Honest question: How well is your therapy site working for you? How do you feel when you look at it? How annoyed do you get when you have to update your content (or do you just disregard that task altogether?).

Let’s be honest. There really isn’t much of a debate regarding whether or not you need a website. The downsides of having a site are almost nonexistent, but the benefits are enormous. Let’s review some of the most important perks. 

  • It establishes you as a professional business owner: Research shows that at least 84% of consumers interested in a particular business believe a website makes that business look more credible.
  • You can clearly display your services and products: What do potential clients get when they choose to work with you? What makes you stand out from the competition? Your website allows you to showcase your talent, and it helps ensure you’re attracting your ideal clients.
  • You have an accessible way for clients to contact you: Websites allow clients to quickly contact you if they have a question, request, or if they are ready to start working with you.
  • You can display your authenticity and brand: Your website acts as a virtual advertisement indicating who you are, what you believe in, and how you best support and guide your clients. No matter the time of day – your website can be promoting your business while you are with a client or sleeping in the middle of the night. 

The Anatomy of A Disastrous Website

I. Aesthetic Issues

Bad websites are like bad commercials. You watch them, and you instantly feel annoyed. You turn the channel to find something else to watch. You may remember the advertised brand, but not in a good way! 

Are you making any of these serious problems? 

Your Site Looks Painfully Generic

Take a moment and reflect on the average therapist website. What do you envision? Calming hues? Tree? Idyllic sunsets? A stream in the middle of nowhere? While nothing is wrong with these visuals, they don’t exactly help you look memorable or unique.

Let’s be real. Generic websites can sometimes get the job done. But they rarely capture the true essence of you and your practice. 

You know that mental health is so intricate and nuanced. Finding a therapist can be challenging, especially when clients don’t know where to turn. Therefore, you need a website that reflects how you can best help the clients you treat. You need a site that speaks to them- without looking like everyone else’s.

There’s Too Much Going On

The font is hard-to-read. There’s a slideshow or two stuffed onto the homepage. You have massive walls of text and a page crammed full of pictures.

When it comes to optimal websites, less tends to be more. Today, people value modern, sleek design. Too much imagery or text can be overwhelming. It often comes across as careless and poorly-planned. On a technical level, too much can also impact your site speed.

You Don’t Have Clear Call-To-Actions

Successful websites don’t require any guessing, and a successful call-to-action means people follow an intended action. Ideally, you should have CTAs on every page- at times, you may have them in multiple locations on a page.

However, a CTA isn’t just about having a button. A strong CTA entails:

  • Ideal placement on the page.
  • Appealing aesthetics.
  • Compelling copy.
  • A clear plan of intent – what do you want your website visitors to do? them to do? Contact you? Book an appointment? Watch a video? Complete a survey?

If you don’t have all of those features, you risk having a weak CTA, ultimately hurting your conversions. 

You’re Using Terrible Photos

Did you know that the human brain allegedly processes images 60,000x faster than text? Translation: your photos are everything. 

Unfortunately, many therapists use generic, cheesy, or downright awful pictures on their sites. The significant offenders include having photos that are:

  • Cheesy stock images. 
  • Blurry or otherwise have poor resolution.
  • Snatched from social media or a Google search (this is theft, and it can result in a lawsuit!).
  • Inconsistent with your brand identity. 
  • Casually taken by either you or a friend (unless you are trained professionals).
  • Disproportionate with your layout (too many photos or not enough).
  • Scales improperly on mobile devices

If we compare a website to a building, the photos represent your exterior design. You can have a secure building with great bones, but you’re turning away visitors if the structure itself looks hideous. The same philosophy applies to your photos. Like it or not, we all judge books by their covers. 

Users Can’t Navigate The Site

Ultimately, clients should never feel lost on your site. In fact, they shouldn’t even have to pause to question where something might be.

This means having a clearly visible navigation bar and sitemap. All navigation elements should be clickable and make sure the titles are accurate. If you offer several services or have a more extensive blog, your site should reflect that. 

II. Technical And SEO Issues

Any technical or SEO issues can hinder your site’s performance. Similarly, they can dissuade clients from viewing (or staying) on your site. Let’s look at some of the common pitfalls.

You Don’t Understand SEO (Or Your Knowledge Is Limited)

SEO (short for search engine optimization) is the force driving traffic to your site. Without SEO, your website won’t rank on search engines like Google or Bing, and you risk losing potential clients.

Search engines work by crawling the Internet for content. They then store and organize this content by indexing and ranking it. SEO consists of many features, including:

  • Crawl accessibility (a search engine’s ability to find your content).
  • Dynamic content that appeals to the searching client.
  • Optimized keywords that attract both search engines and clients.
  • Share-worthy content that attracts backlinks and other citations.
  • Ideal user experience (fast loading speeds, scannability, text formatting).
  • Off-page presence (social media marketing, guest blogging, linked brand mentions).

A website without SEO is like a tiny shop in the middle of the forest. Very few people outside of random hikers are going to find it. 

You Hired A Random, Cheap Person To Do YOUR SEO 

Were you lured into hiring a random “SEO expert” who promised to boost you to Google’s first page? If so, you’re not alone. But you may have a problem on your hands. 

Black hat SEO refers to the practice of attempting to game or outsmart various search engines. Some examples of risky black hat SEO techniques include:

  • Paying for backlinks.
  • Duplicating content.
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Invisible text
  • Redirects
  • Spam comments

Some SEO “experts” prey on unsuspecting customers using these strategies. Unfortunately, you may not be aware if this happened to you- especially if you aren’t savvy to this industry. 

If you think you may have had this happen to you, get in touch and we can run a free site scan for you to see what is under the hood.

Your Site Loads Too Slowly

Most people expect a web page to load in two seconds or less. That’s right. Two seconds. 

If your site takes any longer than that, you risk losing business. That’s because up to 40% of people report abandoning a website within 3 seconds if it hasn’t loaded. 

Does that statistic worry you? If you have a slow site, it should. Slow site speed can affect everything from your overall traffic to your conversion rate to the first impression you leave on potential clients.

You Aren’t Optimized For Mobile Devices

Over 50% of website traffic comes from mobile devices. With more than 5 billion people owning mobile devices, this trend will likely continue to surge. 

What does it mean to be optimized for mobile devices?

  • Your website is customized and adapted to smaller screens.
  • Video content is optimized for mobile devices.
  • Content is scrollable (to avoid excess clicking through multiple pages).
  • Buttons are easy to tap without needing to zoom in or out.
  • Directions and contact numbers are easy to find and click.
  • Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are used to create effective mobile experiences. (This is the little lighting bolt you may see next to sites or articles on your phone)
  • Your images are high-quality and responsive. 
  • Your site is accessible for people with vision impairments.

It’s imperative that your website is functional on all electronic devices. If it’s slow, awkward, or cluttered, you risk potential clients tapping that back arrow button. 

You Aren’t Blogging

Nearly 80% of Internet users consistently read blog posts. Blogging is one of the most effective content marketing strategies to drive clients to your site. 

That said, many therapists either fail to do it at all, or they fail to do it regularly. Ideally, you should be:

  • Blogging high-quality content frequently.
  • Blogging with targeted keywords in mind.
  • Blogging to your ideal client.
  • Blogging with appropriate call-to-actions.

Whether you tackle this task yourself or outsource to a professional writer, blogging isn’t a luxury for the modern therapist. It’s an essential part of your website. 

You Have No Social Media Presence

Your website advertises your practice, but how will people find that advertisement among the world’s two billion websites? Some clients may stumble upon it through search engine results, particularly if you use paid ads or have a rock-solid SEO strategy. 

Today, social media drives brand awareness, reputation management, website traffic, and source content. Your channels ideally funnel into your website. The end goal? More people buzz about your practice, which leads to more interested clients. 

You Aren’t Using Local SEO

Local SEO helps clients find your business. While a potential client may search for a depression therapist, they’re more inclined to search for depression therapists in Los Angeles. Of course, this applies if they’re living in the LA area. That said, sometimes Google is smart enough to know where a client is located. As a result, they’ll match a consumer’s search with high-quality, relevant sites within that geographical region. 

Local SEO helps you rank higher in your specific area. This asset is critical if you work in a saturated region with many therapists. Local SEO entails many moving parts, including:

  • Claiming and optimizing your Google My Business.
  • Using adequate keyword research. 
  • Identifying service in location (SiL)- therapist in Los Angeles, therapists for women in Los Angeles, Los Angeles marriage therapists 
  • Understanding what keywords your competitors currently rank for. 
  • Having local citations via your name, address, and phone
  • Using relevant local SEO keywords throughout your website copy and content.

III. Therapist Website Issues

You have the aesthetics and SEO down, but what about the actual stuff that goes on your site? This section tackles some of the critical issues therapists must avoid. 

You Don’t Know Your Ideal Client

Who do you want to contact you? Who do you most want to help? If you haven’t honed in on your ideal client, you need to do that before you even start drafting your site. Consider the following questions:

  • What age is this client?
  • Where do they live?
  • How much money do they make?
  • What kind of family might they have?
  • What job do they have?
  • What kinds of problems do they face?
  • How have they tried to solve these problems in the past?
  • What unique solutions can you offer them?
  • What might stop them from contacting you?

If you can’t answer each of these questions, take the time to do some reflection and research. Your website shouldn’t attract every potential client- it just needs to speak to your intended audience. 

You Speak Too Much About Yourself

Clients want to have an idea of who you are, and it’s reasonable to share your background and expertise. But they probably don’t want to read a novel outlining your life accomplishments.

