If you are a therapist and want to learn about search engine optimization, listen to this recorded teleseminar, hosted by Laura Dessauer and MyTherapistMatch.com founder Corey Quinn:
You can also go here if you want more information about SEO for therapists
Here is the transcript of the teleseminar:
LAURA: This is Corey Quinn and he is presenting Search Engine Optimization for Therapists. Corey is the founder of MyTherapistMatch.com and it is better than any other online directory because MyTherapistMatch.com matches therapists with motivated clients based on their personality types, communication preferences and therapy issues of concern. There is explicit growth on the site; 40% growth last month for MyTherapistMatch.com and it is on par to do the same again in March. If you have not checked that site out go and check it out. I just want to give a big welcome to Corey and thank you so much for being here.
COREY: Absolutely Laura. Thank you so much for being here. I am really excited to be talking about Search Engine Optimization for Therapists. It is a great topic and it is something that can really help therapists to increase their visibility online and grow their practice.
LAURA: I asked you to present on this topic because I saw your presentation in the past and the information you provide is so concise, so easy to follow and therapists can implement it immediately. It is very generous of you to offer this. Some therapists may not know what search engine optimization is and until I saw your presentation I didnâ€™t quite know what it was either. So can you tell us what that is?
COREY: Sure. Actually before I answer that question, I was wondering if you donâ€™t mind if I offer my email address for people who may have questions during the call? If you do have a question during the call and you would like for me to answer it, I would be happy to do so if we have time at the end of the call. My email address is email@example.com. Again, I would be more than happy to answer any questions at the end of the time we have or at the end of the material I have prepared if we have the time.
To answer your question Laura, search engine optimization is pretty simple. It is about adding the right content to your website and getting people to link to your practice website. Itâ€™s about getting people searching on the Internet for a therapist to find your therapist or practice website. Simply, search engine optimization is optimizing your website for the search engine.
LAURA: Ok, so that is pretty simple but why is it important for therapists? Why do we care about that? We see people.
COREY: Sure. There is about a half a billion of searches for businesses on Google per month and that is every month. That includes people who are looking for a therapist in your town whether that be Santa Monica, Phoenix, New York, wherever you are; people going to Google and the different search engines and they are typing in for example, â€śtherapists Santa Monicaâ€ť so on and so forth. However, today there are so many therapists out there. For instance there are about 3000- 5000 therapists in private practice in Los Angeles. There is no physical way for anyone who is searching for a therapist to review or find all 3000 therapists. In fact there is only 25 links on the first page on the Google search results. So, if you are not on that first page, about 90% of the clicks happen on that first page. It is very rare that someone clicks to the second page; they typically will go back and do another search if they have not found what they are looking for. Essentially you want to be on that first page of Google. The way you get on that first page of Google for a key word like â€śtherapist Los Angelesâ€ť is you need to do search engine optimization.
LAURA: Ok. There are so many people out there in my area, that if I was to list myself on Google, I would be one of the many people that come up and I actually might not land on the first page and people will not find me? Is that correct?
COREY: That is absolutely true because in your area and today, there are lots of therapists in those cities. Unless you are employing search engine optimization practices on your practice website, the chances that you will occur on the first page by accident on Google is very, very low and so what you want to do is employ some of these tactics
that we will talk about today to help improve the possibility that you will get on the first page. Again, that is where all the clicks are.
LAURA: Ok. What are two primary things we need to focus on to optimize our private practice website?
