counseling

What is SEO and How Can I Improve It?

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 in Mental Health Therapy Marketing
How Marketing Can Help You Build a Relationship with Your Clients Before They Start Therapy

How Marketing Can Help You Build a Relationship with Your Clients Before They Start Therapy

Marketing isn’t just about selling a service or product. When it comes to therapy, it’s about letting people know who you are and how you can help them. Contacting a mental health therapist for the first time – especially if you’ve never been to counseling before – can be really scary. Convincing someone to be completely vulnerable with a total stranger takes time – clients do their research (and a lot of it!) before choosing a therapist. It typically takes about 10 points of contact (visiting your website, reading a blog post, engaging in social media, listening to an interview, etc.) before a potential client will take the first step and contact a therapist. So it’s important that when you start marketing and promoting your services online, you are building trust before you start selling. The goal of marketing therapy is to showcase you as an expert and to develop a relationship with potential clients before they come in for their first session.

Here are a few ways you can build that relationship with potential clients:

BLOGGING: Blogging is a great way to showcase who you are and share your expertise. Regularly blogging (at least once a month, but ideally once a week) will keep your website visitors engaged and coming back for more. They’ll get a sense of who you are and have a better understanding of your specialties. But remember to keep your blogging client-focused. What are their needs? What do they need help with? Don’t focus on yourself and your specialties, focus on their experiences and how you can help solve their problem. Not only will this build trust, but it will attract the clients you want to be seeing.

VIDEOS: Videos are a great way for people to really get to know you and your style. It makes you more personable and more “human.” You can post videos to your website, social media, YouTube, e-newsletters, and the list goes on. A lot of people get hung up on the idea of only putting out perfect content and videos. Your videos don’t have to be perfect. No one is perfect! Even doing a short selfie video talking about mindfulness, self-care, or what you ate for breakfast, is a way for your audience to connect with you and see your human side. This is key in building an authentic relationship. If you are planning to do videos yourself, just make sure the audio is good (try using an external mic), and keep the video short and relevant. If you want to look like a pro, here’s a guide that can help.

SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTISING: When you pay for ads, start by promoting blog posts, videos of yourself giving advice, and free educational or helpful materials on social media (like Facebook). You can start with a small budget, like $1 a day, and if it’s successful, do another! After you’ve built a solid following, you can start selling your services. By then people will trust you and feel as if they know you. Remember, starting therapy isn’t an impulse buy, so marketing efforts require nurturing – just like the relationship with your clients!

WEBSITE: Just like blogging, your website should reflect who you are and how you can help. When potential clients visit your website, what do you want them to know about you? For therapy to be effective, it’s crucial for the relationship to be a good fit. One way to ensure you are attracting the right clients is to make sure your website speaks directly to those you want to help, so forget the psychobabble and jargon. Your website should be conversational and helpful, addressing your clients needs.

It’s important to get clarification on your services before you start marketing. Consistency is key in building trust. That doesn’t mean you can evolve, change, or add specialties to your practice over time, but it does mean that the relationship you have with your existing clients and potential clients should be built on stability and trust. Marketing can help you clarify your mission and goals, while celebrating your uniqueness and dedication to helping others, so you can attract your ideal clients and grow your private practice.

Running a business, marketing and growing your practice, and actually getting to do what you love – provide counseling – is a lot to juggle! If you need marketing support – designing a beautiful website, writing compelling blogs, getting your message out on social media, or branding your practice – HYHO Marketing & Design can help. Contact me today to learn how I can help you grow your practice and showcase your unique expertise.

Posted by Misha Conaway in Mental Health Therapy Marketing
How to Write a Blog Post When You’re Not Feeling Creative

How to Write a Blog Post When You’re Not Feeling Creative

The struggle is real. And so is writer’s block. I’ve been there… many times. You’ve probably heard that having a blog can help your website’s SEO, connect you with potential clients, and set you apart as an expert in your field. But what are you supposed to do if you’re just not up to the task?

Here are some ideas (that I’ve personally found helpful) to get those creative juices flowing:

