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Psychologist Marketing: The Ultimate Guide (2019)

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Psychologist Marketing Guide

This is the most comprehensive guide to digital psychologist marketing that you’ll find in 2019.

The best part?

We’ve summarized literally 100’s of hours of research on web marketing for psychologists and counsellors in one centralized guide that’s easy to use.

You’re going to learn about the different digital marketing methods that can be used to grow your patient list and take your practice to the next level.

You’ll also discover which digital marketing platforms are the most profitable and which have the most pitfalls. (We’ll go through the math with you, step-by-step.)

Let’s get into it…

Psychologist Marketing Summary Tables

For those of you that want the findings straight away, here are 2 summary tables:

  1. Table summarizing 8 psychologist marketing options in 2019.
  2. Table comparing the average cost per lead of 3 advertising methods that are popular with psychologists and therapists.

Digital Marketing Options

This first table not only shows 8 different ways of marketing for counselling services, it also shows which digital marketing options are probably the best ones for your practice, given practical considerations like the size of your advertising budget and the technical level of difficulty required to implement the option.

(If you want to learn more about any particular marketing method, click on the link in the table below and be taken to the start of the chapter.)

DIGITAL ADVERTISING OPTIONS
PASSIVE ADVERTISING *

VS.

ACTIVE ADVERTISING**
COST

$-$$$
TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE REQUIRED
LEVEL OF EFFECTIVENESS
BEST SUITED FOR***
Sole Practitioner
Partnership
Franchise
Free Social MediaPassive0LowLow
Cross
Cross
Checkmark
CPM
(Impressions)
Passive$HighLow
Cross
Cross
Cross
PPC
(Pay-Per-Click)
Active$$$HighHigh
Cross
Checkmark
Checkmark

Your Website
Active$$Medium Medium
Checkmark
Checkmark
Checkmark

Content Marketing
Active$$$High High
Cross
Cross
Checkmark

Free Directories
Active0LowLow
Cross
Cross
Cross

General Directories
Active$$$LowModerate
Checkmark
Checkmark
Checkmark

Specialty Directories
Active$LowHIgh
Checkmark
Checkmark
Checkmark

* Passive Advertising = building brand recognition + loyalty over time.
** Active Advertising = connecting with consumers that are specifically looking for your services at a time they’re ready to make a purchasing decision.
*** See “Business Models Applied to the Private Practice Settings: Finding a Sustainable Model that Works for You,” InPsych 2016, Vol. 38, October, Issue 5.

Cost Per Lead

The Cost Per Lead (or CPL) metric measures how much it costs your business for one potential patient to take some form of action after seeing your advertising — like calling your practice, filling out a contact form, or visiting your therapist office in person.

(Obviously, not everyone who sees your ad is going to take some form of action. They may have not found your ad persuasive, or may have preferred a competitor’s ad.)

Once a potential new patient has contacted you, it’s then up to you and your staff to convert him or her into a paying client.

The formula for calculating CPL is: marketing spend divided by the number of new clients acquired by marketing spend.

This next table compares the average cost per lead in large cities of 3 advertising methods that are popular with psychologists and counsellors:

ADVERTISING METHOD
COST PER LEAD (RANGE)
COST PER LEAD (AVERAGE)
Google Ads$17.00 - $257.00$88.00
Yellow Pages$8.00 - $162.00$46.00
Love Lives On Business Directory$3.00 - $14.40$7.80

Sources:

About the Author

Sarah Dickinson, Founder of Love Lives On

I’m Sarah Dickinson, the Founder of Love Lives On.com.

Before we dive into the material you’ll find in this definitive guide, I want to answer the question that you’re probably thinking…

“What is Love Lives On, and what do you know about psychologist marketing?”

Love Lives On is a one-stop website that has everything families in need are looking for.

Not only do we have the best library of content on end-of-life issues that can be found on the web today….

…we also direct families looking for grief counselling services to reputable therapists in their area.

Psychologist advertising

Since we launched our site a little over 2 years ago, we’ve experienced VIRAL GROWTH.

Our traffic volume has consistently grown by a factor of 4 when compared to the same month during the previous year, making us one of the fastest-growing websites for funeral planning and grief.

Number of monthly users vs time

In fact, we achieved 9.7 MILLION users per year by the end of 2018. (We were predicting to grow to 7 million, so we surpassed our own expectations!)

We’d love for you to also experience success when it comes to growing your therapy practice, which is why we’re going to share our insights on the topic that we’re experts in — digital marketing.

Love Lives on is the leading expert on psychologist digital marketing.

Here are the topics that we cover in this definitive guide on psychologist marketing in case you’re searching for something in particular…

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Traditional Psychologist Marketing

Chapter 2: Digital Psychologist Marketing

Chapter 3: Introduction to Free Social Media Marketing for Psychologists

Chapter 4: Pros + Cons of Free Social Media Marketing

Chapter 5: Introduction to Impressions-Based Digital Advertising (CPM) for Psychologists

Chapter 6: Pros + Cons of CPM Advertising

Chapter 7: Introduction to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

Chapter 8: Pros + Cons of PPC Advertising

Chapter 9: Introduction to Websites

Chapter 10: Pros + Cons of Websites

Chapter 11: Introduction to Content Marketing for Psychologists

Chapter 12: Pros + Cons of Content Marketing

Chapter 13: Introduction to Online Directories for Psychologists

Chapter 14: Pros + Cons of Free Directories

Chapter 15: Pros + Cons of General Directories

Chapter 16: Pros + Cons of Specialty Directories

Chapter 17: Why Grief Counseling Services Will Grow as a Practice Area

Chapter 18: Conclusion on Psychologist Marketing

Chapter 1: Traditional Psychologist Marketing

Online advertising sounds like a great idea, right?

Everyone is harnessing the power of the Internet to grow their client list, and, like any other practice, you want to do the same.

But how do you do that?

Before we dive deep into the world of digital marketing, let’s quickly review traditional forms of psychologist advertising.

No doubt you have already used one or all of these methods in the past, so they should be familiar to you. (Stick with us, you’ll see the cross-over to digital marketing shortly.)

What PASSIVE Advertising Models Has Your Therapist Practice Used?

Here’s some examples of commonly-used psychologist marketing strategies.

What’s important to note here is that different forms of advertising stem from different philosophies about how to attract new clients.

Examples of passive and active psychologist marketing

On the left-hand side are advertising methods that are closely associated with branding — the idea that potential clients have heard about you before and associate your counseling practice with the service they are seeking.

Branding is great. Actually, it’s better than great…

When someone says “Subway,” chances are your brain automatically responds with “Eat Fresh.”

Example of Passive Advertising

The brand is stuck in your head — so when you’re looking for a freshly-prepared sandwich, you automatically know where to go. I feel like a sandwich right now…

Branding is, however, a PASSIVE form of advertising.

Most people reading the bus bench or watching TV are not actually looking for counselling services at the time they see your advertisement.

What you’re hoping is that they remember you when they actually need counselling services. Fingers crossed…

The truth is that effective branding takes a really long time and, not to mention, a truckload of money.

Subway spends half a billion dollars each and every year making sure that their brand comes to mind whenever you have a craving for a sandwich.

What ACTIVE Advertising Models Has Your Therapist Practice Used?

At the other end of the spectrum is active advertising.

Here, your potential new patient is looking for you, (and not the other way around).

He or she is actively seeking out your counseling services at the exact time it’s needed.

With active psychologist advertising, you are at the right place at the right time to make a connection with someone who’s ready to sign up with your practice.

Doesn’t that sound awesome?!  It is, for sure. But here’s the tricky part…

You have to be found in the right place in order to make that connection.

If potential new clients are walking on a nearby street and don’t see your office’s front door…

…or if two pages of the local phone book are stuck together, (maybe because of a soggy Subway sandwich)…

…then you’ve missed the opportunity to make a potentially profitable connection.

And you’ll never know it.

Do You Rely on Word-of-Mouth Recommendations to Grow Your Practice?

Let’s briefly discuss a special subcategory of active advertising — word-of-mouth recommendations.

(You likely already know how powerful it is.)

Basically, your previous clients tell potential new clients to go to your practice because they were impressed by the therapy they received.

The best part? This form of advertising is 100% FREE!

It’s also great because it means that all of the hard work you have put into your practice has paid off…

Your practice is so incredible that people are talking about it.

But…(isn’t there always a “but”)…

It’s becoming increasingly more difficult for word to spread within your community about your great therapy practice.

Why?

People move more often these days. It’s getting harder and harder to organically grow your business through personal recommendations.

And…

People simply communicate and search for information differently now. There’s no escaping the fact that we’re living in the digital age. Furthermore, consumer reliance on technology is only going to increase.

Psychologist Marketing Guide: Chapter 1 Summary

Chapter 2: Digital Psychologist Marketing

Your instinct that you need to grow your online presence in order for your therapist practice to thrive long-term is a good one.

