Guest post by Jeff Guenther, LPC.

I have been a therapist in private practice since 2005. I was 25 years old and had just moved to Portland from Los Angeles with the ink still drying on my master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. One of the reasons I moved and relocated to Oregon was because, as a therapist, you were allowed to start a private practice, even if you were not licensed yet as long as you were practicing under supervision. So I rented a cheap office, hung my shingle and opened up shop. And nobody came.

Learn how Jeff Guenther, LPC, used SEO tactics and specialty pages to target a specific keyword to get on the first page of Google and fill his therapy practice with a waiting list of clients.

And why would they come in? I didn’t have any word of mouth referrals, I wasn’t connected to the local mental health community and I had zero presence on the internet. I knew I had to change all that and with all the time I spent NOT seeing clients, I decided to create a website to generate business.

How I Got Started

Back when I was a sophomore in college, I was trying to decide between majoring in psychology or computer science. I was obsessed with technology, the internet, graphic design and 3D animation. I wanted to learn how to make software applications that millions of people used. However, I really loved sitting down and talking to people one on one. Ultimately, I decided to move forward with psychology but keep up to date on technology as a hobby.

In those early days of my private practice, way back in 2005, I channeled my computer and technology interests into understanding how to create websites and rank well on search engines like Google. I took what I knew and created the first website for my therapy practice.

I created a pretty typical therapy site. Basic info on the home page. My background and approach on the About page. Pages devoted to the psychological theories I used. A clean and simple contact page. Nothing really out of the ordinary. However, I decided to spend the bulk of my energy and time creating specialty pages. My specialty pages were focused on issues and problems that I had a passion for treating and studying. As a 25 year old therapist, I didn’t have much experience treating issues, but I did have a lot of enthusiasm and interest in certain presenting problems and that is what I wanted to convey.

How I Got Focused

One area that I thought was incredibly intriguing was treating clients with anxious attachment styles in romantic relationships. The struggle, the drama, the highs and lows. It was all fascinating and I wanted to figure out how to help bring balance and peace into relationships. The problem around creating a specialty page on anxious attachment style was that potential clients looking for counseling around this issue were not typing “therapy for anxious attachment styles in my romantic relationships” into search engines. I needed to create content around what actual searchers were looking for.

First, I decided to ask friends and family about what they would type into Google if they were struggling with anxiety in their relationship. I got all sorts of answers that were all over the place. However, the one consistent term that I heard the most was “codependency.” People feel codependent in their relationship when they are all tied up in knots by anxiety.

I did a quick search for “therapy for codependency in Portland” to survey my competition. Luckily there wasn’t much competition to speak of. Other than a few national directories that ranked first, second and third in the search results, all the other websites returned seemed to accidentally rank well without specifically trying to focus on codependency as a key term.

My goal became apparent.  I set out to rank as the first website, under the national directories, for the term “codependency.” I created a webpage (that still looks similar to the one I use today) and created a page of content that addressed codependency issues. I wanted the page to be simple and get straight to the point. My goals were to define what codependency/anxious attachment style was, describe the symptoms, and clearly state how therapy addresses the problem. I also planned to create a simple video explaining what the different romantic attachment styles were and a guide to dating someone who is codependent.

The Results

I did just that, and after about a month I was ranking on the first page of Google right under the national directories. I still am routinely ranked in the top five results of Google when you search for “codependency therapy portland.” Here is proof.  Just look for www.jeffguenther.com.

After I created that page on my website and it started to rank on the first page of Google, my caseload filled up in a few months. Since then, for the last ten years, I have had a waiting list for my private practice with a steady flow of clients that I want to work with.

My New Passion

 Since 2005, I’ve gone deeper and deeper into the world of online marketing for therapists and wellness providers. In 2014 I launched, what is now, the number one mental health directory for Portland, Portland Therapy Center. There are hundreds of therapists on the site that are all attracting client referrals. Recently, in February of 2016, I launched my second healthcare directory, Wellpdx, for alternative and holistic care providers.

I am now able to gather user data from these sites to hone in even closer on why some therapists are more successful at attracting clients compared to others. With all of my experience and the proprietary data that I have collected I launched the Practice Academy. Practice Academy helps health and wellness providers build their digital brand and attract more clients online. I recently wrote a blog post and created an easy to follow guide on how to create successful specialty pages on your website.

I love being a therapist and I am sincerely interested in helping other therapists build their practice through online referrals. I can’t wait to continue figuring out more ways to ethically and effectively build a successful private practice.

