This Week's Poll
One of the marketing tactics Phillip recommends is the claiming and population of the best online directories for your practice from the hundreds that are available.
What Are Online Directories?
Directories are todays online phone books; the White Pages and Yellow Pages of the past century. For those of you under 40, those phone books used to be dropped off on every front porch in America, once a year. So, if you weren't in the phone book that made it really difficult for people to find you and your practice/business.
But My Professor Says All I Need is PsychologyToday.com?
That would be because your prof, God bless him/her, didn't know as much about how to identify the right directories for you and your market as you do right now. Empowering, if you think about it. Keep reading.
Which Directories Are the "Right" Ones for My Practice?
The objective is to be found when someone is looking for a counselor, right? So, the question is which directories are your potential clients using in order to find you (which ones your peer-competitors are using is irrelevant to your practice)?
Here's how you find out.
First, think like a potential client. They're going to do a keyword (kw) search in their favorite search engine (again, doesn't matter what your favorite search engine is, it matters which one they use, just keep that in mind) for something like the following (let's keep the kw phrases broad; we can do more focused kw searches later):
- counselors in (your city)
- (LPC/LMFT/??) Counselors in (your city)
- mental health counselors in (your city)
- marriage counselors in (your city)
- social workers in (your city)
Let's begin with those keyword phrases and do some searches in the following search engines. Please note that these search engines will probably cover about 95% of all searches anyone is doing for anything! Feel free to add additional search engines to your research list but your potential gain in traffic is probably not going to be worth the calories you expend. So let's begin with these:
Step 1-Go to the first search engine on the list and enter the first kw phrase from above.
- Scan the search results list and skip over the ads and special business listings.
- Make a list of every directory that shows up in the Pg 1 and Pg 2 search results. (People don't usually go past Pg 2 so there's no point.)
Do this step for every applicable kw phrase on the list above.
Step 2-Go to the next search engine on the list and repeat Step 1. Rinse and repeat until you've explored all the search engines listed with all of the kw phrases above. You're probably going to end up with a list of 5-15 directories and that's your list o' gold.
The beauty of this little technique is that it's free, takes less than 10 minutes, and you don't have to get out of your chair. When you finish you will have a self-verified list of the directories that your next client is seeing when they do a search looking for someone just like you!
Directories vs "Practice Directories"
A "practice directory" is just a name for a directory that specializes in listing counselors. It's the same thing as a "directory". It's a harmless marketing gimmick but it's not worth a tinkers' you-know-what if that directory gets no traffic. If PsychologyToday.com didn't show up in search, would you still want to be in it?
Don't let the whole specialization name thing side-track you from identifying which directories are going to be most effective for you. If you filter and limit your directory participation based upon the name some marketing department coined, you're artificially limiting your business success. Tell me that makes sense to you.
Go Create Your Directory Listings!
Go to each of those directories you've identified, claim your listing if one already exists and populate it with the correct marketing information. More on that in another post. If your business/practice isn't already listed and waiting to be claimed then go create one and fill it in.
Make me want to come see you!
Why Not Claim Them All?
If your practice is in TX do you really need to be in the New York phone books? I don't think so. Claim only the directories that your potential next client can find in a simple search.
The SEO experts claim that additional listings in as many directories as possible will help your mojo with the search engines (that's the short explanation!) and they are correct. But claiming your 5-15 identified directories will do about as much as you can to aid your business in local search given the fact that your competitors aren't claiming more than 2-3 at best, so says my seo expert!
You need to be findable in search, and being properly listed in the right directories is a fast and effective way to get it done. This is short-term, proactive work (setting them up) that become long-term, passive lead-generation channels once you're done. The back-links and website mentions (called "citations") will help your main site's performance in search as well. It's the gift that keeps on giving, like the Jelly of the Month Club.
The truth is that 85-95% of your peer-competitors will never do this exercise. They may list themselves in PsychologyToday, and call it a day, but that's about it.
The unwillingness of others to do what it takes to be found/successful is your opportunity! Take advantage of it.
Yeah, you got this.
Plan Smart. Be Safe. Serve Others.
Kathleen Mills, LPC-S, CEAP
Got An Opinion?
These posts are my beliefs based on my a) 32 years of practice as a mental health provider and b) my own research. Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to leave your civil, constructive comments below. I try very hard to back up my liberty-based statements with my own experience and/or verifiable facts and I would ask you to do the same. You do not need to be logged in to leave a comment.