You’re probably already aware that the majority of consumers today do online research first before they’ll even consider whether or not to call you or visit your office. (This is true for all businesses.)

What you may not be aware of is just how many consumers do online research first.

It’s 97% according to 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey!

In other words, 97 out of every 100 people use the Internet to find psychologists, to research them before coming to a decision on who to contact.

That’s practically everybody…

If you take away just one concept from this definitive guide, this is it:

why psychologist advertising is important

Long gone are the days where businesses — including therapist practices — could rely on obtaining a steady stream of new clients via traditional word-of-mouth referrals and direct community outreach efforts.

In this digital age, it’s vital for psychologists to get a solid handle on digital marketing in order to ensure their long-term survival.

Not only do you want to let online consumers know about the counselling services you offer, you need to compel consumers to contact you instead of contacting a competitor.

Sounds good, but the Internet is a crowded, busy and noisy marketplace. There’s an overwhelming amount of competition when it comes to vying for people’s attention.

How do you get your business noticed in the fray — particularly if you don’t have an unlimited marketing budget?

marketing for counsellors is challenging

You’ve probably already asked yourself that question, which is why you’re here.  (If you take the time to read this entire guidebook from start to finish, you’ll have the answers you need.)

Now, the first thing to know is that digital therapist marketing is not so different from traditional therapist marketing in that digital advertising also comes in two different varieties — passive and active.

Remember, passive advertising is about length of time — exposing consumers to your brand over a long period of time in hopes of building brand recognition — while active advertising is about timing — connecting with consumers at the exact time they’re searching for a therapist.

Interestingly, passive and active advertising in a digital setting have the same pros and cons that they do with traditional psychologist advertising.

We’ll explore those pros and cons further…

Psychologist Marketing Guide: Chapter 2 Summary

Chapter 3: Introduction to Free Social Media Marketing for Psychologists

We’re going to start with organic social media marketing — by which we mean posting content on social media for free.

In this chapter, we’re going to focus on Facebook since this platform is the most popular with therapists.

What, Where & Why of Social Media Marketing for Psychologists

Why are we focusing on Facebook?

It’s because of the findings from Love Lives On’s 2018 Industry Review of the online presence of 500 psychologists in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia.

When it comes to organic psychologist marketing on social media, Love Lives On found that:

  • 18% of psychologists used Facebook to promote their practice at least once a month
  • Psychologists that promote their practice on Facebook tend to be younger, having graduated within the last 5 years.
  • With respect to other social media platforms — like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Google Plus — we found that the psychologists in our study did not either have an account, or did not engage with others on the platform on a regular basis.

Let’s examine the pros and cons of using social media and, in particular, Facebook, to promote your practice

Psychologist Marketing Guide: Chapter 3 Summary

Chapter 4: Pros + Cons of Free Social Media Marketing

You’ll find many posts on the web written by social media experts that promise you that organic social media marketing will grow your business and ensure its long-term financial health.

They’ll write that you’re absolutely crazy if you aren’t actively engaged on Facebook and other social media platforms. “You can’t afford not to be on Facebook,” they cry.

Social media experts have listed up to 23 business benefits that supposedly come from investing time in organic social media marketing — for example, in this post by Hootsuite.

When these long lists of supposed benefits are boiled down to their essence, there are really only two potential pros that are worth consider — it’s an easy way to get the word out about your practice for free!

(And even then, you’ll have to keep reading to see whether or not the pros outweigh the cons…)

Pro #1: It’s Free!

Who doesn’t love free, right?

Traditional psychologist advertising often requires a sizeable budget. It’s not cheap to print brochures or sponsor a community event.

Therefore, the prospect of reaching prospective patients with a modest investment of time, rather than money, is understandably alluring.

Pro #2: You Can Directly Engage with Potential Clients

Unlike traditional therapist advertising where you deliver your brand message to prospective clients, social media allows prospective clients to talk back to you.

The theory is that having two-way conversations will put you in the forefront of the minds of prospective clients, given enough conversations and enough time.

There’s also the hope that a piece of content you post on social media is so interesting, so inspiring, so conversation-provoking, that it goes VIRAL…

…which means that, suddenly, your post is not just being read by your hundreds of followers, but shared with thousands of people!

(“Going Viral” is the “Holy Grail” when it comes to social media marketing.)

Wow! The potential of reaching thousands of people, maybe even millions, for free?! Sounds amazing…

But before you run off and sign up for social media accounts, there are some significant realities that you need to be aware of…

There are 3 major cons when it comes to the organic reach of your posts on social media in 2019 and beyond.

Remember, organic reach on social media is how many people see your posts without you spending any money.

Con #1:  It May Be Difficult to Navigate Ethical Boundaries

One of the biggest reasons that psychologists aren’t utilizing social media is because of ethical concerns. Some psychologists may be fearful that being on social media may lead to:

  • Exposing too much of their private selves on the Internet, thereby compromising the therapeutic relationship with patients.
  • Confusion on the part of patients who have been “friended” on social media as to the boundaries of the therapist/patient relationship.
  • Being at greater risk for causing harm.  For example, intentional or inadvertent disclosure of confidential information on social media could pose ethics violations (and lead to legal problems).

The ethical dilemmas that arise with social media for a therapist’s practice have been explored in academic journals.  We recommend reading:

Con #2: Organic Reach on Many Social Media Platforms is Now Dead

When Facebook first emerged, small businesses could use these novel platforms to reach people beyond their immediate community for free. Many small businesses were able to grow sales without spending a dime.

But sadly, those golden days are over.

Facebook, and indeed, all the major social media platforms, are now publicly-traded companies who have to report earnings to shareholders, which means that they are focused on generating profits more than ever before.

Organic reach for Facebook has been on the decline for quite some time. But as of 2018, it has declined to almost zero.

In 2018, Facebook introduced two seismic algorithm changes that all but destroyed your already-dwindling organic reach. It’s now a dismal 2.71% according to business experts at Entrepreneur.

This means that if you had taken the time to build a sizeable audience on Facebook before they changed the rules of the game, with the new algorithm changes, less than 3% of the people that follow your business will organically see the new content that you post in your feed.

If you want all your followers on Facebook to see your content, you’ll have to pay.  If you want to gain more followers, you’ll also have to pay because it’s now very difficult to attract new followers organically.

In other words, it’s now a “pay-to-play” system.

And if that wasn’t discouraging enough…

Business experts at Entrepreneur say that: “Organic reach will continue to decrease.

“As these companies continue to report their earnings, the pressure to increase profits will force them to charge for services that have been free.

“Organic reach may never reach zero, but it will continue to get close.”

Remember that dream about going viral?

You can certainly forget about going viral organically in this new “pay-to-play” system.

It’s no longer enough to produce a compelling piece of content (like a video) that viewers love.

You’ll also need a big advertising budget, as well as the help of an advertising agency, for people to even see it. Realistically, this is beyond the means of many psychologists.

Con #3: It’s Extremely Difficult to Measure ROI.

When it comes to any marketing strategy —whether it’s traditional or digital — “Return on Investment” (ROI) defines whether the strategy is a success or a failure.

Facebook has long been telling businesses that getting “likes” is important for building brand awareness and loyalty.

But as a therapist, what you want to know is how many “likes” translate into actual clients?

Is getting “likes” on your Facebook page worth the time and effort?

If you’re not sure about the answers to these questions, you’re not alone…

A study done by Domo found that 3 out of 4 marketing experts can’t measure ROI when it comes to social media.

Without a clear ROI, it’s hard to justify spending time (or money) on social media marketing for your therapist practice.

Bottom Line

Start thinking of Facebook and other social media platforms as paid advertising platforms.

If you already had a sizeable number of followers on Facebook before the recent algorithm changes, it’s worth your time to keep engaging them by organically posting new content and responding to comments.

However, you should supplement your organic efforts on Facebook with paid posts in order to reach more of your target audience.

If you haven’t already dived into the world of social media, we strongly suggest that you consider any professional guidelines that apply to the jurisdiction in which you are licensed and in which you practice.  (In any event, you may decide that social media is not worth the effort, particularly if you are a sole practitioner and do not have any experience with this form of marketing.

Additional Readings

Continuing Education Corner:  Best Practices for Psychologists in an Online World.

Psychology Today:  Social Media in a Successful Psychotherapy Practice:  Integrating an Online Presence Within a Relational Perspective.

HubSpot: The Decline of Organic Facebook Reach & How to Adjust to the Algorithm.

Forbes: When Social Media is a Waste of Time for Businesses.

Neil Patel: Is Facebook Organic Reach Really Dead?

Entrepreneur:  How to Get Thousands of Views on Your LinkedIn Content.

Psychologist Marketing Summary Tables

Review Summary Tables that compare and contrast different therapist digital marketing options.

Chapter 5: Introduction to Impressions-Based Digital Advertising (CPM) for Psychologists

We saw in the previous chapter that it’s now impossible to grow an appreciable amount of brand awareness through organic posts on social media.

