If we summed up the most asked question that psychologists and therapists have asked about marketing into one question, it would be something like this: “Now that I’ve finished my website, how do I get new clients for my private practice?” It’s almost like clockwork! At this point, we have to provide a gentle response like this: “We’ll need to take a look at your website.” Your website is crucial to your private practice’s marketing success. In this guide, you’ll learn 9 actionable steps to build your best therapy website; a website that will set you up to stand out from the crowd and be successful for years to come!
“Your website is crucial to your private practice’s marketing success.”
FAQs About Building a Therapy Website
Before we jump into the 9 parts of creating your best therapy website, we’ll answer some FAQs around building a therapy website:
Which Platform Should I Build My Therapy Website On?
One of the most common questions we get is “which platform should I build my website on?” There is no right answer, although TherapistX and many other marketing companies have a strong preference for WordPress.org (not to be confused with wordpress.com). This is because of the customization that can be done with WordPress.
Typically we’ve seen therapists just starting out use website builders like Wix, Godaddy, and Brighter Vision (a monthly service). These can be useful to get a site up quickly, but when it comes to long-term strategy, we recommend using WordPress.
How Much Time Does It Take To Build a Therapy Website?
This depends! If you are trying to get something up quickly, you can achieve such a feat in a day or two. If you are building out a robust strategy that will grow your practice for years to come, it will take much more time. On average, a website can take you between 40 and 120 hours, depending on the scope of the project you’re undertaking. Of course this go much longer if you add in more pages and custom features, such as API connections to different platforms.
How Much Money Does It Cost to Have a Therapy Website Built?
This again depends. You can find a newer designer and contract them out for around $1500 to $2000, but we recommend staying clear of this as we’ve found that these designers are not as reliable later on if you need help changing or fixing something.
A marketing or website company will charge you between $4000.00 and $30,000, depending on the scope of your project. Of course your price can go much higher if you want more functionality and more strategy built in.
You should also factor in copywriting costs, that is, the words that are written on each page. While you can certainly handle this on your own, to have a great SEO strategy, you should aim for more than 750 words on each page, written strategically for both Google and your potential clients to read. If you have a 50 page website, and you decide on 1000 words per page, you’ll need 50,000 words total! This is a vital step in building a strategy, so make sure you plan accordingly.
What is a SSL?
According to Digicert, “SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and, in short, it’s the standard technology for keeping an internet connection secure and safeguarding any sensitive data that is being sent between two systems, preventing criminals from reading and modifying any information transferred, including potential personal details.”
SSL is extremely common now, and most hosting companies provide these for free or at a low cost.
How Much Does Hosting Cost?
Hosting is an important part of any website. While hosting is packaged into plans like Wix and Godaddy, WordPress requires a dedicated hosting company. We love Siteground, but there are many other hosting providers out there. The typical cost of hosting a small to medium-sized website is around $10 to $30 per month. The great thing about having a hosting plan is that if you need more resources, you can scale your plan. If you require more resources and can’t scale up (such as with a Wix type site), your site may become slower and more unusable.
Should I Get a Starter Site First or Swing For the Fences?
Many mental health professionals want to get something up ASAP. If you are one of these, we’d recommend getting something up and not spending too much time on it. Then, we recommend swinging for the fences early. This is because SEO takes months and even years to fully kick in and grow your business. Swinging for the fences with a fully strategic website will pay dividends for your practice, so it’s important that you get that site up as soon as you can.
How Do Clients Find My Website?
Getting clients to find your website is quite the process. This process is called SEO, or search engine optimization. We go more in depth in #2 and #3 below, but it’s so important to build a website with a SEO strategy top of mind.
In addition to SEO, you can incorporate strategies like social media marketing and advertising to get people to your site. However, we fully recommend SEO first.
Where Do I Even Start?
We’re glad you asked! Read the remainder of this post to learn how to build your best therapy website.
Building Your Best Therapy Website – Table of Contents:
- Building a Brand
- Performing Research
- Creating a Strategy
- Choosing Your Domain, Host, and Website Platform
- Designing Your Website
- Connecting 3rd Party Tools
- Tracking Website Visitors and Leads
- Starting Marketing
1. Building a Brand
The word “brand” is kind of a fluffy term to most therapists and psychologists. However, there are actionable steps you need to take in building your brand before creating the very best therapy website.
Most people will hear the word “brand” and immediately think of the visual elements of a logo, a color scheme, fonts and maybe a tag line (ie. Just Do it!). But that’s not all there is to a brand.
Your brand is what makes you unique. It’s the story of why you do what you do. It’s the story of what your clients say about the experience of you. As author of The Brand Flip Marty Neumeier explains, “a brand is a customer’s gut feeling about a product, service or company.”
So, if “brand” is what lives in the hearts and minds of the client, then the process of branding is what you as a business owner have control over. It’s where you discover and decide things like your brand identity, brand promise, unique differentiator and much more. Determining these elements can help you, your clients and the prospective clients of your mental health practice convey your message clearly.
Branding your mental health practice starts with generating ideas, identifying values, articulating your vision and finding your why. Your brand strategy will help you decide how you want to influence others about your mental health practice. Branding is how you express who you are as a business, what you are about and who exactly your services are for.
Branding your mental health practice can benefit your business by:
- Improving recognition of your practice
- Increasing loyalty with and creating advocates of, your clients
- Differentiating your practice from others
We published a post on Branding Your Therapy Practice. You can check it out here.
2. Performing Industry and Competitor Research
In your pursuit of creating your best therapy website, chapter 2 will focus on researching your specific industry niche(s) and then researching your top competitors locally (and sometimes it might make sense to look at nationally). Here are some reasons why research is important in creating the best therapy website possible:
- It’s important to know which services you should focus on most
- It’s important to find out what types of questions your target patients are searching for in each service you’ll offer
- It’s important to know the strategies your top local psychologist and therapist competitors are implementing
- It’s important to know how strong your competitors are in terms of content strategy, domain authority, and how visually impressive their website appears
Tools to Perform Industry and Competitor Research
There are an assortment of tools that you as a psychologist or therapist can use to research your industry and competitors. For the purposes of this guide, we are going to show you a completely free tool from Google called the Google Keyword Planner. You’ll need to create a Google Ad account first. After your account is created, you’ll need to navigate to the little “wrench” at the top right labeled “tools and settings.” Next, hover over this and navigate to the “keyword planner” link. Once you click on this, this screen will appear:
Google Keyword Planner is a great tool for your practice to gain insights into what your competitors are searching for, how many times they are searching each month in your city, the value of getting clicks for these keywords, and many other key statistics that can help you build the best therapy website possible.
Performing Competitor Research
Using the Google Keyword Planner tool, Click on the “Discover new keywords” box. Here you can enter your top ~10 competitors. We urge you not to arbitrarily enter 10 websites. Rather, search on Google for “(city name) + psychologist”. Your psychologist competitors that are listed here in the search results (not the maps) will give you a good idea of the ‘best’ optimized websites in your city. Be sure not to use websites like “psychologytoday.com” and other similar directory sites as they aren’t your local competitors.
Once you have these 10 psychologist sites entered, click “get started.” You should see a bunch of keywords that these psychologists rank for.
Download this list into an Excel sheet. You can do this by clicking the blue link at the top right “Download Keyword Ideas.”
In this sheet, you’ll find all sorts of gems for your business. Take some time to review these in Excel. We recommend lumping similar keywords together. And just like that, you now have hundreds or even thousands of keywords your top competitors are ranking for.
Performing Industry Research
Performing industry research is similar to performing competitor research when using the same Google Keyword Planner tool. If one of the services you perform is “cognitive behavioral therapy” type this keyword in and click enter. You’ll see an assortment of newly discovered keywords you can download to add to your research!
The above keywords are only a small sample of keyword ideas that the Google Keyword Planner generated. Make sure that you compile all the keywords you gain into an excel sheet.
3. Creating a Strategy
In chapter 2 we discussed how you can perform keyword research for both your therapist competitors and industry keywords that can give you amazing insight into what your potential patients are looking for on Google. In chapter 3, we will highlight how you can create a website strategy in your pursuit of building the best therapy website.
Organizing the Data
Using the Google Keyword Planner tool, you should easily have 1000 keywords downloaded. We’d recommend keeping your competitor research and your industry research in separate Excel tabs. For each tab, use the “sort” tool to organize keywords by different criteria including things like: search volume, alphabetically, and cost per click value just to name a few. For each sorting filter that you use, you can create a new tab in Excel so that you can easily switch to different views of the keywords you mined in Google’s Keyword Planner.
Mining for Gold
Now that you’ve organized your data, you can now pull out valuable information. We’d recommend creating a list of all your distinct services that you offer (hopefully you researched each service in Google Keyword Planner!). Start organizing keywords for each service offering. This may take a few hours but it is well worth the time spent when we put it all together in the next step.
Putting it All Together
The final step of creating the best therapy website strategy is to create what’s called a site map. A site map is simply a basic layout of the pages that your website will contain.
As you can see in the above example, this is a very simple layout of how a client’s site will be built. To the right of the column “permalink”, we highly suggest that you create a new column titled “Keywords.” In this column, you can insert 1 main keyword for each page, as well as keywords that fall underneath that category.
