Counselor Websites: Getting Started

Congratulations on successfully making it through many years of training, internships and hard work to become a licensed therapist. Perhaps you are right out of school and need to start your business from scratch. You need clients. Or you are an established therapist and have relocated to a new area. You need to rebuild your client base. Or you have reached a stage in your business where you simply want to grow revenue. You need more clients. You have all the skills to service your clients, but do you have the skills to acquire new clients and grow your business through marketing? More specifically, do you have the skills to grow your business through Internet marketing, a professional website, email campaigns or maybe a blog?

If the answer is “no” then read on.

Counselor Websites

We all know what a website is. Right? We’ve shopped on Amazon, searched on Google and streamed video on Netflix. We visit various websites when we want to learn about events or check on the weather. But have you ever thought about your counseling website design and what that website can do to help you acquire clients and build your business? There’s more to a professional website than having a few pages hosted on the World Wide Web with your address and phone number. To start with the website must project your unique image; a professional trusted image that will encourage potential clients to choose you. Your image may or may not include a logo, a symbol that supports your image. If you have a specialty such as working with children, the website allows you to state your specialty. If you have outstanding credentials, awards or accomplishments, here’s where you tout them. Your therapy website is your anchor in the community that allows you to position yourself as you wish to be perceived by potential new clients.

Blog

Bloggers are people who write articles about specific topics. Politics or sports, for example. Sometimes these articles are posted on a blog which is a kind of website that is formatted to organize articles by a category, date or even a keyword that helps search engines locate the article. Often the blogging capabilities are embedded directly in your counseling website and this is becoming more of the standard configuration. Writing articles, regardless of the blog configuration, is a helpful marketing tool. It allows your clients to understand about complex subjects in the field of psychology and what your position is on these subjects.

Mobile Websites

So how many times today have you used your smart phone or tablet to access a website? It is estimated that 30% of website visits now originate from a mobile device. That’s a significant number and you would not want to lose 30% of potential clients by not having a mobile site! Just remember, when you are thinking about website design and development, make sure to incorporate a mobile site as well.

Templates, CSS Design and Responsive Design

Maintenance on hard coded, handwritten websites from the early days was very labor intensive. A therapist website owner was at the mercy of programmers to make the smallest of changes. Each time a page was changed or added, other content might need to be adjusted. If a new category was added, the entire menu bar might have to be redesigned. Today modern websites are more user friendly. Content, images and even design can be updated and maintained through built-in templates that have been designed for non-programmers. When selecting a website for your business, make sure you understand about different templates and avoid hard coded structures.

There is another technical tool that can allow for easy website updates called CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Back in the day if a simple change was needed such as changing the font style, each web page had to be changed individually. Changes to the look and feel of a site today can be made quickly and efficiently and CSS.

Finally, there’s responsive design. Responsive design is programming that allows the “look” of your therapy site (design, layout, images, etc.) to automatically adjust regardless of screen size. In the early days, the design might distort from screen size to screen size. Not so today. A uniform appearance is guaranteed regardless of screen size.

Website Hosting and Email Hosting

Website Hosting – So now that you have a professionally designed counseling website, how do you make it public so that it may be viewed by potential clients? How do you make it appear on the World Wide Web? That’s the job of your web hosting service. These services provide space at a centralized date center to house your website’s code and to insure that it is continually available on the Internet 24X7. Your hosting service may be part of a package you purchase when you contract with a turn-key website service. If your website site design company does not include hosting, you may have to contract with an external host. In either event make sure that the hosting service has a good reputation for reliability so that your site is running seamlessly 24X7.

Email Hosting – Email accounts may be set up and maintained separately from your website. Consider Google Apps which can be set up regardless of your practice website platform.

Domain Name

A domain name is an Internet address used to locate web pages. Domain names are owned by individuals or companies and they consist of an alphabetic or alphanumeric sequence followed by a suffix such as .com, .edu for educational sites or .gov for government sites. Your domain name serves many purposes. It must be aligned with your branding and your image and at the same time it must be simple and easy to remember for your potential clients. Some website design companies will actually register your domain name for you and others will require that you register it yourself with an outside company. In any event, give it some thought because domain names are much like our given names; difficult to change as time goes on.

SEO

SEO stands for search engine optimization. If your counseling website is to be used as a marketing tool and a way to attract new clients, it is critical that the site be optimized. Why? Because optimization will help get your site on Page One of search engines when a potential client enters keywords relevant to your business. Let’s say that you are a child psychologist located in Omaha Nebraska. If a potential client in Omaha is seeking a psychologist to help with one of their children and if they enter the search term “child psychologist Omaha Nebraska” then you want your web site to be listed as near to the top of Page One as possible. With one click on the search results (your web site) the potential client will be able to view you home page, experience your branding and projected image, look at articles that you might have written on your blog and make a decision if they wish to call you for an appointment. Without optimization, this opportunity may be totally lost.

Optimization is not achieved with a single silver bullet. It is a series of processes that are implemented over time in order to maintain top search engine rankings. So make sure when you select a website template or design company that the site may easily be optimized.

If you’d rather spend your time doing what you were trained to do – taking care of your clients – consider a turn-key company that creates Counselor Websites to take care of all these details for you.