It’s time to consider the pros and cons of paying to build brand awareness via ad space on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, or on search engines platforms like Google.

In other words, is it worth paying for impressions-based digital advertising to build brand awareness?

What, Where & Why of Impressions-Based Psychologist Advertising

What Do We Mean by the Term “Impressions”?

The term “impressions” refers to the number of times your psychologist advertising is displayed on the screens of online users, regardless of whether or not the advertisement was clicked (or for that matter, even seen — more on that a bit later).

It’s important to understand that the purpose of impressions-based advertising is NOT action-based. (If it were, the goal would be to have online users click on the ad or call your therapist practice.)

Instead, the purpose is to make an impression on a user that sees your ad. The hope is that he or she will remember your therapist practice if and when he or she needs counseling services.

It’s about spreading brand awareness. Therefore, it’s a form of “passive” marketing, albeit in a digital context.

How are Impressions-Based Advertising Sold?

Advertising based on impressions is billed at a flat rate per 1,000 impressions.

In other words, you pay X dollars for 1,000 people to see your ad on their screen. You’ll pay 10x dollars for 10,000 people to see your ad — and so on.

The precise number of “x” in “x dollars” is set by the platform you’re advertising on (e.g. Facebook, Google).

You are not charged additionally for any clicks that the ad receives. (In any event, the number of clicks will be extremely low.)

Since impressions are sold in lots of one thousand, this form of advertising is referred to by marketers as “CPM,” which stands for “Cost Per Thousand.”

(Many people mistakenly believe that the M in CPM stands for “million.” The M, in fact, is the Roman numeral for one thousand. The Roman numeral for one million is MM.)

CPMs are usually display ads, meaning that they are visual. However, they can also be text only ads.

Now that you have a basic understanding of how CPMs work, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this form of passive advertising.

Psychologist Marketing Guide: Chapter 5 Summary

Chapter 6: Pros + Cons of CPM Advertising

Platforms that sell CPMs, as well as marketing agencies that offer CPM campaign management services, all claim that this form of passive advertising offers many benefits.

Here are the two main benefits that they claim:

Pro #1: CPM Rates Are Usually Inexpensive

According to AdStage, in Q1 of 2018, advertisers spent, on average, $2.80 per thousand impressions on Google Display Networks and $2.41 per thousand impressions on Facebook.

Having 1,000 people know about your therapist practice for less than the cost of a cup of coffee sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

Advertising platforms like Google and Facebook will certainly tell you that CPMs offer you the best value for your marketing dollars.

But is it as good as it sounds?

Keep reading to find out…

Pro #2: You Have Budgetary Control

You have full control over how much you spend because you’re able to apply a budget to your CPM advertising campaign at the outset.

Since you’re paying only for a certain amount of views, you’re able to choose a budget limit that you’re comfortable with.

Con #1: There’s a 56% Chance Your Ad Isn’t Even Seen

Here’s the secret that many publishing platforms and marketing firms don’t want you to know…

One thousand impressions does NOT mean that one thousand people actually saw your ad!

In fact, Google admits that 56% of ads aren’t even seen! (But hey, they’re still willing to take your money….)

Some reasons why your CPM advertising may not be viewable by your target audience include:

  • Ad-blocking software.
  • Users scrolling down the page before the ad has loaded.
  • Screen resolutions too small for the ad to display.
  • Broken plug-ins preventing ad display.
  • Mobile incompatibilities, such as desktop-only websites.
  • Minimized browser windows.
  • Users click on another application before the ad has loaded.
  • Pages loaded in background tabs then never accessed.
  • Malware cloaking ads that redirect users clicking on your legitimate ad to their ad for nefarious purposes.

In short, the behavior of users and technical problems will both significantly impact the audience reach that you are promised when you set your budget for a CPM advertising campaign.

Con #2: People are Sick of Ads and Mentally Tune Them Out

We love this quote about CPM advertising from Dana DiTomaso:

“This feels like the in-joke of the Internet, a wink-wink between traditional agencies and publishers — those that sell display ads to unsuspecting clients and the sites that accept ad revenue.

“Both of these parties know that display ad metrics aren’t just inaccurate, they’re a heaping pile of bullshit.

“Impressions have ended up being the ‘look how great we are!’ measure that agencies that are more focused on trying to obfuscate what’s really going on so that they look good, rather than report on real results.

“It’s a big number and it looks amazing to say that your ad had 1 million impressions instead of the sad trombone of 10 clicks.”

There may be some of you that are now thinking: “Well, okay. But even if only 56% of people are seeing my ad, because CPM rates are so cheap, it’s still worth it to build brand awareness.”

We’d hate to be the one to tell you, but the truth is that the emperor has no clothes…

The reality is that users today have severe ad fatigue and pretty much mentally block them out, (if they haven’t already physically block them by installing an ad-blocker).

Users, on average, spend 3 seconds looking at your ad.

Do you really think that you’re able to imprint your therapist practice’s name in the mind of a user in 3 seconds?

Well, what about video ads? Do they fare any better?

Well, actually no.

When it comes to video ads, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat charge based on the number of video views. Makes sense…

However, what counts as a “video view” is a user watching your video for 3 seconds!

Now, it’s no accident that a video view is defined as 3 seconds because that’s how long the average user will spend viewing your video.

If platforms like Facebook defined a video view as 4 seconds or longer, they’d miss out on all that lovely money, which would be simply terrible for them…

What’s sad is that many people, including psychologists, believe that they’re only being charged when someone watches most, if not all, of their video.

And what’s even worse is that their advertising firms are reporting the number of video views to them with pride.

So remember, it’s not really about the number of video views, it’s about how long people watch your video for.

The reality is that it’s nearly impossible to build any appreciable brand awareness in 3 seconds.

Still not convinced that CPM advertising is a waste of time and money?

Solve Media has run the numbers and found that users are statistically more likely to do some pretty amazing feats than to ever click on your CPM psychologist advertisement:

  • Users are 31.25 times more likely to win a prize in the Mega Millions than they are to click on your ad.
  • Users are 87.8 times more likely to apply to Harvard and get in than they are to click on your ad.
  • Users are 112.50 times more likely to sign up for and complete Navy Seal training than they are to click on your ad.
  • Users are 279.64 times more likely to climb Mount Everest than they are to click on your ad.
  • Users are 475.28 times more likely to survive a plane crash than they are to click on your ad.

Bottom Line

In our humble opinion, unless your practice is part of a franchise with significant financial and human resources, your advertising budget is better spent elsewhere.

Psychologist Marketing Guide: Chapter 6 Summary

Additional Readings

Moz: The Alleged $7.5 Billion Fraud in Online Advertising.

PPC Hero: Is CPM Bidding a Waste of Your Money?

AdEspresso: What You Should Learn from the Man Who Lost $600,000 on Facebook Ads.

Psychologist Marketing Summary Tables

Review Summary Tables that compare and contrast different therapist digital marketing options.

Chapter 7: Introduction to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Psychologist Advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC), also known as cost-per-click (CPC), is another digital marketing model. The purpose is to direct traffic to your therapist practice website and generate warm leads (i.e. it’s not a “branding” exercise).

Unlike CPMs where you pay for displaying your ad, with PPCs you pay the publishing platform displaying your ad only when your ad is clicked.

What, Where & Why of PPC Psychologist Marketing

Where do PPC Advertisements Appear?

Pay-per-click advertising is shown on:

  • search engine results pages (i.e. the pages that appear when you enter a keyword), either at the top or bottom of the page
  • websites (or network of websites), anywhere that the publisher designates as ad space; and
  • social media, typically in the right-hand side bar.

In other words, PPC ads appear everywhere on the Internet!

With search engines like Google and Bing, advertisers bid on keyword phrases relevant to their target market.

Here are some examples of PPC psychologist advertising in Google’s search results that appear when you enter the search term “psychologist Chicago”:

Examples of Google Ads for psychologists

Pay-per-click advertising can also appear on a website (or network of sites) that host related content. These are typically referred to as “banner ads.”

Unlike search engine and social media PPC ads, content sites commonly charge a fixed price per click rather than use a bidding system.

Websites that utilize PPC ads will display an advertisement when a keyword query matches an advertiser’s keyword list that has been added in different ad groups, or when a content site displays relevant content.

Such advertisements are called “sponsored links” or “sponsored ads” or “advertisement.” Here’s an example of a PPC ad on a content site:

Example of sponsored content on a website

Another example:

Examples of sponsored content on a website

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have also adopted PPC as one of their advertising models, and are also based on a bidding system.

Here’s an example of sponsored content on Facebook. (No doubt you’ve seen many of these types of ads yourself if you’ve spent any time on the platform.)

Example of sponsored advertisement on Facebook

How Many Keywords Should My Therapist Practice Target?

Keywords are the foundation of pay-per-click advertising.