When a client searches for a therapist, they want reassurance and guidance. They want to know that you have the appropriate solutions to help them with their struggles. Therefore, your site, blog posts, and even your About Me section must cater to the client.

You Don’t Separate Your Pages

Do you offer EMDR for trauma, support groups for women struggling with infertility, and play therapy for school-aged children? If so, each specialty needs its own page with relevant details.

Again, easy navigation is key. You want clients to quickly scan through your content to determine if you’re an appropriate fit. Nobody wants to read through long walls of text to see if you can help them. 

You Don’t Have A Professional Headshot

Clients want to see your face, and they will look at your headshot to gauge their interest in taking that next step. Many people won’t consider pursuing a therapist who doesn’t have a headshot. Your headshot establishes your professional respect, and it can inspire a sense of trust and safety for clients. 

Moreover, many therapists use their websites for purposes other than simply attracting therapy clients. For example, you may use your website as a means of:

  • Selling a relevant subscription service or product.
  • Professional networking.
  • Hosting webinars, videos, or podcasts.
  • Building a more established business for yourself. 

You’re Using Way Too Much Jargon

Unless you specialize in providing therapy to therapists, be mindful of excess clinical terms. You risk confusing or alienating potential clients.

Unfortunately, many therapists make this mistake without realizing it. For example, you might write, substance use disorders, when the average client might search for addiction problems. Or you might talk about specializing in dialectical behavior therapy without actually explaining what that means.

You Don’t List Your Fees

Being transparent about your costs is ultimately your choice. That said, we recommend listing fees on your site. Why? It saves you and potential clients precious time. 

For example, let’s say you charge $175 an hour. A potential client reaches out, and you spend twenty minutes on the phone with them. They can’t afford your fee, and you provide them with appropriate referrals. If you repeat this practice several times a week, you can quickly see the tremendous opportunity cost. 

Some therapists might worry this strategy turns away clients. In some ways, that may be true. However, those clients were not likely to pay for your services, anyway! Fees provide clients with a frame of reference for what to expect. 

Finally, if you accept insurance, identify the providers you are in-network with. If you offer superbills, indicate that as well. Don’t assume that a client knows how to use insurance for mental health services… It’s helpful to outline how the process works. In other words, make it as clear and accessible for potential clients to know their options.

You Aren’t On Basic Directories

No matter your SEO strategy, almost every mental health search result will result in sites like: 

  • Psychologytoday.com
  • Goodtherapy.org
  • Findatherapist.com
  • Therapytribe.com

We know the importance of having an excellent website. But we also recognize that many clients will first discover you through these directories. We recommend implementing both: list your profile on them with a link to your site.

Why DIY Websites Rarely Work

What happens if you want to save money? You start Googling how to design a website. You land on a few enticing blog posts detailing step-by-step guides, and you get to work.

So, what’s the problem? Let’s list a few of them.

You Wouldn’t Build A Store If You’ve Never Built A Store Before

If your website is your store, would you trust yourself to build it? Unless you have a background in construction and engineering, probably not! 

Websites aren’t much different. Successful websites require advanced knowledge in design, SEO, coding, and marketing. This isn’t something you learn in a quick course or Google search. It’s something that takes years to cultivate and understand.

Don’t approach your website as a voluntary expense. View it as a necessary investment for building your practice.

DIY Website Builders Have Numerous Limitations

Do you want to run a personal blog? Feel free to head over to Wix or Squarespace for a free or low-cost template. 

Do you want an efficient, appealing website that represents your company? If so, you need a custom design. A custom design shows that you’re serious about your business, and you offer unique services to your clients. 

Likewise, most DIY website builders aren’t equipped to fully develop a unique business. You may fall in love with certain kinds of media files or images. But there are only a limited number of of photos and templates, which means hundreds of other therapists may be using the same ones.  Moreover, you still need to do the work in creating and updating your site routinely. 

Websites Require Ongoing Maintenance And Marketing

Just like stores need cleaning and auditing and new marketing techniques to entice new visitors (clients), your website does as well. Building a website is one thing, but keeping it optimized and running it smoothly is another story.

Unfortunately, the maintenance deters many therapists who want to DIY. As a result, they:

  • Avoid making a website in the first place.
  • Settle for an inefficient website.
  • Attempt to do it themselves while missing crucial elements.
  • End up paying a professional MORE to fix all their mistakes.

You Can Avoid All These Website Mistakes By Working With A Professional!

Website mistakes can cost you both time and money. Your website is one of the best investments you can make for your business. As a therapist, you may offer more than therapy. You may be interested in building a larger brand, developing a course, creating a group practice, or launching a book. Your website provides a foundation for achieving these career goals. 

You work hard for your clients. Don’t work harder behind-the-scenes than you need. At Better Day Creative, we focus on optimizing your online presence.

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