The Therapists Guide To The Internet – The Website

There is no doubt that the internet is now a major part of our lives. It’s in over 90% of homes in the UK, it is vital for many businesses and we can even access it on the move with our mobile phones. When people want to access a service these days then they will probably type what they want to find into Google and have more information that they can possibly handle within tenths of seconds.

This opens the world up completely for therapists. We can communicate with a global audience and get our message across whilst sat in our front rooms (like I am doing now with you!)

My intention over the next few weeks is to explore the possibilities of the electronic age for therapists and counsellors. Where can it take us? What is the best way to ride this monster without getting bitten or stomped under foot?

Along for the ride is my friend and colleague Mark Stipanovsky. Mark has used the internet successfully to promote his business and is king of LinkedIn, running pretty much all of the TA based groups that exist (apart from the European based one which slipped out of his grasp!)

Your website

We are going to start at the beginning. Your cornerstone. The most important asset you have on the web, your website. Had a look at your website lately? You do have a website don’t you?!

If a potential client wants to find a therapist then the chances are very high they will go to Google and type in “therapist in (city name)” and see what comes up. That client will then look on page one of Google and click onto the first three or four websites they see. Here’s some statistics for you from the Search Engine Optimization guys at Articlesontap.com. The person who is number 1 on Google will get 56% of all business for the keyword. The next two or three businesses will pick up the rest of the business. Most people won’t bother to read past page one. Most people won’t bother to click on the second website if they like what they see on the first.

What’s this tell us? Firstly, that it’s important to optimize your website so it crawls up the Google rankings – that’s a whole article in itself. Secondly, your website has to communicate its message instantly.

10 seconds and counting!

When your prospective client clicks on your site you have about 10 seconds to convince them that it’s worth spending time on. Within that time they have decided either to investigate further or to click off and go to the next site on Google.

A client of mine once talked to me about therapist’s websites from her perspective. I say talk but it was more of a rant! Her message was clear. Many therapist websites are truly awful! Sorry to say it but sometimes we need a bit of tough love to help us grow!! This client’s complaint was that the sites she saw were dull, unimaginative and gave her no information that she could understand. A typical sentence looks something like “I have a Diploma in Counselling and am a CTA. I am registered with the UKCP and bound by the ITA and ITAA code of conduct”. Eh? What does this mean? How does this help me sort out my feelings of depression? Here’s another one (not taken off anyone’s real site I hasten to add, but easily could have been) “I use Transactional Analysis as my main modality though also have experience of person centered counselling and am trained in CBT”. Exsqueese me? Transactional Analysis? Are you an accountant or a therapist? CBT? Isn’t that something to do with motorbikes?

I’m sure by now you get my drift. From the second that prospective client clicks onto your site you have 10 seconds to CONNECT. That’s what us therapists are trained to do isn’t it? You are not writing to impress your therapy mates with how many courses or qualifications you’ve got – CLIENTS DON’T CARE, they just want someone they connect with to help them with their depression, anxiety, or other hurdle.

Now your turn

So here’s your first task. Get yourself over to your website and rewrite the copy you have on there. Go with Eric’s principles and if an eight year old can’t understand it, delete it. When you feel tempted to launch into therapy speak give yourself a slap and realise that doing that is the best way to get prospective clients to click off your site.

Haven’t got a website? Make one. It’s easy and I have a complete guide to doing it completely free on my website build site soulhealerwebsites.com If you get stuck just email me and I’ll give you a hand. I have a good friend who has used the guide and her site is now number one on Google for the term “Stockport Psychotherapy”.

I also encourage you to discuss what I have said here by getting involved with my new project http://therapiser.com. My plan is to have therapists and counsellors from all modalities come share their ideas and learn from each other here – if you want to write a post on anything therapy based that I can put on the site, even better!

Over to Mark for his input…….

I love the way you put it across Ian, I am also sitting in my front room and am able to talk therapy with people from all over the globe (clients and fellow therapists).

I now get most of my work via my website, number one on Google if you type in “Mark Hypnotherapy” (why you would want to type in Mark Hypnotherapy is another matter so I won’t go into that here as again that is another article – yet to be written).

Using the internet effectively

One of my aims when I first began training was to become one of the top clinical hypnotherapists in the world and I am on my way to doing that. I have access in person and electronically to fellow therapists who are at the top of their respective professions and this is mainly due to the internet and attending conferences. I love it!

I decided to talk TA on LinkedIn and helped set up some groups that are specifically TA and every week we get new members. The feedback I get from fellow trainees is that a lot of them are reading the discussions and want to join in but are unsure of how to participate or feel less than qualified – as Nike says – Just Do It – or even better as one of my learned colleagues says – Just Fxxxng Do It, (very unlike me to swear as anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting me in reality rather than cyberspace will testify…). As for the more qualified amongst us, it is wonderful to be able to talk TA with people I had previously only read their articles or books so a big thanks to all you published authors and writers who are currently participating in spreading the knowledge that is so lovingly called TA (you know who you are).

My website

As for websites, people either love mine or wonder “what happened there?” A bit like meeting me I suppose! (If you meet me you will definitely remember me!) People create or pay others to create websites for very different reasons so decide what you want your website to do for you and your business (yes, therapy is a business), and like any other business nurture and grow it.

I use my website as a tool to direct potential clients to and also to do a bit of psycho-education with people who are interested in learning more about therapy. I update it every month or so and change the wording slightly depending on my latest learning or readings.

The Internet is here to stay and your website is an integral part of your marketing strategy. Prices to have one built for you range from free to thousands of pounds, dollars or Euros so set a budget and make sure you include marketing. It’s no good having the best website in the world if only you know about it! You can also have more than one website. Sometimes it is more cost effective to be on someone else’s and also more effective full stop. This brings me full circle to Ian’s latest project http://therapiser.com. Collectively we become stronger and more effective – As One. Have a look and get involved.

Check out Mark’s website at www.markthehypnotherapist.com

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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