Jeff Guenther, LPCJeff Guenther, LPC, is a therapist in Portland, OR. He has been in private practice since 2005 and currently leads workshops on how health and wellness practitioners can build their digital brand and attract more clients online. Jeff is the creator and owner of two highly ranked healthcare directory sites, Portland Therapy Center and Wellpdx. Jeff recently launched a new project, the Practice Academy, to teach healthcare workers how to ethically and effectively build and grow their private practices or small businesses.

 

Download my 4 steps to creating and marketing a therapist website

This is a free resource I created to get you started building YOUR private practice website today.

GET THE FREE CHEAT SHEET

I believe the blog on your counseling website DESERVES to be shared with the world. You’re probably sharing your posts on your social networks, but is your blog optimized to let OTHERS share your amazing content?

One way to increase your social footprint and drive more traffic to your therapy website is with the use of social sharing buttons. You’ve seen them. They’re those buttons on the top, bottom or floating on the side of most websites that let you share content on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other social media.

According to a past study of the 10,000 largest websites, those that featured Twitter share buttons were, on average, mentioned in 27 tweets containing a link back to the site, whereas those not featuring tweet buttons were mentioned, on average, in only four tweets that contain a link back to the site.

So, you might be wondering… Daniel, how do I install install these social sharing buttons on my website?

I’m glad you asked.

Installing Social Share Buttons on Your Private Practice Wordpress Website (for FREE!)

If your website is built on WordPress, you’re in luck. Social sharing plugins make it stupid easy to install social sharing features on your blog. You can do it in about 5 minutes.

The only issue I’ve run in with social sharing plugins on WordPress is that there are just SO many to choose from. Some of them are more easily to customize than others. And some have limitations on where the buttons can be placed.

I did some research when developing a few websites over the last year because I was not content with the plugins I used in the past. They didn’t look cool and I couldn’t get them to work how I wanted. I must have installed 5 and then un-installed them on my own blog. After searching for eons (ok, maybe not THAT long), I FINALLY found some great social share buttons from the company SumoMe. And I fell in love (is that weird?… to fall in love with social sharing buttons?… maybe.. I dunno).

Like I said, there are many plugins out there. You can use whatever one you like. I only recommend SumoMe because I’ve used them and it’s been the best plugin for me by far. But just like I did, test out a few and see what works for you.

What is SumoMe and Why I Love Them

installing social sharing plugin on your therapist website

SumoMe is a company that builds tools to help you grow your website traffic. Plain and simple. They are real online marketers and entrepreneurs that stand by and use the tools they produce. Heck, they even support you with tips on how to make your website a complete success. I’m really impressed with what they do, and that’s why I use them on my blogs today.

They have many tools you can add to your website, like pop-ups and ways to build your email list, but today we’ll focus on their Share Plugin.

Installing the SumoMe WordPress Plugin

1. Log into the WordPress dashboard and click on Plugins on the left navigation.

Then click “Add New”. From the Plugins search page, type “SumoMe” into the search bar:

search for social buttons plugin

 

2. Locate the SumoMe Plugin and Click on “Install Now”

Install the SumoMe plugin

 

3. Activate the Plugin

activate social buttons plugin

4. Set Up SumoMe

Once activated you’ll see some hand-drawn text asking you to set up SumoMe. Click on it to get started:

setup sumome social sharing buttons

5. Create Your SumoMe Account

You’ll see a popup to create your free account

Create SumoMe Account

6. Click on Sumo Store (don’t worry, we can use free versions of their social sharing tools 😉 )

social media buttons for therapy website

7. Scroll Down and Click on “Share”

social sharing

8. Click on “Free”

Sharing features will be installed. Close out of that screen and click on the crown icon at the top right. This area is where you can access the SumoMe settings in the future.

social media for private practice website

 

9. You’ll See that Share is Installed. Click on it to Access Options

SumoMe Share

 

SumoMe Settings and What You Need to Know

Ok, now that the share plugin is all installed and we’re feeling good, we have to make sure the plugin is set up how we want it to be. Let’s go through what each setting does. A few settings are paid features, so I’ve omitted them in the explanations below.

Clicks: Reveals Your Total Number of Clicks for the Week

Clicks shows you how many times people have clicked on share buttons

Clicks is the summary of how many times people have clicked on your share buttons. It should read zero when first installed (no one has clicked yet) but over time this will give you insight as to the total clicks and which of your pages is getting shared the most. If you stick with the free version, the data is limited to only the last 7 days.

