What is SEO and How Can I Improve It?

You may have heard it before, S.E.O., but what does it mean?! S.E.O stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” In plain, non-jargony language it means improving the ranking of your website – or where your website is listed – when someone searches for something online using a search engine. Since almost everyone uses Google to search for things online, that’s what I’m going to focus on. For example, if someone goes to Google and types in “therapist near me” the result is a list of different websites. SEO is improving how you are “organically” found, meaning you didn’t pay for your website to be listed at the top (that is typically done through Google Ads – a different topic we can dive into another time). Why is SEO important? It helps people find you online, which means you can fill your private practice and help more people. The more traffic (or visitors) your website gets, the more paying clients you’ll get.

How Can I Improve My SEO?

There are a number of ways you can improve your SEO. Here are just some of the ways you can increase your online visibility and ultimately get new clients:

  • Have a dynamic website: make sure the content on your website is original (Google hates duplicate content), relevant, and always changing! Relevant content means that you’re writing about what people are searching for. By using key words and phrases, the content on your website will match what people are actually searching for. A great tool to use is Google Keyword Planner. This tool shows you what words and phrases are trending in a particular geographical area. Naturally incorporate these into your website content – don’t just copy and paste a phrase a hundred times on one page – Google knows when it’s crammed in there “unnaturally.” How people search for things changes over time, so go back to that tool every once in a while and see what key words and phrases are popular now.
  • Blog regularly: blogging accomplishes a few things; it showcases your expertise and how you can help people, it shows that you are an authority or expert in your field (Google loves this), and the additional content helps your SEO by showing that you are active on your website and have relevant content in addition to static pages on your site. As an added bonus, it helps you develop a relationship with potential clients. In addition to having your own blog on your website, offer to guest blog on other people’s website.
  • Include “inbound” and “outbound” links: “inbound” links are links from a page on your website to another page on your site. For example, this is an inbound link where you can find more information about me. “Outbound” links are links to other to other websites. When you network or collaborate (like guest blogging on someone else’s blog), ask your colleagues to include a link to your website and let them know that you’ll include a link to their website on your site. Google loves seeing this reciprocity.
  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly: today most people visit websites from mobile devices. If your website isn’t compatible with all devices, Google flags this as a problem and your website’s SEO will take a hit.
  • Make sure your website loads quickly: a website that takes a long time to load can hurt your ranking. If you have too many large photos or videos, it can bog down the loading time. If you notice a page is taking a long time to load, decrease the size of the images – just make sure they’re not so small that they become pixelated or difficult to see. If you do have a lot of original videos on your site, consider creating a YouTube account or post the videos to social media. Just remember to direct people back to your website from those third party sites.
  • List your practice on Google Business. This shows that you are indeed a legitimate business. Google wants to make sure that when it directs people to a website, that those people aren’t going to a phony business or scam. In order to have a Google Business listing, you have to have a physical, brick-and-mortar address.
  • Ask for reviews: after you set up your Google Business listing, ask for reviews from colleagues and professionals. Keep in mind that these reviews are public, so don’t solicit reviews from clients for privacy reasons. These reviews are a huge help with SEO. They show that you are reliable, legitimate, and an expert. Google loves highlighting reputable companies!
  • Use social media to drive people to your site: every time someone visits your site, spends time on your site, and visits multiple pages on your site, it helps your SEO. So if you’re active on social media (which I highly recommend), remind your followers to visit your website. Send them to blog posts, the about you page, or any page that is relevant to what you are posting about. SEO is a catch-22: you want to improve your SEO to increase traffic to your site, and traffic to your site will improve your SEO.
  • Use email marketing to drive people to your site: OK, this sounds exactly like the last point. When you send emails to clients, colleagues, friends, family – include a link to your website in your email signature! If you use an email marketing platform, include links to your website that are relevant to what you’re talking about in your email or newsletter.
  • There are SO many more ways to improve your SEO (and some that are pretty technical – like adding meta tags and meta data, or making sure your header tags include relevant key words). If you’re an eager DIY-er and want to learn the ins-and-outs of SEO, check out Google’s SEO Starter Guide.

But if you’re like most therapists who find this overwhelming, don’t worry! I know this isn’t for everyone. There’s a lot to do and a lot to learn and the internet is always changing. If you want to spend more time focusing on your clients and less time on marketing your practice, let me take on some of that burden. I spend a lot of time researching best SEO and marketing practices. If you’re ready to grow your private practice and need marketing support, contact me today to learn how we can work together and help others.

Posted by Misha Conaway