Why you MUST Keep WordPress Updated (and How to Do It)

Using a self-hosted version of WordPress for your private practice website means that you are in complete control over all the files, plugins and themes. It also means that you’re responsible to make sure things are up to date and running smoothly and securely. Not performing regular updates to your WordPress files is one of the main ways hackers can gain control of your website and leave you empty handed.

In this post we’ll talk about the importance of keeping your WordPress up to date and go over how to do it.

Using a self-hosted version of WordPress for your private practice website means that you are in complete control over all the files, plugins and themes. It also means that you’re responsible to make sure things are up to date and running smoothly and securely. Not performing regular updates to your WordPress files is one of the main ways hackers can gain control of your website and leave you empty handed. In this post we’ll talk about the importance of keeping your WordPress up to date and go over how to do it.

The First Time My Website Got Hacked

Kinda like remembering the first time you saw The Lord of The Rings (geek alert!) or your first kiss… some of us (the unfortunate ones) remember the first time we were hacked.

For me it was my very first WordPress site that I built; one for my church.

It was almost 10 years ago and I knew nothing. But they were kind enough to let me practice using the church website as my guinea pig.

I remember waking up and getting an email from the secretary saying something was wrong with the website.

I opened my laptop and pulled it up to find that links to porn sites (yes, porn sites… on the church website!) were appearing throughout the website.

The worst part was, I couldn’t log in to fix it.

I eventually did some crazy MacGyver moves and was able to make changes to the database and regain access. It took me all day.

Want to avoid a similar situation? Keep your WordPress up to date!

The Importance of Updating WordPress

The good folks at WordPress work hard to keep their software secure, fix bugs and also provide the best experience for their users.

They release the new updated code in the form of updates that you can apply to your website.

Here’s why it’s so important to perform these updates:

1: Updates Apply Security Patches

Hackers gonna hack, yo. That’s what they do.

They look for vulnerabilities in code and try to find a way in to gain control of websites.

Each time a new version of WordPress is released, it comes with a nice list of all the vulnerabilities that they fixed in the code.

Hackers wait for that info, then search for websites that have not been updated so they can attack.

So, if you keep your website updated, you patch those holes and limit the ways hackers can attack you.

Applying updates quickly, when they are released, will cut down on the amount of time you’re open to these malicious attacks.

2: Updates Can Fix Bugs

Sometimes when updates are released for a theme, plugin or WordPress itself, bugs can arise.

With any software, when the creators make changes, it can affect other aspects of the software they were not anticipating.

So more updates are released and on goes the train of progress.

Having the latest releases for your themes, plugins and WordPress means that you’ll have the most stable version that works and takes into account any bugs that come up along the way.

This is also a great reason to make sure that you’re using plugins that get updated recently.

3: Updates Add New Features & Functionality

So much has changed since WordPress was first released back in 2003.

Back then, it was a platform primarily created for bloggers.

Now, according to Manage WP, WordPress powers 26% of the internet!

With each update comes more functionality to make operating your website a better experience while giving you more options to make your content shine.

The same goes for plugins and themes.

One of the reasons why I like the Divi WordPress theme so much, is that they are constantly improving it, giving you more features to create beautiful websites.

Using the latest versions will give you access to new features you can use to make your private practice website even better.

How To Perform Updates in WordPress

First, Create a Backup

Before you make any updates, make SURE you create a backup of your website first.

Sometimes updates can conflict with a plugin or theme and crash your website (scary stuff).

But having a backup means if your site crashes, after the initial freakout, you can get to work restoring your website to the working version.

Some hosting services offer daily backups of your files, but if not, you can use a plugin like UpdraftPlus to schedule automatic backups of your site.

Making Updates in The WordPress Dashboard

Once you have a backup of your website, head to the WordPress dashboard.

