If you have considered building a website for your private practice, chances are you have at least started the process of researching various companies who can help. You may have talked to your cousin who builds websites, done some poking around at specific companies in the therapy field, or you may have even starting working with a company.
Let’s face it – many people can build you a website. Unfortunately, just having a website isn’t going to get you more clients. You need a website that is built in a way that works for you, one that communicates what you can do to help those in pain, and one that helps those people find you online.
The decision to start the website development process is easy. But then comes the how…and the who. How will your website get built, and who is going to do it? More importantly, is the company who builds your website going to do it in a way that helps you attract new clients online? Unfortunately, most companies in our field don’t apply smart strategy when building mental health websites.
Before hiring a website company, be sure to consider asking the following 6 important questions:
1. Do they provide good on page SEO?
The first question to ask your website company is: do they provide good on page SEO?
SEO seems to be a term thrown around in a very loose way nowadays. One person’s definition of effective SEO can be vastly different than the next. For that very reason, we recommend ensuring that the website company you choose to build your website optimizes your website the right way.
On page SEO involves many things, including: clearly defined specialty pages, at least 1000 words of high-quality content on each specialty page, a focus keyword for each page (based on specific research for search volume in your city), a well-thought out URL based on your focus keyword, well-written SEO fields (including the meta tag and description), optimized photos, and more.
Ensure that the company you hire is practicing ethical on page SEO, and not “blackhat” or bad SEO that will harm your website in the future.
2. Do they coach you on how to create specific pages and high quality content?
In order to communicate clearly with your potential clients and the search engines, you must have a specific, well-written page for each of your specialties.
The next question to ask your website company is, do they coach you on how to create specific pages and coach you on how to create high quality content for each of those pages?
Rather than having one page dedicated to describing all of your services, effective psychotherapy websites (that rank well, and convert potential clients into real clients) have an individual page for each specialty.
It is very important that your website company not only creates an individual page for each specialty, but that they also coach you on how to write effective, high quality content. Your content should speak to the pain and suffering of your potential clients, and offer a sense of hope. Just throwing content up for the sake of content will not get you new clients.
3. Does their platform have a built in blog? If so, how do they set up the blog categories and where are blog posts displayed on the site?
The next question you want to ask is about whether or not the platform they use has a built in blog.
According to the 2014 Search Metrics Report, the bigger the website, the higher the website is ranked in the search engines. The easiest way to grow the size of your website is by adding more pages to your site by blogging consistently. The only way to grow your website with blogging is if your blog is part of your website. Be sure to ask your website company if the platform they use has a built in blog. If they don’t offer a built in blog, we highly recommend looking elsewhere. Blogging is key to building the size of your website, while simultaneously offering valuable content to your site visitors.
If the company does offer a built in blog, be sure to ask them how they set up the blog categories and where the blog posts are displayed on the site. We recommend creating blog categories for each specialty, and displaying all relevant blog posts on the correlating specialty page. By providing relevant blog posts on your specialty pages, you are likely to increase the website duration of your website visitors.
You can see a great example of relevant blog posts laid out on a specialty page here:
4. Do they help you build a list of email subscribers?
Getting people to your website through good on page SEO is the first step towards turning your website visitors (a.k.a. potential clients) into real clients. You must then keep in touch with your website visitors to increase the likelihood of turning them into clients.
The next important question to ask your website company is: do they help you build a list of email subscribers?
The easiest way to build your email list is through a free offering on your website, like a free report or interactive quiz. By offering a free download, you provide your website visitors with a very non-threatening step in the right direction, and in turn get their email address. You can then send them valuable content (in the form of blog posts) each month to keep you in the back of their mind as THE expert. Once they are ready to seek help, you will hopefully be the first person that comes to mind, and someone they feel comfortable calling.
5. Is the platform they use mobile-friendly?
With the increase in smart phones, tablets, and constant access to the internet, its no surprise that more and more people are using their mobile devices to do searches online. The shift to mobile is even more evident with Google’s recent announcement that they will now rank mobile-friendly websites higher in the Google mobile search results, than websites that are not mobile-friendly.
Whether we want to admit it or not, mobile-friendly websites are the way of the future (and the now!), so ensuring your website company creates a mobile-friendly website is very important.
Be sure to ask your website company whether the platform they use is responsive, and to see some example websites. You can even run their examples through Google’s Mobile Friendly Test Tool to make sure.
6. Do they ensure a site visitor will know where to go within 1-2 seconds?
If you can believe it, you only have 1-2 seconds to grab the attention of your website visitor. If it takes much longer than that for a person to know what you offer, and where to go on your website, they will likely leave for another website where they can find the information they are looking for.
The last question to ask your website company is, do they ensure a site visitor will know where to go on your website within 1-2 seconds of their arrival?
The best way to ensure someone knows where to go on your website is by providing them with a very clear path. A clear path is created when the navigation is well thought out, and someone doesn’t have to click their mouse several times to get to where they want to be. We recommend listing your specialties in your navigation bar, making it easy for anyone visiting your website to clearly know what you offer, and how you can help with their specific issue. If all your specialties don’t fit in your navigation bar, you can create a ‘Specialties’ drop down menu where you can list all your specialties clearly.
The bottom line: you want to make it very easy for your site visitors to navigate your website.
While the process of finding a website company that builds psychotherapy websites can be a somewhat stressful one, starting the process with a base knowledge of what to look for in a company will hopefully make it a better, and more confident experience for you. And, having a list of important questions to ask is a good place to start. Before spending money on a website that may look great, but doesn’t actually work, consider each of the above questions.