Simple Sites for Therapists
Getting Your Site Found
Once I've built your site it will have a name. https://sites.google.com/site/yourname, for example, or, if you've bought a domain name, something like yourname.co.uk. Whichever kind it is, that's the name of your site - that's its address, and that's what you need to tell everyone about. Put it on the footer of your emails, make sure that any directories or lists that you're on - BACP, UKCP, Counselling Directory and so on - include it with your other details. Put it on any printed material you have - publicise it as much as you can.You'll want people to find your site and they'll do that in two primary ways -
Firstly by being given your web site address - see above. Personally I think that this is the most important way in which a therapist's site will be found. Potential clients will come across your name in a professional directory or list and then, wanting to know more, will visit your site. Web sites offer a real bridge between the impersonal nature of lists and directories and the actual therapist, and make it much more likely that potential clients will call you.
Secondly, they'll find you by using a search engine. The key to getting your site found is to think about what people might put into a search engine ("Counsellor Luton", "Counsellor Bedfordshire", "Couples Counsellor, Harpenden", for example") - and to make sure that those phrases are in the body of your web site - because then the search engines will find those "keywords" and recognise that someone doing a search using those keywords might be interested in your site.
When you're dealing with search engines you can't assume the same level of intelligence as you can with human beings. If you say "I've been working in the field for the last fifteen years" a human will know just what you mean. A search engine won't - in fact, if it knows anything, it'll be that you're a farmer! So, when you come to write your text you need to make sure that what you write is peppered with the sort of phrases that you think someone might put into a search engine - "I've been working as a couples counsellor in Harpenden for the last fifteen years"
Don't lay it on with a trowel, but don't be coy about saying what you do either. Make sure that the words "counselling", "therapist", your location and anything else that's unique about what you offer occur regularly. Write for humans first, but make sure that what you write is going to be helpful to search engines too.
A few paragraphs ago I said that you need to get your web site address onto lists and directories. This will help potential clients to find you but as far as online lists and directories are concerned it will also help the search engines. Links to your site (called "backlinks" in the trade) are important, and the more such links there are the better, because the search engines will recognise that there are a number of links to your site and rate its importance accordingly. So make sure your address is on the lists and directories, but also think about where else you might have links. If your town or village has it's own web site it may well have a page of local services - if so, think about getting yourself on there. Build up those backlinks!
Finally though, and perhaps to put what I've said previously into some sort of context, my belief is that though all of this is important, the reality is that anybody doing a random search to find a therapist is most likely to initially find themselves on one of a handful of pages - the BACP directory, the UKCP directory, the Counselling Directory or perhaps one or two others. They'll then look through that list, find a therapist that they think might be one they want to work with, and then click on the link to that therapist's web site and find out more about them. My suggestion, then, is that BACP et al are the ones who do the bulk of the work with search engine optimisation, our job is simply to make sure that your site is as good as it can be when it gets visited.