One of the most common questions we get from therapists is, “Why isn’t my website ranking in Google?” If you use the internet, you already know that first-page search results provide the closest matches to whatever you’re looking for, but did you know that there are over 200 algorithm factors that contribute to that outcome?
If you’re having trouble finding your therapy site on the first page of Google, that’s a major bummer. These days, 93 percent of all business decisions start online, and because the majority of people don’t bother clicking to page two of the search results when they’re searching, showing up on that first page is vital for the growth of your private practice. The truth is that your website isn’t worth very much unless people can find it — it needs to be visible to anyone seeking out services like yours in your area.
So, why isn’t your website ranking? Great question! Below are the five most common reasons why your website isn’t ranking. And, if your site has any of these characteristics, we offer some solutions that you can use to save your rank.
The Five Most Common Reasons Your Site Isn’t Ranking
1. Your Site Needs Work
Google values sites that provide in-depth and specific information about each topic. If your site looks like the image below, that’s not good. Google likes sites with pages that are informative, specific and well-optimized, and not sites with pages that are general, list-y or have fragmented or poorly written sentences.
To improve your credibility with Google, make sure you have individual, in-depth pages for each of your specialties. If you specialize in depression therapy, for example, we recommend that you optimize your page around 2-3 relevant key words, such as “depression treatment”, and write 800-1,200 words on the unique ways in which you treat depression in your practice. Doing this for each of your pages helps Google recognize that you are indeed an expert in each of the special categories listed on your site.
2. You’re Not Blogging Regularly
Perhaps you have a beautiful site with in-depth content about each your specialties, and it still isn’t ranking! If that’s the case and you either don’t have a blog or haven’t been maintaining your blog, start blogging today. When it comes to ranking on Google, the bigger the site, the better, and blogging is the easiest and fastest way to grow the size of your site.
To put this into perspective, we did a quick search in Boulder, Colorado and found that the top psychotherapy sites in the area are those with over 100 plus pages on their site.
Sites with an ample amount of pages rank better than those that don’t. We recommend that you write minimum 600-word blog posts at least once a month (and preferably each week!) to start increasing the size of your site ASAP.
3. SEO is No Short-Term Miracle
When you’ve put blood, sweat and tears into creating a beautiful website for your practice, you expect results. But the hard truth is that the return on your SEO is a long-term strategy, and not a short-term miracle.
How long does it take for SEO to start generating leads and sales? It depends.
It depends on how long your website has been around, the amount of SEO it had previously, what shape the website is in, the amount of content on your site, how competitive it is in your area, and other SEO factors.
Many SEO firms will tell you that it takes four to six months to start seeing results. That’s generally accurate, but bear in mind this is when you start seeing results, and that SEO results grow over time.
Successful SEO is a long term strategy, and at the beginning, there can be a lot of work and marginal noticeable gains. But if you keep working hard (keep blogging!) and tracking your success, your ranking will improve in the long-run.
4. Your Competition is Stiff
If you live in a small town, or maybe you’re one of only a few therapists in your county, chances are ranking well isn’t too tough. However, if your practice is in the thick of a really competitive market, like a big city or you have general specialties, like anxiety or depression treatment, it’s going to be a lot tougher for you to rank well in Google.
When we search “Couples Counseling NYC” we get served around 600K results.
Even if your SEO strategy is air-tight, competing in a highly populated market can make ranking well impossibly challenging. If this is your situation, you may want to consider paid advertising, like Google Ad Words to get more exposure on page 1.
5. Uh Oh, You Used Black Hat SEO
Google’s main mission is to give users access to accurate, useful and engaging information. To ensure that users continue to receive the best content on the web, Google sometimes penalizes sites in an effort to eliminate poor content. These penalties can be automatic or manual, and Google doesn’t always tell you when your site is being flagged.
But below are some sure-fire clues that your site has been dinged for Black Hat SEO:
- Your website isn’t ranking for your brand name anymore
- Your page rank has dropped from a respectable two or three to a big fat ZERO
- The entire website has been removed from Google’s cached search results
- Running a site search – site:yourdomain.com keyword – yields no results
If you’re having a lot of trouble finding your site in Google or something with the search has changed rapidly and drastically, you may have been penalized for using manipulative SEO practices. Some things Google flags for include, excessive links, duplicate content, internal 404 warnings, links from sites in other languages, key-word stuffing, scraped content from other sites, hidden content, rented or bought links, slow operation speed, spam reports, links to suspicious sites, redirection, poor mobile websites and error codes, among many more problems.
Every issue like those listed above will require slightly different solutions, but below are some things you should try (sooner rather than later).
- Don’t panic. Even massively popular websites suffer from penalties
- Disavow and get rid of your troublesome links
- Request reconsideration if your penalty was manual
- Wait it out. Sometimes it takes Google to disavow requests, and then it could take time for your site to heal from these damages.
- Not all Black Hat SEO issues are fixable, and if your site is relatively undeveloped, it may be worthwhile to scrap it and start from scratch.
Go For Gold, Improve Your Rank!
There you have the five most common reasons most therapy sites don’t rank. If you have any questions about any of this, we encourage you to contact us here. We build websites from the ground-up with one goal in mind – to help you rank so your potential clients can find you online. We have tons of free resources available for therapists who want to know more about successful online marketing. We want, more than anything, to see your practice succeed!