"Helping people who help people"

Posts tagged ‘writing content’

Common Website Mistakes

I have a short article on my website on Common Website Mistakes, but I’m now creating its own category on here. There are a ton! I’ll slowly walk through them so it’s not just a “simple bullet point list” but so you understand WHY it is a mistake, or at least understand the nuance of when to “break a rule.”  And of course this is America and you are free to completely disagree with me.  It reminds me of a book by Charles Barkley, a hysterical athlete who wrote a book called, “I May Be Wrong, But I Doubt It.”

Today I will talk about US vs I/Me. I see so many websites that talk about “us”.  “To contact us…” or “We believe in…” or “Our office is conveniently located….”

You know when that is a problem? When it’s just ONE PERSON!

When there is no “we” it is very confusing for someone to not really know who they are contacting! Will the email go to the person whose ad they read and liked? Will it go to a big group email and they just have to hope the person they wanted replies?  Will it go to a third party, maybe a receptionist or office manager?  What if I don’t want to go to a group office but just want to go to an individuals private office?  Where is the list of the other “we’s” on the website, anyway?

Who in the world is the “WE?”

I know it’s done for a variety of reasons, or perhaps it’s not even something you think about because you wrote in the “business sense” rather than the personal sense of a personal service. But guess what? You’re not a Target store manager where the “we” is a massive corporation offering thousands of varied products. You’re an individual offering your heart, mind, soul, training, wisdom, experience, personality, and time to one other person (couple or family.) Why not keep that personalization going with the “I offer” or “to contact me” statements?  If you do have an office manager, then just be clear!  Either include both people’s contact information, or make it clear who will be reading and responding to the email.

When I call the car dealership or gas station to get my car fixed, I expect “we can get it looked at today.” The WE is fine because I don’t know or frankly care who looks at my car.

But in therapy I care deeply who the therapist is and I want to know that is the person I’m getting!

If you are writing the “we” because you hope to eventually get a group practice going, consider staying with the “I” until you actually have created a “we” in the office, and created space on your website for the other person/people. 

If the “we” is meant to imply you have a huge range of offerings, then I’d recommend rearranging your word choice.  Instead of “We offer a wide range of workshops on topics including parenting, addictions, relationship stress, financial management”, I would change it to either “I offer..”, or “In this office space a wide range of workshops happen every month, including x, y, z.”  Notice the difference?  Perhaps you DON’T teach all the workshops but that is neither here or there for  general web advertising.  The last way is to help advertise the topics  without going overboard on details of potentially 4 different experts you bring in, before someone has actually expressed interest in signing up.

Please comment if you have any questions on the above!

The single biggest scam

I was on Twitter and found a marketing firm that specializing in weddings.  This is perfect if you’re in the industry!  (Self-serving note: just like I’m a web marketer with proven success in the therapy/educator world.)

Here’s the problem though… they listed a few of their websites they’ve worked on, and their number one proof of success was making the business RANK WELL on Google for its OWN business name!  Here are the problems with that.

1 – When your website is your business name, as these examples were, there is NO reason why you should not show up top for a Google search with your name.  (Excluding if there are 9,000 “wellness therapy” type websites….)  All therapists listed on Marriage Friendly Therapists also rank high for their profile on our site.  It is NOT HARD folks.  If I can do it within MY therapy website, for hundreds of therapists, you can do it on your own.

2 – This firm should know better than to attempt to sell themselves on an angle of search engine work that really is not the purpose of search engine work. 

Search engine work is not about ranking high for your name or business (those people already know you exist and are just trying to relocate you…) the point of search engine work is FINDING BRAND NEW PEOPLE WHO DO NOT KNOW YOU EXIST!  You want to show up on the billboard super highway to those zipping by.  The people who already know you will eventually find you, or find your business card.

I used to have 14 people a day for The First Dance premarital counseling website.  I now average 400 people a day.  Sometimes more, sometimes less.  The daily average goes up the more thought and work I put into the site!