Here is an example:
Main keyword: Anorexia Nervosa
Sub keywords to be included on the same page: Types of Anorexia Nervosa, How to Treat Anorexia Nervosa, What is Anorexia Nervosa. You get the point.
Layout your strategy with assigned keywords will help you know exactly what you’re targeting with your website strategy. The more pages you have, the more keywords you’ll be setting yourself to target. The more keywords you have, the more opportunities your patients have to find your therapy practice! The best therapy websites not only look beautiful, they have a deep keyword strategy built throughout.
4. Choosing a Domain, Host, and Website Platform
In chapter 4, we will be discussing some very important aspects that can help you create the best therapy website possible. This includes choosing a domain name, a hosting platform, and a website platform.
Choosing a Domain Name
Like your psychology practice’s name, your domain name is important. Here are some best practices to follow when choosing a domain name for your therapy website:
- Choose a domain name that is short, under 15 characters if possible
- Choose a domain name that ends in .com – This is just a good practice because it is the most common domain extension
- Choose a domain that represents your brand
- Choose a domain that is not spammy. Here;s a spammy example: “bestpsychologistmiami.com”
- Choose a domain that you love! Switching a domain can be a BIG process (especially if done to follow search engine optimization best practices)
Choosing a Host
One of the most important parts of any great therapy website (or any business, really) is the host in which the website resides. According to website.com, “Web hosting is a service that allows organizations and individuals to post a website or web page onto the Internet. A web host, or web hosting service provider, is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for the website or webpage to be viewed in the Internet. Websites are hosted, or stored, on special computers called servers. When Internet users want to view your website, all they need to do is type your website address or domain into their browser. Their computer will then connect to your server and your webpages will be delivered to them through the browser.”
Now that we understand what a host is, choosing a host is next! While we won’t promote a specific host, let’s highlight what makes a great host:
- A great host will offer fast speeds – meaning, your provider will allow visitors to quickly browse and load your website
- A great host will offer “high up-time” – meaning, your provider will be able to keep your website live as much as possible
- A great host will provide exceptional support – The value of this can’t be understated. One day you will run into issues and will need to contact your host
- A great host will offer plans that are affordable – Don’t try to go for the cheapest option, make sure you choose at least a decent option
When creating the best therapy websites, your host is an important part of the equation.
Choosing a Website Platform
While your host is important, the platform you choose to build your website on might be even more important. For the purposes of this guide, we are going to only recommend one platform: Open Source WordPress. (Don’t confuse this with wordpress.com). A good host will be able to install a copy of WordPress for you.
WordPress is our number one choice, and for good reason. Almost 30% of all websites use WordPress. In addition, it’s free! You can add on a WordPress site to an existing site (in most cases) or you can create your website entirely on WordPress (like this one). WordPress also has a massive online community to help answer any questions you may have. One of the most important reasons is it’s robust SEO tools (like Yoast) that can assist your business in ranking on popular search engines. You can also easily transfer old posts to a new website if needed.
For most therapists and psychologists, WordPress will work perfectly for you and can be customized to your needs.
5. Therapy Website Design
The design and aesthetic of your website is very important in creating the best therapy website possible. When you purchased or built your psychology practice, did you invest in the interior of your facility? Of course you did! You invested in a high quality waiting room, and a room that makes your patients feel at ease when they speak with you. First impressions make a big difference.
Your website is like your interior, and patients WILL absolutely judge it on how it looks and functions. In fact, 75% of people have judged a company’s credibility based on its website design.
Using Your Color Pallet
In chapter 1 we discussed how to build a brand for your private practice. The last step in this branding process was partially to choose your color scheme. We typically recommend that clients look at colors athletic teams use, or other competitors in their industry. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to your color scheme, but you do need colors that work well with each other. Typically, a dark color and a light color are basic recommendations.
Here’s an example color pallet for the psychologist website image at the top of this guide:
Creating a Great User Experience
Laying out your website so that users can navigate through your website to where you want them to go is an art and a science. The basic principles include:
- Meeting the users’ needs
- Creating a clear page hierarchy (we touched on this in the site map above)
- Making sure consistency is followed from page to page
- Building a website that is accessible to as many patients as possible
- Emphasizing usability first
- Understanding the principle that less is more
- Using simple language that your target audience understands
- Using the right kind of typography for your audience
- Designing your website that appeals to your specific target patients
While there are many more principles, the above user experience guidelines will help you create the best therapy website possible for YOUR potential patients.
