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Google Adwords for Psychotherapists

I’ve done Adwords for The First Dance (total failure for many reasons, all my fault.)  I’ve done Google Adwords for my husbands private practice therapy (learned quite a bit, stopped it at 80% of our free money and may have gotten 1-2 clients but because he ranks high for free, “Google” clients don’t say pay per click vs natural results.)  And now I’m doing Google Adwords for my father, Bill Doherty, who sells fantastic CEU trainings on couples therapy work.

I want to use this latest one, selling DVD’s that offer other therapists CEU’s, as an example of just how complicated Google Adwords really can be and how, if you aren’t careful, you can lose a ton of money, really fast.  I also hope I inspire you to think more carefully about your real goals and whether you’re really dedicated to the mental energy, and website reorganization, necessary to succeed at Google Adwords.  I also want to inspire you to simply think more deeply about your goals and to REACH your ideal client type with the fantastic options Google Adwords offers!!

First of all, you may call yourself a therapist, but you know who is on Google with those words?  Massage therapists!  Physical therapists!  Way more than all you folks.  Perhaps massage and physical therapists don’t go to as many conferences so they end up searching online in much greater numbers. Whatever the reason, mistake #1 would be to simply throw money at “therapy CEU’s.”  We’d get a huge variety of people that have nothing to do with psychotherapy and waste money really fast in the process. (Not to mention a lot of annoyed, confused, or frustrated massage or physical therapists wondering why we were advertising to them!)

Secondly, I talk about website organization (have a whole CD / MP3 on the topic!)   When it comes to making money on your website by using Google Adwords, it is ESSENTIAL to have things very clear, very direct, and send people to exactly what you’re advertising.  In the case of my dad’s website, he has five DVD’s and they were all on the same page yesterday when I began this project.  I’ll get into this more in a minute because it brings up another nuanced point but before I even did research on keywords for my ads, I had to split out ALL the topics onto their own page.  (That helps with my free search engine optimization, too!)

Third, you may have the “broad category” in your head.  The broadest would be to say, “I want new clients!”  Less broad would be, “I want to fill my teen support group classes.”  And even less broad would be, “I want to hone in on teenagers who are online from 3-5pm after class, in a small geographic area, searching for advice on how to handle peer pressure or mental health issues they face, and I want to advertise my class coming up in 4 weeks.”  (Even more crazy would be to hone in on exact websites your ideal client visits and embed your ad inside those websites, which is an option you have.)  You may even be global enough in your thinking to realize it’s better to spend more money than you’d like to fill that FIRST class, because word of mouth advertising from those support groups is not only free, but a lot more effective than Google Adwords.  (Hint: losing money sometimes makes you more in the long term.  If you were willing to put $100 into filling a class, maybe consider what $200 can do…?)

This brings us to the fourth point.  If you are thinking about that class that starts in 4 weeks, you’re thinking about the topics you’ll cover and the mindset of the teens who may sign up, why would you EVER do the #1 mistake every type of business does?  The mistake?  Making your ad go to your HOMEPAGE, rather than directly to the class date, time, and details page.  Why would you engage someone to sign up, only to send them back to your homepage and make them hunt… they don’t care THAT much about you!  They may try “events”, or “support groups”, or “classes”, only to realize you labeled it differently than their first impression.  (You may realize it’s easier to call something a class but then do a switch and make it a more open, sharing environment, knowing more people will sign up for a class than group.)  And if week days and time matter, put those details ON YOUR AD so you don’t get people who work after school clicking on your ad.

Selling CEU DVD’s for therapists is turning into a big octopus, but one I’m having a blast trying to figure out.  This is my strategy, and I hope you noodle on what you would do and what I’m planning to see  if you can see the nuance.

Keywords – I’ve done my research and  I’m staying exclusively with the CE, CEU, CEU’S phrases.  I’ve decided there are way too many phrases actual couples may be using and since these DVD’s are for therapists-only, I want to be conservative in where I put my dollars.