For example, your PPC psychologist advertisement will be shown to users who type “find psychologist near me” into Google if you’ve nominated this keyword phrase.

This brings us to a commonly-asked question: “How many keywords should I be targeting in my PPC advertising campaign?”

The typical answer is somewhere in the 20-25 keyword range, and definitely no more than 30 keywords per campaign or ad group.

According to experts at WordStream, “this is a loose guideline, and isn’t anything that is set in stone. The important thing at the end of the day is that the keywords in each ad group are closely related to one another, so that you can create super-specific ad copy.”

If you have a set of say 20 keywords, over time you can identify which keywords are the top performers. (Obviously you’ll keep using those ones.) You’ll also remove low-performing keywords altogether, and test out new keywords in their place.

Targeting too many keywords in an ad group is the number one mistake that many people make.

Why is it a big mistake to include more than 30 keywords?

It’s a mistake for 3 main reasons: (1) you’re spreading your advertising dollars too thinly; (2) you’ll quickly exhaust your daily budget before you get anywhere; (3) it’s more difficult to track keyword performance and identify winners and losers.

What Types of Keywords Should I Use?

Since search engine PPC ads and Facebook PPC ads are based on a bidding system, the answer depends on the size of your budget.

The cost of a keyword is related to how often it is used by consumers in your geographical area.

For example, “psychologist” and “therapist” are far more expensive keywords than “counselling services” because “psychologist” and “therapist” are very popular keywords used by consumers.

When it comes to popular keywords, you’ll have to put in a top bid to ensure that your ad gets shown a reasonable amount of times and in one of the top 3 spots.

If you have a modest digital advertising budget for your therapist practice, you may only be able to successfully bid on a couple of top keywords.

The rest of your keywords will then be moderately competitive keywords.

You should also include branded keywords so that if consumers specifically search for your therapist practice by name your ad appears at the top of the page.

The key is to track keyword performance over time and readjust your strategy based on what you’re seeing in the data.

You should also consider selecting negative keywords, which means keywords that you want to specifically exclude.

For example, you might not want to pay for your Google Ad to appear when a user searches for the keyword “free counselling services” if your practice does not offer free sessions.  If you don’t want your ad to appear, you can ensure that it doesn’t by selecting “free counselling services” as a negative keyword.

Since selecting keywords is not a skill that the average psychologist is well-versed in, you may have to hire an expert to help you. (More on that later…)

How Do You Rank #1 in Google Ads?

Your actual ad position is determined by your advertising rank, which is a combination of your maximum bid multiplied by your quality score.

What is a “quality score”?

Quality Score is Google’s rating of the quality and relevance of both your keywords and PPC ads.

According to WordStream, your Quality Score has “enormous influence over the cost and effectiveness of your paid search campaigns.

“Just as your credit score can affect whether or not you qualify for a loan and how high your interest rate is, Google Quality Score affects how your PPC ads perform and how much you pay for each click.

“Your Quality Score depends on multiple factors, including:

  • Your click-through rate (CTR).
  • The relevance of each keyword to its ad group.
  • Landing page quality and relevance. (Landing page is where users end up when they click on your ad.)
  • The relevance of your ad text.
  • Your historical AdWords account performance.

“No one outside of Google knows exactly how much each factor ‘weighs’ in the Quality Score algorithm, but we do know that click-through rate is the most important component.”

Google assumes that the more people that click on an advertisement, the more consumers must like it, meaning that it’s relevant and helpful. Accordingly, Google rewards popular advertisements with:

  • Higher ad rankings
  • Lower costs

How Much Does a Click Cost?

Since you only pay when someone clicks on your ad with PPC campaigns, it’s only natural to wonder how much a click will cost you.

You can probably already guess the answer, based on the information above. It will depend on:

  • The competitiveness (i.e. popularity) of the keyword that you are targeting.
  • Your Quality Score

Given these variables, it’s impossible to state the exact amount you will pay for a click.

What we can say is that research shows that health and medical related keywords is $2.62 (on average) for Google Search and $0.63 (on average) for Google Display Network.

For comparison purposes, for Google Search the average CPC for legal related keywords is $6.75 (the most expensive category), while e-commerce related keywords is, on average, $1.16, (and is the least expensive category).

Now, that doesn’t mean that it costs you $2.62 on average to gain a new patient. If only it were that simple and cheap!

Not everyone that clicks on your advertisement is going to purchase from you.

Which brings us to the next question…

How Much Does It Cost at the End of the Day to Gain a New Client?

Remember those dismal statistics about how unlikely you are to get clicks? (See Con #2 in Chapter 6 above.)

You’re basically more likely to get into Harvard or successfully complete navy seal training than you are to get an online user to click on your ad.

When it comes to health and medical services, the average click-through rate (CTR) is 3.27%   

So, in other words, for every 100 people that see your counselling services ad, on average 3.27% will click on it because they are interested in learning more about your business (i.e. they haven’t decided to purchase from you yet).

(Remember that it costs on average $2.62 per click (CPC) on Google’s search network for health and medical related keywords.)

Once the user has clicked on your ad, they are taken to a specific page on your therapist practice website, most likely the page with your practice description and contact information.

In digital marketing parlance, this page is referred to as a “landing page” because it’s where users “land” after they click on your ad.

Of the users that click on your ad and arrive at your landing page, on average, 2.35% will actually sign up as your client (i.e. the “conversion rate” or CR).

Let’s take a look at the math:

10,000 users see your ad.

327 users click on your ad — (i.e. 3.27% of 10,000).

7.7 users purchase from you — (i.e. 2.35% of 327).

Now, you paid Google $856.74 for the ad clicks — (i.e. $2.62 x 327).

At the end of the day, it cost you $111.26 to acquire each new client — (i.e. $856.74 ÷ 7.7)

Now, of course the lifetime value of the new patient will depend on the number of sessions he or she attends and how much you charge per session.

For example, say you charge $100 for a one hour session.  If a patient attends 20 sessions, then the PPC cost to acquire that patient is a good investment.  If, on the other hand, a patient only attends one session, then you will have lost money acquiring that patient.

Of course, this bottom line figure will change if you:

  • pay more (or less) for the click (i.e. more or less competitive keyword); or
  • have a higher (or lower) click-through rate (i.e. how compelling is the pitch you make in your ad copy?); or
  • have a higher (or lower) conversion rate (i.e. how compelling is the pitch you make on your landing page?)

Now that you know the basics of PPC advertising, it’s time to dive into the pros and cons of this method of psychologist marketing.

Psychologist Marketing Guide: Chapter 7 Summary

Chapter 8: Pros + Cons of PPC Advertising

Pro #1: You Only Pay for Clicks

Unlike impressions, you only pay if someone clicked on your ad.

Pro #2: You Can Reach People Who Are Ready to Buy

With PPC advertising, you’ll pick keywords associated with psychology.

What this means is that online users who see your advertising are actively searching for the counselling services that you offer.

These online users are highly-qualified leads because they are ready to make a purchasing decision — making PPC advertising far more effective at gaining you more patients than impressions-based advertising.

Pro #3: Google is Devoting More Space to Ads

In 2017, digital marketing experts began to notice that clicks in Google’s organic results were down 25% in favour of ads on personal computers, and down 55% on mobile.

Those are some really significant drops in organic clicks.

Why is this happening?

It’s because Google wants to maximize profits gained through advertising. There are now:

Increase in Google Digital Advertising

Now, PPC ads aren’t all peaches and cream. There are some cons that you also need to consider…

Con #1: You Can Lose Your Shirt

The harsh reality is that you can lose a lot of money on PPC ads if you don’t know what you are doing.

All the tutorials on the web are only able to show you the mechanics of setting up an ad account and the mechanics of how to monitor performance.

It’s impossible to find advice that’s crafted for your specific business goals.

And even if you’re experienced when it comes to PPC ad mechanics, you’ll likely overspend significantly until you figure out:

  • how much to bid for the keyword; (if you under-bid, your ad won’t be shown much, but if you over-bid, you’ll be paying much more than you need to for the same audience reach);
  • which keywords are consistently the top performers;
  • your ad copy (i.e. what to say to compel people to click on your ad);
  • your landing page copy (i.e. what to say to get people to sign your retainer agreement).

The bottom line is that PPC ads are complicated, particularly Google Ads (formerly called AdWords).

AdEspresso states that: “Google AdWords is one of the most challenging platforms when it comes to monitoring your success.

“You can quickly spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and see little to no return on investment.

“The metrics are tricky to establish, and you could find yourself with $0 fast.”

Case in point — Noah Kagan.

Kagan helped Facebook build their ad system, so he certainly knows a thing or two about advertising platforms and how they work.

After he, along with others, was made redundant, he started his own successful digital marketing business.

Kagan discovered that: “Not every advertising channel will work for everyone.

“I’ve spent $100,000+ on Google advertising and only made back $25,000. Damn.

Not every advertising channel will work for every business.

