Local SEO Tips for Psychologists: A 5 Step Process to Boost Your Google Rankings

/Local SEO Tips for Psychologists: A 5 Step Process to Boost Your Google Rankings
Local SEO Tips for Psychologists: A 5 Step Process to Boost Your Google Rankings

Psychologists today are facing more and more challenges in finding new clients. While word of mouth still remains a vital source, increasingly, prospects simply run a Google search and call the first psychologist or two on the list. To build your client list, then, you need to get to the top of Google rankings.

We will walk you step by step through our proven process for launching your business to the top of the results list. First, though, let’s take a look at why local SEO is critical for psychologists.

3 Reasons Psychologists Should Invest in Local SEO

  1. The Yellow Pages Are Dead, Long Live Google:It hasn’t been that long since a psychologist could simply place a Yellow Pages ad and wait for clients to call. Today, an eye-popping 97% of people search for local businesses online, and Google is the reigning champion.
  2. Free Traffic:Although things are gradually evolving, advertising is still one of the biggest expenses for small businesses. If you boost your Google ranking, you will have a constant flow of free traffic that you only need to convert to paying clients.
  3. Fast Results:While national and international companies must wait an average of 6 to 12 months to see results from a new SEO campaign, you have a significant advantage. You are competing only with other psychologists in your geographic area, not those on the other side of the country. And many of your competitors are not yet using local SEO. This means that with a targeted campaign, you could reach the first page of local Google listings in as little as 30 days!

Step 1: Pick Your Keywords

The first step is easy. Simply write down a quick list of keywords that reflect your services. For example, you might choose “psychologist”, “counselor”, or “mental health”. When your list is reasonably complete, sign up for a free Google AdWords account.

There is no need to build or fund an ad campaign. The account simply gives you access to the free Google Keyword Planner. This handy tool lets you see how much traffic is driven by each keyword, and provides suggestions for related keywords that may not be on your list.

Next, finalize your keyword list. All keywords can be loosely divided into 2 broad categories:

  • Buying Intent: Buying intent keywords signal that a prospect is imminently ready for your services. For example, “psychologist to treat phobias in Detroit” likely means that the client is seeking help with her phobias now.

Buying intent keywords should be your primary focus, since they drive quick results. Use them on your homepage, and create separate service pages around them.

  • Research Intent: Research intent keywords signal that the prospect is “just looking around.” He may need a psychologist at some point, but not right now. For example, someone asking “what is cognitive behavioral therapy” might be checking out his options for future treatment.

These keywords do not drive rapid conversions, so they are not of top priority. However, they make excellent blog posts and FAQs, which serve as an introduction to those who may need your services later.

Step 2: Optimize Your Keywords

Now that you have a finalized keyword list in hand, you are ready to optimize in 2 places—your Google My Business page and your website. Here’s how:

Google My Business

Think of your Google My Business page as a sort of miniaturized website for Google’s “Maps” section. It provides a brief overview of your practice and boosts your presence online. This is also a fast way to boost your rankings, as Google My Business pages are easier to get highly ranked than websites.

To optimize, fully and accurately fill out all of these elements:

  • Verification: The first step is simply to claim your page and submit to Google’s verification process. This is complete when you see a checkmark and the word “Verified” next to your business name.
  • NAP: Your business name, address, and phone number, also known as your NAP, must be correct and identical across the entire internet. To let Google know that your business is local, choose a local phone number instead of an 800 number.
  • Categories: Google categories are required to reflect services rather than results. Psychologist and Counselor are both valid Google categories, as are Family Counselor and Child Psychologist, if those apply to your practice. Try to list 3 to 5 categories, if possible.
  • Description: The description is nothing more than a 100 to 200-word synopsis of your practice that ends with a call to action. Try this format: {Name of Practice} is a {psychologist} in {Your City}. {Give some information about your specialty or theory of practice and/or why clients love you.} Call {Phone Number} today for 10% off your first visit.
  • Hours: Make sure that your office hours are accurate, and are correctly listed across the internet. If you offer emergency on-call services, list those hours separately.
  • Images: Images are vital to boosting client engagement and showing new prospects what to expect. Add some photos of your facility and staff. Make sure your images are sharply focused, sized between 10KB and 5MB, and have a minimum resolution of 720px x 720px. Also consider replacing the generic Google My Business background image with a branded image.