I’ve also found three groups that I’m going to focus on.  Social workers, LMT’s, and the word “counselor”, or LPC.  Again, those words WITH the CEU in it.  This will ensure that my ads only show up for 1) the audience I have a product for, 2) the exact need they have, which is to fulfill ongoing training requirements.  I don’t want to show up for people searching for PROGRAMS on becoming a therapist, or finding a workshop to attend, or someone looking  FOR a counselor.

Now it comes to the ads themselves. Think about it.  Even if you did a “social worker CEU” Google search you don’t want ANY type of training.  You work with certain types of people, or perhaps want to get training TO work with a new client type.  Either way, some topics float your boat and others don’t. Why would I ever want a generic ad, knowing you may never see couples and therefor not buy?  The biggest mistake would be to have ads simply saying: “CEU’s for social workers, MFTs,  and counselors.”  You may get a lot of clicks, but how many are interested and will buy?  I’d rather see you have a harder time GETTING clicks but having them turn into sales.

This is where the octopus starts.  Google has CAMPAIGNS (which you’d want to use if you wanted to focus on different geographic areas or times of the day, say for teen classes vs parent classes at night.)  I don’t care about the time of day for my searchers, nor about their location, so I am just running one campaign.  But, I have different ad GROUPS.  Why?  I want to hone in directly on my three audiences (social workers, LPC’s, and MFTs.)  Each of them is always nervous about buying a CEU product that doesn’t qualify for their license, so by having their role in the ad itself, they will have more confidence on clicking to learn more. It’s also going to catch their eye because it’s the phrase they used to create the Google search.

The final part, since you may think I’ve done as much “honing down” as I can, is to actually hone in FURTHER on the exact topic of EACH DVD.  Each DVD deserves its own ad because each has a different lesson.  This means I’ll have at least 5 ads, representing each DVD, for EACH of my 3 audience types.  Some might argue I should really have 2-4 ads PER dvd, to see which ones work the best.  For now, I have $100 free Google Adwords money and think I’m making enough of a monster that I’ll just see what happens.  If we do sell DVD’s then we’ll use that money to keep the ads going, since they’re proving good “ROI.” (return on investment.)  I could be fancy and have a bundle “buy 8 CEU’s now!” with a Google Checkout button in the ad, for example.

Final words.  If this post as horribly confused you, don’t worry.  It either means you’re learning and stretching and with time will “get it”, or it could mean you are a brilliant therapist but analytical stuff like Google Adwords may not be your cup of tea.  That’s completely valid!  I’d then consider hiring someone to do the work for you, or AVOID Adwords altogether.  Not every type of client is going to be reachable by Adwords, or perhaps not as timely as you’d want filling a practice or support group.  You may be better off spending $3 on a cup of coffee for the personal trainer at the YMCA, picking her brain on what she’d love to see to help her clients with their mental health!


Google Adwords – seeking advice vs paying for help

I blog about this a bit, and I talk about this in general for website marketing (beyond Google Adwords for therapists and marriage educators), but I can not state this clear enough:

Website traffic is ultimately about people seeking something online.  That SOMETHING is crucial to where you put your marketing money.

Is the “something” simply looking for Dear Abby type advice?  (A huge percentage of web traffic.)

Is the “something” people researching diagnosis or treatments for a label they’ve been given?  This is important.  If a therapist labels a client with a DSM diagnosis, the chances are really high the client will seek more information online even if the therapist does everything she can to explain what it is, how treatment works, etc.  Let’s say you’re a therapist who also works with those types of clients with that diagnosis.  You are paying about $1.50 per click for people seeking help with that diagnosis.  Client goes off to find more information, sees your ad, and clicks on it to learn more.  They are never going to sign up with you because they already have a therapist, and you just spent $1.50.

