Many therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, treatment centers and other mental health professionals have asked me a similar question: “Which marketing strategy should I use to grow my private practice?” Without hesitation, the answer I always give is to invest in a search engine optimization, or SEO, strategy. The reason SEO is my marketing company’s top choice for mental health professionals is that a SEO strategy will drive new patients to your business long-term, long after you stop advertising or posting on social media. SEO for mental health professionals is a strategy that can bring your practice success for years to come.
SEO can be a very complex subject to discuss with a medical professional because naturally, medical professionals focus their time and effort into helping people recover and overcome their health issues. However, when it comes to the business side of owning a private practice, it is essential that medical professionals at least have a high level of knowledge on the subject of SEO. That is what this article will highlight for you!
How Do I Get Started With SEO?
Getting started with SEO can be overwhelming. It’s important to focus on the tasks needed to be successful, and not to look at the vast amount of work it requires to be successful. Similarly to exercise, you should not focus on the 50,000 push ups you need to do in the next two years to achieve your goals, but rather, focus on the daily requirements needed.
Having said that, SEO is a big commitment. It takes up to 12 months to achieve great results, which can be then be extended for even more results. My mental health SEO clients typically work with us for more than 12 months and then decide to continue because of the large uptick they see in new patients from Google and other search engines. Read on for the specific process I follow for SEO for mental health professionals.
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Process of SEO For Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Therapists
You may be asking, practically speaking, what does the process of SEO for psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists look like? In this section, I will highlight the formal proven process we have followed for years that brings long-term success to our mental health clients.
Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Therapists looking to branch out and start their own private practice need SEO. It is the core marketing strategy your practice should start with right away. If you’ve had a private practice for some time, it’s still a great time to start a SEO strategy. Think about where you want your practice in 12 months from now. Do you want a steady supply of new patients contacting you with their specific needs each month? SEO is the answer.
My company TherapistX follows the following process to SEO:
1. Initial Audit
It’s important to know what your competitors are doing. It’s also important to know what your patients care about related to your services. An initial audit will review your current practice, your local competitors, and research the best searches your patients are making to add to your strategy. Without a plan, you’ll be running in a direction that may not benefit your practice.
Time to complete: 2 to 4 weeks
2. Website Strategy
After creating a strategy via the initial audit, the second step TherapistX uses is creating a website strategy. In most cases, our clients need a new website. Their old website simply wasn’t built to target a strategy, it’s more for informational purposes. A new website built will follow our audit’s strategy, which will put you in position to be successful with SEO. Without the proper structure targeting a strategy, SEO will not work for your psychology practice.
Also in this second step includes copywriting, or the process of creating the words on your pages. When it comes to strategy, copywriting is extremely important. We typically write copy optimized for SEO for our clients, but we also are happy to guide clients to write their own SEO copy.
Thirdly, for some psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists, a new brand or a brand update is needed. This includes much more than a logo and can set the tone for how your patients view your practice.
Time to complete: 3 to 4 months
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The final step after the audit and website are created is the actual SEO process. This is a monthly process that aims to help you climb search engine rankings for our strategy keywords (what your clients are searching for), and build new opportunities from our initial audit. This is typically a 12 month process, but many of our clients stay with us for years because of the thousands of client opportunities we help them reach.
Time to complete: 12+ months recommended
What Type of Work Is Required To Be Successful In SEO?
In this section, I’m going to highlight the work required to be successful in SEO.
1. Audit Your Presence Vs. Your Competitors Locally
Without a strategy you will not be successful in marketing and SEO. It’s important to know exactly where you stand on Google, as well as where your competitors are. This process can be very thorough and will provide you with a map of how to build your strategy. It will also showcase where you need to focus your energy and perhaps even highlight new service offerings your competitors are offering.
2. Build A Strategic Website
After an audit is performed, your website needs to be updated or rebuilt. Many mental health professionals I work with need their websites rebuilt for many reasons, with a top reason being that they aren’t targeting the right audience. Without having a strategic website created from an audit, you will not be successful in SEO.
While aesthetics are certainly important, the structure of your website needs to include a page for each service that you offer, and you need to target the city that you’re in if you’re a local mental health professional. For example, if you’re in Charlotte, NC, you should write content for each service and include mentions of Charlotte in your copywriting.
It’s also important to be able to track leads that come in so that you know where they came from. I’d recommend using Google Analytics and to set up what are called “Goals”. These goals will help you track where a lead (phone call, form fill out, etc.) came from. I’ve found most traffic, 60-70%, comes from Google search engine. Google leads are often high quality because people have “intent”, meaning, they are searching with a specific goal in mind. They may type in “Dentist Coral Gables” to find a dentist in Coral Gables. There is an intention there to use a new dentist in a specific city.
3. Create Great Content
You’ll have to create great content such as this topic from my psychologist client “overcoming mental illness and getting well”. Content like this is important because it does several things. The first thing a blog like this accomplishes is that it establishes your expertise in your field. The second thing that this blog does is that it targets a new keyword, or opportunity, for your potential clients to find you. In this case, the client is targeting “overcoming mental illness” which is extremely applicable to her service offerings.
4. Optimize Your Google My Business
Optimizing your Google My Business location is a key step to being successful on the maps portion of Google. It’s important to fill out your profile as thoroughly as possible, and to keep your name consistent with how it’s labeled on other websites. Your name, address, and phone number should be the same on Google My Business as it is on Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, etc. This is important because it is telling Google that this is the real information. When there are discrepancies in this information, Google doesn’t know which data set is the real information for your business, causing you to not be ranked highly on Google Maps.
5. Write Great Content Externally
Another tip is to create great content externally on quality websites. For example, if you have the opportunity to write for Forbes, do it! Be sure to send a link back to your website as it can help your website build domain authority.
6. Monitoring the Results
After you put in tons of effort on your SEO, you’ll want to track progress. If you’re working with a marketing company, they should be able to help you, or if you’re doing the work on your own, a data dashboard company can help you visualize results.
What Can I Expect With SEO?
With SEO, you can expect to put in at least 12 months of hard work, often times more, to see great results. Like exercising, you’ll need to consistently do the right things over and over again to see results. You won’t get a 6-pack in a month, you’ll need to make sure that you have a strong plan, willpower, expertise, and execute over and over again.
Should I Do SEO Myself or Hire a Company?
If you’re debating whether you should do SEO yourself or hire a company, either answer is perfectly acceptable. But let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each:
Doing SEO Yourself
I personally know some mental health professionals who do their own SEO and get some patients. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each:
- You’ll save money
- Things will be exactly how you want them to be
- You’ll spend many hours each month working on your SEO if you do it correctly
- You’ll need to spend many hours learning about how website strategy and SEO work
- Your SEO will (probably) not compare with a professional company’s SEO, so it will take you longer to implement ($$$)
- You’ll need to keep up with SEO best practices
- The time you spend on your marketing will take away the time you spend with patients and building your practice (Is 1 hour of your time worth more than 1 hour to hire a SEO company? In many cases, the answer is YES!)
Hiring a SEO Company
Hiring a SEO company is a logical choice for many psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists. Let’s look into why:
- Professional website built with a clear strategy
- SEO services done for you without you having to lift a finger
- SEO companies can more than likely accomplish SEO goals much faster than you can ($$$)
- You’ll save many hours each month to focus on your patients
- Professional marketing companies require an investment
Final Thoughts on SEO for Mental Health Professionals
When it comes to growing your mental health practice, SEO should be your top priority. Thanks for reading!
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