COREY: The first thing you want to focus on is content. Content is literally the words you are using on your website. Search engines, what they do, is crawl the entire web and they read all of that content and they index it all. The put it in to a big index and what it does is try to categorize or catalog the websites across the web in to topic areas and it does that by looking at what the content of your website is. So, if your content on your website is all about therapy then it will catalog your website as a therapy website. What you want to do from a search engine optimization perspective is you want to tell the search engine effectively through your content that you are a subject matter expert or an authority in a specific area of focus. The reason why you want to do that is because Googleâ€™s goal is to provide relevant results for a specific search. When you are a subject matter expert or authority in a specific area you will rank higher than websites that are not an authority on that specific area of focus. An example of how that will work is, that you want to become a subject matter or an authority and you want to put a volume of content on that specific topic you want to rank for. For example, you want to rank for depression in adolescents in Los Angeles. You want to have a lot of content about that because Google will view that content and see that this person has five or ten pages or even 3-5 pages on a specific topic and that will outrank a site that has one page about that topic. So you want to have a lot of volume and content. We will discuss that more later in the program but volume of content around a specific word that you want to rank for is really important.
LAURA: That is wonderful to know. Thank you for sharing that. I think that if you look at a lot of therapists website they may talk about their generalized services and they talk about the many people that they treat and the different symptoms that they work to alleviate and a lot of people tend to not get very concise and clear and state their area of expertise and what I am hearing you say is the more you pinpoint who you work with and get more specific about clients and specific tag words or key words, the more likely you are going to rise on the Google ranks. Is that correct?
COREY: Thatâ€™s correct. And a rule of thumb is that for every key word or term that you want to rank for; so a term or a key word is a term or
word that people will enter in to a search engine. For every one of those you want to have at least one page of content. So, letâ€™s say you focus on depression and anxiety. You want to have at least one page dedicated to depression and at least one page dedicated to anxiety and I recommend having more pages than just one. That will help you to become an authority in the eyes of a search engine.
The second thing you want to do is you want to continually add new and relevant content. When the search engines come back to your website; they will crawl your website every so often, you will want to provide them with new content because that also means that your website is relevant in that area. So fresh content is also very important. Again, we will also get in to more detail about that.
The other primary things you want to focus on in optimizing your private practice website is linking. Linking is essentially answering the question, who cares about me, my practice or my website. They are people linking from their website to your website and the serve as votes in the eyes of the search engine. If a website has a lot of links coming in, it is deemed as a popular website. It serves as a reference in the eyes of the search engine. Why this matters from a real basic perspective is that the sites that have more links coming in, that are more popular and other sites are referencing will rank higher than sites with fewer links and the reason why that is because the search engines think your content is relevant, interesting and the links themselves are essentially votes for your website. The search engines will actually see all those links coming in to your site and will rate you higher if you have a higher volume of links.
LAURA: Let me ask you a question about that. How about if they are not relevant links because I get a lot of people commenting on my blogs that are absolutely not relevant to my content and they say letâ€™s link. Will that help me at all?
COREY: Yes. Ideally when you are thinking about linking, the best link you can get is a link from a relevant website. Lets say you have a private practice again that focuses on depression and there is a blog or website that talks all about depression and they want to reference your website and you have written an article for them. That is a great link from that site to your website because the relevancy is there.
Another thing I did not mention but is really important is that it is not just about the volume of links; it is the quality of links. It is not good enough to just go out and get a bunch of links from small blogs that
just started yesterday. A good link is from a website that has been around for a while and is established or an established brand like an online newspaper or any kind of larger media website like Wall Street Journal, Psychology today. A link from those websites is more valuable than a link from a website that is relatively unknown.
LAURA: Good information. That is great to know because often people will ask to link but they may not be relevant or I have seen sites that I am not really certain about and Iâ€™m not quite sure I want to link. So, if itâ€™s relevant and established then it is a really good idea to link with them.
COREY: Yes, it is extremely valuable to do that and if you have an opportunity to link with a well established website, I would take that opportunity. If it is a site that is not related to your website, itâ€™s not a negative but it probably will not add that much value.
LAURA: What are the three most important things I can do so I can optimize my private practice website and the search engine is going to actually find me?
COREY: I actually have four. I added a fourth one.
