visibility in search results for searches related to your practice and services.
Improving SEO is primarily achieved by publishing high-quality, comprehensive content on your site that best answers the questions your ideal client is searching on Google.
Why is SEO Important?
SEO helps to improve the visibility of your practice online which leads to more traffic to your site and in turn more opportunities to convert prospects into clients.
In terms of SEO for therapists, you can get your practice in front of highly targeted, local potential clients while they’re in the process of searching for mental health services.
How Long Does SEO Take to Show Results?
It can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months for SEO efforts to show results. When it comes to SEO, there are no guarantees. If you’re just getting started, we suggest creating helpful content that targets low-competition keywords early on for potentially quicker results.
Consider searching up the keywords you want to rank for and checking out the the top-ranking site pages. Take note of what questions are being answered on these pages, related topics covered, and how these sites are structured and linking between pages.
Why Does SEO Take So Long?
How long SEO takes has a lot to do with competition. If there are a lot of competitors that have been around for years investing in and creating content around the topics and keywords you want to rank for, it will take time to catch up.
However, the best time to start is now! Aim to create regular high-quality content that Google finds helpful to your target audience and worth ranking above your competitors.
What Factors Affect Ranking on Google?
Google looks at over 200 factors in their search engine algorithm to determine which webpages should rank where and for which search queries.
For example, Google looks at many site-level signals, page-level signals like internal links and loading speed, user interaction, backlinks from or mentions on other relevant sites, online reviews, location-based signals, and more.
In addition, Google continues to update their algorithm and the weightings of these factors around 500 to 600 times each year.
Final Thoughts: Search Engine Optimization for Therapists
With a little bit of effort, proper SEO can be a powerful tool to promote your therapy or counseling services and ultimately grow your therapy practice online.
An effective SEO strategy can help you build a strong presence online and ensure that potential clients are finding your practice easily and conveniently.
While you can work on SEO yourself, it’s a long-term, time-consuming, and competitive process. Consider hiring an experienced SEO company to make the best use of your time, money, and resources.
Implementing these strategies will take some time, but they will be worth it in the long run as they can significantly increase the visibility of your practice and your return on investment. Happy marketing!
Want Help With SEO for Your Practice?
At Therapy Flow, we coach and support hundreds of practice owners with their marketing and sales efforts, including SEO, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, operations, and sales.
We help private practice owners go from zero to full caseload or scale to 6-7 figures.
To learn more about Therapy Flow Programs, book a free consultation here.
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