What Private Practices Can Learn From Google’s Leak (And What To Do About It)

In light of Google’s recent leak—which has been interesting to say the least—we’ve learned a lot, particularly how Private Practices can take advantage of what’s been revealed to refine their sites and improve their rankings. 

Happy for us, 90% of the leak confirmed what we already do. (Previously we had to base our strategy on experiment and reading the tea leaves, and now we have a solid foundation to stand on.) The other 10% of the leak information pointed to some extra things that we’re now implementing going forward. 

In this post we’re detailing the most important takeaways for anyone who wants to rank a website locally. Of course, we are CounselingWise, so we’re mainly concerned about therapists, counselors, and mental health practices. But the point holds: to rank well locally requires the below. 

NOTE 1: This post talks specifically to the items that we are ADDING to our strategy, and therefore, it applies to existing CounselingWise customers (or students) whose websites are already built correctly. If you already have the 90% implemented, then read on! If you don’t, then you can have us do a Scorecard Assessment for your website, and we’ll tell you everything you need to do to get your site strong, including what this new leak has revealed.  

NOTE 2: This post is rather technical! If you are an existing client (or student) with a recently built site or a site that’s been totally kept up to date since it was built, you can have us do a Google Leak Assessment which includes a phone call so that we can discuss what needs to be done (and even size out a project if you need help). If you’re a diehard DIY-er, read on! You can also join our Paid Community where we are providing training on how to implement these changes. The paid community has training on our ENTIRE STRATEGY, including how to implement these technical pieces, for only $19/month.

Understanding Schema Markup

Thanks to Google’s leak we’ve learned just how important Schema is for local searches.  

What Is Schema Markup?

Schema markup is microdata added to your website to help search engines understand your content. In other words, it’s like putting sticker labels on your website to help search engines know what your site is about

When you use these labels, Google shows better, more detailed results in searches: it creates rich snippets that appear in search results. These snippets show enhanced descriptions, making your website more appealing and informative to potential clients. But most importantly, your website becomes more appealing to Google’s ranking algorithm.

Why Is It Important?

Schema enables Google to understand the services you offer, your specialties, and your location. And we now know how important the businessType attribute in schema markup is for local rankings. Not only that but Google looks for lat and long (latitude and longitude) in the code of your site, likely to rank it in a radius around those geocoordinates.

This is why we stress the need for an address as a Private Practices, even if you’re online only. Otherwise, Google is unlikely to rank your website effectively.

When proper schema is added, Google can better match your site to relevant local searches, improving your visibility and attracting more clients.

The following is what schema on the backend of a single-location Private Practice’s homepage might look like. It’s essentially like filling out a directory listing but for your website. 

				
					{
  "@context": "https://schema.org",
  "@type": "MedicalOrganization",
  "name": "Therapy Clinic",
  "url": "https://www.therapyclinic.com",
  "logo": "https://www.therapyclinic.com/logo.png",
  "contactPoint": {
    "@type": "ContactPoint",
    "telephone": "+1-800-555-5555",
    "contactType": "Customer Service"
  },
  "sameAs": [
    "https://www.facebook.com/therapyclinic",
    "https://www.twitter.com/therapyclinic",
    "https://www.instagram.com/therapyclinic"
  ],
  "location": [
    {
      "@type": "LocalBusiness",
      "name": "Therapy Clinic - Location 1",
      "image": "https://www.therapyclinic.com/location1.jpg",
      "address": {
        "@type": "PostalAddress",
        "streetAddress": "123 Main St",
        "addressLocality": "City A",
        "addressRegion": "State A",
        "postalCode": "12345",
        "addressCountry": "USA"
      },
      "geo": {
        "@type": "GeoCoordinates",
        "latitude": "40.7128",
        "longitude": "-74.0060"
      },
      "telephone": "+1-800-555-1234",
      "openingHours": "Mo,We,Fr 09:00-17:00"
    }
  ]
}

				
			

Where to Add Schema Markup?

  • Home Pages: Your homepage should include schema markup to provide a comprehensive overview of your practice. This helps Google understand the main focus of your site.
  • Specialty Pages: Add schema to pages detailing specific services like anxiety therapy or couples counseling. This helps Google recognize these pages as distinct, making it easier for potential clients to find the exact services they need. Location information should also be included on these pages, especially if the practice is in multiple locations. 
  • Location Pages: Location pages need schema. This enhances local search visibility and helps potential clients find the nearest location to them.

You can test your pages for Schema by using Google’s Rich Results Test

Vary Your Anchor Text

From now on anchor text in blog posts need to be varied. In every single blog post about depression, don’t just say, “I offer depression therapy.” (And then link “depression therapy” to the Depression Therapy Specialty Page as part of the silo structure.)

Anchor text needs variety: “variety is the spice of life,” and now “variety is the spice of anchor text.” 

So, use “counseling for depression” and “depression counseling” and therapy for depression”, etc. 

Also… make sure the surrounding text provides context for the link. Google uses this surrounding content to understand the linked page’s relevance. Instead of just saying “click here for more information,” provide context such as: “For those struggling with anxiety, our anxiety therapy page offers detailed insights and treatment options.”

