Archive for Website Strategy
It can start with your domain name!
When creating a new website, or updating your current website, one of the major things you need to consider is your domain name, or URL (www.forexample.com). But how do you choose a domain name that will get more clients?
Today, we are covering everything you need to know about domain names, including:
Why is My Domain Name Important?
Whether clients are finding you through organic searches, paid ads, directory listings, or social media, your domain name is the online door to your private practice. Make sure the door is clearly marked.
Taking time to make a strategic, informed URL choice now can increase traffic and give you a leg up on your competition.
Two Common Approaches to Domain Names
Using a Personal Brand
Using your name or practice name can feel more personal, and personal brands tend to drive higher conversion rates. If you’re planning on using your name for SEO benefit, however, you may want to reconsider.
With a website full of great content driving SEO, there is little or no added benefit in using your name in the URL. People who are searching for you or your practice by name will still be able to type it into Google and find you that way.
There are a few potential drawbacks to using a personal brand as your domain. It’s easy to become so focused on how your URL looks that you forget to consider how it sounds to the reader when processed or read out loud.
Humans have a cognitive bias toward things we can easily think about and say. If site visitors have a hard time processing or pronouncing your URL, they’re less likely to remember it (or remember it positively).
For example, if your first name ends with the same letter your last name starts with, your URL will be harder to read: janeellington.com or matttreadwell.com. Similarly, if your name is particularly long or difficult to spell, a shortened variation or practice name could be easier for referrals to find.
Going with your or your practice’s name is never a bad idea, though. And, you can always change to a new domain from your old site if you wish to scale to a group practice. The process is simple, inexpensive—it can be done for less than $150 in many cases—and can be done without affecting your traffic numbers.
Including keywords in the domain can give websites a significant advantage in search results. While this SEO force isn’t as strong today, it still packs a punch. Not only is your domain name one of Google’s ranking factors, but it will become part of every page name on your website. By including the right keywords, you send a very clear message to Google and your audience about what your website provides.
The average client searching for “counseling in Denver” is much more likely to click on a link that says ‘counselingdenver’ than one that says ‘haveagreatlifecounseling’ – even though the latter might seem more personal.
More generic, keyword-focused URLs also drive higher click-through rates in paid advertising, according to a recent study by Memorable Domains. In a review of a Google AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, ‘ads featuring a generic domain name with an exact match to the product (electricbicycles.co.uk) performed significantly better than identical ads featuring an alternative generic (yourbikes.co.uk) or non-generic domain (inahurry.co.uk).’
How to Choose a Great Domain Name for Your Private Practice
We recommend including one of the most common related keywords – therapy, counseling, therapist, etc. – plus your city name. Including the city helps drive local search results — making sure your site is seen by more potential clients in the area.
Searches for a Boulder therapist are far less common than searches for Denver therapist, for example. That doesn’t mean you should ignore your local city – just be strategic.
Domain Naming Tips
Keep it simple. You want your website to be easy to find and leave an impression. A great URL helps you do both.
Don’t get fancy with .org or other endings. Users are familiar and comfortable with .com endings. You’ll want the most common ending for your country (in addition to or instead of .com) if you live outside the U.S.
Try not to use numbers or symbols—these are often read and entered incorrectly.
Include keywords. We covered this earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again. Including heavily searched terms like “therapist” or “counseling” in your URL can give your SEO a boost. This can be a bit trickier if you offer a variety of services, such as therapy and coaching, or psychology and psychiatry.
Where to Purchase a Domain Name
You can also purchase your domain directly from a ‘domain name registrar’ — basically, a company that manages the reservation of domain names. Depending on the domain you choose, most URLs cost between $10 and $20 per year.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, download a copy of this guide to review later!
The same holds true for therapy websites. Each one should be unique and reflect the therapist’s personality and approach to their practice. However, while a therapy website should look and feel unique to the user, a core foundation of key pages can provide potential clients with the best information about each practice. These key pages can help your individual practice shine, highlighting all of the ways you make your specialties your own.
Let’s talk about six key web pages that any successful therapy website must have and how you can optimize those pages. Whether you’re just starting out with ?building your first therapy website or embarking on a redesign project, doing these pages well can help potential clients feel confident in contacting you for that first visit.
