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Archive for the ‘Web Myths’ Category

Google Ignorance

I will be writing more about “When To Quit a Therapy Directory” but this post is inspired by a very common myth.  The good news is therapists are more aware of the power of Google and “showing up high.”  The bad news is at least eighty percent of the world of Google understanding (SEO, search engine optimization, whatever you want to call it) is missing and decisions are made on a tiny fraction of information.  And sadly, most of the SEO trainer folks make it extremely technical, or dull.  SEO is wildly entertaining, fascinating, and useful.  That is why I exist at all… to liven it up and make it useful for therapists.

The common line is, “You don’t rank high when I type in [insert their city, or state, or any therapy term they believe everyone searches on.]

I could literally talk for five hours straight answering this mythology, but for this blog post let me be very pointed and clear.

1 – there are countless ways people find a website.  Just because the term you believe is important doesn’t show a website has little to do with the quantity or quality of referrals you may get.  What if that website has developed powerful relationships that send amazing referrals?  You don’t know simply by going to Google.  What if the term YOU believe is vital turns out to get 2 searches a month from prospective clients?  Who cares of the website doesn’t show up for two clients if the website shows up for thousands of terms from people wanting your help?

2 – there is a level of commodity to therapists online so even ranking high by itself is not going to get you clients.  Insert here a lot of chatter about branding, marketing inside your profile, listing with websites that help your brand and aren’t just generic listings like you find in telephone books

3 – Even if one particular website hasn’t given you clients, at some point you may not be listed anywhere and then what happens?  Coke and Pepsi put millions of dollars into advertising and have no way to know what exactly it was that captured someone’s attention.  While I completely appreciate budget considerations, if you don’t list yourself anywhere, you are invisible to their hundreds of thousands of prospective clients  because they did a Google search and our website showed the journalist we are a trusted resource on marriage issues.  Would you pay $240 in one year to get exposure to tens of thousands of local people who see you as an expert on their local TV news?  Thought so.)

4 – Google expects you to have relationships if it will ever display YOUR website to prospective clients.  So even if a website doesn’t give you clients, that LINK to your website is a powerful tool to helping you “rank high” on your own.  Call it indirect marketing, but companies do it all the time.  I just had a company pay me a decent amount of money to be on the homepage of my wedding relationship website.  Even if I don’t directly give them sales representing their advertising, they know the power of that link will give their OWN website more business because I have given them a powerful link in the eyes of Google.

Before you quit a directory, make sure you’ve done everything you can to make it the best profile possible!  And that assistance will be in a future post (and e-book!)  For now I hope you never decide to join, or quit, a website based on what you decide is the vital “phrase” a client would put into Google.

If you understand only one thing about “ranking high on Google”

Search engine optimization.

Showing up high on search engines.

There is so much buzz. So many scams.  It  brings out our inner demons of greed and “easy money” or “easy clients.”  Even my Psychotherapy Networker article on “getting clients on a shoe string budget” doesn’t get to the complexity or the history that brought me to launching my husbands therapy career online.

The reality is search engine stuff is challenging and requires a lot of effort!  This is why my approach in my trainings is to TEACH YOU!   It’s the only way the vast majority of therapists will ever be able to do this.  Why? I’m not sure you can really get enough new clients to offset the price of an “SEO firm.”  Or, you can be like friends who hire SEO consultants, but the friend has no idea what they did, or how to make business decisions off any real knowledge of SEO.

Where is the work, you may be wondering, in “ranking high?”  This is one small example of how work pays off… work beyond “ranking high” for one word.  It’s been a few days into January, and so far on The First Dance website, I have 47% of my website traffic coming from “showing up on Google” and other search engines like  Bing, Yahoo, etc.    This represents only 1/3 of my traffic, the other two sources being people who type in my website directly, and the other source being links from other websites who direct traffic to me.

Imagine in  7 days, over 1,800 pages have been found  by web surfers.  These web surfers didn’t just say things like “premarital counseling”, or any other term you’d want as a therapist, but they have used a whopping 890 DIFFERENT PHRASES to find me.  890!  Not 1 or 2 phrases, as the scammers “promise you”, and suggest you’ll have great success with “ranking high.”  Rank high for what? Your business name?