Leveraging Location Information

Integrating Your Locations With Your Homepage & Specialty Pages

Overemphasize your locality. On all of your Specialty Pages and your Homepage you need to hold Google’s hand so that the ranking algorithm understands where your practice is located.

What do we mean?

Include your practice’s address and Google Business Profile (GBP) maps on every Specialty Page and your Homepage. And there should be a link to each location page as well.

When you list your address and add the GBP map, search engines recognize your practice as a local business, boosting your visibility in local search results.

If you’re in multiple locations, this means including the GBP map and address from each location on your Specialty Pages and Homepage.

Creating Geo Pages

Now, thanks to Google’s leak, we can recommend geo pages, which are pages for areas outside where your practice is located. 

For example… 

If your practice is based in Los Angeles but also serves clients in Pasadena and Santa Monica, you should have separate pages for these areas. Each geo page should include the following:

  • Location-Specific Information: Detail the services you offer in that area. Mention any local landmarks or community events related to mental health to connect with the local audience.
  • Local SEO Keywords: Use keywords specific to that location. For example, “Pasadena anxiety therapy” or “Santa Monica couples counseling.”

These geo pages help you capture search traffic from potential clients who are looking for mental health services in those specific areas.

Video Helps Location Pages

If you’re willing and/or able, we have to suggest adding videos to your pages. Google’s algorithm looks for video, and sites with video may rank more highly than those without. Make sure to embed the video from YouTube (a Google property: Google is likely biased).

This may be particularly helpful for location pages and should be easier to implement than other pages on your site. Videos can include location metadata within them, which helps with local rankings. (Otherwise, schema can tell Google where the video was taken.)

So, a tour of your office may be the extra content needed to boost your Practice’s local rankings. 

Refreshing Specialty Pages

We’ve always known that Google wants fresh content. But now we know that they want extra fresh content. If your Specialty Pages are over a year old or if your rankings have stagnated, updating them is recommended.

Fresh content signals to Google that your site is active and relevant. It shows that you are continuously providing valuable information to your visitors, which can significantly improve your rankings.

How to Refresh Content?

  • Rewrite Paragraphs: Go through the content on your Specialty Pages and update it to reflect any new services, approaches, or insights you have gained. For example, if you specialize in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety and have recently incorporated mindfulness techniques, include this new information. By doing so, you keep your content relevant and engaging for visitors, which can lead to higher client conversion rates.
  • Add New Sections: Consider adding new sections to your Specialty Pages that address common questions or concerns clients may have. This not only provides more value to your visitors but also increases the length and depth of your content, which Google favors.
  • Update Publication Dates: Change the publication dates to reflect the most recent updates. This is a simple yet effective way to signal to Google that your content is up-to-date. It can positively impact your rankings as search engines prefer fresh and current content. (This may be the most important point in this list, but only works if the content itself has been overhauled.)

Branding As Yourself

Website’s don’t just derive their authority from the name of the Practice (e.g. Maple Story Counseling), but also from the owner of the Practice: the identity behind the brand. In other words… individuals, in the eyes of Google, are brands

That means taking care of your own online presence. Your name (e.g. John Summers) matters for your own practice’s rankings. List yourself wherever comfortable, such as directories and social media, and use your name

You are the expert after all, and Google wants to believe you’re an expert but you have to prove it to the algorithm. The more you do to demonstrate your expertise online the more likely your website is to rank. 

For starters… when you publish blogs, make sure to publish them under your name. And only use your name. Not admin, not a pseudonym, not blog, but your name. Blogs published under your name increase the expertise “score” of your name, helping to improve your rankings. 

Building Local Links

Local links are essentially references to your website from other local websites which signal to search engines that your practice is a trusted and integral part of the local community.

For mental health practices, this can translate into higher rankings in local search results, making it easier for potential clients in your area to find your services.

This also increases your website’s status as a local brand in the machinic eyes of Google’s algorithm. 

Where to List Your Practice

  • Directories: Register your practice in relevant online directories. This includes well-known directories like Psychology Today, Yelp, and BBB. Each listing provides a valuable backlink to your site and increases your practice’s visibility.
  • Therapy-Specific Directories: This one should be self-evident. Some are free and some are subscription based. We suggest choosing the ones that work best for you: the more, the merrier. We’ve covered the Top Therapist Directories on CounselingWise. 
  • Local Directories: Don’t overlook local business directories that focus on your city or region. These directories cater to local audiences and can significantly boost your local SEO. Examples include city-specific business listings, neighborhood association directories, and local news websites.

In Summary... We're Still Studying Google's Leak

Take Action

We’re still studying Google’s leak closely, and there will be more to come. For now, the above should be implemented so that your site keeps connecting your practice to potential clients. 

Again, if you’re an existing CounselingWise client or student and already have a strong, up-to-date foundation, we have help you with this upgrade when you order the Google Leak Assessment.

For those who want more info, we are providing detailed training about how to implement these changes in our paid community, Private Practice Builders Skool Group. The community houses our Client Calls Forever course, and we’re adding this training on top of that course. The cost is only $19/month and you can cancel your membership anytime.

And if you know your site isn’t up-to-date and needs a complete assessment, now is the time to do it by ordering a Scorecard

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