We are living in an Internet-driven age. Most people read the news, do their shopping, and even watch movies and TV online. As a result of this thriving trend, no one searches in newspapers or phone books when they’re looking for a product or service; instead, they turn to search engines.
As the most popular and well-known search engine on the Internet, Google is the go-to choice for consumers all over the world. If you’re a therapist with your own private practice, you need your business to appear among the top results on Google’s first page in order to reach new patients and beat out the competition. Search engine optimization, better known by its acronym SEO, is the best way to ensure your website rises above the millions of other search results and lands that coveted top spot.
Fundamentals Of SEO: Content, Keywords, and Links
Google would not be the world’s favorite search engine if it didn’t provide users with precisely what they wanted; whatever you search for is going to come back with results that are relevant, valuable, and most likely to be interesting to you. Since Google ranks websites based on a number of factors, you must appeal to each of them in order to bring your site from obscurity to prominence.
- Content: This relates to your blogs, descriptions, and any other writing your website contains. As such, it is an incredibly versatile — and valuable — factor; you could discuss recent psychiatric studies, give detailed explanations of the services you offer and the fields you specialize in (such as marriage counseling, depression, addiction, etc.), or simply post information about the importance of therapy in this modern era. In general, longer content is better — but only if it’s well-written and beneficial to an audience.
- Keywords: Keywords help Internet users find your site. If you specialize in anxiety disorders, you should be targeting keywords that include that phrase and “therapist” in a number of ways. When added to quality content, keywords will help Google connect users looking for “anxiety disorder therapy” with your website, thereby increasing your odds of bringing on a new patient. However, there is an art to keyword selection: they can’t be too vague (such as simply “therapy”), or too specific, and cannot be plugged into sentences haphazardly. They must appear naturally and authentically.
- Links: Google also pays attention to the way your website interacts with others. If you’re pointing to a well-ranked site and vice versa, Google will inherently consider you to be more valuable. This is why link building — where other quality sites link back to your own — is so useful; if a popular site is referencing yours, Google will start to consider your website to be popular.
Value Before Vanity
While all of the above pieces are necessary for the SEO puzzle, you can’t just write a bunch of fluff stuffed with keywords and expect to see that top spot on the search results page. Successful SEO takes time and effort: you need to be producing content that doesn’t just bring potential patients to your page but keeps them on it. If you ignore these rules and churn out drivel to fill a page, you’ll actually be penalized by Google; your site will fall further behind in the rankings and may even be removed entirely.
Instead of thinking of SEO as a tactic, consider the content, keywords, and links to be representations of your business. Quality content with naturally placed keywords and links can help the people that visit your site, establishing you as a reputable private practice willing to offer your expertise to those who need it.
*Jorge Benito has more than 14 years of experience in digital marketing management and specializes in online marketing strategies for private education institutions and healthcare providers. He currently serves business owners from start-ups to companies such as Mercedes Benz via his company IBIS Studio.