Building a Digital Presence for Therapists: Simplified

February 18, 2018


On this blog, my intention is to take aspects of building your digital brand and break it down into easy to understand concepts that can be applied without extra assistance or the cost of a web professional. Each lesson is simple enough that even the most technophobic therapist among us can implement the recommendations. These articles are designed to help mental health professionals attract more quality clients to their private practice.

But, if you’re just starting your practice or are focusing on online marketing for the first time, going through all these posts and applying all the recommendations could be a little overwhelming. To help you get started, this week I’m outlining the five key areas a therapist needs to focus on in order to improve their digital brand, move up in search rankings and attract more clients online.

The downloadable checklist I’ve created will help you get organized and stay on track. It has all the information from this blog, plus a lot more content not covered in this article. Download it now and keep it on your desktop to track your progress!


Sign up for business listings and online directories

The best, and easiest, place to start is with online directories and business listings. These websites already have a strong presence on the Internet, with thousands of visitors each month.

Sign up for a Google business listing – www.google.com/business

Having a business listing will give you the opportunity to appear in local Google map search results, which will attract more clients. It will also provide directions for clients to make sure they can easily find you.

Sign up for a listing with Yelp – biz.yelp.com

Yelp is a popular way for prospective clients to find you. Yelp has over 100 million visitors per month, and many of them are looking for counseling services.

However, for therapists, keep in mind that Yelp listings are strongly influenced by user reviews and ratings. Therapists are not allowed to solicit reviews from clients due to confidentiality concerns. You’ll want to put some extra thought into whether or not creating a Yelp listing is in the best of interest for you and your clients.

Create a listing with Apple maps – mapsconnect.apple.com

Don’t forget about the millions of iPhone users that want to find your office. Set up a listing so Siri can give your clients turn-by-turn directions.

What’s your NAP and why it’s super important

NAP stands for “Name Address Phone.” You’ll be entering your NAP on every online directory you sign up with. Local search engines use NAP information by crawling the web and use it to judge the accuracy of the data in their own indexes. Having consistent NAP is an essential step in improving your search rankings. An inconsistent NAP can hurt you in search results, so only sign up for business listings when you have a permanent office address and update all your listings if you move.

Create a Website

There are many different ways to build a website. One of the most popular and affordable options is to do it yourself. The two leading website platforms for building your own website are Squarespace and WordPress. Both systems have their pros and cons. For a detailed side by side comparison to help you figure out which platform would best fit your needs, download the free checklist that accompanies this blog.

In short, the Squarespace platform is easier to learn and provides plenty of templates for a clean and simple website design. You’ll create the website in a controlled environment that is monitored and tested to make sure everything is functioning properly. Squarespace makes sure that your site is properly maintained and provides 24/7 support when you need it. The cost varies depending on which package you select, but shouldn’t run you more than $12 a month.

WordPress provides more flexibility. There are tons of plugins that you can add to your site that will enhance user experience. WordPress has many more themes than Squarespace and allows you to buy themes created by third party developers. You are in charge of website maintenance and must make sure that your theme and plugins are up to date, which is pretty easy. Even though a WordPress site can feel more complicated and does have a steeper learning curve, it can evolve as you grow your business.

Should the service you provide be in your domain name? For example: www.sarathepsychologist.com

In short, no. You will not be ranked higher in search if the service you provide is in your domain name. Make sure the service you provide is mentioned throughout your content and Google will understand what you do and where to put you in the search results.

Research and Apply Keywords

Apply search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to attract more visitors to your website. Optimizing your website is easy and will improve your chances of ranking high in online search results.

Perform basic keyword research

The term “keywords” refers to the word, or string of words, people type in to a search engine. The search engine checks its database and returns results, listing pages that feature the keywords submitted. Start making a list of keywords by following these 4 steps:

Step 1: What do your clients ask you?

The best place to start is with your actual clients. When a new client comes in for their first appointment, what questions do they ask you and what terminology do they use? Note the specific words and phrases they choose because those are likely the exact words they are typing into search engines.

Step 2: The “every person” research

Compile a list of keywords by asking your family and friends (outside of your industry) what they would type into Google if they were looking for the counseling service you provide.

Step 3: Related Google searches

Go to Google and type in a keyword phrases you would like to rank highly for. Scroll down to the bottom of the search result page to find searches related to your inquiry. Collect these keywords and add them to your list.


Step 4: Apply keywords to individual pages

Each page on your website should have 3 to 6 unique keywords associated with it, although common keywords may overlap for some pages. Create content that speaks to your ideal clients using the keywords you have collected.

Optimize your Content

It can be tough to rank high in search for general terms in the mental health industry. If you’re just starting your website or you’re just now focusing on ranking higher, creating pages that center on specific issues, treatments and populations is a great idea.

Step 1: Create specialty pages

There should be a number of pages on your site with a narrow focus on things you are an expert on or specialize in. With your keyword research in hand, create content around these specialties. Define the issue and explain treatment options. For example if you create a page on seasonal affective disorder (SAD), it could address the following:

• What is SAD?

• What are the causes of SAD?

• Treatment options for SAD

• SAD coping techniques

• SAD’s prevalence throughout the country 

Step 2: Set up a blog on your website and start writing articles

Why is it important to have a blog on your website?

  1. You’ll move up in search results because Google loves fresh content.
  2. You’ll show up in more search results because your site will rank for keywords that you are crafting articles about.
  3. You’ll rank higher in search results because people will start linking to your articles.
  4. You’ll convert more visitors to patients as they start to get to know you through reading your articles.

Feelings stumped on how to organize your blog and come up with article topics? Click here to read about 10 different blog styles for your therapy website. 

Launch a Link Building Campaign

A strong link building campaign is one of the best ways to rise in the search results. Links work like votes, and the more quality links that point to your website, the higher you are going to rank in search. The results of a successful link building campaign will benefit you for as long as you have your website on the Internet.

Step 1: Reach out to local health and wellness practitioners

Possibly the easiest way to get more links is to reach out to practitioners you already know. Don’t be shy, ask all your buddies to link to you on their website. It’s only fair to link back to them if they ask for a reciprocal link. However, links going one way, instead of two sites linking to each other, are better as Google values them higher.

Step 2: Guest blog

Website owners want quality content from experts. That’s perfect for you, since you just happen to be a healthcare expert! Reach out to local and national blogs, news sites, well known healthcare professionals, wellness directories, and fellow therapists and ask them if you can submit a unique blog in exchange for a link to your site at the end of the article.

Step 3: Promote your own blog

The articles you submit as a guest should, of course, be top notch. But the articles you post on your own website should be your very best writing. Every time you post an article on your blog, publicize it on your social media accounts. You should also send it out to your colleagues and friends and politely ask them to share it with others on social media.

Step 4: Find out who links to your competitors

The reason you want to find out who is linking to your competitors is because there is a good chance that those websites might also be willing to link to you. In order to find out how to check the links of your competitors, watch this instructional video on this blog. Once you find those linking websites, send them a message asking them to link to you as well.


Stay Up to Date!

For more easy to follow lessons about how to improve your digital brand, move up in search results and attract more clients online, make sure that you’re signed up for the TherapyDen weekly newsletter.

Posted by

Jeff Guenther, LPC in

I am a therapist who lives up the street in Portland, Oregon, where my team and I created a mental health directory that quickly became number one in client leads and community support. We want to bring the same impact to therapists in the Bay Area.