If you have a website for your private practice, chances are you have read something, somewhere telling you what you should or shouldn’t be doing. It can become quite overwhelming. Even we have felt overwhelmed by the gobs of information.
Each week, we talk to therapists who struggle with knowing what to do with their websites. Suddenly, their websites aren’t getting them new clients, the phone calls are slowing down and their referrals seem to be non-existent. It’s a scary feeling that most of us have experienced at least once. But we can assure you there are things you can do to ensure your therapy website actually works.
Because there is so much information online about websites, we wanted to lay out four things your therapy website must have in order to ensure it works. And by works, we mean get you clients and fill up your practice.
Keep these four things in mind when you are considering hiring a company to build you a website or when creating your own website.
1. A Clear Path
You only have one or two seconds to grab the attention of your website visitor!
Yes, you read that correctly. Here’s the thing: if someone cannot determine if you can help them with a particular issue within a couple of seconds of their arrival on your site, they will go to a site where they can find that information.
While this time frame may come as a shock to you, studies have shown that this short period of time is the determiner of whether someone will stay on your website.
So how do you ensure that someone stays on your website long enough to make an appointment?
You provide them with a clear path to follow upon arrival.
In our fast paced world, you want to make it as simple as possible for people visiting your website to clearly know what services you offer and how you can help them with their specific issue.
The easiest way is by listing your specialties in your navigation bar and directing visitors to easily find and click to the page of their specific issue.
Visually, you can either list your specialties along your navigation bar or, if you have too many specialties to list them all clearly, you can create a ‘Services’ or ‘Specialties’ drop down menu, where you can list them.
While it may be tempting to list all of your specialties on one page titled ‘Services,’ this approach has been proven to be much less effective — for both getting clients from your website and search engine optimization.
The bottom line: make it extremely easy for your website visitor by creating a very clear path to follow, with as few clicks as possible.
2. A Page for Each of Your Specialties
The second thing you must have on your therapy website is a page for each of your specialties. Let’s look at an example:
Lisa is struggling in her marriage. She is at a point where she thinks she needs to see a therapist, but she isn’t quite sure yet. She starts by searching on Google for couples counseling in her area, and happens to click through to your website.
Once she gets to your website, she sees a page titled ‘Services.’ On that page, you have listed all of your specialties – anxiety counseling, depression treatment, trauma and PTSD counseling, children’s counseling, teen counseling, and on that list, is also couples counseling.
As a woman struggling in her marriage, seeing this long list of specialties in one place is not going to cause Lisa to feel drawn to you.
So, Lisa leaves your site and clicks on another site. This website has a clear navigation. She immediately sees a ‘couples counseling’ page and clicks through. On that page is a long, in-depth message about the struggles she is currently experiencing. She reads through this very specific message and automatically feels closer to the therapist.
She feels like this therapist knows exactly what she is going throug and decides to write down that therapist’s name for when she is ready to commit to counseling.
Can you see the difference? The first example is very common, yet it doesn’t allow you to connect with your potential clients.
As you can see in the second example, you must be able to clearly communicate what you can do to help. In order to do so with both your potential clients and with the search engines, you must have a separate page for each of your specialties.
On your pages, you will want to speak specifically about the issue and how you can help remedy their pain. This is not the place to talk about your modalities, industry terms or about you — instead, you want to focus on the potential client, his or her pain, and how you are the right person to help.
3. A Way to Grow the Size of Your Website
The third thing you must have on your website is something that allows you to grow the size of your website. According to the 2014 Search Metrics Report (a yearly report that covers all the latest search trends), the bigger the website (AKA the more pages on your website), the higher the website is ranked.
So how do you actually grow the size of your website?
The easiest way to grow your website is by blogging consistently. Each new blog post you write is essentially adding a new page to your website. So, the more blog posts you have, the bigger your site.
When it comes to the actual blog creation process, we recommend writing a 600-word (minimum) blog post at least once per month.
If you can manage more than one quality post each month, then definitely write more. Blogging consistently also allows you to share more information with your website visitors (AKA potential clients) and potentially connect with them on a deeper level than on your specialty pages.
One thing to keep in mind: in order for this to have an effect on the size of your site, your blog must be integrated with your website – it cannot be on a separate blogging platform (like Blogger or WordPress.com).
4. The Ability to do SEO on all of Your Pages
The last thing your therapy website must have to ensure it works is the ability to do SEO on all of the pages.
You may be wondering what SEO is, exactly, and why you need to know about it.
Well, SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s a fancy term for something fairly simple: telling Google what your website page is about. In plain English, it’s a way to communicate with Google (and those searching for you on Google). Without having a website that is well optimized, you are preventing your potential clients from finding you online.
Incorporating well thought out SEO on each page is important for ranking your website, as well as encouraging someone to click through to your website once they have found you on Google.
Luckily, if you create individual pages for each of your specialties, SEO is already strategically planned-in from the get go. Having individual pages for each specialty shows Google that you specialize in, let’s say, couples counseling in Austin, Texas; and with a good marketing message (another fancy term for the content on your website), you also show Google that you are an expert in that field.
If you have a WordPress website, we recommend using the SEO plugin, Yoast. Yoast will allow you to easily add high-quality title tags, meta descriptions, focus keywords, and more to each page on your website.
If you have a Squarespace website, you can easily fill in the SEO fields as well. Other website platforms are a little tougher, but most allow you to do SEO.
If you incorporate these four things on your therapy website, you stand a better chance of reaching potential clients and keeping your practice full.
Make sure you have a clear path for visitors to follow when they land on your site, connect more deeply with your potential clients by creating pages for each of your specialties, grow your website while providing helpful and interesting content by blogging consistently, and incorporate SEO on all of your pages.
Focus on these four things, and your therapy website will work for you.
Woman at the computer photo available from Shutterstock