The question then is how to get from here to there?  This is where I was untrusting of the search engine firms, who I had, and still see, not doing a great job with colleagues.  Not only that, they don’t know your industry, and they don’t TEACH YOU a darn thing.  This leaves you completely in the dark.  It drives me nuts and instead of whining, I invested a ton of time into explaining to non-technical therapists/educators, what you can and should do for your website traffic.  The entire batch of trainings is almost everything about a website I think you should know but likely weren’t told, or only told bits, without a bigger context.  It is broken up by logical categories.  This blog is about my content building CD/MP3.  This will give you the insider track on how to think about your own website, how to do some research, and what exactly you should say.  And the sad reality is even if you have a webmaster, they do not know this stuff.  A webmaster is either a designer (think artist), or a crunchy programmer (think loves code more than marketing.)  It’s a difficult place to get help because most of this knowledge is from highly paid firms and in our industry, we don’t have that kind of money.  (A local firm has on their contact form that projects START at $18,000.)

My entire store is now on Mp3  – check it out!  Elizabeth Website Training CD or MP3’s.  I am offering a 100% money back guarentee.  I know how disappointing it is to buy “fluff.”  (A word used to testify to my trainings…as in what they AREN’T.)   Someone recently misplaced one of the CD’s (she bought the bundle) and was desperate for a new copy she loved it so much.  It was the “least sexy” one, on website organization, so that bodes well! 🙂  I have always had little patience for stuff that was inspirational but completely unusuable.  Or a lot of talking about stories that didn’t really give much of a point…or perhaps just shared a cliche.  I am also not a fan of someone spending most of their time on how great they are.  Or not able to admit mistakes. These are all my personality, and these are all things the sound recording people said about my trainings and why they loved them.  My undying passion is to connect educators and therapists with the people seeking their services online.  It gives me tremendous joy to do this with my own websites, and it gives me great joy to see others do the same.  My expertise is buried and fewer people get help if I don’t help spread the word.

Find out for yourself!  Elizabeth’s website trainings.

The tension between expertise and relating to your audience

Some people do a great job balancing their expertise (or lack thereof) and how they market themselves.  Some people go one direction too strong – focusing only on credentials, licenses, education at the expense of EMOTIONALLY connnecting with their website reader.  Others, the people who maybe took one too many marketing class, focus exclusively on the EMOTIONAL connection of the website reader but fail to provide any real “meat”.

Herein lies the challenge when advertising yourself on the web.  If you purely relate emotionally, you wash yourself out to being generic “I care” but if you talk too much about yourself, you’re not connecting with the reader.  What about the folks who already believe therapists are, by nature, emotional connectors and want something more than “emotional talk” or your credentials?

They want stuff like, “what does a session look like with you?”  “What sorts of problems do you love to work with most and why?”  They want to feel excited to call you and they want to feel loyal to you. We all want to “hire” the best person.  If they feel connection to you or like you have a shared knowledge of your particular issues, they will want to call.

I have had a few different experiences, in my HR days, where I “flipped” a job listing in such a way that I attracted people SPECIFICALLY because of the way I worded the job.  It really taught me that avoiding standard blah blah blah words really can pay off.

Consider anywhere you advertise and playing with your profile statement.  You could even change it majorly every month for 2-3 months and track any emails/calls you get.  (You can’t track profile hits even if you have access to the data because people click BEFORE reading your profile so it can’t measure the effectiveness of the words themselves.)   Play with words on your website, too!  See if the change impacts how many pages people read, how long they stay, and what they do (buy  more books, call more, email more.)

When Your Words Really Say: Blah, Blah, Blah

This is a perfect example of a therapist profile:

“I have been a practicing psychotherapist for almost 30 years. I enjoy my work and am usually successful at helping clients achieve their therapy goals. Most of my clients tell me I am very easy to talk to and feel comfortable with quickly. I use a holistic and integrated approach considering all aspects of the individual-mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. My primary modality is cognitive-behavioral therapy, but I like to incorporate some of the latest methods for rapid symptom relief in my practice, in order to provide services with maximum benefits in as brief a time as possible.

Therefore, although my method is primarily cognitive-behavioral therapy, my approach is humanistic and I usually tailor my approach/modality of treatment to the specific needs of the client.”

Now read this one!

“”Attachment” ….. just more psychobabble, right? Well, no, not really. Since the 1950’s, people have been interested in what “attachment” means when we’re thinking about how to have relationships, of all kinds. Our very first relationship(s) are the ones that really form a foundation for our ability to relate to others, so the theory goes. Only now, there’s a lot more research using brain-imaging techniques that help us “shrinks” know we’re on the right track when we think about attachment as an important part of helping people learn and re-learn how to develop, maintain and thrive in their relationships.

That’s what I do…. Help people with their relationships, because that’s what really makes life worth living, right? If you’re not getting along with your spouse, or the zest has gone out of your sex life, well, that’s depressing and not a lot of fun.

If you can’t seem to get along with your kids, and you can’t figure out how to motivate them, you feel bad. Or mad, or sad, or some unpleasant emotion. I help people with these and a lot of other problems, like depression, anxiety and trauma.”

______________________________________________

Now you tell me me which profile your neighbor, your spouses coworker, your hair stylist would resonate with more.

’nuff said.  Stop the therapy babble!  I kid you not, I have asked my husband at least 5 times what EMDR stands for and what it means.  I think it’s some rapid eye movement thing that sounds cool, flakey, or “cutting edge” depending on how you view the brain and therapy.  But therapists are all buzzing and use these terms in their profiles.  If I’m the DAUGHTER of a therapist, a WIFE of a therapist, run a THERAPY DIRECTORY, read a lot of the therapy magazines, newsletters, and journals, and I still can’t tell you what EMDR, I guarantee your neighbor, spouses coworkers, and hair stylist won’t know either.  You might as well say blah, blah, blah.  Blah. 

Good luck!  Go back to all the therapy directories you’re advertising in, take note of any “theory”, any “treatment name”, and either get RID of it completely, or tell your reader 1) how it will directly help their pain, 2) why you find it exciting, 3)  the success rate stats.

What to Know About Websites

Hello blog readers.  I apologize in advance for being self promoting, but every ONCE in a while I will discuss what I SELL and why I spend so much time doing this blog, website, and why I spent hundreds of hours developing my trainings.

There is a lot to know about a website.  This isn’t even the “techie stuff” for which webmasters go to school, buy expensive software programs, and get ongoing education on various computer programs.  Those folks can be busy, full time, forever doing that stuff.

No, I’m talking about the you and me’s of the world.  The average folks trying to make a living and give back.  Whether you’ve got a website now, and ESPECIALLY if you don’t yet have a website, my trainings will walk you through stuff nobody told me, or they told me way too late, or I learned through agonizing, time and money draining ways.  It’s not rocket science stuff.  It’s some small things and a few big things that add up to “Elizabeth is a website guru.”  I’m not a guru, really, but I seem to have picked up a ton along the way.  And anything I learn, I filter through my own experiences, my life, my gut, and my “systems orientation” that I grew up with having a marriage and family therapist father.  Everything I learn, without trying, I start chewing on how it can be translated to different personality types, or how it can impact therapists, or educators, or ME.

My entire bundle of trainings is something I would have died to have four years ago.  It would have prevented so much wasted money, so much wasted time and effort.  My domain CD involves a lot more than just ‘find a name.’  There is a lot of mythology about domain names out there, and there are some really important, long term things to consider with your name.  And the great news for most of you is you are not heavily marketing and it is NOT TOO LATE to redo your website name!  It’s never too late, but this training will walk you through things to consider in a name, and the important steps to take if you DO CHANGE your name.

