What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It means putting things on your website and in your posts that catch the attention of the search engines.
Google and other search engines don’t have the resources or the time to look at every website and assess it for quality.
Instead, they send out bots that look for certain characteristics on your site. They can’t really evaluate if your site is an awesome, interesting site but they can tell whether it has stuff that most great sites have. They also watch your site to see if it behaves like a reliable site instead of a spam site or an inactive site.
So yes, in as much as you want to be visible to potential clients who are looking for you, you do want to incorporate SEO tactics into your website and blog posts.
Below is a list of things that the search engines look for when trying to determine website quality.
What is your site about? What is your post about?
The words that describe what your site or post is about are called “keywords.” If you are writing about something, search engines assume that you are going to mention what you are writing about a few times.
A few years ago, when SEO became a big thing, experts recommended something called “keyword stuffing.” That meant putting the keyword into your post as many times as possible so that your post would rank higher than others writing about the same subject.
Google didn’t like that so they changed the algorithm. Search engines only make money when they give you good sites. Eventually, if they give you icky sites, you’ll go to another search engine and not see their advertisers. Sites that engaged in keyword stuffing were just awful to read, so now, if you engage in keyword stuffing, you get penalized with lower rankings, so don’t do it.
Content is still king — SEO doesn’t compensate for bad writing and so search engines also look for other factors that determine a good site — like those listed further down.
Finding those keywords
There are several tools out there that will help you figure out what keywords to use: Google Keyword Planner, Moz, and Wordstream are a few of the tools out there. If you were writing an article on depression, you can look up “depression” and see what ranks, and also how to expand it out.
When choosing something to write about, picking a topic that is frequently searched for but with fewer articles on the topic will help get your article seen. Keyword planners help you do this.
The latest buzz on keywords is long-tailed keywords. If you are writing about depression, there are tens of thousands of articles about depression. The chances of ranking of the first page of a search engine are slim-to-none.
But if you are writing an article about getting through Christmas with depression, the phrase “getting through Christmas with depression,” having it show up in a header and in the text a couple of times will get you a higher ranking. So being more specific like “getting through Christmas with depression,” could get you closer to the top.
Also — using plugins like Yoast SEO can help, but the way it has you choose one keyword (unless you opt for the premium version), can make you think an article only needs one keyword phrase. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and use synonyms.
Remember, it is about writing naturally — with a little thought on the topic. More than one longtail keyword happens naturally in a well-written article. Thinking about it as you plan your writing helps you incorporate it into your strategy.
Thanks to Siri and Alexa, voice searches are becoming more and more common, so phrasing keywords the way people would say them is the newest trend in SEO.
(here’s a link to an article by Neil Patel that goes way more in depth on every aspect of SEO, but especially keyword planning)
One of the best things for showing that a website is a legitimate site and not a scam is activity. This is one of the reasons why it is recommended to keep a blog on your site. Not only does it establish your authority, educate your clients, and give your potential clients a taste of who you are — it also is a very reasonable way to keep a website active without constantly changing things up.
Pages run by real people link to other sites and articles and have other sites and articles link to them. This can start to happen organically after you have been writing for a while, but ways to increase the occurrence of this is to engage with social media — posting links to your site and blog, email lists, guest blogging, and interacting with others accelerates this process. Any sort of increased traffic draws search engine attention. However, the algorithm does recognize artificial patterns like paying for traffic, so don’t do that. It will hurt you in the end.
Backlinking to your own articles or pages also keeps a reader on your site. While search engines do pay attention to how long a visitor stays and how many pages they view, the most important thing about this is that someone who stays on your site for a while is more likely to become a client or customer… another reason why good content is still the number one thing.
Formatted for Mobile
Over half of all internet activity now happens on smartphones. If your site is not using a theme that formats for mobile, search are now penalizing you. That means if you are still using that generic mental health template that you bought when you got out of grad school, you are being listed lower than those who are using a better design — no matter what you do. Update your site.
By the way, updating sites is something I do.
How Big of a Deal is SEO?
Search engines don’t have the means to determine a quality site, but by figuring out how quality sites behave and then setting up algorithms for those behaviors, they come up with their results and keep their users happy.
Search Engine Optimization is the systematic attempt to make a site or post conform to these expectations. When search engine bots notice that your site fulfills their criteria, your site is likely to show up higher on search results for mental health professionals in your niche or location.
Unfortunately, scam sites optimize as well, so search engines do change their algorithms frequently.
What are Some Things I Can Do to Optimize my Mental Health Post or Site?
SEO techniques can help rank your site, but good content is what really makes a good site. Produce good articles that are a reflection of you, your interests, skills, and abilities. Using some SEO techniques can accelerate getting noticed. But make them organic to you and how you do things.
- Link to other articles that really do relate to what you are writing about (called “backlinking”)
- Use keywords that pertain to what you are writing about. Work it into the post a few times.
- Establish a writing schedule that doesn’t exhaust you, but allows you to keep your site active.
- Pick one or two forms of social media for promoting your work. Learn to use them so that you get comfortable with them. Different social media services have different strengths.
- If your website is older, it probably is not formatted for mobile and tablet. Get yourself a new theme/template and make it good. No more bland copycat templates!
Remember, the reason why Google looks for these things is because good websites do them naturally. maybe not with every post, but often — so if you are writing good, helpful posts, you will probably do most of these things automatically. Over time, you will get noticed. Working these into your strategy makes sure they happen.
Yoast SEO Plugin
I will go through Yoast SEO Plugin in more detail next, but install it on your site and learn to use it. The plugin sits underneath your page construction or your blog post construction and gives you pointers on SEO and readability.
Want Some Guidance?
Search engine ratings don’t happen overnight, but adding the elements is worth the effort, and done well, increases the usefulness to the reader, too. Optimizing your mental health site is a good idea.
Don’t go it alone! I can help you do this.
- Online coaching in search engine optimization.
- Evaluate your WordPress site and optimize it for search engines.
- Convert your site over to a WordPress site that better communicates and welcomes potential clients.
- I can edit your blog posts, integrating search engine optimization features.
- I can change your theme and make sure you are set up to work well with mobile devices.
Send me a message on my Contact Me page. I respond quickly.