Making it look Professional
Creating a professional website is critical. Therapists with sub par websites do their brand image a major disservice. Quality should be a top priority to give the perception that your products/services are also top quality. With so many people now using mobile devices and tablets, it’s critical to make sure that your website properly responds to different browser sizes and types. It’s imperative to design a website that is responsive.
In addition to how your website looks, your website strategy should be one that functions properly. Make sure all your links are clickable, all your forms work properly, and all your pages load correctly. Very few things frustrate users more than a non-functioning site.
We’d also recommend that you hire a professional (unless you can code). You get what you pay for. A cookie cutter site that costs 20 dollars a month most likely will not reflect well for your brand. Did we mention quality? Pay money to get it professionally designed.
Great copywriting is critical to creating the best therapy website design possible. As a therapist or psychologist with a doctorate degree, you may fancy yourself a great writer (and you probably are!). However, when writing copy, it is crucial to follow best on-page SEO guidelines. Here are some guidelines you can follow:
- Each page should have 1 main keyword. If you’re creating a page about your cognitive behavioral therapy service, your “umbrella” keyword should be “cognitive behavioral therapy”
- Your H1 (main title) should include the main keyword
- You should only have 1 H1 title
- Your H2 (subtitles) should be ideas that fall under your H1. An example H2 for your “cognitive behavioral therapy” H1 could be “What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?”
- Your content length should be at least 500 words. Typically, the more thorough the better – you should aim for 1000+
- Your Metatitle should include the main keyword
- Your Metadescription should include variations of the keyword
- You should naturally include your keyword and other keywords similar to your keyword in your copy. DO NOT KEYWORD STUFF (meaning, don’t try to just list out a bunch of relevant keywords.
- Make your copy as natural as possible
- Use “alt tags” on your images on the page
Your writing should be:
Written with a Purpose:
Everything you as a psychologist or therapist does should be done on purpose. Don’t just write to write. Think about who your customers are and what they want. Think about the reasons why this content will help your customers and ultimately your bottom line. Find what your customers are searching for and then deliver the best copy possible.
Targeting Your Patients
Writing your copy to target topics your potential patients want to read about is a great way to attract the right audience.
Writing just to write helps no one. You should write your copy with the sole focus of your target patients. There are many ways to help out your audience, it’s important to learn what your audience wants from you.
Original (Not Copied)
It’s so important to create original content. Copying a is a big no-no unless you give proper credit. If you copy someone’s work and don’t give them credit, not only does it look poorly, but it can hurt your business’ credibility. In addition, if you copy someone else’s words, Google may not index (that is, list your page) on their search engine because it deems that your copy is not the original.
Researched and Informative
Every page you write should be well-researched. A major goal of copywriting is to be an authority voice in your niche/industry. If you post without researching, your business’ reputation may suffer.
Written with a Unique Voice
Finding a unique voice in your copy falls underneath chapter 1 above. There are a million ways to say something, try to find a voice that resonates with your target customers. We suggest not writing complex words or ideas unless that is what your target patient wants. If your audience uses a simple phrase for a service, use this phrase! But don’t guess, let the keyword research guide your decisions.
Organized and Easily Readable
Creating organized content is another element that makes good copywriting. It’s a good idea to create an outline before you start writing so that each section is carefully organized.
Related to Your Private Practice’s Goals
One of the most important factors for creating great copy is making sure that what you write will help you accomplish your private practice’s goals.
7. Connecting Third Party Tools
Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager is a great free tool Google offers to anyone with a Google account. One of the best uses of tag manager is to provide someone without coding knowledge the ability to snippets of code to your website. Some examples of code that you might need to put on your website:
- Google Analytics tracking code
- Facebook pixel for tracking advertising
- Google Ad tags for tracking advertising and remarketing campaigns
Google Search Console
According to Google, “Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results. You don’t have to sign up for Search Console to be included in Google Search results, but Search Console helps you understand and improve how Google sees your site.”
Search Console provides tools to:
- Test if your website is crawable by their spiders
- Fix issues you may be having with indexing, or getting listed on Google’s search engine
- View traffic data for your website and how often your website links were viewed on Google
- Show you when Google encounters errors or issues on your website
- Show you which websites link to your website
- Show you mobility issues
Google Analytics is an amazing tool that every therapist and psychologist should be familiar using at a basic level (at least). To create the best therapy website possible and improve your overall strategy, you’ll need to be able to understand some of the basic areas of Google Analytics.
Here are some practical uses Google Analytics can provide your private practice:
- You can track how many visitors come to your website
- You can track where your visitors found your website (see above image)
- You can track leads (read chapter 8 for more information on this)
- You can see key demographics on visitors
- You can view tracking campaigns if you create them in a tool like Google URL Builder
- You can see which pages your visitors go to, and where they leave
- You can see real-time visitors and conversions happening
The above features are just the beginning. There are many many many more free insights you can get by using Google Analytics.
