How to Avoid Bad SEO Practices that Harm your SEO Ranking

February 2, 2017

Search engine optimization (SEO) is about much more than keywords. You may be already using targeted keywords to improve search results for your therapy website, but is your SEO perfect?

SEO for therapists is no different than SEO for most other websites. It’s based on some fundamental rules that outlast search engine algorithm changes. The thing about SEO is that you just can’t do it once and then forget about it. Rather, it’s an ongoing process that requires cyclical checkups, just as your car does.

When you neglect your SEO, it shows in your search engine ranking. You fall below more SEO-active competitors and can even drop from the first page of the results (if you’re there already). This can be a big blow for any therapy practice today, when so many people use web searches to find local services.

Improve your therapy website SEO by making sure you’re not repeating the critical SEO mistakes below.

1. Low Quality Content

If you create all your website content yourself, it may be hard to consider it objectively. Try to separate yourself a moment from it and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this content useful for my audience?
  • Is the tone right for attracting clients?
  • Are the length and the format appropriate?
  • Do the keywords correspond with client self-talk?
  • Are my headlines and calls to action compelling?
  • Does my content get as many views and shares as I want?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is no, you need better content. This can mean hiring a freelance editor to improve your content, or a freelancer writer to create it for you.

As a therapist, you may not have enough time to write enough content. When that happens, outsourcing it makes for better SEO for therapists than neglecting it, or creating something rushed just for the sake of having content.

2. Using the Wrong Keywords

Weak or inaccurate keywords can hurt your SEO ranking. The best SEO for therapists is based on rigorous keyword research. Without researching keywords, you may be surprised to discover that your clients use totally different search terms than you have imagined.

Keyword research will also help you determine the optimal length for your keyword phrases and the precise location you should be targeting based on the website traffic you’re getting. Investing in professional keyword research before launching your therapy website SEO campaign can prove to be an excellent investment.

3. Broken Links

Bad links are bad not only for therapist SEO, but especially for your website and blog readers. Imagine that one of your blog posts or service pages features a call to action that invites clients to contact you for an appointment. If the link is broken, some of the readers, if not most, won’t take the trouble to click on your contact page.

Other broken links that can be especially harmful are those to services pages, social media pages, and to external websites such as organizations that verify your accreditation or an accolade you have received.

You don’t have to hunt for broken links. You can use a free link checker to quickly identify broken links.

4. Neglecting Alt Tags

Search engines cannot make sense of images without an Alt tag. This tag is essentially a brief description of what an image is about. For best therapy website SEO practices, include your keywords in the Alt tag. But remember again that you want to avoid duplicate tags – try as much as possible to write unique Alt tags for every image on your website and blog. This includes images on your homepage, services pages, testimonials section, or contact page. WordPress makes Alt-tagging easy whenever you upload a new image to your website.

5. Not Minding Your URL Structure

The URL is the web address of every page on your website, and looks something like Notice how clean and simple this structure is. Google can make sense of it. But how different things would be if instead it looked like

Apart from being clean, a good URL structure includes your keyword phrase (soho therapy services in the example above) and is relevant to the page it stands for. One thing to keep in mind is that your URL structure may keep branching as your therapy website grows. Best therapy website SEO practices entail that you check the URL structure frequently and name pages accordingly.

6. Poor Mobile Performance

How fast your therapy website loads and how well it runs on mobile devices is a key SEO ranking factor. We won’t go into the details of how Google figures this out, but it does. What this means is that even if your website is full of great content and you avoid all the other five critical SEO mistakes above, it may still not rank well if it’s not mobile-friendly.

The simplest way to make your therapy website mobile-friendly is to use a responsive theme that can scale down images. Test your website on both smartphones and tablets to make sure. Also important is to use a good web hosting provider. It’s worth paying a little extra money to get a high-performance hosting server that can retrieve your files fast.

The Bottom Line

SEO for therapists does require work, but it’s straightforward enough. You begin by making sure that your content is as good as you can make it, and that your title tags, meta tags, and URL structure are all clean and relevant. You avoid using ineffective keywords that can dilute or harm your SEO. You don’t neglect broken links or Alt tags, either, but make sure they do their work. Lastly, you optimize your website for mobile devices with a responsive theme, to make it accessible to all web users.

All this may seem like plenty of work, but remember that you can break down these jobs into smaller tasks, working on one thing at a time. A good quality theme will help you control many of these issues. And if you just don’t have time to do any therapy website SEO, you can always outsource it. It’s an investment that pays

Josh Meah CEO Therapist Marketing

Josh is the CEO of Mindset Market. His goal is to be the marketing and business development partner of therapy practices around the world, supporting them so that they can help others.