Imagine how much work it took me to get what usually results in about 3,000 unique phrases every month? (A phrase is anything someone types out, from “how much does a wedding cost?” or “who do I invite to the wedding?” or simply “counseling.”)  This means lots of writing to capture the vast questions and issues people are bringing to search engines like Google.   What I train, and why I’m so passionate, is this search engine stuff is NOT some super techie geeky thing, but is most simply understanding  HOW to write and writing for your AUDIENCE, what THEY care about, not your pet interest, or some obscure therapy model you did your Ph.D. on but nobody even  cares about, let alone would go to Google to find more information on.

So again, what does “ranking high” really mean?  I want to give you an under the hood look at what it REALLY means.

In 2009  over 87,000 pages from The First Dance  showed up to search engine surfers, using not 1 or 2 keywords, but over 26,000 UNIQUE phrases.  And the crazy part is I could have done way, way,way better if I weren’t balancing motherhood, a major surgery that pretty much took out half the year, other work, and life.  The last time, about a year ago, I spent a SOLID 8 hours of researching and writing specifically FOR search engines, I added 100 new visitors A DAY because of my efforts.  That has sustained itself, and then grows…

So if you were every skeptical of all those “rank high” scams, I hope you see why.  It’s not about one word. It’s more like building a HUGE spider web so you can attract as many bugs from as many directions as possible.  And who is the best person to build your spider web?  YOU!  You have the expertise.  YOU know your clients.  YOU know what you find fascinating and YOU know what you want your spider web to look like.

Important Web Tip: Googling yourself

When you Google yourself, I want you to review:

All the websites , especially the ones you’ve never heard of (wellness dot com and others) that have you listed.  CONFIRM they have the right information including the latest email, your website, and the most updated phone and office.    A therapist I know has her HOME address listed on some of those sites – EEEEK!  My educated guess is these websites use the state licensing board data and if you have all that paperwork going to your house, those websites pick that up and list it.

See where you might want to add more information.  They often say, “is this you?”  And if you’re already  there, you might as well see what it takes to enhance your profile.  If it’s free.  But just remember those sites are not generally where people seeking mental health are looking.  Those websites only show up because they have your name listed.  The rarely show up for “marriage counseling” terms.

Remember, before you get “too excited”,  just because a ton of websites have your name, that it somehow proves marketing magic.  Unless you are Oprah, Madonna, or Cher, nobody knows you exist to even GOOGLE YOUR NAME  in the first place.  The reason people Google your name is they already FOUND you somewhere, and are wanting to learn more!  This is one of the biggest scams – people selling you their services to “rank high”.  You should be able to rank high for your name with MINIMAL effort.  If you have every website page listing your name, in a “header tag”, you should show up on the first page.  It doesn’t take much work because your competition on your name, unless you’re a celebrity, is pretty small. 

OK, stepping off my soap box.  I’m just in awe how many therapists move around and 1) dont’ have their mail forwarded, 2) I want everyone to know the web is “sticky”, meaning any mention of you from any period of time will stick forever.  So unless you keep up with your own web existance, you will find very old data that may mislead clients thinking you’re in one city but you’ve relocated two years ago.

Myth Busting – Web Content

I am doing some more research on website templates and just want to shout at a large therapy website template company for saying how they provide so much content for free and it helps your search engine optimization.  (Actually the other one I saw provides FREE content, period.  You could change the name to yours and publish.  So, so bad.)

Myth busting for you:   search engines want UNIQUE WEBSITE CONTENT. 

They try to find the original content and promptly ignore any duplicates.  The sales pitch is wrong when it claims it will help your SEO.  No, it won’t.  And frankly the web content they provide is simply linking back to THEIR content to help THEIR website.  The appearance is they’re being very helpful to their customers, but ultimately it’s very self serving.  (Hey, it’s a for profit business, they’re not dumbies!)

If you don’t know what to write about, consider my website content CD (coming soon!)  

If you want to reprint information from others (which we encourage on The First Dance), the idea is that you believe in the content, find it useful, and are “blessing” it yourself.  It’s not about letting default web companies selling you on their great content and trying to convince you it will help you in the search engines.

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