The reality is that most therapists simply cannot afford to lose $75,000.

Con #2: You’ll Likely Need to Hire Expert Help, Which Doesn’t Come Cheap

We’ve just covered how tricky PPC advertising is, and how easy it is to lose money (and lots of it!)

It’s also not the core expertise of most psychologists.  Therefore, it would probably be wise to hire someone who is an expert in running a successful PPC advertising campaign.

Of course, the immediate problem is finding someone who has the knowledge and experience.

The second problem is how to evaluate whether they really know what they are doing before letting them run a campaign for you. (There’s the potential that they could lose a lot of money for you!)

Assuming that you are able to find a true expert, instead of a digital marketing “wanna-be,” how much will you pay for this expertise?

In our experience, an established digital marketer will charge you either 10% of your ad spend or $3,500 whichever amount is higher — per month.

Remember that math example we did previously where we figured out that given the average CPC, CTR and CR, it would cost $111.26 to gain a new client?

Say your goal was to acquire 30 new clients in 1 month. Your monthly ad spend for 1 month would be $3,337.80.

On top of that, you would pay a digital marketing expert around $3,500 to run the campaign for you.  ($3,500 is more than 10% of your ad spend — i.e. $333.78).

This extra cost brings your total monthly bill to $6,837.80.

The other thing to note is that digital marketers will never guarantee you results when it comes to CPC campaigns.

For a CPM campaign, they may guarantee a specific number of impressions based on your ad spend, but they’ll never guarantee the number of clicks you’ll get with any type of advertising.

Con #3: You Might Be Unknowingly Harming Your Brand’s Reputation

In 2017, The Guardian newspaper reported that major brands — including Verizon and Walmart — had pulled their ads from YouTube because the ads were being shown next to videos promoting extremist and terrorist views or hate speech.

The advertising boycott by brands concerned about their loss of business reputation has cost Google millions. (Google now owns YouTube.)

As The Guardian points out: “The row highlights an uncomfortable fact about advertising in a digital age: most brands don’t know exactly where their online advertising is running.

“The difference in the online world is that it’s all done by an algorithm. The human element is taken out of the equation, so there are problems.

Hate speech and extremist views are not the only videos that you don’t want your ad appearing next to.  Your ad might be appearing in a context where the viewer is primed to have a negative view of your product or service, making your business look insensitive for displaying an ad.

Here’s an example we came across recently of a misplaced ad.

The YouTube video is a news story of a woman who is emotionally devastated when she learns that she isn’t the biological child of her father after receiving an ancestry DNA test kit from her siblings as a present.  Her siblings, (she later learns that they are only her half-siblings), gave her the present because she was interested in researching the family tree.

Since both her parents were deceased at the time of the discovery, there was no chance of getting some answers as to how her conception occurred.  The woman in the story goes on to start a support group on Facebook for other people whose lives have been turned upside down after doing an ancestry DNA test kit.

Now, note that the ad that automatically appears next to the video of this heartbreaking story and cautionary tale is for an ancestry DNA test kit!  It highlights the problem that can occur when ad placement is determined by an algorithm, rather than a human being.

Example of misplaced digital advertising

According to The Guardian: “Programmatic advertising has been largely fraudulent since its inception, and there are many companies in the marketplace including Google to have made vast profits out of the naivety of the advertisers, who haven’t really known what they’ve been buying.

“The dispute adds weight to demands for companies such as Google to take more responsibility for what is on their websites, as Facebook was forced to do in the wake of the ‘fake news’ scandal.”

Time will tell if platforms like Google and Facebook make protecting your business reputation a priority by fixing their flawed algorithm.

Con #4: Nearly Half of Your Ad Spend Will Be a COMPLETE Waste of Money, (Thanks to Accidental Clicks and Click Fraud)

Did you know that 50% of clicks on static mobile banner ads are accidental?

Wow!

And did you also know that studies have found that mobile users account for 52.2% of the market in 2018? (That percentage increases every year.)

Combine those two crucial statistics, and the result is that you’re essentially flushing 25% of your psychologist digital marketing budget down the drain because of accidental clicks.

If you’re spending $10,000 per month on PPC ads, you’re in fact wasting $2,500 per month because of fat thumbs.

Over the course of a year, that adds up to a whopping $30,000!

Ouch!

If you didn’t think the news could get worse, have you heard of “click fraud”?

Fraud occurs when a person — maybe a competitor — clicks on your ad so that you waste your ad spend.

They can also create automated scripts or computer programs — i.e. fraud bots — that will imitate a legitimate online user in order to click on your ad.

The goal again is to ensure that your ad dollars aren’t being spent on reaching real people.

Sure, it would be easy for platforms like Google and Facebook to have safeguards in place. Click fraud is easy to detect and an abuser can be blocked from seeing ads in the future via their computer’s IP address.

However, since advertising networks financially benefit from click fraud, they have no true interest in stopping it. (They’re being sued by an increasing number of advertisers.)

How widespread is the problem of click fraud?

According to a new report by White Ops, 1 in 5 clicks is done by a fraud bot.

So, back to math.

If you’re spending $10,000 per month on PPC advertising to get more clients for your therapist practice…

…a fraud bot is wasting $2,000 per month of your hard-earned money.

(And that’s in addition to the $2,500 per month that your wasting because of accidental clicks by real people.)

So nearly half of your total ad spend is a complete and utter waste of money, thanks to click fraud and accidental clicks!

Over the course of 1 year, with a monthly ad spend of $10,000, you’ll be wasting $54,000.

Bottom Line

Balancing the pros and the cons, it’s worth running PPC campaigns if your therapist practice is a partnership or a franchise, especially if you have access to a PPC expert that can guide your efforts.

PPC campaigns are likely too technically difficult for the average sole practitioner to do themselves. The cost of hiring an expert in addition to the ad spend probably puts PPC advertising out of reach.

Psychologist Marketing Guide: Chapter 8 Summary

Additional Readings

AdStage: PPC Benchmark Report – Q1 2018

AdEspresso: The Complete Resource to Understanding Facebook Ad Costs – 2017 Benchmarks!

WordStream: 9 Ways to Lower Your Facebook Ad Costs.

WordStream: The Comprehensive Guide to Online Advertising Costs.

WebRunner: Case Study: How a Roofing Contractor Generates 300+ Roofing Leads Per Month with Google and Facebook.

Psychologist Marketing Summary Tables

Review Summary Tables that compare and contrast different therapist digital marketing options.

Chapter 9: Introduction to Psychologist Websites

When it comes to psychologist marketing, do you have a website?

If you do, do you wonder if your website has maximized its marketing potential?

If you don’t have a website, are you contemplating getting one? Are you hesitant because you’re unsure if it’s a worthwhile investment or not?

Whichever boat you’re in, this chapter (along with the next one) will identify some important factors that you should consider…

What, Where & Why of Psychologist Websites

Overview of Small Business Websites in the United States

The 2017 Small Business Web Design Survey by Clutch found that 29% of small businesses in the USA do not have a website.

However, 92% of small businesses without a website said that they will have a website by the end of 2018.

While this remains to be seen, it does demonstrate that most small business owners in the United States believe having a website it important for business.

If that is the prevailing belief, then why do nearly one-third of small businesses not have a website?

According to Clutch, these are the top reasons given by small business owners in the USA:

Primary reasons small businesses do not have a website

Strikingly, not every geographic region in the United States has the same percentage of website ownership among small business owners.

Only 58% of small businesses in the Midwest have a website compared to the Northeast (72%), the South (73%), and the West (77%).

Small business websites USA by region

Clutch surmises that this disparity is likely because businesses in the Midwest have been slower to embrace technology as an effective marketing strategy (over traditional methods), in contrast to places like LA and New York.

“Midwest companies do not realize how much revenue they are losing each day they are not on the web.”

There is also a significant drop in website ownership when the revenue earned by a small business is less than $1 million annually.

Unsurprisingly, low-income small businesses are more hesitant to devote the time and resources necessary to pursue building a website.

Small business with a website based on revenue

“Small business owners are focused on cash in the door — most often neglecting a true marketing strategy. They don’t realize that digital is part of the game.”

Overview of Small Business Websites in Canada

A recent study conducted by Redshift Research and commissioned by GoDaddy surveyed around 4,000 small businesses (defined as 5 employees or less) globally to assess how they are (or aren’t) using the Internet to promote their business products and services.

The study surveyed approximately 500 small business owners in each of the following countries: Canada, United Kingdom, United States, Brazil, India, Turkey, and Australia.

With respect to Canadian small business owners, the Redshift Research Study found that 59% of Canadian respondents did not have a website, and only 33% of them planned on building one within the next 2 years.

While many of these small businesses do have some form of Internet presence through social media platforms, they reported feeling that their operation was simply too small to warrant a website (35% of respondents).

Others cited a lack of technical expertise (21%) or the costs of starting a website (20%).