Settings: Decide What Services to Include & How You Want the Buttons to Look

share settings

The settings screen is where we start to customize. You can choose which social media sites you want to allow your blog to be shared on. Drag from the “available services” to the “selected services” to add networks, and the other way to remove them. You can then re-order them by dragging and dropping them within the “selected services” view.

Go through each of the settings and choose your preference. One of the reasons why I love this plugin is you can really customize here. You can change how many services show, the size of your buttons, how they’re sorted, change the background color to match your brand, change the shape and decide at what screen size you want the share buttons to switch to mobile view.

Go through each setting, making changes and saving them as you go. You can have your blog open in another browser window to refresh the page and see how the changes look, until you arrive at something you like.

Layout: Decide Where on the Page You Want Your Share Buttons

social button layout

The layout panel lets you choose exactly where you want to place your social sharing buttons on your therapy website. Click on each gear to turn it blue and set where you think they’ll work best. You may want to test different locations to see if the difference leads to more shares or not. I’m more of a “set it and forget it” kinda guy here. I just like having them constantly visible so I opt for the left side floating share buttons.

Test it and do what works best for you your private practice website.

Display Rules: Decide on What Pages You Want Social Sharing

Displaying social share buttons

Using the Display Rules settings, you can choose what pages you want your share buttons to appear on. With the free version, you get a good amount of options for places to show or hide the buttons. Setting it to show on “All pages containing an article” will make the share buttons only visible on your blog. Add multiple rules to get really specific, if you want. You can even have them appear only on certain size screens. The combinations are endless!

Services: Include Your Twitter Name in Shared Tweets

setting up social sharing on your counseling website

The services tab lets you include your Twitter username, if you have one. This way, any time one of your amazing counseling blog posts is shared on twitter, it will automatically include a “via @YourTwitterName”. This is great because other people will not only see your link, they can follow you on Twitter as well. BONUS!

How to Install SumoMe Social Sharing on Non-WordPress Sites

Ok, so we talked in depth about installing the SumoMe WordPress plugin, but what about a site that isn’t built on WordPress? A valid question, and one that SumoMe has already thought of…

Go to http://sumome.com/instructions#step2 and you can grab a piece of HTML code and follow the instructions on that page to register your account and install the tools.

They also give instructions for these other website building platforms (links to the instructions):

  1. Squarespace
  2. Blogger
  3. Shopify
  4. Weebly
  5. Tumblr
  6. Google Tag Manager

A Note About the Free Version

I have to mention that with the free version of this plugin, there will be a visible SumoMe logo underneath your share buttons. Personally, it doesn’t bother me because I think the free version has tons of options and works great. Aside from that, there is a TINY blue line that will appear on the side of your site (you can see it at the bottom left of this post). This is for you to log in to SumoMe. You can change the location of this in the SumoMe settings box. Again, it’s the tradeoff for using the free version.

So now you’re site should be ready for sharing across the interwebs! Make sure to explore the SumoMe plugin and even try installing some of their other tools. You can use their Image Sharer tool to make all your images shareable. Great for marketing your counseling blog on Pinterest 😉

How has marketing your private practice on social media been going for you? Let me know in the comments.

Download my 4 steps to creating and marketing a therapist website

This is a free resource I created to get you started building YOUR private practice website today.

GET THE FREE CHEAT SHEET

 

Today we’re going to talk about how to use Pinterest to market your therapy practice.

What did I ever do before Pinterest? How would I have known I could build so many things out of pallets? Or cook such amazing (and simple) dinners while my wife (the therapist) is seeing clients well into the evening hours?

Aside from recipes and craft ideas, there is wealth of information on Pinterest. And the potential to use it to drive traffic to your website is HUGE.

Just a couple stats about Pinterest:

  • More than 100 million people using Pinterest*
  • It is the 2nd largest referrer of social traffic**
  • 96% of pinners use it to research and gather information**

*Source: blog.pinterest.com
**Source: whiteglovesocialmedia.com

The Benefits of Pinterest for Therapists:

Clearly, Pinterest is where a LOT of people are spending time online, so your potential audience is huge.

Another benefit is discoverability. When you tweet a link or post it on Facebook, it tends to get lost. Burried in the social media shuffle. What I like about Pinterest is that the shelf life of your pins is potentially endless. If you create engaging pins with descriptions that help people find them, it means at any time in the future, your content can be found and traffic driven to your website.

What’s great too is that Pinterest is a place where people go to research topics and get help. And because you’re a therapist, I’m guessing your pretty keen on helping people.

Writing informative blog posts and promoting them on Pinterest means you can help a lot of people, and not just those you see in your office. And boosting the traffic to your site will mean the people who are local to you can find you more easily in Google and get them in your office. SEO win!

Another pretty cool aspect of Pinterest is that it makes your entire audience your potential marketing team. If you’re creating killer looking pins and have the content on your blog to back it up, others will repin it. And as more people see it. More can repin it, and the cycle goes on and on.

Related: Why Your Private Practice NEEDS to be on Pinterest

Ok, so let’s get into the actionable stuff.

Below, I’ve laid out some of the steps you can take to get your Pinterest profile working more for you and driving traffic to your private practice website/blog. To help you run through it, I’ve created a handy checklist you can reference.

Download your free checklist here:
Download the free checklist and start driving traffic with Pinterest

Getting Started: Start a Pinterest Business Account or Convert Your Personal Account

To make the most out of using Pinterest to drive traffic to your therapy website, you’re going to want to make sure you’re using a Pinterest business account.

There are some awesome benefits to creating a Pinterest business account. One of the best reasons is that you’ll get to use Pinterst Analytics. This will help you learn which pins are getting the most repins and clicks as well as track the performance of your profile and website content.

A business account will also give you access to rich pins, which we’ll discuss more in depth below.

I should mention that all these benefits are FREE. BONUS!

Now, if you already have a personal Pinterest account that you’ve been growing in followers for a time, don’t worry, you don’t need to create a new account (unless of course you want a totally separate account for your private practice). With just a couple clicks you can convert it to a business account.

Steps To Create A Pinterest Business Account

1. Go to the Pinterest for Business homepage and get started.

If you want to start a new account just for your private practice, you’ll click on the “Join as a business” button.

Create a Pinterest business account our convert your current one

Already have a Pinterest account you’ve been using that you’d like to continue using for your private practice? Follow these steps to convert to a business account.

2. Confirm Your Website

In order for Pintersdt to start providing analytics, you’ll need to confirm your website.

Pinterest provides instructions for two ways of doing it here.

The way you choose to do it really involves what you’re comfortable with as far as making edits to your code. I recommend the second method shown and using your host account’s file manager to upload the Pinterest file to root directory of your website.

You’re all set! Give it a day or so and you’ll start seeing some numbers in the Analytics section, which you can find in the top navigation next to the Pinterest logo.

Next: Set Up Rich Pins

Rich pins are a way for Pinterest to provide some extra information about your website along with pins that link to your pages and posts. A bold title, website name and favicon all appear with your pin to let pinners know more about who they’re repinning. I bet you’ve seen them before, but here’s an example of a rich pin I created for this post: Setting up rich pins for your therapy website

You can see the extra info that Pinterest provides to users when they see this pin. It let’s people know the name of my site as well as the title of the blog post in nice large text. It also provides a link underneath to my Pinterest profile so people can easily follow me there.

Rich pins can have a huge impact on the amount of repins and views your profile receives. We like that!

So how does one set Rich Pins? Just follow the steps below.

Setting Up Rich Pins in WordPress

1. If you haven’t already been using the Yoast SEO plugin (I HIGHLY recommend this plugin) go ahead and install it. Then Go to SEO > Social > Facebook, and check the box that says “Enable Open Graph meta data”.

Use Yoast SEO to set up rich pins

Enable open graph in Yoast SEO

2. Hop on over to the Rich Pin Validator. Copy and paste a link to any of your blog posts and click “Validate”

Validate your therapy blog for rich pins to appear

3. Once it’s done, you’ll get a message saying your pin has been validated along with the info that Pinterest is seeing for your blog post.

Rich pins validated

Once that’s all set up, you’re ready to start really promoting your therapy website on Pinterest! Let’s keep going 🙂

Need more detail? Check out this post: How To Set Up Pinterest Rich Pins for Your Private Practice Website

The Steps to Promote Your Therapy Blog on Pinterest

I’ve found that the best way to drive traffic from Pinterest to my own website is with blog posts.

A pin with a single, focused topic that will help people is much more engaging than a generic pin about your therapy website. You can certainly create and promote those too, but blogs are your best bet for a long-term strategy to get people to your website.

So here are the steps that I follow to promote my own blogs on Pinterest:

Step 1 – Write the Best Darn Blog Post You Can, of Course!

This should be a given. If your blogs are not providing high value and serving your readers, they will bounce off the site very quickly.

Spend some time reading blogs about the art of blogging and creating content that readers will love and want to share. To get you started, I created a board to collect some of my favorite blogging articles and resources.

Don’t know what to write about? Check out this post: Blogging for Therapists: How to Find Your Niche

Step 2 – Brainstorm Titles

After I write a blog I’ll spend some time brainstorming my titles.

I often have a title in mind when I begin a blog, but sometimes by the end of writing the direction of it may have changed.

So I’ll take a step back and write out a few, attention-grabbing titles I think would work. I keep in mind that this title will appear both on my blog and on my Pinterest pin, so I want it to be catchy and intriguing enough that someone would want to click and read it.

Step 3 – Gather Some Stock Photos

This step is kinda optional. You don’t NEED photos in your pins.

You can search for some photos that will work for your pin and blog post topic.

I like to have a few to work with. My goal is to create about 5 or 6 pins for each blog post I write.

The reason being that different people will see the pins at different times. So I can spread these pins out over time to increase the potential of repins and people clicking over to my blog.

I most often use unsplash.com or pexels.com for photos, because it’s free. I’ve also used Shutterstock in the past, which has photos starting at $29 for 2.

If you search Google or Pinterest enough, you can find tons of cheap or free options for photos.

Step 4 – Design Your Pin Using Photoshop or a Free App, like Canva

Using Photoshop to Create Pins

Now comes the fun part. At least for me.

My background is in web design so it’s the visual stuff that I enjoy the most.

Personally, I use Photoshop for all my pin designs. Photoshop is the most popular photo-editing and design application out there. I recommend Photoshop, but it is definitely expensive, especially if design is not your main thing. You could do just fine with Photoshop Elements, which is the $99 beginner version, which has much of the functionality you’d use for creating graphics for your blog and pins.

According to entrepreneur.com, the best size for a Pinterest pin uses a ratio of 2:3 or 1:3.5 and a minimum width of 600 pixels. So, for example:

  • A 2:3 aspect ratio could be 600 pixels wide by 900 pixels tall
  • A 1:3.5 aspect ratio could be 600 pixels wide by 2,100 pixels tall

There are tons of great tutorials on adobe.com to get your feet wet with Photoshop.

Using Canva to Create Pins

You can use Canva to create free pins for your therapis blog

I try my best to offer free solutions when I can, and for pin design, Canva is one of them. Canva is a relatively new website/app that is really quite awesome.

I’d seen the name a lot so I tried it out a few months ago and I love it as a free option for cool graphics.

They give you tons of pre-designed templates to choose from, and not just Pinterest pins. You can create Facebook covers, flyers, banners or pretty much anything. You can change the colors and text to your liking and then download your design as an image. And it’s totally free as long as you don’t use any of their premium design elements or stock photos.

So check out Canva.com or download the iPad app here.

Step 5 – Post your pin

Ok, so we’ve done all this work and we have our beautiful pin designed and saved, so it’s time to launch it into the Pinterest atmosphere and get people coming to our blog. Yahoo!

Navigate to your profile page on Pinterest and click on the link that lets you view all your pins.

Pinterest for Therapists

In the top left corner ther will be a big plus sign “+”, click that to add your pin. Choose “Your Device” and navigate to the pin image file that you want to upload.

Under the image, give it a great description that is detailed and contains some of the keywords that your target audience would be searching for. According to the Pinterest Best Practice Guide:

Every Pin should have a description that gives context. The best descriptions are positive, helping people imagine what they might do with the Pin while also providing extra information.

Pinterest also recommeds you be very specific and DON’T use hashtags. The overall sentiment on Pinterest is a positive one, so you want to help people. Give them something to do (view your blog) and provide them with great value.

If you have a great post about coping with anxiety, put yourself in the place of someone in the thick of it. What types of things would they want someone to say to them? Be warm and helpful and they will click through to your great content.

using pinterest to promote your private practice

So your pin is uploaded, description is written. Click on the board that you want it appear in and it will be posted. You can’t add the link to your blog just yet, so you’ll have to view the pin you just created and edit it via the pencil/edit button. Paste the link to your corresponding blog post in the “website” field and click save and you’re DONE!

Some Other Tips & Things to Consider

  • Make sure to put a link to your website in your Pinterest profile
  • Add your location to your profile to help local clients find you
  • Follow other therapists or practitioners similar to you for ideas and to pin a variety of content

Helpul Resources

Download your free checklist:

Well, there you have it. To help you run through these steps and get your Pinterest profile working for you, I created a handy checklist you can use for reference, just click here to get your hands on it.

Download the free checklist and start driving traffic with Pinterest