If you have updates that need to be performed, you’ll see an circle with a number in the top left, under the Dashboard menu:

updating wordpress private practice therapy

Click on “Updates” and it will take you to the WordPress Updates page where you can view the latest updates.

wordpress updates

On this page, you’ll see your updates broken down into three categories: WordPress, Plugins and Themes.

Start with your WordPress version and make sure that you’re always using the latest version.

If not, click on the update button. The latest version of WordPress automatically applies minor updates automatically, which is a great thing to have.

Moving onto Plugins.

Before updating plugins you’ll want to make sure that they are compatible with your version of WordPress.

Look for this sentence:

“Compatibility with WordPress 4.8.1: 100% (according to its author)”

If you see that, you know that you can safely apply the plugin’s update without causing any issues.

You can check off each plugin you want to update, then click the “Update Plugins” button.

Lastly, you’ll see your Themes.

Finally, the last thing that may be updated are any themes you have installed on your WordPress.

Like with plugins, you can select the ones you want to update and click the “Update Themes” button.

I recommend keeping all themes up to date, even the ones you’re not using, just to be safe.

How to Always Make Sure Your WordPress Files are Updated… Let Us Do It!

While keeping your website up to date is extremely important, all this WordPress maintenance can eat up a lot of your time.

You’ll want to spend time each week making sure your WordPress, plugins and themes are using the most current version in order to keep your private practice website secure and running smoothly.

If the thought of this constant maintenance doesn’t get you up in the morning, check out our new monthly WordPress maintenance service.

We’ll offload all your maintenance tasks, such as daily backups, constant updates to WordPress, plugins and themes plus scans of your website to make sure you’re not open to any malicious hacking attacks.

Learn more about the WordPress maintenance and support packages here to get started.

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WordPress for Therapists: The WordPress Dictionary

WordPress can often feel like a whole new confusing world, especially when you’re first starting out. There are bound to be many terms you’re not familiar with, which can make using WordPress for your private practice website tedious and frustrating. And we don’t want that!

In this post, I’ve create a WordPress dictionary that you can use if you’re just starting out with WordPress for your therapy website.

WordPress can often feel like a whole new confusing world, especially when you’re first starting out. There are bound to be many terms you’re not familiar with, which can make using WordPress for your private practice website tedious and frustrating. And we don’t want that! In this post, I’ve create a WordPress dictionary that you can use if you’re just starting out with WordPress for your therapy website.

ALT TAGS

An alt tag is a text alternative for an image on a web page. The alt tag will be read by screenreaders and other site readers as an alternative to the image itself. If the image doesn’t load, it will display the text instead. It also helps to give search engines more context for the content of a web page.

BLOG

A blog is a regularly updated collection of articles on a website, usually presented as a list in reverse chronological order. Blogs are typically organized using categories and tags.

CATEGORY

A category is how WordPress sorts content. If you have a blog, and on that blog you want to write articles based on different topics, you can create categories (ie Marriage Tips, Anxiety, Boundaries, etc.). Then, if a user clicks on a category, they can see all the articles you wrote within that category.

You can create categories for your blog right within the blog post editing page:

therapy blog categories

CSS

Stands for Cascading Style Sheets, and is used to control the various styles applied to your website. Things like font sizes and colors or widths of columns or images. CSS allows you to make one small change (to what’s called a ‘stylesheet’) and have that change affect the entire site, rather than changing each individual element.

DASHBOARD

The WordPress dashboard (or Admin Area)  is your starting place when you log into the back end of WordPress. It’s from here that you’ll do everything else you need to do to edit your website.

When you log in, you’ll see your dashboard, which has a snapshot view of information pertaining to your website, such as comments, recent posts and information connected with certain plugins you may have installed.

Here’s what the WordPress dashboard looks like:

wordpress dashboard websites for therapists

DATABASE

A database is a collection of – you guessed it – data. In order for WordPress to function, information (data) is saved into organized tables on your hosting server so that WordPress can access it and display your website properly. When you do the one-click install of WordPress via your hosting provider, a database will automatically be created.