Website Optimization

Your “core” pages, such as your homepage and service pages, should be your first priority. Optimize them for buying intent keywords. Then you can optimize your “content” pages, such as FAQs and blog posts, for your research intent keywords. Here’s how:

  • Homepage: The title tag is the most critical element on your page. Similar to a book’s chapter title, the title tag should describe your practice in just 50 to 65 characters. Try this format: Psychologist in {Your City} | {Name of Your Practice}.

The meta description is a 100 to 150-character synopsis of your main services that ends with a call to action. Format it something like this: {Name of Practice} offers professional {counseling services, or similar} in {Your City}. Call {Phone Number} today for 10% off your first appointment!

The visible headline, also known as the H1, must contain your primary category. Format it similarly to: {Psychologist} in {City, State}.

Write your 500 to 1000-word page copy last. It should be concisely written and tightly edited, explain your practice and core services, and end with a strong call to action. Sprinkle in your primary keyword as it naturally fits, but do not try to force it.

  • Service Pages: Each core service needs its own individual service page. Optimize it just like the homepage, targeting the relevant keyword.

Step 3: Build Citations and Links

With the skeleton of your local SEO campaign finished, you can now build citations and links. Both improve your Google rankings by boosting your online reach.

  • Citations: An online directory listing of your business NAP (name, address, and phone number), a citation is simple to create. Choose from general national directories such as Facebook and yellowpages.com, general local directories such as your Chamber of Commerce website, and targeted mental health service directories. Make sure your NAP is absolutely identical across all listings.

While many directories provide free listings, some charge a fee. Before you pay, take a look at Google Analytics. It would be illogical to pay for a listing that will not drive traffic and conversions.

  • Links: Inbound links from authoritative, credible websites are essential to reaching the highest Google rankings. Develop relationships with service providers whose specialties complement your own, such as school counselors and community mental health clinics, and then ask to trade links. You can learn where your competitors found their links with a tool such as the Moz Open Site Explorer.

Step 4: Ask for Reviews

Customer reviews impact your local SEO campaign in two important ways. One, they help prospects decide to give you a chance. Two, they reassure Google that your business is legitimate. While all reviews can help, the quickest rankings boost will come from Google My Business reviews. Send your satisfied clients an email link to your page, and ask them directly to write a review. If you do this on a regular basis, you will soon have a constant stream of recent reviews.

Step 5: Track Your Results

Tracking your results is the only way to be sure which parts of your campaign are working and which need more help. You can analyze your data in a mind-boggling number of ways, but these are the most critical metrics:

  • Rankings: Your past browsing behavior determines the customized rankings that Google will display. This means you will need a tool to learn your true rankings. Ask your webmaster to install the free Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools), and look at your rankings at least once a month.

If you want to dig further into your rankings, switch to a paid tool such as RankRanger.com. This helpful tool tracks your Google My Business page and your individual webpages, and will automatically update ranking data from all of your SEO campaigns.

  • Traffic: Google Analytics is arguably the best tool for tracking your traffic, or website visitors. You can view not only your overall traffic, but also the traffic for each webpage, as well as the portion of traffic that came from Google search. Read your report at least once every month, and keep an eye out for any long-term trends.
  • Conversions: A conversion is a specific behavior you want prospects to perform, such as contacting you for 10% off their first appointment. In Google Analytics, you can track both phone and web conversions, see which of your webpages have the highest and lowest conversion rates, and discover which services drive the most conversions.

Ready to Get Started?

Now you are aware of why a targeted local SEO campaign is the key to building your client list. Work through the 5 steps in order, and be sure to complete each step before moving on to the next. Here is a recap of the 5 steps:

  1. Keyword research
  2. Keyword optimization
  3. Citations and Links
  4. Reviews
  5. Tracking

Want Help with SEO?

At Main Street ROI, we specialize in helping psychologists attract more local customers through Google. If you’d like help with your SEO, contact us for a free quote.

Click here to request a Free SEO Quote