1. Homepage: Quickly Tell Them What Your Therapy Practice Is About
This is the first and often-greatest impression a potential client will receive of you, your practice and whether or not you have the answer to the problem they’re facing.
Recent studies have shown that the human attention span clocks in at about 8 seconds. Which, as it happens, is less than a goldfish’s. Go humans!
And guess what? In the year 2000, we showed an attention span of 12 seconds. This means our attention spans are growing even shorter.
So when it comes to your homepage, you have only a few precious seconds to capture the attention of your visitors and convince them that you offer something they need. Use those seconds to get right to the point and tell them exactly what you do and how you can help them.
One mistake I see many therapists make on their homepages is giving the reader too many options and presenting them with too much information. When presented with too many choices, many folks will choose none and just leave.
Think of one thing you want a potential to client to know – even if they don’t click on any other page on your website – and stick to that theme.
Then, give them one action to do. Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? Or do you offer a free phone consultation? Pick one and go with it. This makes potential clients more likely to complete the action that can bring you into contact.
2. About Page: Focus on Your Ideal Clients
At least it’s not entirely about you. Let me explain.
When I first began seriously blogging, all the big shots kept talking about how important the about page is. People said it had it had to be amazing and even tossed around words like “epic” and “killer.” Those are words I never heard to describe any other page on a website.
Now, I never paid much attention to my own about page in the past, but it seemed everyone was saying this. So I checked my Google Analytics and sure enough, at the time, the about page was the second most visited page on my website, after the homepage.
That meant that people coming to my homepage for the first time wanted to know about me before they did anything with me.
They wanted to know if I had answers to their questions and if I could help them solve their problems. So I would be doing my audience and the people I want to help a disservice by not making it abundantly clear what it is I do and how I can help them.
I’m a designer, not a copy writer, so I rely heavily on researching other successful online marketers, bloggers and therapists to see what’s working on their about pages. I’ve noticed a pattern that you can use to outline the about page on your own therapy website:
3. Your Counseling Services: An Overview of Who You Serve
Typically titled “Services,” “Therapy Services” or “How I Can Help,” this page will give a potential client a snapshot of all that you do, assuring them that you can help with the issue that has lead them to your website in the first place.
When I build a services page, I typically break it into two sections: topics the therapist specializes in and the populations they serve. Do you help your clients deal with depression, a rough divorce or trauma from their past? List these things out on your services page. Do you practice individual adult counseling, just marriage and family counseling or both? Make it clear on your services page.
Your services page should also lead your potential client deeper into those services, should they want to learn more.
Which leads us to the next set of pages that your therapy website needs.
4. A Page for Each Service in Your Practice
The first is to provide information to potential clients and showcase your own expertise and approach to the services you provide. If your services page were a Polaroid snapshot of all you do, then these pages would be detailed paintings.
Think about the type of client you want to serve and their specific needs. Try to give them the most accurate picture of what therapy with you will be like. Reaching out for therapy can often be difficult and filled with many unknowns. You want to put your client’s mind at ease by eliminating as many of those unknowns as you can.
The other reason I recommend a page for each of your counseling services is for the SEO benefit.
Google is getting smarter and smarter these days, and they want to provide users with the most accurate and relevant information.
So, having a full page devoted to, let’s say, couples counseling, gives you the space to provide that detailed information needed to help search engines find you and direct potential clients to your site.
Use on-page SEO best practices to optimize this page, such as:
6. Contact Page: A Simple Way for Potential Clients to Get in Touch
All the other pages of your website are devoted to why your ideal client should contact you. This page is the how.
When designing therapy websites, I try to make this page as simple as possible. I like to eliminate anything that would distract the user from the task at hand: calling or emailing to set up that first visit.
So, if you’re using WordPress, that means leaving off the sidebar to make a clean, full-width page that includes your phone number, email address and location of your private practice.
It’s also a great idea to include a contact form directly on this page. I’m all about making this easy on the user, so if they’d rather just fill out the form in front of them than call or email, I want to make sure I give them that option. Many premium WordPress themes come with form builders already installed or you could use a plugin like Contact Form 7.
Conclusion: Onward to a Great Website!