Marketing Automation / CRM Tool
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. According to Salesforce:
“Customer relationship management (CRM) is a technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. The goal is simple: Improve business relationships. A CRM system helps companies stay connected to customers, streamline processes, and improve profitability.
When people talk about CRM, they are usually referring to a CRM system, a tool that helps with contact management, sales management, productivity, and more.
A CRM solution helps you focus on your organization’s relationships with individual people — including customers, service users, colleagues, or suppliers — throughout your lifecycle with them, including finding new customers, winning their business, and providing support and additional services throughout the relationship.”
A marketing automation / CRM tool are extremely beneficial for keeping track of your prospect patients, your subscribers, and patients. In addition, you can set up forms on your website to connect to your CRM tool, meaning, contacts can be automatically added. Furthermore, each form fill out can trigger an email or a sequence of emails to be automatically sent. If you’re looking to create a great therapy website strategy that is highly automated, we recommend connecting a CRM tool that has marketing automation capabilities.
Some therapists and psychologists choose to add a scheduling tool to their website. There are some great third party scheduling tools that can give your customers the option to choose a time that works for them and that you have available. However, other therapists we’ve worked with choose not to do this as they don’t want their schedule seen by potential patients.
8. Tracking Website Visitors and Leads
One of the most important parts of any website strategy is to be able to track leads. In addition to being able to see which source your leads came from, you can pull out valuable information about those who contact you or call you.
One of the simplest ways to track leads is to use Google Analytics, a free tool. Follow this formula:
- Add Google Analytics to your website using the code they provide
- Create services pages with button links to your contact page
- Create a thank you page
- Create a ‘Goal’ in Google Analytics using the “destination” type of goal
- Insert the thank you page URL like this “/thank-you/” if that is how your thank you page permalink is
- Test your lead form by submitting it. You should see that a goal was “triggered” in your analytics.
- You can also set up goals for when someone clicks on your telephone number on your website on a mobile device. This is a bit more complex.
- After goals are triggered, you’ll be able to decipher where the leads came from. For example, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Email, etc.
This is the simplest way you can track your digital efforts including: SEO, social media, email campaigns, advertising, and more.
9. Getting Started on Marketing
After you’ve gone through each of the above steps, you’re now ready to start marketing your practice! Here is a high level overview of your marketing options that we use to grow our psychologist and therapist clients’ practices:
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the very best strategies to build for psychologists, therapists, and other medical professionals. SEO takes time to build out, typically 9 to 12 + months. But if you plan on creating a long-term private practice, SEO is a must.
SEO works by creating strategies to rank for more keywords, and then creating strategies to rank higher for those keywords on Google and other search engines. Keywords are simply the queries, or searches, your patients are making to find a psychologist or therapist like you. Here are some search query examples:
- Charlotte Psychologist
- Psychologist near me
- Cognitive behavioral therapy Charlotte
- Best therapist in Charlotte NC
There are hundreds or even thousands of possibilities your potential clients are looking for. The key is to get your website content ranked on the first page of Google for each of these important search queries, where more than 90% of all the clicks happen. In addition, people are searching for psychology practices like yours on their mobile phones via Google Maps. You’ll want to rank for those keywords too. These are two strategies you must do to get maximum results.
While you’re building out your SEO strategy, you’re going to want to get leads quickly. That’s where Google Ads comes in. You can use the same keywords above and pay for your site to be listed at the top. While ideally, you’d be ranking towards the top without paying, remember, it takes between 9-12+ months to get there with a comprehensive SEO strategy.
Google Ads, like SEO, requires that your website is optimized perfectly and that the landing page your ads send people to match the ads you’re running. For example, if you’re running a first session special on Google, you’ll want the landing page to reflect that concept, not just send them to your home page.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is a great medium to showcase your expertise and connect with your potential patients. It can help you as a therapist show a more human and compassionate side of your brand to.your potential patients. In addition, social media can be used to enhance your SEO efforts.
It’s Time to Create Your Best Therapy Website
We hope this guide was helpful for you to create your best therapy website! While the process takes time and energy, if you follow this guide, you’ll be well on your way towards standing out from your competitors and bringing in new clients.
Grow Your Private Practice
TherapyByPro is an online mental health directory that connects mental health pros with clients in need. If you’re a mental health professional, you can Join our community and add your practice listing here. We have assessments, practice forms, and worksheet templates mental health professionals can use to streamline their practice. View all of our mental health forms, worksheet, and assessments here.