Overview of Small Business Websites in the United Kingdom

The findings of the Redshift Research Study (discussed above), which apply to the United Kingdom, are supported by another study — this time by Approved Index.

The study found that close to 2 million small businesses in the UK do not have websites.

This study did not explore the reasons for not having a website. Instead it focused on the resulting loss of revenue.

Overview of Small Business Websites in Australia

The 2018 Telstra Small Business Intelligence Report surveyed more than 1,000 small businesses and more than 1,000 consumers in Australia.

The Telstra Report found that only around 50% of Australian small businesses have a website. (Many small businesses had no online presence whatsoever.)

It’s also worth noting that 62% of the consumers surveyed indicated that would NOT consider using a specific small business if they couldn’t find information about that business online.

Something to keep in mind in you have a therapist practice in Australia, but don’t invest in your online presence.

Psychologist Marketing Guide: Chapter 9 Summary

Chapter 10: Pros + Cons of Websites

Pro #1: You Can Make Your Own Website for Free

There are many website builders available on the Internet today that allow you to build a beautiful website for free, even when you have zero technical know-how.

All it requires is time and effort.

The best free website builder currently out there is Wix.

(Just for your information, Love Lives On doesn’t have any affiliation with Wix. We’re showing you Wix because it’s a solution that we think is easy to use and covers all of the elements that a modern website should have.)

Here are 7 benefits of using Wix:

  • Free
  • DYI
  • Easy to Use
  • Mobile-Friendly
  • Huge Image Collection
  • Designer-Made Templates
  • 24-Hour Support

Wix has 100’s of gorgeous templates that you can use to build your new website yourself.

You simply drag and drop images that you find in their photo gallery into the template, and then type in the text you want to appear.

No technical know-how needed!

But if you’re still not feeling confident, Wix has helpful tutorials on how to use their platform.

If you’re wondering whether something that’s free could look good, check out examples of real-life home pages that have been built using Wix.

You’ll be awestruck how beautiful their free templates are.

The other great thing is that if you already have a domain name, Wix is able to hook up your new website to that domain name.

In other words, there’s no need to get a new domain name.

Wix also offers website hosting, or you can stay with your existing hosting company. The choice is totally yours.

Pro #2: Having a Website Gives Consumers Another Way to Find You Online

When it comes to your online presence, it doesn’t make sense to put all of your eggs in one basket.

Give consumers multiple ways to discover your counseling services online.

It’s the best strategy because consumers conduct searches in different ways. (There are literally millions of keywords related to counseling services!)

Your top digital marketing goal for 2019 and onwards should be to maximize the number of places your therapist practice is found online.

If you already have a business Facebook page, consider building a website as well.

But don’t just stop there.

Join quality online business directories, as well as popular community forums — places that your potential new clients are already hanging out.

Remember, you want to give consumers as many opportunities as possible to find your therapist practice in a crowded, noisy marketplace, (which the Internet is).

Con #1: If Your Website Doesn’t Immediately Impress Consumers, They’ll Assume Your Therapist Practice Isn’t Reputable and Won’t Contact You

The Internet is no longer in its infancy.

As the Internet and technology have grown, so too has consumer expectations when it comes to your psychologist website.

Consumers today expect to have a certain type of experience when they visit your website, and will quickly leave if they don’t get what they want.

When we say quickly, we literally mean within 3 seconds!

Which now begs the question: “what type of experience do consumers expect to have?”

There are 3 parts to the answer…

First, online visitors expect to have a quality visual experience, meaning:

Psychologist website visual experience

Second, consumers also expect to have a quality navigation experience, which covers:

Psychologist website navigation experience

Third, visitors to your website expect to have a quality performance experience, meaning:

Psychologist website performance experience

We could literally write an entire book on how to optimize your therapist practice website in order to meet current consumers expectations.

(And, in fact, we have! We’ve written the Ultimate Guide Book on Optimizing Psychologist Websites, and give away free copies to our business partners as an added bonus for joining our business directory.)

Our claim that your website needs to meet current consumer expectations for it to do your business any good is backed up by science.

In a ground-breaking study led by Dr. Elizabeth Sillence, it was discovered that:

 Important of psychologist website design

The research team found that when a website is out-of-date — either in terms of aesthetic elements or in terms of functionality — the site usually isn’t explored further than the homepage and is usually never re-visited again.

It takes 3 seconds or less to lose a potential client!

The bottom line is that while you are able to build a website for free using a website builder like Wix, you need to be fully informed about modern design principles, otherwise you are wasting your time.

Con #2: You’ll Likely Need to Hire an SEO Expert to Get Traffic to Your Website

According to a study by Chitika, the top listing in Google’s organic search results receives 33% of the traffic, compared to 18% for the second position, and the traffic only degrades from there.

For the top 10 results, Chitika found:

Psychologist website traffic by SERPs

The top 10 results typically appear on page 1.

If your psychologist website appears on page 2, 3, 4, etc., of search results, the numbers dwindle even more with each successive page — meaning that you are not in a position to connect with new clients.

If you want one of the coveted top 3 spots for competitive keywords — like “psychologist” or “therapist” — you will most likely need to hire an SEO expert.

Optimizing your website and improving your website rankings is going to take time and money.

Many SEO firms will tell you that it takes 4 to 6 months. That’s generally accurate, but bear in mind this is when you start seeing results.

SEO results grow over time. Whatever results you’re getting at 6 months should be considerably less than what you’re getting at 12 months.

Most businesses pay between $2,500 and $5,000 for a monthly retainer.

So for a 6-month contract, you would pay between $15 K and $30 K.

And again, it could take up to 12 months to get your therapist practice into one of the top three positions on search engine results, which would double how much you’d have to pay.

Con #3: You Have to Maintain Your Website and Keep it Up-to-Date (More Work!)

According to SEO authority, Moz, each year Google changes its search algorithm around 500–600 times.

While most of these changes are minor, Google occasionally rolls out a “major” algorithmic update — such as Google Panda and Google Penguin — that affects search results in significant ways.

Therefore, it’s a big mistake to not keep your psychologist website up-to-date.

Another common mistake made by website owners is not keeping their site free of broken links.

A broken link is created when a page or post on a website is deleted, or when the URL is changed after it has already been indexed by search engines, linked to in social media, or bookmarked by users.

Broken links cause frustration and irritation and hurt your business reputation.

Potential new clients visiting your psychologist website will forgive only one or two broken links before they abandon your site all together.

Too many broken links on your site or from your site can also damage your reputation with the search engines like Google, making your site less desirable.

Therefore, broken links can hurt your search engine rankings and decrease the chances your psychologist website will show up in the search results.

Regular website maintenance therefore must include identifying and fixing broken links on your website.

Bottom Line

If your therapist practice is a partnership or franchise, you most likely already have a website, but you may need to hire an SEO expert to help it rank for competitive keywords.

On the other hand, if you are a sole practitioner or new business, you may not have a website yet, but probably want to get one…

Go ahead and make a simple website using a free website builder. You can literally make a beautiful website yourself in a day.

At a later point, when time and budget allow, you can explore adding SEO.

Psychologist Marketing Guide: Chapter 10 Summary

Additional Readings

Wix: How to Create a Website.

WebsiteSetUp: How to Make a Website.

Psychologist Marketing Summary Tables

Review Summary Tables that compare and contrast different psychologist digital marketing options.

Chapter 11: Introduction to Content Marketing for Psychologist

According to Clutch, 23% of small business owners want to publish more high-quality content on their websites.

The term “content” refers to any complete piece of media that you find on the Internet.

What, Where & Why of Content Marketing for Psychologists.

There are 4 main categories when it comes to content:

  • Pages: text-based content with basic information.
  • Publications: text-based content with advanced and/or in-depth information.
  • Graphics: visual content (still images).
  • Videos: visual content (moving images).

Some of the most common types of content for each of the four main content categories include:

PAGES
GRAPHICS
PUBLICATIONS
VIDEO
BlogsFeatured ImagesWhite PapersExplainer Videos
Landing PagesInfographicseBooksCommercials
News ArticlesMotion GraphicsPress ReleasesSocial Media Videos
Ad CopyAnimationsManuals/GuidesHow-To Videos

What is the purpose behind content creation?

In our view, when it comes to therapist practice websites, there are 3 purposes that are relevant:

  • To inspire visitors to your site — i.e. potential clients — thereby creating an emotional connection.
  • To educate visitors to your site, thereby demonstrating your counselling expertise and showing them that they can feel confident that calling your practice is the right choice to make.
  • To increase traffic to your website — which hopefully leads to an increase in the volume of calls that you receive.

(There are other reasons why someone may choose to create a piece of content, like entertaining audiences, but they usually don’t apply to a psychologist website.)

Once a piece of content has been made, it needs to be hosted somewhere. In most cases, you’ll host the content on your website.

Now, what happens next depends on the purpose of the content…

If the purpose is to compel visitors to your website to call your therapist practice, once you publish the content, your only job is to monitor whether or not that piece of content is effective.