Obviously you can’t control every click spent, but the more closely to think through who you are trying to attract, the more you set up your Adwords in ways that prevent what we call “non-converting” words, the less wasted money you will spend.  An example of this is when I was working on my husbands therapy account, he had words like:





advice (not as likely to convert as someone seeking actual therapy or counseling and using those words)

religious or gender terms that he doesn’t work with… (he had some womens relationship term and he doesn’t focus on female stuff nor would that female likely be seeking a male therapist for her issues!)

What you do is make those terms “negative” keywords, so when those types of searches are done, Google NEVER displays your ad.  This will save you a lot of money!

Google Adwords Update

If you’ve been following the journey, I got a $100 Vistaprint free coupon for Google Adwords.  I used this money to set up my husbands therapy website with ads.  I had fun.  I’ve learned a lot.  But I paused it at $88.  I have a lot more questions than answers, and will be rereading my Pay Per Click book this weekend!

One of the most interesting elements of Google Adwords is you can try to set the “location.”  Everyone on the web has something called an “IP address.”  This is like if you had a GPS tracking system, you always exist on some latitude and longitude, no matter where you are.  Google lets you hone in on a certain area for your ads.

The problem (as far as I’ve managed to discover) is I may LIVE in one city, but am searching for therapy (or classes) in ANOTHER area of the metro.  My husband does couples work, so there are really two people’s schedules and locations to figure out.  This has meant that while I thought I was capturing just a very small radius, I was getting words for areas across town.  UGH!  It means local folks work over there and know the only way they’re getting help is if they leave work for an hour.

A Google person who sets up ads says he has 500 “negative words” he uses.  These would be words or phrases that you never want your ad to appear for.  I can now see why there are so many!!!  Locations alone would take up a ton, then add in all the potential phrases you don’t want.  For example, my husband paid for ads for people seeking classes (he doesn’t offer them), Catholic counseling (not Catholic), retreats (doesn’t offer them), womens help (he’d help women but someone seeking women help is not his ideal candidate), another query about marriage statistics (this person is wanting to do research, so paying $2 for that ad was a waste.)

I’ll end there.  I’m both frustrated, intrigued, and trying to figure out next steps.  We have to pay $5/day for 3 clicks because they’re quite expensive.  Assuming the ratio of 100 clicks may result in 1 client, you can do the math…. obviously the goal is to improve stats, hone in narrowly showing ads to an ideal client base, and then as new clients come in you’ve more than paid for the entire months ads.

For those reading, I’m curious how therapists confirm whether clients came via their Google Ad?  My husband gets good website traffic directly so he  doesn’t want to push clients at the intake how they found him.   I’m tempted to have the ad go to separate pages with a different email address to at least potentially confirm where clients found him.

Or, we’ll drop this marketing method!  For marital harmony I can’t push him on all the things he should be doing on his site to increase his own “free” website traffic.  🙂

Google Adwords Adventure Continues

I paused the Google Adwords campaign for traveling, but it’s back up and running.  It is fascinating to watch all these numbers!  For example, if I log in first thing in the AM, I seem to get a click almost immediately, meaning of the words I have set up that I want to “attract”, my ad shows up and the first or second person who ever searches the term!  My price is set to a low $5/day, so by the time I get my 3 clicks for the day, I have had a lot more people searching the terms I want than clicking on my ad.  I have also narrowed the radius of who even sees my ad to a logical area around my husbands therapy office.  This means the clicks I DO get will already be more likely to turn into clients than if I had the entire metro area.

I met someone recently who has almost no clicks and tons of “impressions”, which is a fancy way of saying your ad appeared but nobody touched it.  It’s the “touching your ad” or what they call “clicks” that really matters because the click is what gets them to your WEBSITE, where hopefully they’ll want to call you!  I can see how being gunshy with your money makes Google Adwords really hard.  I can also see how having the right keywords and a very engaging ad is crucial. 

I did just discover I had to add “massage” as a negative keyword, which means if they type in any words including “massage”, my ad will never show up.  We just spent $1.88 for someone looking for couples massage in our state.  Ugh!  (Of course we joke maybe they’d still want counseling….)  If you are reading this blog, I hope you are looking CAREFULLY at your Google Adwords, hired someone good, or will now go explore. 

