You Can Offer Therapy Throughout Your State (And In Other States), But Will You Get Clients?

Many private practices are looking to expand their reach within their states, and sometimes even to other states. Compacts like PSYPACT and Counseling Compact have lifted the red tape which previously would have kept therapists confined to their state of license. 

At the same time, teletherapy has become the norm for many private practices. So, visions expand. The reasoning goes, “If I’m offering therapy through Zoom, why shouldn’t I offer therapy to potential clients outside of my town; my county; my state; my country?”

If you’re on insurance panels in these other states that bring clients to you then that’s great but if you’re private pay, it’s much more challenging. 

But just because therapists can work with clients in other towns, states, counties, countries, doesn’t mean their websites will also rank in those areas. And if their websites don’t rank, how are they supposed to connect with their potential clients? 

Therapists can rank outside of their area. But they have to take the necessary steps to do so. 

Before we can get to those steps, we have to understand how Google treats private practice websites. 

A image of lower Manhattan with a radius around a hypothetical therapist's office to show the area from which they will attract potential clients.
This is a picture of lower Manhattan with a shaded ellipse to show the potential reach of a therapist in New York City. They can expand the radius through different marketing strategies, but should they?

Google Treats Private Practices Like A Pizza Shop

While many therapists and counselors are enthusiastically reaching out to the limits of their state’s borders—or even across—they fail to forget the giant in the room: Google. We have to understand how Google views private practice websites. 

Google treats therapist’s websites as a local business. That means, in the blind eyes of the algorithm, private practices are like pizza shops: a storefront with a local address within a zip code.

If someone searches pizza from their couch, they see pizza parlors within a radius around their couch, i.e. Google shows them the nearest pizza places.

Someone who searches for an “anxiety therapist” from their couch is going to see anxiety therapists within a particular radius around their couch: Google shows them the nearest anxiety therapists.

A therapist in Boulder, Colorado who specializes in anxiety therapy is not going to show up on Google 65 miles away when someone searches “anxiety therapy”, in Fort Collins, Colorado (or, they’ll be buried so far down the ~485 million results as to be nonexistent).

(This is why we always tell therapists who are exclusively online to have an office address in order to rank.)

In the eyes of Google, therapists are local businesses. They show up on search results within a radius of the searcher. 

What does this mean for someone trying to rank outside of their neighborhood?

It’s hard to rank beyond your neighborhood

The point of the above is to illustrate that it’s difficult to rank beyond a neighborhood, (even for online therapists offering teletherapy) let alone for an anxiety therapist to sit on top of Google in a city with hundreds of other therapists such as Boulder.

And, if marketing in a neighborhood is hard:

  • Marketing in a region is harder…
  • Marketing across the state is even harder…
  • Marketing across multiple states is even harder…
  • Marketing nationally (or internationally) is hardest.

That doesn’t mean marketing private practices across state lines is impossible. But the strategies for doing so become increasingly time consuming and costly (as detailed below).

But there is a way. It’s just a bit more complicated than you may expect.

PSYPACT & Counseling Compact Warrant New Ranking Strategies

Thanks to PSYPACT, and Counseling Compact, private practices don’t need licensing to pursue clients across state lines. But that doesn’t mean that ranking across state lines is automatic. 

First of all, in order to rank a Private Practice website in more than one state (or, in more than one region) Private Practices need to have an address in that state (or region). That means, a physical location, where your practice receives mail. 

(It can’t be a PO Box or a rented addresses such as UPS. Google distinguishes between real and purchased addresses and doesn’t recognize either as a viable business address.)

That location serves as a focal point for the radius around which the private practice will rank—as detailed above.

And that’s just the first step in a checklist of how to start ranking in another region.  

What’s the full checklist look like?

  • A physical address. 
  • Location pages on your site for each address. 
  • An optimized Google Business Profile for each location. 

Of course, a Private Practice website also needs to have everything else in place: Specialty Pages, a blog silo structure, a sound homepage, optimized images, etc. But the above are the location-specific aspect which are necessary to rank outside of a private practice’s area. 

Once all of the above are in the place, the organic ranking process will begin: the site will begin to display in the search results for the new region.

Of course, there is another way… 

Google Ads For Expanding Your Reach

Using Google Ads is the most straightforward way for therapists to get potential clients wherever they live, whether it’s within their state or from coast to coast.

Of course, they’ll also have to pay for each person that clicks the ad and lands on their site, so their copy should be as close to perfect to match with the people who will become potential clients.

Not only that but to make Google Ads effective private practices need the right keywords, a sound website architecture, and private practices need to monitor their campaign to make sure it’s working for them and not against their wallet.

(We’ve helped put countless therapists and counselors on top of Page 1 of Google with Google Ads.)

Running an ad campaign is the fastest way to get yourself in front of potential clients. With a little tweaking and some patience, therapists can sit on top of Page 1 for whatever keywords they want.

But is it better than having a sound website within their neighborhood?

You Can Market Outside Of Your Area

When therapists try to expand beyond their neighborhood it becomes increasingly difficult to match with their active audience. But it can be done: by having multiple office locations, a sound website, and optimized Google Business Profiles. 

And with PSYPACT and Counseling Compact this is the way we recommend private practices expand their reach

Of course you can run a Google Ad campaign, but it can also become prohibitively expensive to maintain. And if the default among practices becomes running Google Ads, the field will become extremely competitive. And Ads may not be worth the money. 

Which is why the easiest way to find people with active-intent is to optimize a website so that it gets in front of the eyes of potential clients in your locale. And the sooner you start, the sooner your private practice website will begin to rank. 

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