Then we move into my marketing your domain name.  This is one of the three pillars of “search engine optimization”.  Ignoring that fancy phrase, it’s just plain IMPORTANT that you don’t have an idle website.  Put it to use, get it out there.  But how? Where? Why?  Did you know you can see where your competitors advertise??  Did you know there are really cool, unique ways to advertise that you probably don’t know about now?  This CD is going to open your eyes.

Next is the dual-team of website content and website organization.  Content is all about why it’s important, how to generate NEW ideas, how to research things you want to write about, how to study your competition, and how to get you inspired to write.  But all that writing is for naught if you don’t organize your website well.  It would be like having your fanciest furniture and art inside the guest bathroom, downstairs in your unused basement.  Nobody is going to see it and nobody will even want to go down there to see it.  The opposite problem is like walking into a house and you have not a bare space of floor or wall.  There is art, furniture, plants, and pets EVERYWHERE.  You get instantly panicked, having no idea where to look and no idea where to step.  Some websites are like that and they always make me gasp.

It’s been a few weeks and I’m STILL getting fabulous, unsolicited emails from people who heard my workshop on website traffic at the annual Smart Marriages conference.  I’m still glowing from how fun it was and the great feedback.  It really keeps me going even more strongly on this blog.  I have a message.  It isn’t unique, except that it’s delivered by ME, and I’m unique.  I have a unique story, background, and passion that I try to infect people with.  Websites don’t have to be scary or boring.  I promise!

The entire CD bundle, organized into bite sized “chapters” for you to listen to over and over, is just $250!  If  you have done any research, you’ll find 1) nobody is doing what I’m doing.  Even if they offer you free stuff, it’s highly confusing, technical, and doesn’t actually teach you anything.  More often it freaks you out so you hire the report-giver!  2) you can pay people to do stuff, but then you have no idea what they did, why they did it, or how to ever translate that to your next website, or blog, or even how to help a colleague.

Listen to the free introduction to search engine optimization, and consider buying the CD trainings here or even the one hour personalized website review.

The different “forms” of marketing

I had a bit of a freak out last night.  I saw an email advertising a new website marketing for therapists class.

My heart dropped and raced at the same time. I went to stalk the website of the therapist  referenced.  (It’s not really search engine friendly and more focused on text-sales pitch, and the therapist pays for many therapy directories where  likely most of the traffic is coming from.)

I had to try calming myself down.  We all want to be the expert in our niche.  We all like to think we offer the “best” within our speciality.  So how do we deal with people raining on our website parade?

It’s complicated, obviously.  And for me it’s even more complicated because my target market, YOU, often tells me, “I don’t know what I don’t know!”  And my competitors talk really well.  They are masters at marketing, even if they aren’t EXPERTS in the content they are marketing.  (That is the most frustrating part.)

Here’s my education of the day for you. 

 There is “sales and marketing pitches” that you should use on your website pages.  And there is GETTING people to your website to even see the great sales pitch.   There are plenty of people to help with a sales pitch.  And there are lots of expensive firms you can hire to “get” website traffic.  But I’m just not wired for all that sales talk and my husband (also a Gen Xer) and I agree those sales pitches can seem a bit too drippy.  We agree there is a fine line between “feeling your pain” as a therapist, and being a professional.  I don’t want a gushy therapist.  I was a professional therapist who loves what they do, who I feel could connect with me, but who maintains some “professional distance.”  It’s a hard wire act to be sure!  I will share some examples as I run into them online.  My husbands own website is probably an example of what we are talking about, since this is obviously our own personal bias in marketing.  See what you think of the tone of his website, which clients react very favorably to, at Minnesota Couples Counseling.

Where is the bridge?  How do you know your sales pitch ITSELF is drawing new clients?  How do you know if “submitting your website to all those directories” is resulting in anything?  How do you know who to trust and what to do?  AAAH, this stuff is just exhausting, isn’t it!