How do you do that? By installing Google analytics on your website if you haven’t already done so. You can see how long people spend on that page, and whether they click to your contact details page afterwards.

If the content is doing well, that’s fantastic.

Otherwise, you should experiment with tweaking the content. (As examples: re-write sections, add graphics or a video.)

Monitor whether the changes make a difference in how visitors respond to it. (Did they spend longer reading the page, or did they click on your contact page button more often?)

On the other hand, if the purpose behind a piece of content is to increase traffic to your website, you have a lot more work to do.

And we mean A LOT!

Now you are getting into the complicated realm of search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing

Anyways, more about that further on…

Psychologist Marketing Guide: Chapter 11 Summary

Chapter 12: Pros + Cons of Content Marketing

Pro: Unlike Digital Ads, Consumers LOVE Valuable Content

Have you ever heard the marketing expression: “Content is King!”

It means that content is THE most effective form of digital marketing.

Digital ads are no longer effective. Consumers are tired of them and tune them out.

But give consumers information that’s helpful, inspiring or practical, and you’ll have their full attention!

Now, producing useful content doesn’t have to be difficult

For example, you could have a blog post on your psychologist website that answers the top 10 most common questions that you get asked by your clients.

As another example — have a “resources” page on your website in which you link to all the best resources on the web related to your areas of practice.

Your website visitors will appreciate that you took the time to craft a curated collection of the best information out there on the web that they can read when it’s convenient for them.

Con: Producing & Promoting Content that Ranks Well on Search Engines is Expensive

Under the “pro” section above, we’re really talking about content that’s designed to resonate with visitors who are already on your website. Since you have their attention, the goal is to get them to take the next step, which is to call you!

We’re confident that the average psychologist is able to provide content that shows visitors that he or she will go the extra mile to help a client through a difficult time.

Now, producing and promoting content for the purpose of bringing visitors to your therapist practice website is another story…

The truth is that it’s INSANELY DIFFICULT to get first page rankings for content targeting competitive keywords.

There are literally thousands of websites across the globe that offer counselling services…

…and they’re ALL competing with you for those first page rankings.

To create — and then rank — just one piece of valuable content requires a team of experts and a top strategy.

We’re going to reveal what it really costs to create and promote content that’s able to reach potential clients.

Content marketing for psychologists.

You can see just how time-consuming — and expensive — it is to create valuable content that ranks well for a popular keyword.

Bottom Line

It’s a great idea to add some inspiring and educational content to your website for visitors who are exploring your site to read.

It will help them make an emotional connection with you and trust your expertise.

If time and budget allow, invest in marketing your very best content. (Partnerships and franchises are better positioned to invest significantly in content marketing.)

Psychologist Marketing Guide: Chapter 12 Summary

Additional Readings

Moz: Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing.

Neil Patel: In-depth Guide to Content Marketing.

Psychologist Marketing Summary Tables

Review Summary Tables that compare and contrast different digital marketing options for your therapist practice.

Chapter 13: Introduction to Online Directories for Lawyers

Now, let’s take a look at online directories…

Love Lives On’s 2018 Industry Review of 500 psychologists found that 92% of practices were listed in at least one online directory.

The 8% of psychologists that weren’t listed in any type of online directory were either sole practitioners or a start-up.

Obviously, online directories are a very popular — and easy —advertising method for psychologists.

Given this, it makes sense for us to explore online directories as a method of psychologist advertising…

What, Where & Why of Online Directories for Psychologist Advertising

Online business directories have literally been around since the dawn of the Internet.

They are always going to exist because consumers love them.

Why? Because they have a high “ease of use.”

Directories make it quick and easy for consumers to research multiple businesses by visiting one convenient location instead of wasting time hunting around on the Internet.

Consumers also feel reassured that you are a legitimate practitioner when you pay to be listed in a quality directory.

Now, based on our 2018 research results, we’d guess that you’ve already listed your therapist practice in online directories, and you may already be aware of the fact that there are 3 different types of online directories:

  • Free directories
  • General directories
  • Specialty directories

What you may not be aware of is that the 3 types of online directories are not created equally

Let’s explore each type further.

Psychologist Marketing Guide: Chapter 13 Summary

Chapter 14: Pros + Cons of Free Directories

Pro: Joining Doesn’t Cost You Anything

There is a plethora of online directories that don’t cost you anything to join, (or charge a small fee).

They’re pretty popular with business owners because they love getting something for free, or close to free.

Furthermore, a few years ago, joining as many free directories as possible was a legitimate search engine optimization strategy…

Business owners used to receive backlinks from free directories which help boost their website’s ranking.

(But before you run off in order to search for free online directories, keep reading because things have changed dramatically…)

Con #1: No Human Oversight, Which Leads to Spam

When they first came about, a directory listing gave a business website a boost in Google’s ranking system.

They were designed to be easy to setup, allowing businesses to sign up directly online. It was all automated, no need for human oversight.

Everybody’s happy.

But over time, businesses began to cotton on to the power of external links. The more links the better!

They started signing up for every directory they could find.

They started gaming the system.

They would enter their business into every conceivable category, even if it was completely irrelevant to their business.

They figured, if one link is good, 100’s are even better. Pretty sound logic.

For a while this strategy worked and was the accepted practice.

Then spammers started creating programs called bots that would trawl the web and sign up a business in thousands of places.

Because directories didn’t have a manual sign-up process with human oversight, the bots swamped them.

As you can imagine, over time free online directories became a HUGE mess.

Consumers were no longer loving these overstuffed directories.

They’d be searching a directory site for wedding flowers, but instead would find listings for welding equipment.

Here’s an example of a free online directory page filled with garbage:

Example of a spam directory listing

As a result of not having a manual submission process managed by real people, these kinds of directories are filled with lots of junk and not helpful for consumers.

Today, Google and other search engines consider free or low-cost directories to be SPAM.

Con #2: Your Website is in Danger of Getting Black-Listed by Google

Once Google noticed a rapid decline in the quality of free directories, Google started heavily penalizing both the directories AND the business websites that sign up with them.

And how they penalize a website is to drop the site’s position in the search results, or not display the site at all (i.e. blacklist it).

Ouch!

Now, we’d love to say that these low-quality directories don’t exist anymore, but unfortunately, that’s simply not the case.

They’re still pretty popular on the Internet, mainly because a lot of them are free, or practically free.

So unsuspecting business owners, who have no idea about Google penalties, continue to sign up.

Jon Morrow, Founder of SmartBlogger, shares that some years ago his website was blacklisted by Google because he signed up for “a bunch of shoddy link directories.”

“At the time, I didn’t know any better. I thought everything I was doing was totally legitimate.

“With Google though, ignorance is no excuse. You break the rules, you pay the consequences. End of story.

That’s why it’s so important to learn what the rules are,” says Marrow.

Recovering from Google penalties is a steep hill to climb. It’s tedious and expensive work to get your website ranking well again.

Bottom Line

Don’t join directories that don’t have a manual submission process because it’s not worth the risk.

Don’t be lured by the promise of “free” because it certainly won’t be free to do the work required to recover from Google penalties!

Psychologist Marketing Guide: Chapter 14 Summary

Additional Readings

Ahrefs: An In-Depth Guide to Link Quality, Link Penalties and “Bad Links.”

Google Support: How to Disavow Spammy or Low-Quality Backlinks.

Psychologist Marketing Summary Tables

Review Summary Tables that compare and contrast different digital marketing options for therapists.

Chapter 15: Pros + Cons of General Directories

There are a few “big name” directories out there that you can pay to list in. (We’re sure a few well-known brands come to mind.)

They are general “catch-all” directories because they cover every business category known to man.

What are the pros and cons of paying to advertise your therapist practice in one of these general directories?

Let’s find out…

Pro #1: They Have a Manual Submissions Process (i.e. Quality Control)

A big pro is that “big name” general directories have a manual submissions process, meaning that there are quality control measures in place and human oversight.

In other words, you won’t find welding equipment when you’re searching for wedding flowers.

Pro #2: They’re Free of Spam

Consumers appreciate a well-organized, spam-free directory.

They have a high “ease of use” that makes online research much less time consuming than it would otherwise be.

Con #1: They Can’t Provide the Content that Consumers Want and Expect

Today’s busy consumer expects to be provided with quality content by a directory website — not just business contact details.

Since Google will always pay attention to what users want, general “catch-all” directories have a big problem moving forward.

They literally have thousands of business categories and potentially millions of listings.

How can you produce quality content for every type of industry and listing?

You can’t.

We’ll have to wait and see whether or not general directories survive long-term…

Con #2: Big Name Directories Can Be Expensive

A huge downside of “big name” general directories is that they are SUPER EXPENSIVE$$$ — if you get anything more than the most basic of listings.

In large cities, it’s not uncommon to be charged $10,000+ per year for a modest listing, and $20,000+ per year for a larger listing.