DOMAIN NAME OR URL

A domain name or URL is the address at which a website is accessed through your internet browser. Example: google.com

EMAIL SERVICE PROVIDER

A company that offers email marketing services, like MailChimp. They allow you to collect email addresses, organize them into lists so you can send emails in bulk.

GOOGLE ANALYTICS

Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Google Analytics is now the most widely used web analytics service on the Internet.

HTML

HTML is a programming language, or code used to create websites. When websites were first developed, they were created by writing out lines of code by hand. Lucky for us, WordPress takes care of all the code on the backend, so you don’t need to know how to write HTML.

KEYWORDS

Keywords are words and phrases that people type into search engines, such as Google, to find websites that match what they are looking for. Focused keywords for each web page helps search engines show that content to the correct people who are searching for it.

META TAGS

Meta tags are snippets of text that describe a page’s content; the meta tags don’t appear on the page itself, but only in the page’s code. They help to tell search engines what the page is about. They can include the page’s keywords and a short description, which is what will show on the results page of Google.

PAGES

Pages is the name for any web page you create within WordPress. For example, an about page, home page, contact page, etc.

There is no limit to the amount of pages you can create in WordPress.

There are a few key differences between Pages and Posts (see below for Posts definition), and they are:

  • Pages can also hierarchical, meaning you can have “parent” pages with sub-pages underneath. You can’t do this with Posts
  • Pages contain static content on your website (you create them once) and Posts are tied more to a chronological order in which they are published
  • Pages can not get sorted into Tags and Categories like Posts can
  • Posts are displayed using RSS feeds and Pages are not

POSTS

This is WordPress’ name for blog posts/articles. They appear on a WordPress website in reverse chronological order (newest to oldest) based on the date they were published.

PERMALINKS

Permalinks are what a user would put into their browser address bar to access your pages and blog posts. Within your WordPress settings you can change the structure of your permalinks, so that each blog post will be saved with the same link structure. Tip: just set it to “post name”.

RESPONSIVE DESIGN

Responsive Design is what allows a website to display correctly, or legibly, on any size device. Whether it’s a desktop computer, iPad or smartphone, programmers create code that will allow the site to adjust (rearrange or resize images, font sizes, etc.) to fit the screen correctly.

RSS FEED

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is used to format your blog posts into what’s called an XML file that is then used for syndication. What this means is that both WordPress and other outside feed readers can access that XML file and then display it in a way that’s readable.

SEO

Stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results – often referred to as “natural,” “organic,” or “earned” results.

SLUG

A slug is the user-friendly version of a URL. You can set these slugs for Pages, Posts, Categories and Tags.

TAGS

Tags, similar to Categories, is another way that WordPress sorts content, usually blog posts. While Categories are often broad topics, Tags are usually much more specific and have more to do with the topics found within each blog post.

You can add tags right from within the Posts editing area:

WordPress Tags

WEB HOSTING OR HOSTING SERVICE

This is a service that allows you make a website available to the world via the world wide web. Companies (like iPage) provide you with space on their servers to host all your files (WordPress files, images, documents, etc.) and then let you access those files via the your browser.

WIDGETS

A WordPress Widget is a small block that performs a specific function. You can add these widgets in sidebars also known as widget-ready areas on your web page. You can set up widgets in WordPress under the “Appearance” section.

WORDPRESS

WordPress is a free content management system. It allows you to easily create web pages and blog posts and provides you with the structure of your website. It’s the most popular blogging system in use on the web, at more than 60 million websites. WordPress.org allows you to download the software for you to self-host it on your own website, whereas WordPress.com is a stripped down version of the platform that you can use without needing to host it yourself.

WORDPRESS PLUGIN

Plugins are bits of software that can be uploaded to your site (or downloaded within WordPress) to to extend and expand the functionality of your WordPress site.

WORDPRESS THEME

A WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce the visible aspects of your website, with an underlying unifying design. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying WordPress software. You can use a website like ThemForest to search for and purchase a theme for your private practice website.

