A Website Doesn’t Guarantee Clients, but no Website (almost) Guarantees a Struggling Practice
As I mentioned before, almost all therapy websites I’ve seen have major issues that prevent them from getting as many clients as possible. But our first deep dive tip talks to those of you who haven’t yet put up your own website. As long as you haven’t done that, how would most clients even find you? If you do already have a website live, look at the checklist below and make sure it ticks all the boxes.
Why Showing Up Is So Important
Let’s admit it. Mental health issues are still stigmatized in our society. The fact that this is unconscionable doesn’t make it any less true. Unfortunately, as a result, most people who need your help are reluctant to ask colleagues, friends, and even family for therapist recommendations. This makes Google, Bing, and possibly Facebook your closest allies in helping your ideal clients find you. However, for that to work, you must put up a website, and the sooner the better.
I’m reminded of the joke about a righteous, faithful man who always did everything for others, and never asked for anything in return. He would pray every day for G-d to help and support others. He did, however, periodically pray for one thing on his own behalf – for G-d to help him win the lottery. After many years of this, the archangel Gabriel finally asks G-d, “This man is so faithful and righteous, almost always asking you to help others. Why not let him win the lottery?” “I would,” answers G-d with some exasperation, “if he would only buy a ticket!” Not putting up your own private practice website is like that man never buying a lottery ticket.
What Does “Showing Up” Mean for Your Private Practice Website?
To be useful, your website has to tick the following check-boxes:
- Have your own domain name, registered to you. The last thing you need is to realize you need to change your web host and find out he owns your domain name and won’t release it to you. One popular choice is GoDaddy.com, where a domain costs under $12 for the first year as of this writing. My personal preference is for NameCheap.com, where prices now are just over $8 for the first year for a ".com" domain, and less than $1 for less well-know domain types, such as ".host," ".site," etc.
- Have a hosting service that charges you a reasonable amount. If budget is tight, you can find hosting plans that cost less than $12/month, for example on SiteGround.com, where a startup site starts at under $4/month (regularly about $12/month) at this time. The above-mentioned GoDaddy.com is another popular hosting option, where a business site hosting plan costs just under $10/month. However, some inexpensive services may not be the most secure option. A few years back, my wife Risa’s website, which was hosted at the time on one of the many inexpensive services out there, was hacked because of security holes in another website hosted on the same shared server. The hackers installed thousands of pieces of malware on Risa’s site, to infect site visitors. As a result, Google suspended her ads and the hosting service shut down her site altogether. Not only did the host not offer to clean up the mess, they wouldn’t even help her find a service to clean it up. Luckily, I know someone who specializes in this sort of thing. He completely disinfected Risa’s site in a few hours without charging an arm and a leg. Needless to say, he's been Risa’s Web host ever since, and we're thrilled to pay him $30/month, because the peace of mind that comes from having a great hosting solution that keeps your website secure from hackers, and cleans up the mess if they do get through, is totally worth it for us.
- Have a solid home page, that's the first page your site visitors see, and that gives your practice name, physical address, email address, phone number, and the issues your services help with. Adding a professional head shot is good. Also adding a “Welcome” video is even better. There are many simple solutions out there for setting up your professional practice website without having to pay thousands of dollars for a website designer. Some options include Hostgator's website builder mentioned in the previous point, SquareSpace.com, and Wix.com.
- Have a decent About Me page that uses plain English to explain who you are and why you do what you do. While ideally, you should write this from the perspective of your ideal client, just putting up something reasonable at first is better than delaying your site launch until you have it polished to perfection.
- It’s helpful to add several other pages as follows, after the site is already up:
- Services, including a button for scheduling an appointment
- Contact Us, including a contact form and/or email address, a button for calling you that also shows your phone number, and a button for sending you a text message
- FAQs including insurance details if you take insurance, or if you don’t, then answers to why you don’t accept it, and whether you’ll provide an out-of-network super-bill for clients to seek insurance reimbursement if they choose
Bottom Line on Establishing Your Website
So-called “organic” searches (where people just ask Google for e.g., “therapist near me” or “counselor in <fill in your town name>” and get results that include your site) are the cheapest way to help clients find you. That makes your website your biggest-bang-for-your-buck marketing resource, and search engines your new best friend.
However, your site will not immediately get a high search rank. For that, Google and other search engines consider many factors, including the age of your website.
That’s why getting a decent website up and indexed by Google as soon as possible, if not earlier, is better than holding off until you have ready a “perfect” website.
Learn More About How to Get More Clients from Your Website
This was the in-depth look into just the first of my 10 tips on how to get more clients from your website. If you’re not already on my mailing list and want to read my upcoming posts, including where I continue to dive deep into more website tips, join my list now by filling out my super-short sign-up form and get my free rate-setting worksheet too.
As a disclosure, the services I mention above are just some well-known options out there, and this is not meant as an endorsement for any of them. You may find better and/or cheaper ones that work better for you by doing your due diligence. Finally, I don't get any referral fees if you choose to use any of the services I mention above. If you want to look into the host we use, drop me an email and I'll be happy to refer you.