The first thing you could do and you eluded to this earlier, is think of your website as less of a brochure but more of an online resource. What I mean by that is many, many therapists have their website such as they are basically an online brochure. If you think of a brochure it has a photo of you, your credentials, experience, what you do, etc. and that is fine but I would recommend thinking of your website again as a resource center for your site visitors. It should be a place where your visitors who are looking for help or have a specific need in mind, it is a place where they can learn something or get some help just by visiting your website; they can potentially get resolution to their issue, or at least help them in the right direction. An example of this is again on treating depression and instead of talking about how great you are at treating depression or how long you went to school to learn how to treat depression and so on and so forth. You want to have that information in there, but what I suggest is that you put information on your website that can help people deal with their depression and help educate them or potentially resolve some of the issues around depression. You may want to include articles on depression and articles on depression and the fact that you have written success stories in your website of people you helped and what you did to help them and how they are feeling now. Things like top ten lists or useful
tips, which are very useful for your site. Things like the top 10 things you can do to feel better when you are depressed or the top 5 movies to see when you are feeling depressed.
LAURA: Thatâ€™s a great idea.
COREY: What you are doing by providing this type of content you are actually doing four things at the same time. Number one you are really engaging with your website visitor. Youâ€™re not just sort of advertising yourself and promoting yourself which I think is important because you want to establish credibility but you also want to connect with that person. When someone spends time and is engaging with the content you are really building a relationship with them and if you have a relationship with them, you are increasing the probability that they will actually reach out to you.
The second thing is that it establishes you as an expert because you are offering expert education and guidance that they are looking for you they will see you often as an established expert or authority and when people need help in a certain area, theyâ€™re typically going to turn to an expert or an authority.
The third thing that it does is that it provides great content for search engine optimization so it works in that way to. If you think about it, all that content that you put on your site; the articles, top ten lists, etc., itâ€™s about depression, about therapy and all about feeling better and these are all things you want the search engines to think you are an expert in.
The fourth thing this does for you is because the content that you are creating; articles, top ten lists, etc. because itâ€™s so thoughtful and helpful, what you will get is other therapists and other websites will start linking in to you as well. And those links are also great for SEO.
LAURA: It is almost like an online referral. COREY: Exactly.
LAURA: Before we move on to the next point, I think it is important and people need to hear this clearly and write it down and underline it; finding your area of expertise and establishing yourself as the go-to person is essential for your business and many therapists choose not to do that for whatever reason. It could be fear that they donâ€™t have enough clients or concerns that this might restrict them and they
might not be able to make a living or perhaps thinking like they can help anyone. And what you are saying Corey is that really by establishing our expertise and being very clear in what we do as therapists we can then bring this to our website and be a resource for people who are looking for that type of therapy we offer and we then become the go-to person which in turn creates more traffic to our site and positions us and raises our expertise.
COREY: And it positions you to the site visitors and it also positions you in the eye of the search engine so you get that dual benefit.
LAURA: Thatâ€™s wonderful. Thank you.
COREY: And, again, this content is not necessarily easy to produce. It is much easier to write about where you went to school, where you did your internship, etc. but there is a great reward for doing this work and definitely worth it.
The second thing you want to do to help you get more visibility is list your practice in the Google Local Business Center and I have actually included a document or resource on the website for people to download. It has step-by-step instructions on how to do this. It is very straightforward. The reason you want to do this is Google has majority share of the searches so when people go to the Internet to search for something they typically will use Google. They put out this great resource called the Local Business Center, which is a free resource for businesses to be able to list their practice. What happens is when someone goes to Google and they type in â€śtherapists Los Angelesâ€ť for example, what you will get at the top of the results page is a map with a bunch of pins and to the right of that a list of 10 businesses. Those businesses are pulled from the Google Local Business Center. Because therapistâ€™s practices are typically locally based, it is a great place to be found. The way you get found is by listing your practice in the Google Local Business Center. And again, I put very straightforward step-by- step instructions on that resource download for you.
LAURA: Let me just ask for that, if you are on the call on the phone, you are going to want to go to the Instant Teleseminar page we posted for Corey. It is only on during this hour of the call so if you are not able to access it during the call and you really want to get this information, they can contact you at what address again Corey?