WYSIWYG

This stands for what you see is what you get. A WYSIWYG editor (like what WordPress uses to create text and content) enables you to see on the display screen exactly what will appear when the page or blog post is saved.

Here is what the WYSIWYG editor looks like in WordPress:

wysiwyg wordpress for counselors

 

Get Started With WordPress Today

If you've tried using WordPress to build your private practice website, then you know how scary and overwhelming it can be.

That's why I created A Little Course About Wordpress.

This short online course is an introductory guide to using WordPress, where I teach you exactly how to use it and break down each section of the WordPress dashboard and settings.

I'll help you take WordPress from a mysterious, scary and confusing beast to a friendly puppy, easy to navigate and use. Just click the banner to get started:

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Websites for Therapists: How to Optimize Images for SEO

Using images on your private practice website is a great way to make your site look pretty, but it’s also a great chance to improve your SEO (search engine optimization). There are a few things you can do when adding images to your website to make sure they’re working to help you get found in search engines.

In this post we’ll go over how you can improve your SEO by optimizing your images.

Using images on your private practice website is a great way to make your site look pretty, but it’s also a great chance to improve your SEO (search engine optimization). There are a few things you can do when adding images to your website to make sure they’re working to help you get found in search engines. In this post we’ll go over how you can improve your SEO by optimizing your images.

Search engine optimization has to do with specific things you can do to let Google and other search engines know your content exists and then show that content to the people who are searching for it.

SEO can be confusing and there are many different factors that affect it, but optimizing images as you add them to your therapy website or blog is a pretty simple process. Yay!

So let’s get into it…

Give Your Images Descriptive File Names

When you upload an image file to your website, you should never just leave the default file name.

Whether you take a photo using your own camera or download a stock photo from the internet, you’ll want to change the name of the file to reflect the content in which the image appears.

For example, an image straight from a camera may be called img_0125.jpg.

Search engines would have no clue what that image could be about or whether it fits in with your content.

So rename that image to something more descriptive and include a keyword that someone may use to find the content you’re creating.

Something like, 5-ways-to-combat-anxiety.jpg.

Search engines crawl not only the words on your website, but the text associated with images on your website. They can’t tell what an image is but they can get cues from the various ways you describe your images. This includes the file name.

Keep Your Image File Size Small

With about half of all website traffic coming from mobile devices these days, it’s extremely important that your content load fast.

Page speed is also one of Google’s hundreds of factors that affect your page rank.

So you want to make sure that your images are not unnecessarily large in file size.

For images within blog posts, I try to keep them no larger than 800 pixels wide and less than 150mb in file size.

I personally use Photoshop to adjust my images. But you can use a free service like TinyPNG.

You can quickly drag an image into TinyPNG and it will quickly compress it down to a smaller file size:

tinyPNG seo optimize images psychotherapists

The key is to make your images as small in filesize as possible without losing a ton of quality.

To test your own site speed and see if you have any images that are driving up your load times, you can use this tool, from Pingdom.

Give Your Image a Descriptive Title Tag

Image titles are what appear when you hover over an image with your mouse.

In WordPress, when you upload an image, it will automatically use your image’s file name as the title. So you’ll want to edit that and give a descriptive title.

Depending on how many photos I have in a blog post, I’ll just use my blog’s title as the title of the image here.

Write Descriptive Alt Image Tags

Alt tags are used as an alternative description of your images if/when your images don’t load.

Like your file name and image title, alt tags help let search engines know what your image is about.

You can be pretty descriptive here and let Google know exactly what the image is and include keywords where it makes sense.

Do your best to describe the photo and the content it appears in.

In WordPress, each time you upload an image, you’ll see a spot for the Alt Text. Alternatively, clicking on an image in your media library will lead you to it as well:

wordpress alt tag seo optimize images

Conclusion

If you make these four steps part of your process when uploading images to your website it will make search engine optimization much easier.