Then add an important wrinkle.  The vast majority of “help” out there are people 50 and over.  They all say ‘the next generation” is more web saavy, but they themselves are immigrants.  I am convinced everyone over 40 LOVES newsletters and thinks they’re the best things ever.  I wonder if they haven’t gotten the memo that people under 40, and basically EVERYONE under 25, doesn’t check email anymore?  They are on Twitter.  They are on Facebook.  They are text messaging.  They are IM’ing.  (Instant messaging.)  They can’t be bothered with newsletters and sales pitches.  Everyone I know (I’m 33) hates to give websites their email.  We are the “spammed generation” and we are very leary.  Most of us create fake emails that we never check to register for things we are forced to register for.  In fact it was a HUGE deal last week because I gave my hair salon my “real email’.  The receptionist and I agreed we NEVER give out our “real email” so she laughed, agreeing it was a very big deal for me to do that.  And I just got a website CD sale today and the person is going to mail me a check because he doesn’t want to sign up for yet ANOTHER account (Google checkout.)  I don’t blame him!

So read between the lines if you can.   And figure out what your website problem is, exactly.  My particular interest is not the “sales pitch”, but getting the write words that Google likes, written in a way that expresses YOU (not generic Therapists R Us).  And I want you to know how to figure out your website name and why it’s so important, why and how marketing your website can make or break your free search engine traffic, how to generate intelligent, Google-friendly (and reader friendly) content, and how to organize said content in a way that helps Google and your reader.  To be blunt, I see mostly horrible therapy websites and it makes me very sad because the bad websites may be misrepresenting the AMAZING therapist who has passion, energy and a real calling to therapy.  But the “gap” is so huge and the therapist has nowhere to turn for help.  (This is where I offer one hour personalized website reviews as well as trainings.)

See more on my website, www.ThomasConsultation.com/buy.php and DOWNLOAD a free Introduction to Search Engine Optimization.

Being really, really unique doesn’t have to be hard

I don’t want to use this blog to just link to my own stuff, or pat my own back.  But I was looking for something to tweet about and came across this article I wrote.  With some “distance” I can cringe as some things I write, but this one is good!  I wrote it after doing some search engine keyword research and feeling like the advice out there is lacking.

http://thefirstdance.com/weddingthankyounotes.php

Notice how I address things in logical ways that get everyones attention.  The topic of thank you notes can be broken up by categories, which themselves are  categories (you like the gift, you don’t like it) but the real pressure point for couples is the PERSON they write to, not whether they like something.

If you do searches for wedding thank you notes, you’ll also see how extremely general the information is.  Whether it’s simply etiquette issues on when to get them out, or a trite answer of “show gratitude.”  My is an article that someone may read and feel like they know me a little bit personally and would be more interested in reading more of my website.  I was human, I was real, and I had similar issues they had.

You may already know this, but most of the web is filled with a lot of extremely generic stuff.  It’s almost as if “cultural wisdom” is so bland that people feel wise repeating the same advice as found in every other website, newspaper, or magazine.  If you know a topic well, you may get excited to see “unique ideas” in an article title.  But you read the article and it’s either not unique, not attainable (ideas for wealthy or those with tremendous time to give to a DIY project), or simply less common of the “common ideas” in print.

You have a voice.  You have experiences.  You have a personality.  There is nothing more dry than therapy or educator websites that share nothing about the writer.  Or, that have funny stories, but end with the same darn advice everyone else has.  Think deeper, think more grounded.  I you have to, think of your best friend asking YOU the question, knowing he or she is not going to put up with “therapist talk”, a mile high.  No, your best friend wants the REAL, honest to goodness truth on what to do.  You can do that without feel like you’re being over dogmatic in your advice.  Maybe even giving a few angles to the problem is all they need.  Or giving 3-4 examples of how “real people” deal with the issue.  Just please, please, I beg of you, don’t fill cyberspace with “MORE OF THE SAME.” 

For more content generation ideas and ways to do website content research, two trainings would be useful, the website content and website organization CD’s.  I promise you will learn a lot because if you haven’t already noticed, I hate boring same-as-everyone-else advice.  🙂

http://www.thomasconsultation.com/buy.php

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