COREY: You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
LAURA: And I would like to add a success story about listing my practice on the Google Local Business Center. I followed your directions from the time that I listened to you Corey and I went on and did that with my business and I had a client just contact me the other day who said they have found me on Google. They didnâ€™t know anything about me, they never met me and they found me on Google and set up an appointment within a week and they were in and they bought a comprehensive package for families, which is a $2497 package. So, just out of adding that I created $2500 worth of income from your one tip. So, if you guys are not doing this, you are missing out.
COREY: How long did it take you to do that?
LAURA: Oh goodness, maybe like two minutes.
COREY: Exactly. It is so easy and it is so powerful. It is a great thing to do. It is easy and it is free and you get results.
LAURA: Wonderful. So, what is the next tip you are sharing?
COREY: The next tip is you want to list your business in free directories. There is a list of free directories that I have also put as a download on the resources page and it lists about 12 different free directories. They are not necessarily therapist directories but they are business directories where you can put your practice website up there and it is totally free and is another place where people can potentially find you.
The fourth one, sort of the bonus tip, is you will is a great way to get found and increase links is to write original articles for a therapy websites and directories. So, to your point Laura, when you are focusing on a specific topic or your are positioning yourself as a topic expert in a specific area is that you also want to do is write articles. One place you can post these articles is on these therapy websites and therapy directories. I will give you a short list here in a minute here. What this really does is it does a couple things. You get â€śpublishedâ€ť on a well-known authoritative website which really reinforces your credibility to the readers on that website which can lead to clicks to your website and referrals. It is also something that you can promote on your website where you can say you have been published on these sites which adds to your credibility. And from an SEO perspective, it also allows you to get a link back typically from the directory to your website which helps with your SEO. Frequently these websites that you
are posting these articles on, they have a lot of value. These larger sites have a lot of value and a link back to your website is very important. The concept is kind of give and get. You are giving an article that is very thoughtful and insightful from a topic expert and in exchange they are giving you a link back to your website. I think it is definitely a very good thing to do today to help you establish credibility and to increase your backlinks to your site.
Here are a couple of therapistâ€™s directories and therapist related websites that you may want to consider writing articles for. They are:
1. Psychology Today 2. MyTherapistMatch.com â€“ we actually post articles from subject matter experts as well 3. GoodTherapy.org 4. Self-Growth.com
LAURA: That is great information. Tell me a little bit about social media. Everybody is talking about social media as a way to connect with clients. What about social media and search engine optimization?
COREY: I donâ€™t necessarily recommend that therapists spend a lot of time on Twitter or Facebook. The reason why is that I do not believe that is the place where people go when they are looking for a therapist. I just donâ€™t. I think they use search engines and other channels. However, I think social media is good for your practice. The reason I think I is good is because it is useful for connecting with other therapists, specifically for other therapist that you wouldnâ€™t have otherwise met locally. You can meet therapists online who are from the other side of the country. By connecting with these therapists and building relationships, you are establishing yourself as a thought leader or an expert in your particular area of focus. When you are introducing yourself, again, it goes back to the concept that you have a specific focus or concentration for your practice. What happens is you become a resource for that therapists or those therapists for which relationships you have and you can kind of become a go-to person for that contact. What that does obviously is that it is potentially very good for referrals but also you can also get linked from them from their website and blogs back to your website. So, it is a great tool for networking and again to establish yourself as an authority in this area.
There are a couple of websites that I recommend taking a look at to do that. LinkedIn is a great resource. They have about 20 or so groups, as well as Links for Shrinks that is another great website that you can networking with other therapists and potentially get some referrals and build relationships.
LAURA: Great information. That is very helpful. I think people are kind of concerned about how much time and energy they should spend or money should they spend on search engine optimization versus social media versus local advertisements. It sounds like what you are offering is that it is valuable to make the connections and to build the relationships with other therapists online and that is beneficial for therapists but Twitter and Facebook is not necessarily where you should focus your energies right now. More focus would be on the search engine optimization?
COREY: I think so. It depends on what your goal is. I think if you are specifically looking to acquire new patients or clients the Twitters and the Facebooks of the world is very difficult to do that without spending a ton of time and effort. I think really that time and effort is better spent developing content for your website for articles and things like that versus doing the client acquisition through these social media networks. Now, that being said, I think that if you do have the focus of your practice, you can establish yourself as a resource for therapists online who may have questions about your specific area of focus and they can come to you for referrals or they can use you as a resource and link to your website.
LAURA: That is great feedback. So, I have been busy jotting down lots and lots of notes here and I have now some more tools in my toolbox. I am really curious about the listeners learning more about your website because I donâ€™t think many people know. It is a newer website and Iâ€™m not sure many people understand the difference of www.mytherapistmatch.com versus other sites out there that do match therapists with clients. Can you talk a little bit about that?
COREY: The basis for www.MyTherapistMatch.com is that I personally, as an individual, seeking therapy here in Los Angeles I had a difficult time finding a therapist I could really connect with and I think there are a lot of wonderful therapists here in LA who are very well- intentioned and very well-educated and very good therapists, however, I had a difficult time finding a therapist that matched me. When I looked around and thought about it that the way people find therapists is either through a referral or they can go on a therapistâ€™s directory and they can browse all of the therapists. But if you think about it and if you go on Psychology Today there is about 750 therapists in LA alone and out of that pool of therapists how do I know
which oneâ€™s are the right oneâ€™s for me. Because of my frustration in finding the right therapist and not being able to do that effectively, I thought there has got to be a way that we can help therapists and individuals get connected in such that there is a higher probability for connection. That is where the inspiration behind MyTherapistMatch. Itâ€™s like e-Harmoney for finding a therapist and what we do is match potential or perspective clients with therapists based on 23 different criteria and really the driving force behind the matching is personality type, communication styles, decision making process, motivation strategies and of course issue of concern. The goal of the site is really to connect therapist seekers with therapists based on the concept that there is a high probability that there will be a rapport and that there will be trust there so that the person can get right in to therapy and not have to be interviewing with a lot of therapists to try and find that right match.
LAURA: Wonderful. I am assuming so correct me if Iâ€™m wrong. That because of your experience with SEO, your search engine optimization knowledge that MyTherapistMatch ranks really high on Google and it probably pops up on the first page?
COREY: Good question. We are getting there and if you go to our site you will see that we have a ton of content around therapy, therapy terms, things that people are searching for. If you look on our site, we have a great case study but if you go on our site now we have types of counseling like marriage counseling, grief counseling, etc. and these are things that people are typing in search engines. We did some research online and we found what key words people are searching for so we built a bunch of content around those key words and have about 500 pages of content about different types of therapy and counseling.
One of the things with search engine optimization is that it takes time. The people who have had a therapy websites for several years have an advantage over people who are just starting out because one of the things that Google will look at is the age of the website as one of the factors in ranking your website. Because we are relatively new, we launched in November of last year, we do not have that age working for us so we are doing everything we can with the content and linking and we are getting there. Weâ€™re on the first page for a couple of terms in what I call the â€śhead termsâ€ť or the terms of what a lot of people are searching on, we are still getting there.
LAURA: And what a wonderful opportunity for therapists now who are wanting to target and get more clients but they may not want to invest
extra time, energy or money on search engine optimization. I know some people are just strapped. They canâ€™t spend another dime on spending more for their website and thatâ€™ not one of their priorities. They need clients and need them now so what a wonderful gift that they can go to your site and log on to be part of your site as a therapist who is matched up with clients and have the possibility of getting clients in their area. You donâ€™t need to go out there and spend the extra money redoing your website and trying to implement all these other things whereas you guys are really working on moving up the ranks and being established as the go-to site for clients. And if therapists are ready to jump on board with doing this, and also it sounds like there is an opportunity to link to your site and to provide expert articles? Is that correct?
COREY: Thatâ€™s right and you will get a link back to your site as an exchange.