Over time, it will ensure that your content contains everything it needs to let Google know what it’s about and start sending you some organic traffic.

If you’re curious about other ways you can optimize your content for search engines, check out this post all about on-page SEO.

 

Want To Learn More About SEO?

Check out my mini-training, A Little Course About SEO:

The Best Ways to Secure Your Private Practice Website

Having your private practice website hacked can be an extremely frustrating and violating experience. But there are many – often simple – ways you can secure your therapy website from various types of hacking attempts.

In this blog post we’ll discuss six simple steps you can take to keep your private practice website secure when using WordPress.

Having your private practice website hacked can be an extremely frustrating and violating experience. But there are many - often simple - ways you can secure your therapy website from various types of hacking attempts. In this blog post we’ll discuss six simple steps you can take to keep your private practice website secure when using WordPress.

1. Limit how many times someone can try and log in

One way that hackers try and get access to your website is by doing what’s called “brute force attacks”.

This is where a hacker will use some code to repeatedly try combinations of usernames and passwords in hopes to finally land on the correct one.

One way you can stop this is by limiting the amount of times anyone can try logging in with the incorrect credentials.

I like to use a plugin called Limit Login Attempts.

This plugin lets you set the amount of times someone can try to log in. I keep mine set to five times.

If someone tries using the wrong username and password 5 times in a row, they’re locked out from trying again:

wordpress security psychotherapists limit logins

Be warned though, make sure YOU have the right login info so you don’t lock yourself out!

2. Your WordPress username should never be “admin”

Don’t make it easy for the bad guys to guess your username.

Often when setting up WordPress, it will set the default username to “admin”.

Pretty easy to guess, right? And hackers know this.

If you’re doing the WordPress installation yourself, make sure to change that to something much harder to guess.

I like to use iPage’s WordPress hosting services (affiliate link).

During their super-simple WordPress set up, they automatically set your username to your email address, which is a much better option.

Whatever you use for your username, just make sure it’s not “admin”.

3. Use a strong password

This one is pretty straight-forward.

Just like not using “admin” as a username, you don’t want to make it easy for hackers to guess your password.

It’s often tempting to use a password you can easily remember, such as a birthday, but it’s best to use something even YOU can’t remember.

You can use a website like Secure Password Generator to create a very strong password for yourself.

Use it when you set up WordPress, or log in and change your old, simple password in the User settings.

Then write it down, or save it in Evernote or someplace safe.

4. Back up your website regularly

This one is kinda like having insurance for your website.

Having a backup of your WordPress files, content and database information is good practice.

You’ll be extremely thankful for this if your private practice website ever does get overtaken and you can’t access it.

I like to use a plugin called UpdraftPlus.

therapy website backup plugin updraftplus

What I like the most about this plugin is that I can sync it with my Dropbox account and set it to automatically backup my website files.

Every two weeks the plugin does it’s job and I have a new set of WordPress and database files in my Dropbox folder, which I can easily access.

5. Update WordPress regularly

Keeping your WordPress updated to the latest version ensures that you’ve got the latest security patches that their developers have released.

WordPress is updated regularly to fix bugs and to patch known holes in their code that hackers have tried to exploit.

Now, this can be scary, because sometimes plugins don’t play nice with new versions of WordPress. Nine out of ten times it’s usually fine, but sometimes it can cause conflicts and crash your website.

It happens.

This is where having a backup is important.

If this happens, don’t panic. Get your hosting provider on the phone and they should be able to reset your website to a prior date and time where it was working.

6. Use 2-factor authentication to log in

Want to add some extra protection to your WordPress login page?

You can use Google’s Authenticator to create a 2-step process for logging in.

Not only would the user need the correct username and password, but they’ll also need an extra set of randomly generated numbers to log in.

Check out the plugin Google Authenticator – Two Factor Authentication to set up this extra piece of protection.

Once installed, WordPress will ask for the Google Authentication code along with the username and password.