I am open to reviewing  Adwords at a ‘high level’….for free!  I’m very interested in seeing other ads, seeing your numbers, and seeing if I can find some immediate ways for you to spend your money more wisely.  Use the contact form on my Thomas Consultation website.  I am not at the point where I feel confident charging for my services for Google Adwords but I would benefit learning through others, and those learnings would be passed on to others!

Day 1 Google Adwords Learnings

This afternoon I still wasn’t getting many ads displayed for my husbands therapy website and realized for some reason the price I’d pay per ad was really low.  The reality is why bid any money if it can’t be spent?  The point is to spend to get new clients!  So I upped my “play money” to $5 a day knowing that it’ll either work, or I still don’t have the best words and there won’t even be enough traffic to make $5 worth of clicks.  Besides, $100 in free money makes it VERY easy to experiment without freaking out.

In any event, as soon as I upped the dollars, I am now showing up!  And I’m quite pleased with myself (knowing we haven’t got an email or call yet from some instant-web visit as of the last 6 hours..not surprising.)  The reason I’m pleased is we had our ad show up 4 times with one phrase, and had a click!  This is amazing that our ad drew enough interest to have 1/4 of people click on it.  Even better, another phrase had the ad display two times with one click.  This means 50% “conversion” of seeing the ad to clicking.

These are crazy high numbers.  People strive for 1-2%, and in fact a third click we had was 2.3% for number of views it took for a click to happen.

If this is all foreign speak, I apologize.  Google Adwords is almost “new again” to me now that I have a much greater understanding of what I’m doing.  I think I will always cringe at what I did back in the day.  Now I’m on an “analytical high!” with this stuff.  If I have some success, I will have to add this as a service I offer!  One thing I know I’m good at is spinning common ways of saying things.  I did this in my HR days and I do this in the way I ask questions of everyone – sales people, friends, whomever I meet.  I even did this recently with my dr, “reexplaining” high blood pressure in a very non-medical way and he stopped, thought, and said, “great way of explaining it!” 

The very humble part of me knows that unless I have some success with this, I am not going to charge YOU for my “analytical high!”  🙂

Trying Google Adwords

I’ve done Google Adwords in the past.  Before I knew anything.  Before I realized there are a thousand questions to ask yourself before you start.  And there are tricks, tips, and important considerations in the phrases people use and whether those phrases are likely to turn into real clients.

Fast forward, we’ve had fantastic and FREE success, but I got a $100 Google Adwords coupon from Vistaprint.  I decided to give it to my husbands marriage therapy website.  He has a new office across town, so I’m chosing to hone in on that office area.  It’s fun to write a couple ads (will write a few more probably tomorrow) and track the data.  I also learned an important thing about their maps…. about 200 extra clicks I didn’t need to do *insert groan* before I saw the special area I needed to be in to exclude all but a select area of town.  I’ve read a lot more on Google Adwords so while I’m not an expert, I am much more confident and excited this round.

I will let you know how it goes!  I know $100 isn’t much, but for a $5 activation fee, it’s free money and well worth trying again.  If nothing else, I can pass along more wisdom!  I also made note of something on my husbands website that may be hurting him so we’ll change that to see if that helps his overall conversion of website visitors to clients.

Great Google Adwords help

For those of you who pay for Google Adwords, here is a great article because 1) it’s really on-the-ground informative and education, and 2) if you freak out reading it, then you really should consider NOT using Google Adwords, or hiring professionals to do the campaign for you.  It’s very analytical, you have to understanding landing pages, researching phrases, etc.

WordPress is considered the “Bible” of search engine optimization and I have said how I don’t read newsletters…. except I always, always read Wordtracker newsletters.  To join Wordtracker for a day, month, or year, sign up for Wordtracker here.

The Google Adwords article is here.


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