LAURA: Oh, ok great! So thatâ€™s going to help them and they donâ€™t have to go and hire an SEO guy. They can essentially get some linking from you and that will help their site in turn.
COREY: Yes, absolutely. That is a great resource and is one of the sites that will help you to get links back to your website. And just to address the question; we are getting traffic through page search so we are not fully optimized on the SEO because of the newness of the site. We are complimenting that by doing search engine marketing, which is the pay-per-click. The way we do that is we pool the resources from our member therapists and that is how we get the traffic.
LAURA: But itâ€™s great. I know for myself, I have played around a little with the pay-per-click and I havenâ€™t really found out how to make it work for me. It is one of those things where I would need to be a specialist or I would need to hire somebody in order to really make it affective for my website and I am moderately tech savvy. Again, where do you want to put your energy? If you want to be putzing around on the computer trying to figure out how to do the pay-per- click or does it make more sense to work with somebody who can get the higher rankings and you can work with the clients. I think that is s real nice service.
COREY: You are setting it up nicely because the fee for our site is only $5/month and if you are advertising on Google, the cost per clicks are $2-$6 dollars per one click versus unlimited impressions on our site for the same amount of money or less. It is actually a really good deal.
And to be honest, we are not sure how long we are going to keep it at $5.
LAURA: I was going to say that is really affordable. So, explain a little bit about what they get for $5. I donâ€™t want to turn this all in to a pitch for your services but for $5/month that is like my latte and we know that the life of a client is worth several thousand dollars for therapists so for someone like me Iâ€™m chomping at the bit. So, tell me what I get for $5.
COREY: So what you get is essentially unlimited exposures to respective clients who we are matching you with. It is a monthly subscription and is $5/month. You get to list your practice and you also complete a questionnaire so the 55 question questionnaire where we are eliciting all of that information and we are matching you. Every time you get a match you get that exposure and people can view your profile, they click to your website from your profile, they can get your phone number, send you an email. Essentially you are getting for that same $5 on Google you are getting essentially unlimited exposure that month.
LAURA: People would just be foolish not to go check it out for that price. And I know there are a lot of other services out there and they do not match their clients to the extent you do. It is like you said, Psychology Today, you see tons of therapists listed on there and if Iâ€™m a client and I was searching, I would be overwhelmed. I would be closing and shutting down my computer and asking a friend. This is much more intimate and for $5 it is at least worth checking out. So it is www.mytherapistmatch.com where they go for that?
COREY: Thatâ€™s right. In the upper right hand corner there is a section called For Therapists and it talks about the benefits of the site and what you get. We also do a lot of practice skill training so on the site is there are recorded webinars about emailing prospective clients, listing your practice on the Google Local Practice Business Center, a bunch of free resources as well for therapists to help out. Bottom line is that it benefits therapists to have a lot of exposure and they should be in these directories and they should think about using mytherapistmatch.com because the reality is when people are looking for therapists, typically they are going to research a couple different resources so it is good to be in these different directories and be in as many places as you can and it is good to get your site to rank high on Google, be in the directories as they rank as well. It really is about exposure and doing everything you can to maximize your exposure on the Internet.
LAURA: What a win-win. Most therapists do not want to spend their energy doing all that marketing. Thatâ€™s not why they went in to being a therapist and at times that feels really overwhelming and especially now with people and the financial situation being very fragile, people want to see results. They want to see where they are going to spend their money and in the place that gets the biggest return. How will this impact my business in a positive way? So, for that amount of money, it is certainly worth checking out.
Are there any other golden nuggets that you want to share with us? If not, we can try to open up the phone lines.
COREY: I think thatâ€™s it. The funny thing with SEO is you can get really technical real quick and I wanted to keep it at a level that people can understand and not get in to the nuances of different things. I think bottom line is that the two areas to focus on are content, optimizing your content and having a lot of rich content and getting links. Those are the two main drivers you need to focus on. If you do nothing else than focus on those two things, you will be ok.
LAURA: Thanks Corey!