What Is SEO? & How To Use SEO To Grow Your Private Practice

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and basically, it's the practice of optimizing your website to show up in search results (ideally at the top of the list).

Why does it matter if you show up in search results? Because the higher you appear in a search result list, the less work you have to do to get people onto your private practice's website.

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How to Use Your Website to Grow Your Practice

 
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So you have a new website. Awesome! Now what?

Now it's time to put it to work.

A website is only as good as its' ability to convert visitors into prospective clients, no matter how pretty it is (and I'm a fan of pretty websites).

So. First thing's first. Your website needs traffic to be useful (traffic is the amount of people that visit your website). Just like a candle shop needs people walking through it to make sales, your website needs people visiting to get clients.

I know it may seem like everyone in the world can see your website, but unless you tell folks about it, your traffic is going to be reminiscent of a country road.

I want your website to have prime internet real-estate, so here are four things you can do today to boost your website traffic:

  1. Make sure you have basic SEO set up. Business and site descriptions go a long way.
  2. Blog consistently & share to social media. Okay, this is an ongoing thing, but if you have existing blog posts that you haven't shared in a while, share away!
  3. Put your website URL on your social profiles. Don't hide your website away. Keep it front and center so people know where to learn more.
  4. Guest blog & include your URL in your bio. Writing as a guest on someone's blog is a great way to boost your site traffic, especially if the blog gets more traffic than your website.

Generating traffic is great, but most therapists miss the most crucial key to using their website to grow their practices:

List building!

Once people are on your site, it's your job to give them a chance to stay connected. And the best way to stay connected is by opting in to your email list.

Keeping a list of people who are interested in learning more from you not only increases your ability to help a larger number of people, it gives you an automatic list of potential clients.

The best way to invite people onto your list is by offering a freebie (or opt-in offer) for joining your list. Your freebie should be relevant to your practice and niche, and should be relatively easy to digest and actionable.

For instance, if you specialize in High Functioning Anxiety, and you know your ideal client doesn't have a lot of time on her hands, you could create a freebie such as a five-minute meditation to reduce anxiety.

After you create the meditation, you would create an opt-in form on your website that encourages folks to join your list to receive the meditation.

Using a list management service like Mailchimp or ConvertKit will help you automate this process so that your freebie gets delivered automatically, as soon as someone opts in to your list. (Hello, ease!)

Sidenote: learn why I prefer ConvertKit over Mailchimp here.

Now, of course we want to make sure your subscribers (list members) stay on your list, so sticking to a communication schedule is really helpful. Communicating with your list on a regular basis with blog post updates, additional resources, and helpful anecdotes or stories are all great ways to build relationships and trust - before your prospective clients even walk through your door.

Building a list is about building your community. It's about helping more people - people who may not be able to work with you right now.

 Image: Unsplash.com

Image: Unsplash.com

Most of all, building an email list is about building relationships. Therapy and coaching are all about the relationship, and it's hard for folks to know whether or not they want to work with you if they don't know what the relationship will be like. The best way for them to know is to feel it.

Yes, we can build relationships through social media, but the followings we build there rest on algorithms that can change at any time.

When you have an email list, you can communicate with your community anytime. Plus, I know I usually spend more time reading a resource-filled email than I do a social media post. So if you've got something important to say, it's best to say it in an environment where people are likely to listen.

Bottom line: if you want your website to help your practice grow, it has to do three things:

  1. Connect. Your website should be designed to connect with your ideal clients.
  2. Hold. Your website should be a resource that holds space for your ideal client's current struggles and concerns.
  3. Transform. Your website should transform visitors into prospective clients, and it can do this if you set up an email list.

If you're ready to get started, and you want to use my favorite list management service, ConvertKit, sign up for my newsletter to get my free e-course that walks you through integrating your Squarespace website with ConvertKit.

I know list building can seem daunting at first, but it really is the best way to connect with your website visitors in a meaningful way.

There's more to be explored on the topic of list building, so leave a comment to let me know what questions you still have about building an email list!

 

Website Design: Frequently Asked Questions

Is a website really that important? Can't I just use my Facebook page or Psychology Today profile to grow my practice?

A website is paramount if you own a business, which you do. While Facebook, Psychology Today, and other similar platforms are important pieces of your online presence, they should never substitute a website.

Think of your social media and networking profiles as booths at a farmer's market. They can help you gain exposure and foot traffic, but you don't own the booth, and ultimately, the visitors belong to the farmer's market, leaving you with little influence.

What website building platform do you use?

I design websites exclusively on Squarespace. I do this for a few reasons:

  1. Squarespace sites are among the best performing in terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which means when people search for counselors in their area, your website will show up toward the top of the list.
  2. A Squarespace account includes everything you'll need to run a secure website, all in one place (including 24/7 tech support).
  3. The backend of any Squarespace site is extremely user friendly. I'm all about designing you a site that makes you feel empowered, not helpless. When I finish my design, I want you to feel confident in making changes/additions as your business grows so you don't feel like you have to hire someone anytime you want something changed.

Do you design logos?

Yes, I design graphic logos. I do not design hand-drawn logos at this time.

Will you write the words on my website, or will that be up to me?

