We get asked questions from therapists about their websites and how they ought to be marketing all the time. One of those questions, lately, has been whether or not it’s worth trying to rank for terms like, “therapist near me.”
Recently, a dentist office in El Paso, Texas renamed itself “Dentist Near Me.” Did it help them get business? Kind of: they went viral for having a silly business name. But did they rank better on Google? No.
(Funny, when you search “Dentist Near Me of El Paso” they don’t even rank in the Google My Business (GMB) listing—as of this writing.)
So is it worth it for private practices to pursue ranking for “near me” searches, like the infamous dentist? Should you make it part of your private practice business plan?
The answer? No. Below we’ll detail why and what therapists should do if they want their sites to match with their potential clients.
What Are People Who Type “Near Me” Looking For?
It seems intuitive that potential clients might search Google for a “therapist near me”.
Afterall, almost all of us do something similar whenever we use Google to find something we want: whether it be “pizza near me” or “target near me” or whatever.
But that’s the thing. Do people search “therapy near me”?
Let’s take a look at what kind of things get searched with “near me” tagged onto them.
- What to eat near me
- What to do near me
- Where to get a passport near me
- What restaurants are open near me
- What is open near me
- Where to buy plants near me
- Where to fax near me
- Why is there smoke in the air today near me
Notice what all the above have in common? It may not be obvious.
What binds “near me” searches is that they are instant gratification queries.
The searcher has a question, and they’re on their phone Googling for an immediate answer: what kind of food to get for dinner or where they can get air for their tires.
These are not questions that require deep thinking. To use some marketing lingo: these are product searches.
Whereas, therapy is a service search.
Think about the last time you had to find a doctor. Did you search “doctor near me,” and willy-nilly choose the first result Google gave you? If you did, you’re braver than I am!
Typically, potential clients research many therapists and private practices. They want the therapist who is best for them. They don’t just pick whoever happens to be closest to them.
That’s why, in our list above, “near me” searches don’t include “therapy near me.”
But Wait, I See “Near Me” Searches For Therapy
The only popular “near me” search related to therapy is, “how to find a therapist near me”. A sort of odd question, but fair enough.
While this search returns a Google My Business 3-Pack, the actual results are all directories: because Google associates the term with information rather than local results.
What this means is that mental health directories are always going to rank for “therapists near me” searches, far and beyond any private practice.
Directory websites have tons of content and tons of links.
(The only way to compete is to start your own directory and maybe in ten years—maybe—you too will own the keyword “therapists near me”.)
So, private practices ranking for “near me” related terms wont see any benefit. Don’t change your private practice name just yet!
Google Automatically Associates Private Practices With Local Searches
When private practices pursue rankings for their websites (through Specialty pages, smart design, and supporting blogs) they automatically rank for the local terms that their potential clients are searching.*
(*Barring any Blackhat SEO practices that might get a private practice penalized by Google, thereby ruining their rankings.)
Google can be dumb at a few things. But they are pretty smart at matching a searcher’s intent with the results that the searcher wants.
When people search “therapist near me” Google delivers directories because the people searching are clicking on directories—not local therapist’s websites.
So, even if a private practice did manage to rank for “therapist near me”—through some glitch in Google’s algorithm—they’re unlikely to get any clicks as a result, because the private practice does not match the searcher’s intent.
“Near Me” Searches Are Google My Business Searches
Instead of trying to rank for “therapy near me”, therapists should pursue terms that actually return local results. They should make sure their Specialty Pages and blog roll are up to snuff.
Or, if they want to rank for “therapy near me,” then they should flesh out their Google My Business listing, so that they’re the first GMB result potential clients see.
But they should not bother trying to rank for the keyword itself—hopefully, this is understood from all the above.
Private practices rank in their hometown by creating a fleshed out website, and an equally fleshed out Google My Business listing, and associating that listing with their website.
So, Should You Rank for “Therapy Near Me” Searches?
No. And to sum up why not…
- Because serious potential clients are not searching “therapy near me.”
- When people search “therapy near me” the results they get are therapist directories, not private practice websites.
- Google already associates private practices with local terms that potential clients search.
- If private practices want to stand out locally, they need to have a good web strategy and a solid Google My Business profile. Ranking for a single keyword isn’t going to change anything.
Don’t spend energy on ranking for keywords that ultimately wont help your private practice.