Let’s face it — 99 percent of people check out a therapist online before hiring them. So, what is one way you can set yourself apart from other therapists in the area, while also showing up higher in the search traffic?
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 your domain name is important
- how to choose a good domain name
- where to purchase a domain name
Why is My Domain Name Important?
Unlike website design choices, your domain name will impact your site’s success in nearly every area — including SEO, click-through rate, branding, client conversions, social media traffic, and even offline advertising.
Whether clients are finding you through organic searches, paid ads, 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
Before we get into specifics for choosing a domain name, you may have questions about using your personal name, practice name, or a more generic domain name.
Using a Personal Brand
A common practice is for therapists to use their name as the URL (www.janedoe.com) or their practice name (www.newgrowthcounselor.com).
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.
Adding keywords to your domain name is a sure-fire way to increase SEO rankings and communicate the services you offer to your potential clients.
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
Now that you know a few common approaches therapists and coaches take when choosing a domain name, let’s dive into the details that will make your website shine online.
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.
- Therapy + city name
- Counseling + city name
- Therapist + city name
- Psychotherapy + city name
- Counselor + city name
If you practice in a small town near a large city, consider where your clients are coming from and how they’re searching.
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.
A quick Google search for “Denver therapist” shows just how important domain name can be in driving search results.
Certainly, a lot of the basic domain names may have been taken before you can think to snag them. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a great option.
Domain Naming Tips
Keep it short. Long names are hard to remember, easy to misspell, and may not fit comfortable on business cards and other marketing materials.
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.
Think of your brand. Sure, “denvertherapistcounselor.com” might be available, but what does that URL say about you or your practice? Think about where you see your practice going in the coming years.
If you know you want to add clinicians or sell your practice, chances are you’ll want a different domain name than if you plan on remaining a solo therapy practice. Similarly, you may not want to include your city name if you intend to move to a new area or expand your services beyond your region.
You can also use resources like Bust A Name to aid in your domain name brainstorming efforts. Enter several different keywords (therapist, therapy, counselor, counseling + your city — for example), and receive a list of all available domain name combinations.
I show you how to use the tool in a short video (here).
The most important tip to remember when choosing a domain name is not to get too stressed. It is more important to get your site online and growing than to spend 6-months thinking up the perfect URL. Besides, you can always change the URL later.
Where to Purchase a Domain Name
When you are ready to purchase your domain name, there are a few common places to do so. If you are building a new website or signing up with a new webhost, see if they offer a free or discounted domain with your plan.
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.
There you have it! Everything you need to know to choose a domain name for your therapist or coaching website.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, download a copy of this guide to review later!
What questions do YOU have about domain names? Leave them in the comments section below!