"Helping people who help people"

Archive for the ‘Website Traffic’ 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.

Who are your web customers?

I finally found a tech company I trust to redo my entire Marriage Friendly Therapists website.  It’s always interesting how different people have different perceived goals of a website.  They were asking me about shipping and this fancy tool they have.  Nope, not our business model to be a mini-Amazon for books.  Eventually they got our current website and my pie-in-the-sky dreams.  I’ll await the costs but I’m very giddy about the growth and potential for our therapists!

Just be aware whomever you talk with has their own web experiences.  There are a lot of e-commerce folks out there where it really matters how high you rank for a widget and shopping carts are a make-or-break situation for customers to make purchases.  I even read recently about a company who helps you “recapture” people who went to your shopping cart and left, within an HOUR of that “abandoning” of the cart.

For therapists, your customers are very different.  Unlike a $15 book purchase, therapy is an intense process, a decision not to make lightly, filled with financial and logistical issues.  Even the idea of collecting prospective client emails makes some therapists really uncomfortable.  (It feels pushy and too business-like.)  Depending on what you say, how you say it, and your web design, you may attract a different type of client.

Really think about your clients.  Well, at least the ones you REALLY like working with.  What are they like? What common themes are there among them?  If they are middle-class traveling types, why not write a few fun articles on the psychology of travel?  Or on dealing with tension, anxiety, or moodiness while on the road?  Or maybe on the anxiety of finding the “best deal” and how trips can be ruined entirely on the preparation that turns into hell.  Maybe they love to go camping.  What can you share to make camping more enjoyable for them, psychologically-speaking?  Perhaps you attract a lot of people in the helping profession.  There is a whole lot you could write about how to manage the emotional landmines of working/living in the helping professions.  It could be parents are your core clients.  Write on anything that matters to them!  I’d read anything you can tell me about potty training a strong-willed child who does not respond to bribes AT ALL.  Or how parents can learn to listen to their intuition about child-raising.  What red flags are there in listening to your instincts vs experts?  Remember these are not topics they have to give you their email to read (that’s called a newsletter!)  These are free, no-commitment-needed articles on your website to whet their appetite.

The idea here is if I am your “ideal client” and run across your website, unique articles that talk to ME and what I love will stand out.  They’ll make me read more.  I’ll feel like you really get me, or you’re funny, or insightful, or can teach me something!  It will also do what I love – bridging the “therapy world” with the arena of psychological awareness.  After all, if your clients have similar interests and hobbies but are living in somewhat of a fog (of depression, anxiety, grief, marital strife, etc.) your website can hook them back into things they love to do and help them see that “working on their stuff” can make their regular life even more enjoyable.

These “articles” may only be 3-4 paragraphs.  And you may even experiment at the end of the articles with a link to a new page on “How therapy can help you enjoy ___ more”.  The link opens that new page and you have a brief overview of how therapy changes people, makes them calmer, more self-aware, and how that can improve the area of their life (camping, travel, etc.)  The reason you’d have that “how therapy can help” on a new page is so you can track who reads it!  Remember unlike a book where you have no idea what pages are being read, the web is fully analyzable.  You would be able to track all these fun articles through your website statistics and then see if, say, 20 people last month read your “Travel Tips from Dr. Psychology”, you could then see who kept going to the therapy page.  Maybe only 1 did.  Or maybe all 20 did.  How cool to see what people read!

Now if you’re still following my logic, hold on to how this little idea can morph into more!

It may be you write 5-10 of these small articles and two or three get tons of traffic.  Like, wow, people really love these funny, insightful, even snarky articles.  You’re getting enough traffic to those pages that you see there may be an actual demand for MORE.  You may write an e-book, or have an interactive guide book (assuming most hobbies/interests are shared with loved ones) and charge a little bit of money.  All the sudden you may be making $10 here or there from people who may never seek your therapy services but love what you write.  All you do is write in a Word document, transfer it to PDF format, and use something like e-junkie which is a very simple way to sell e-books (or real books, audio, video…)

And now that we’re in dream land, guess what?  You may gather proof through purchases that you really hit on a hot topic.  Now you call your local community education office and see about doing a WORKSHOP on that topic!  (Let them do all the advertising!  I’ve done this in two districts and each has a different way to pay, different class minimums/maximums, and you make a little bit of money…but you aren’t doing it for money.  There is no way you can pay for the exposure they can provide so you might as well start with a zero-advertising experiment on your topic.)

The class will be psychologically oriented, but on something people love to do, so it won’t feel like a heavy therapy workshop.  It’ll be engaging, fun, and developmentally right where people are at.  From the workshop you may build a reputation, get potential clients, and be able to call yourself a ‘speaker’ in your community.  People trust speakers!

Where is your website traffic? A guide

I was asked by a therapist where she can find her website traffic.  So here is the long, complex, simplified, confusing answer.  Ready?

We need to break you down by type.  I’ll start with those who can edit their own websites then move on to those who have a webmaster.

If you can edit your own website, you will want to go to the main area where you log in.  Start poking around to see if they provide anything already.  Ideally they’ve got a program installed that automatically tracks your statistics.  You may find an “on/off” switch that lets you START tracking things.

Sometimes all you can see is total number of page views.  Or visitors.  Or not a whole lot else.  In that case you will want to get a piece of code put at the bottom of every website page.  HOPEFULLY you have access do the code behind the scenes, but if not, ask customer service.

The best FREE source of getting website traffic is Google Analytics.  You have to create an account with them and then get your personalized pieces of coding.  Just an FYI, Therapy Sites makes it easy once you set up an account, to “plop” the code into one area and they make sure the code is on every page of your website.  I’m sure some other hosting companies do the same thing.

If you do not have access to editing your own website, this means you have a webmaster, friend, or family member who is helping you out.  Hopefully they’re still around and not annoyed any time you want an update!  You will also have to set up an account with Google Analytics and ask them to put the special code on your website – on every single page.

Then, the game is to wait!  From the moment you put the code on your website, it will start to track anyone who comes to your website.  If you have a low traffic website that means you’ll want to wait at least a month, if not longer, to even log back in and see what’s up.  A lot of business decisions can be made, a lot of how to rearrange your website can be made, and some VERY interesting learnings can be made from your website traffic.

I talk about website traffic and business decisions at length in the Website Content CD.  But one example is a page I think is very useful (Why Do Parents Care?) on The First Dance website gets a much lower readership than other pages.  I need to figure out where it’s linked from and potentially move it to my homepage or somewhere else.  I also decided to Tweet the article and got about 20 more people to read the page in one day.  The idea is… more people read it, find it interesting or insightful, share it, or, at the very least, get a slightly better sense that we’re not “just another” wedding advice website.  Or maybe they never did visit my website even while following me on Twitter for a year, so this is their first visit.  They get to look around.  Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but I had someone by 10 copies of our book from Amazon sometime after I Tweeted that article.  And that may have because we know of someone (the matriarch) who ordered 25 copies for her entire family to read, so while wedding planning, they all knew the emotional and family drama that often unfolds (and DID unfold for her family.)  I mention that 25 copy story on my website as a way to inspire people and get them to think about how and why they may want to buy our book.

I hope I haven’t lost you!  It’s a wild crazy world online…lots of twists and turns, web surfers who start in one place and end up in an entirely different place 5 minutes later.  This is the fun side of the internet and the reason I love this stuff.  And hey, my random article, on Twitter, may have linked someone to getting premarital counseling who wouldn’t have otherwise…because he or she would have seen we have tons of counselors all over the nation.  That makes the article worth it.

%d bloggers like this: