With more people seeking help with therapy, how do you make it easy for them to find your mental health clinic? You do search engine optimization (SEO).
This guide walks you through SEO basics to increase your visibility and ranking on search results.
A Step-by-Step SEO Guide for Mental Health Practices
SEO is challenging for many healthcare businesses, especially for first-timers. But with a guide, you can learn the ropes fast.
Begin your website optimization plan by following the steps below.
1. Understand How SEO Works
One of the biggest reasons SEO plans fail is people do not understand how it works. What is it? What are the vital elements to focus on?
SEO is the process of enhancing a website to improve its visibility and ranking on search engines. It works this way:
- Search engines use bots or crawlers to scour the Internet and index web pages.
- The complex algorithms analyze these indexed pages to determine which results to show for a given query.
- The search engines use so-called ranking signals to determine who appears first on the results.
To get your website crawled, indexed, and ranked, your SEO efforts should cover the following:
- On-page optimization. It is a collective term for all strategies you apply to your website. The first on the list is content marketing. Others are SEO audit, keyword research, meta descriptions and title and image tags.
- Off-page optimization. This one pertains to SEO techniques done outside your website. These include link building, social media, brand mentions, and other citation types. All these methods support on-page strategies.
- Technical optimization. It involves making your website “crawlable” and “indexable” by search engine bots. Technical SEO mostly uses the right structure, URL, and code.
The next steps focus on these three. This way, you are on your way to a better website visible to your target clients.
2. Perform Intensive Keyword Research
According to Digital Authority Partners (DAP), the success of any SEO campaign starts with the right keyword, a word or phrase potential clients use on a search engine to find your site. But how do you search for the ideal terms?
Know user intent. In other words, match the keywords with the reason people are looking for you in the first place:
- Informational keywords. Those curious about your service, industry or even about mental health often use these terms. Possible words are “types of therapy” and “therapy for depression.”
- Commercial keywords. These words usually indicate that the user is close to acting on their desire (e.g., booking an appointment), but they want to learn more. They may use terms such as “best mental health clinic in LA” or “top-rated therapy near me.”
- Navigational keywords. These are queries solely aimed at finding a specific website, such as your business name or clinic’s address. These are powerful terms because the buying intent is high. Your job is to provide them with the content and user experience (UX) they need to convert.
- Transactional keywords. These are also high-intent terms. The users have already decided to look for or book an appointment with a mental health practice. They may type words such as “discounts for counseling” or “insurance-covered therapy.”
Note the following when researching keywords:
- Start with a seed list. This is a set of potential keywords to use as your starting point. Include relevant terms related to your mental health clinic, such as “psychiatrist,” “counselor,” and “marriage therapist.”
- Expand the terms with Google’s Keyword Planner and other similar tools.
- Find a balance between high search volume (many people are looking for this keyword) and low competition (not many people are targeting it) to avoid intense competition, especially from established pages.
- Use long-tail keywords, such as “child therapist in Manhattan,” because they often deliver more targeted traffic.
3. Create the Best Content for Your Niche
This step is where you use the keywords to write the best content for your business. What ingredients do you need?
- Compelling. It should be engaging from start to finish. Craft a strong headline and hook the audience in the intro.
- Easy to read. Break down long paragraphs into shorter sentences. Add bullets to highlight specific points. Most of all, explain technical concepts into relatable ideas.
- Factual. Back claims with timely research studies, preferably meta-analyses and systemic reviews. Include social proof, such as client testimonials, client reviews, and brand mentions, without violating HIPAA guidelines.
- Relevant. You can expand your topics to cover broader subjects in your niche, but do not step away from it. You can create tighter, more industry-specific content by creating content pillars and then supporting pages.
- Helpful. Does your article answer a lingering question in your target market? Can it change people’s lives? Are your instructions on how to call the clinic clear? Put yourself in your client’s shoes and assess the content from their perspective.
- SEO-friendly. Structure your content with headlines (H1), sub-headers (H2), and short paragraphs. Incorporate media, such as images, videos, and infographics, to break up the text and add visual interest. Do not forget to include external and internal links.
4. Focus on Your Site Structure and UX
Even the best content cannot drive traffic and boost visibility if bots cannot access and index your pages. That is why site structure and UX should be priorities too.
Here are some tips:
- Use short and descriptive URLs. A URL is the web address of your page, and it should be easy to remember and type. Keep it short (no more than 60 characters), use hyphens to separate words, and include relevant keywords or brand names.
- Apply keyword-rich titles and descriptions. Otherwise, Google chooses them for you, and they might not speak about your brand or business. Be vivid and descriptive while incorporating targeted keywords.
- Optimize your images. Thousands use image search better to understand a concept, service, or business. Maximize it by optimizing your pictures by including specific but accurate image descriptions.
- Prioritize site speed. A slow website is a major turnoff for users and search engines alike. Speed it up by compressing your images, using a content delivery network (CDN), and cleaning up your code.
5. Strengthen Local SEO Strategies
If you are running a brick-and-mortar therapy center, your immediate clients are within a few miles of you. To ensure they do not miss yours, improve your local SEO techniques.
Begin with these ideas:
- Add your business to Google My Business (GMB) listing. Claim your profile before another clinic (or, worse, a random person) does. Include your name, phone address, and address (NAP). Upload photos, give updates, and encourage clients to leave reviews on this page.
- Incorporate location-specific keywords in your content. Besides driving more targeted traffic, this technique tells Google to prioritize your website for geographic-driven queries. For example, if someone types “Arizona cognitive therapy,” you should appear at least on the first page.
- Build local links. Search engines look at your inbound links when determining your authority and ranking. Local citations inform these engines that your site is reliable and relevant to your chosen location-specific keyword.
This SEO guide for therapy clinics helps you understand how to improve your ranking and grow your business. But you are only getting started.
To rank higher, move on to more advanced strategies that will let you dominate the search engine results pages (SERPs). These include analyzing your competition, writing for featured snippets, and optimizing the pages for voice search. Consider working with a digital marketing agency to bolster your SEO performance quickly and consistently.