  1. Go for a walk. Fresh air and a bit of exercise can help reset your mind frame. You might see something inspirational while your out or simply the change of scenery can be enough.
  2. Talk to someone. Every time I’m in a rut, all I have to do is chat with a friend or colleague. It’s helpful to have a sounding board or to bounce ideas off one another. Sometimes, unexpectedly, a colleague has said to me mid-conversation, “ooh! You should turn that idea into a blog post,” and voilà! You’ve got yourself something to write about.
  3. Just start writing. Grab a notebook, a scrap piece of paper, or heck, even a napkin. Just start writing down whatever pops into your head. It doesn’t have to make sense or be grammatically correct, but will (eventually) put you in the writing mood.
  4. Read. Read a book, read another blog, read a magazine. This will help you think about writing styles and could inspire you to write something you haven’t thought of before.
  5. Get enough sleep. Nothing is as mentally draining as not getting enough sleep. Getting a good night’s rest is an important part of self-care and being able to function at full capacity. As someone who regularly struggles to get the recommended amount of sleep, I know how detrimental this can be to the creative process.
  6. Take a writing class. If you love to write, but not feeling super confident in your skills, take a writing course or attend a seminar. It can be scary to share your work with other people, but usually in these settings everyone is supportive and will help you tap into your hidden talents. Think of it as a therapeutic support group!
  7. Write down any blog ideas. Did an idea for a blog post just pop into your head? Don’t judge it – just start writing (or write the idea down and get back to it later). Put aside all judgmental and critical thinking and just start writing whatever comes to mind. Worry about editing and perfecting it later (or don’t!). Your blog doesn’t have to be perfect. Part of your relationship with your clients is showing your authenticity and genuineness, so what better way to do that than by allowing yourself to be vulnerable in your writing?
  8. Reflect on past sessions. Did something a client say stick with you? Use sessions as inspiration for what you can write about. Have you noticed a trend of people with similar issues? Think about what would be helpful for your current clients (or the type of client you’re trying to attract). Just be sure to leave out any identifying information and keep things pretty vague so there’s no way the blog post can be tracked back to a specific person.

I know that writing isn’t for everyone. It can be frustrating, challenging, or just not something you’re interested in doing. It can be difficult to get your thoughts down on paper (or on a screen) in a coherent manner that people would want to read. So what are you supposed to do if you just don’t want to write or aren’t great a it? Hint: Hire someone else to do it! I’ve been helping therapists write content for websites, blogs, newsletters, and social media for years. Since I’m not a therapist, I’ll leave out all the psychobabble and jargon that should stay in the therapy session. I’ll help you share your message, in your unique voice, to your digital audience, so you can attract your ideal clients and grow your private practice. Contact me today to learn about my writing services and how I can help you reach new clients and grow your private practice.

Posted by Misha Conaway in Mental Health Therapy Marketing
The 1st Step in Creating a Website

The 1st Step in Creating a Website

When someone tells me they want a website, the first question I ask is “why?” If you are a therapist, small business owner, or non-profit having a beautiful, easy to navigate website is a must. But before you start making a website, it’s important to know what your specific goals are and how you envision your website helping you achieve those goals. Are you looking to grow your private practice? Do you need more donors or volunteers? There’s this idea that you just throw a website out there and it will magically solve all of your problems. But websites aren’t magic. It takes planning, time, and nurturing to have an effective website that will help you reach your goals.

What’s the first step in creating a website?

The first step in creating an effective website is to think and plan. You have to have purpose and clarity before you start designing and developing anything. Here are some questions that can help give you direction. When you answer them, be brief and specific.

  • What is the purpose of your business or organization?
  • Who are your clients or whom do you serve?
  • Whom do you want to visit your website?
  • What do you want them to do when they get to your website?
    • If you are a psychotherapist or counselor, the answer might be “contact me for a therapy appointment” or “schedule a consultation.”
    • If you are a non-profit, the answer could be “donate,” “volunteer,” or “attend an event.”
  • How does this help your private practice or organization meet its goals?

When I discuss the process of building websites with clients, I often use the human body as an analogy. You can’t start building a body with the skin. You have to work from the inside-out.

Start with the bones, or the structure of the website. When people arrive at your website, what will they do? What route do they take? How will they navigate through your site? What are the main pages of your site? This will give you the basic framework for the structure.

Once you decide on the pages and navigation (or the bones), you can move on to the organs and meat (sorry if this is gross!). What is the content that will go on each page? First think about text, “call-to-actions” (this is where you tell people what you want them to do with links or buttons), and accompanying images and videos that support the text. What information do you want to convey? Is it absolutely necessary to include on your website? Whatever you include on your website, make sure it serves a purpose and helps you achieve your business goals. All of your content should be informative, educational, and relevant to your business.

Finally we can move on to the skin or look of the website. This goes hand-in-hand with the branding of your private practice or organization. Now you can think about colors, fonts, logos, and additional imagery that adds the flourishes to your website. Do you have a design concept or logo? What’s your brand?

If you are new to creating websites (or even thinking about web design), I highly recommend looking at other websites of therapists or organizations in your field. Take some time to peruse the site and make notes about what you do and don’t like in terms of ease of use, navigation, design, and feel. Did you enjoy using that website? Were you able to find what you were looking for? Did you know what you were supposed to do when you arrived to the website? This will help you figure out what you want (and just as importantly, don’t want) for your website. Take your time with this process and be specific.

When you do this preliminary work and planning, it will make the rest of the process of creating the website go much smoother and quicker. HYHO Marketing & Design offers an array of services to help you market your private practice or organization, including web design, branding, and blogging. Ready to put your business online? Contact me today and get a beautiful, effective website.

Posted by Misha Conaway in Mental Health Therapy Marketing, Non-Profit Marketing, Website Design