Then you’ll have to hop over to the Google Authentication app and grab your random code in order to enter the website.

google authenticator private practice website

The app will generate a new code every 15 seconds or so, which really limits the amount of time someone has to guess at it.

Having the extra step can be a little annoying if you’re in a hurry, but it’s worth having the peace of mind knowing that unauthorized users will be stopped for gaining control of your website.

Conclusion

I’ve had my own WordPress websites hacked before, so I can tell you, it stinks.

One time, the website I had built for my church got hacked and the deviants posted links to adult material. NOT COOL!

So, take the necessary precautions.

In the excitement of creating your private practice website, it’s easy to overlook the boring things like setting up backups and 2-step authentication.

But just by taking a few extra moments to get these plugins installed or take these extra measures can provide protection against many of the typical attacks.

Many of the suggestions outlined here you only have to set up once, and then you don’t have to do anything else.

Then you can rest-assured you’ve done what you can to keep your therapy website safe.

What’s the Difference Between WordPress.com & WordPress.org?

If you’ve been thinking about getting started on a website for your private practice, you’ve probably heard of WordPress by now. But WordPress has two options for creating websites – one is found at wordpress.com and one is found at wordpress.org. What gives?

In this article we’ll talk about the difference between wordpess.com and wordpress.org to help you understand which platform may be right for your therapy website.

In this article we’ll talk about the difference between wordpess.com and wordpress.org to help you understand which platform may be right for your therapy website.

What is WordPress?

Let’s start at the beginning… what the heck is WordPress anyway?

WordPress is what’s known as a “content management system”. It’s the framework on which a website can be built.

It’s all the code and functionality you would need to create web pages, upload images, write blog posts and other content and tie it all together into a website.

WordPress allows you to use various “themes” on top of this framework to make your website look a certain way to your viewers. Themes can change the colors, fonts and layouts of your website, while still using the same content-editing framework of WordPress underneath it all.

WordPress is both the most powerful and most popular blogging and website content management system. About 16 million websites are run on WordPress today. That’s a lot!! (source)

Related: If you want to learn more about how to use WordPress, check out my beginner’s course, A Little Course About WordPress here.

One Major Difference Between WordPress.com & WordPress.org

One of biggest differences between wordpress.com and wordpress.org lies in who is hosting your website.

For wordpress.com, they host all the files for you. You can sign up for a free account and start building your website in a few minutes. All the hosting is handled with their servers, you just sign in and go.

With wordpress.org, you can download all the files necessary to run the WordPress software (for free), then you upload those files to your own hosting server (like iPage or Godaddy) to create your website.

The Pros & Cons of Using WordPress.com for Your Therapy Website

Let’s talk about the good and the bad of using WordPress.com to build a website for your private practice.

The Pros of Using WordPress.com

  • It’s free. Who doesn’t like free? With WordPress.com you get the functionality of a website and blog run on the WordPress software without having to pay for hosting.
  • All the maintenance is handled by WordPress. When updates to the WordPress software are released, they are automatically applied to your website and you don’t have to worry about updating.
  • There are multiple themes to choose from. You can choose from a set of WordPress themes to customize the way your website looks.
  • Set up is quick and easy. Just start an account, fill out some initial info about your website and choose a URL (i.e. yourwebsite.wordpress.com) where you want your website to appear and you’re on your way.

The Cons of Using WordPress.com

  • Your URL will contain “wordpress.com”. When you set up your WordPress.com website, you’re website’s URL will be something like “mytherapysite.wordpress.com”. To me, this looks unprofessional and may confuse your website viewers.
  • Paying for upgrades can become costly over time. The free starter plan has certain limitations, such as limited storage, WordPress ads on your website, limited amount of customization and the URL issue mentioned above. You can, however, remove these limitations by paying to upgrade your plan. If you want flexibility, you’ll have to pay for it.
  • Limited amount of themes, plugins and customization. WordPress.com is limited to only the themes that they offer. Within those themes, you’re also limited on the amount of customization you can do. If you have specific needs for your website, you may not be able to find a theme or plugin needed to do what you want.
  • Difficult to grow and adapt with your business. Similar to the previous point, WordPress.com is limited. You don’t have the freedom to expand your website with new functions and customization as your private practice grows. You may need a simple website to begin with, but down the line you may want to add e-commerce, a scheduling plugin that ties into Paypal, etc. WordPress.com is limited to only the functions they allow.