I will write all the words on your website (this is known as "copy") based on your answers to my questionnaires. I'll translate the most important information into simple, concise language that connects with your specific clientele.

What's the process like to work with you?

First, let me know you're interested by applying here. I will return your inquiry within one business day with any additional questions I have about your project. Then, I'll send you a proposal with detailed information and price options to choose from. Once you select your package options, we'll sign some paperwork and get started!

Standard projects (brand development, copy, and website design) are usually complete in one - two months, but our timeline will depend on the size and scope of your project, and how quickly I receive feedback and information from you. The first 2-4 weeks will be spent gaining clarity on your brand; we'll talk about your goals, your practice, and your ideal clients. The remaining time will be spent designing the right website for you. Throughout the process, we'll stay connected via email to make sure everything is coming together in the way you envisioned.

Every project ends with a Tutorial Call, where I walk you through the backend of your website and make sure you feel confident in managing your site on your own.

Do you only work with therapists?

Nope! I work with all types of helping professionals; coaches, healers, teachers, etc. If you're wondering if we'd be a good fit, apply here and I'll get back to you.

Website Spotlight: Filtering Light Counseling

 

When Kim Zeszutek of Filtering Light Counseling in Portland, Oregon, reached out to me, she was frustrated. She had been working with a developer who struggled to understand how she wanted her website to feel. Any time she wanted to make a change or provide feedback, she seemed to always get pushback.

"I tried my best to communicate [to my previous developer] what I wanted but because I didn't have the web design language, it took about nine months to get it to a place I was comfortable with."

Her practice had been in existence for about two years, and she was ready to put more effort into growing it. She knew that in order to grow her practice, she would need to have more control over her website.

This is one of the dilemmas I see private practice owners, and business owners in general, struggling with. It seems like there's two choices: either spend time away from your work and build your site on your own, or hire someone else to do it and risk having little control.

It doesn't have to be that way.

I love designing websites and writing copy. It's my "zone of genius." Counseling, I discovered, is not my zone of genius, so I don't do it. So many of us believe that we have to do everything ourselves - even the things that don't light us up. But the truth is, the more time we spend doing things that don't align with our strengths, the more time and energy we're taking away from our zone of genius.

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If counseling, or coaching, or teaching is your zone of genius, I want you to focus on that. If website design, copywriting, and marketing is not your zone of genius, I want to do that for you. But I don't want to take away your control and agency over your website. With Kim's project, my number one goal was to help her feel confident in managing her site after I was done. Because I didn't want her to end up in the same place that I found her - frustrated and lacking control.

When we started working together, Kim was able to clarify who she was trying to serve. She discovered that her ideal clients were young adults, they were navigating dark times, and had interests in new age spirituality. She also wanted to serve youth with ASD diagnoses.

Her brand keywords were: youthful, nature, filtered light, spirituality, and sacred geometry.

Taking a look at her existing site, it definitely lacked a youthful energy. While there were natural elements, I couldn't feel the strong connection to nature that Kim carries, and the overall design didn't match the intense emotions that her ideal clients were likely experiencing.

Kim told me she wanted her site visitors to feel as if they were taking a walk in a forest; "There's a comforting smell and coolness," she explained, "and when the light filters through the trees, there's a feeling of warmth."

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She told me that she named her practice "Filtering Light Counseling" because she's passionate about helping people see the light that filters through even the darkest of forests. She's an ecotherapist, and uses nature analogies to help her clients integrate healthy coping skills and self-awareness.

After learning more about her practice, her clients, and her goals, I was able to create a new visual identity for her practice that both matched her personality, and spoke directly to her audience. I updated her fonts, tweaked her logo, and created an aligned color scheme to help her website visitors feel comforted, energized, and inspired.

We both agreed that simplicity was a top priority, so her homepage now consists of a simple introduction, her practice's mission, and quick descriptions of her two main counseling services.

In addition to a more aligned design, Kim needed some important functionality on her new website. She runs therapeutic groups for youth on the Autism Spectrum, and needs to publish when and where these groups take place.

For this need, I created an events calendar to house the dates/times of her upcoming groups. Now, instead of going through a developer, Kim can quickly and easily create or edit her events, and they'll instantly publish to her group counseling page.

As she expands her practice, she'll be able to add more groups and let her website visitors know when and where they're happening.

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Designing a website that instantly attracts her ideal clients, clearly describes what she does, and is easily navigated and controlled was a priceless experience for both Kim and I. I loved translating her energy and goals into visual terms, and she loved the ease, simplicity, and speed at which the project moved. This is what Kim had to say after we finished her site:

"My frustration with communicating and creating my vision of who I am completely dissolved. I'm once again excited and inspired to market projects I had put on hold because I was having challenges [with my website]. I am walking away with a website that projects the feelings I want to bring into the world and my practice. My time with Monica was extremely valuable, and the creative process was so enjoyable!"

The rundown:

  • Project Length (start to finish): 5 weeks.
  • What we started with: An existing site on a different hosting platform, an existing logo, existing headshots, and some existing copy.
  • What I provided: Branding development (new fonts, color palette, and logo reframe), custom copy, template and custom design, custom sacred geometry supporting imagery, and basic editing on all photos.

To see Kim's full site, check it out here.

Interested in designing or redesigning your website with my help? Apply here.