Psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals play a hugely valuable role in helping people to cope with and recover from various disorders. They can only help, however, if the people who need their services can find them easily. Making your clinic easier to find is of course good for your business, as well as helping people who need it.
There are three main ways that you can make your clinic easier to find. These are SEO and other digital marketing techniques, listing yourself in various directories and press releases about your practice. The best part is that none of these techniques involve direct advertising, with can leave a bad taste for some health professionals.
Of course the majority of your patients will still come through referrals, and you can’t neglect your relationships with local GP’s, but increased name recognition can help patients to pick you out of a list that their doctor may recommend. It can even lead to people asking for a referral to see you specifically – particularly if you specialise in a particular area, such as overcoming gambling addictions.
Search Engine Optimisation is the art of making your website more visible on Google and other search engines. It will largely involve improving your website’s usability, creating new pages which will target specific keywords that people who need your services will often search and publishing articles on other websites that link to yours. You will generally need an SEO agency like SEO Shark to help you.
For a local clinic you will largely focus on local searches – after all, if you run a practice in North Sydney there isn’t much point turning up in searches in Perth! This will also reduce the amount of competition you will face, so you will be more likely to be successful.
Our practice in North Sydney would therefore try to be on the first page of search results for terms such as “psychologist North Sydney”, “mental health services North Sydney” and “counselling North Sydney”. You don’t need to advertise with this strategy – it all revolves around having your website be one of the most relevant to people who need help with their mental health in your area.
If you want to do more direct advertising, or see faster results, then Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising works on a similar basis. In this case, however, the spots on the search engine page are paid for and marked as ads. You will need to pay every time someone clicks on your website, so you’ll have to make sure the search terms you target are highly relevant.
An active social media presence can also enhance your name recognition and make it easier to find your clinic, and with very little real effort. Spending 10 minutes in the morning and evening replying to comments and making a post can pay real dividends for you.
Placing yourself in directories
In the digital age directories go way beyond the Yellow Pages. Having a listing for your business in as many (relevant) directories as possible will bring you more patients, as well as helping your SEO. There are lots of websites that offer lists of mental health service providers, so searching out as many as you can and making contact to try and get a place for your practice will be useful.
There are a large number of government, non-profit and community driven directories for mental health services around Australia and New Zealand. Being on ones that cover your area can help you to bring in more patients, as well as making it easier for people who need help to find a practice conveniently close to them.
Press releases can increase your brand recognition dramatically, which should lead to you seeing more patients. An article about your clinic in the local paper, for example, will mean that your practice is the one that people think of first when they need mental health services in the area. Local doctors are also likely to see it, which can further increase the referrals you get.
Press releases don’t need to be complicated, or overtly salesy – a simple piece talking about the professionals who work at your clinic, along with some reviews from happy patients, is really enough for most articles. The goal isn’t to convince people that you are the best therapist in the world – you just need them to think about you when they need the services you provide.
You can even submit articles to community newsletters and groups talking about mental health, and just end the piece with a short paragraph about your practice. An article about the mental health of jobseekers, for example, could just end with an outline of how you can help people struggling with this.