Bottom Line

Keeping advertising with a general directory if you are getting leads at a price that makes sense for your therapist practice.

Psychologist Marketing Guide: Chapter 15 Summary

Additional Readings

Nick Stamoulis:  The Real Cost of a General Directory Listing.

Marcus Sheridan:  11 Reasons to Avoid General Directories.

CBC News:  General Directory Sued for Bullying Businesses into Paying for Better Reviews.

Entrepreneur: Good Reasons to Join a “Big Name” Directory.

Psychologist Marketing Summary Tables

Review Summary Tables that compare and contrast different digital marketing options for counseling services.

Chapter 16: Pros + Cons of Specialty Directories

Unlike general directories that literally list millions of businesses, specialty directories focus their attention on promoting a select few businesses within a particular industry.

The business directory on our site — LoveLivesOn.com — is an example of a specialty directory.

Since the highly-ranked content on our site is written for people facing end-of-life issues, it only makes sense that our directory showcases the types of businesses that they are searching for on our site.

Our millions of visitors want an easy way to find reputable professionals in their area in addition to the top content we provide.

Of course, we’re not the only specialty directory on the web…

There are other specialty directories for other industries. For example, there are many specialty directories focused on the wedding industry.

(But as far as we are aware, we’re the only specialty directory for people dealing with grief.)

Pro #1: Specialty Directories are Lead-Generation Powerhouses Because They Provide the Content that Consumers Want and Expect

Niche websites are able to produce top quality content that their target audience wants, which general directories are unable to do because they include every type of business imaginable.

As an example, the content on Love Lives On ranks on page 1 of search results for 500+ keywords related to end-of-life issues, funeral planning and grief.

We’ve also noticed that many specialty directories in the wedding industry have top-ranking content related to wedding planning and honeymoons.

If you are a psychologist, or are responsible for devising psychologist marketing strategies, listing your practice in a specialty directory brings it to the attention of people who are actively searching for counselling services at the exact time it’s needed

…which makes people that utilize specialty directories highly-viable prospects when it comes to growing your practice.

Pro #2: Consumers Love Specialty Directories

Niche websites like Love Lives On that offer in-depth, quality content, in addition to a business directory that only promotes reputable businesses, are popular with consumers.

Our millions of visitors tell us that they love that we’re a one-stop-shop.  They no longer have to scour the Internet in order to find all the information they’re searching for.

This is why specialty directories are one of the most powerful forms of active advertising.

Potential new clients are looking for you on sites like ours because they believe you’re able to help them through their time of grief and loss.

Chris Smith, President of Argent Media, advises: “Special interest groups of consumers seem to have a higher level of dedication towards businesses supporting their communities…”

“So, if your business qualifies for inclusion in a specialty directory, you should seriously consider paying up to be in it.”

Pro #3: Manual Submissions Process (i.e. Quality Control)

Any quality directory is going to have a manual submissions process managed by real people, not algorithms.

We touched on why this is important earlier…

A manual submission process ensures that over the long-term the directory does not become a repository for spam or disreputable businesses.

A specialty directory protects:

  • Your business brand from being associated with a low-quality website.
  • Your business website from Google penalties.
  • Your business reputation. With a speciality directory, there’s no danger that your psychologist business listing will be seen alongside content that prompts hate, terrorism, or anything else that’s undesirable — unlike advertising with YouTube — which we discussed earlier.

Pro #4: Easiest Form of Digital Advertising

Unlike other forms of marketing, listing in a specialty directory requires no technical know-how on your part.

Setting up this form of therapist advertising couldn’t be easier. After you supply the information that you want to appear in your business listing, there’s nothing else you need to do except let your listing work for your practice 24/7.

Pro #5: Lowest Cost Per Lead

Specialty directories offer the lowest cost per lead (CPL), hands down.

Remember, CPL is a metric of how much it costs your therapist practice for one potential client to take some form of action after seeing your advertising — like calling your practice, filling out a contact form, or visiting your office in person.

Remember also that not every person who sees your ad is going to take some form of action. They may have not found your ad persuasive, or may have preferred another psychologist’s ad.

A recent study found that on average, in large cities across all industries, it costs $46 per lead through Yellow Pages and $88 through Google Ads.

It costs, on average, $7.80 per lead through Love Lives On Business Directory for large cities.

In other words, Yellow Pages on average costs 6 X more than Love Lives On

…while Google Ads costs 11 X more than Love Lives On for that same lead.

Specialty directories offer the lowest cost per lead not just for psychologists, but for all types of businesses.

For example, if you were in the wedding industry, we’d also be recommending that you join specialty wedding directories since a wedding lead with them typically costs $5 to $25.

The bottom line is that no matter what industry you are in, listing with speciality directories will generate great leads at the lowest possible price.

Con #1: Don’t Join if Your Therapist Practice has Zero Competition

If your therapist practice is the only one in town and has zero competition, you probably don’t need to invest in any form of online marketing.

Psychologist Marketing Guide: Chapter 16 Summary

Bottom Line

Specialty directories are great for therapist practices of all sizes that are looking to grow their client base.

They are aligned with the current direction that the Internet is heading in — namely, tying valuable content with advertising.

Additional Readings

Moz:  Conquer Link Directory Best Practices for SEO

Search Engine Journal:  Why Google Likes Niche Directory Sites.

Psychologist Marketing Summary Tables

Review Summary Tables that compare and contrast different digital marketing options for counselling services.

Chapter 17:  Why Grief Counseling Services Will Grow as a Practice Area

Grief counselling is poised to grow as a practice area with death rates rising in many Western countries.

No only is grief therapy emotionally rewarding work for many psychologists, it is set to become a highly in-demand specialization in many Western countries due to several alarming social trends, including: increase in drug and alcohol related deaths; increase in depression and suicide, particularly among young people; and shorter life expectancies due to poor national health.

There will be an increased need for grief therapists in the United States due to:

In Canada, grief counselling will likely grow in demand because of:

  • Drastic increase in the number of opioid-related overdose deaths, with an estimated 4,000 Canadians losing their lives to drugs in 2017.  “Unfortunately, the data released today have confirmed our fear that that the crisis has worsened significantly since 2016, despite the efforts from all levels of government and partners to reverse the trend,” says the Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses.
  • A 26% increase in the deaths of Canadian women from causes directly linked to alcohol.
  • Increase in death by suicide.  Suicide rates are increasing faster in women than men, and with teen girls than teen boys.
  • The aging of the population.  According to 2017 Canadian census data, for the first time since Confederation, seniors outnumber children.

There are also trends in the United Kingdom that indicate that grief therapy will become a strong growth area due to:

  • Rising suicide rates in young people in England and Wales, particularly among teenage girls (aged 15 to 19 years), and in teens living in London.  Teenage suicide in London have increased by an astounding 107% — 4 times the national rate.
  • Drug-related deaths in the UK have risen to the highest level since record keeping first begun.  The number of deaths caused by Fentanyl has spiked.
  • A rapid rise in the general mortality rate in early 2018 in England and Wales.  No official explanation from government health officials for this sharp rise in mortality has been forthcoming.  Possible explanations offered by experts include poorer national health, an over-burdened health care system, and a particularly heavy flu season.  Experts also point to the fact that life expectancies have been shortened overall.
  • Infant mortality increased for the first time since 2011 last year amid signs that decades worth of improvements are plateauing, deaths data for England and Wales shows.
  • An increased number of UK women dying from breast cancer and inadequate health care.

Despite being oceans away, Australia is not immune to some of the alarming trends plaguing America, Britain and Canada.  In Australia, grief counselling will also likely grow in demand because of the following trends:

  • Rising suicide rate, particularly among men.  Suicide is now the 13th leading cause of death, moving up from 15th position in 2016.
  • Dramatic increase in drug-related fatalities, particularly with prescription drug abuse. Those hit hardest by the country’s overdose crisis include middle-aged Australians (the riskiest age for drug use was 40 to 49) and those living in regional areas. While men are more likely to die through drug misadventure, drug deaths among women are increasing at greater rates than the overall population. Australia’s increasing overdose mortality rate puts it in line with the US, Canada and Britain.

Psychologist Marketing Guide: Chapter 17 Summary

Chapter 18: Conclusion on Psychologist Marketing in 2019

We hope you found this 2019 Ultimate Guide to Psychologist Marketing useful.

When it comes to marketing for therapists, it’s always a good idea to diversify your online presence as much as your budget allows because potential new patients search for counseling services in different ways.

Being present online in multiple places — e.g. your website; with Google Ads; listing in General and Specialty Directories — significantly increases your chances of connecting with potential clients…

…whereas, confining your online presence to just one place — e.g. your website or business Facebook page — is putting all of your eggs in one basket.

If you’re interested in learning more about how our specialty directory can help your practice easily gain more clients, please click here or click on the image below.

Psychologist marketing is easy with Love Lives On