The Pros & Cons of Downloading WordPress from WordPress.org for Your Therapy Website

As mentioned earlier, the alternative to creating a website via the free version of the WordPress software at WordPress.com is to download the WordPress software and then install it on your own web hosting server.

Let’s talk about the good and the bad of going this route…

The Pros of Using a Self-hosted WordPress Website

  • It’s still free. Using the WordPress software is still free when hosting the files on your own server. You just have to pay for the hosting account.
  • Your own custom domain name. When you sign up for a hosting account, (I recommend iPage (affiliate link)), a free domain is usually included and part of the set up. This gives you the chance to brand your website with a professional-looking URL.
  • No Ads. There will be no ads on your website when you self-host a copy of the WordPress software.
  • Cost can be about the same or cheaper than paying for WordPress.com upgrades. When you add up all the WordPress.com upgrades needed to give you the full flexibility, storage and customization you may want for your therapy website, it’s often cheaper to host WordPress yourself.
  • Nearly unlimited amount of themes. WordPress is what’s called “open source”. Meaning anyone is free to create themes and plugins to work with the WordPress software. This means that there are thousands of options to choose from when picking a theme and adding new functionality to your website. For some great themes you can use with your private practice website, check out this post.
  • Freedom to grow with your business. Because there are so many themes and plugins that you can add to your website, you’re only limited by your imagination. If there’s something new you want your website to do, you have access to all the code behind the scenes, so you can always find a plugin or developer to make it work with your website.
  • Quick Installation. Because of the popularity of WordPress, most web hosting providers now offer “one-click installation”. This means installing WordPress on your hosting server is just as easy as signing up for the free account at WordPress.com. For a guided tutorial on setting up a hosting account and installing WordPress, check out this post.
  • You own everything. If you want to move your website to a different web host, or want to backup your database, you have the freedom and access to do what you want/need with your information.

The Cons of Using a Self-hosted WordPress Website

  • Extra responsibility. Because WordPress is hosted on your own server, you’re responsible for keeping the software, along with any themes and plugins, up to date. This is often as simple as clicking a button, but problems do arise when updates conflict with plugins and themes.
  • Steeper learning curve. Because you have full control and access to all the settings, there’s the potential to get overwhelmed by it all. More time will be required on the front end to understand the WordPress dashboard and how to edit your website.
  • Things can break. Because there are more moving parts, you can potentially break your website when making updates or changing the wrong settings. Creating backups of your website and having access to customer support via your hosting provider becomes more important.

Conclusion

WordPress remains the most powerful and most popular platform on which to build any website. It can especially be a great way to create a professional-looking, flexible private practice website and give you the ability to update your website yourself.

Because your therapy practice may evolve and grow as you refine your business, I recommend the freedom of creating a WordPress website using the self-hosted option found at WordPress.org.

If you’d like to get started with WordPress, check out this step-by-step tutorial I created. It will show you how to set up your hosting account, domain name and install WordPress.

Ready to REALLY dive into WordPress? Check out my training, A Little Course About WordPress.

 

Download your free Website Platform Comparison Guide

With so many platforms to choose from, it can be quite overwhelming to choose where to begin.

I created a free quick-guide PDF resource so you can easily see how each website-builder stacks up with the others.

In the PDF you’ll get an overview of the pros and cons of 6 top website builders - Wix, WordPress, Weebly, Squarespace, Brighter Vision and TherapySites - as well as each platform’s pricing table so you can understand exactly what you get for the cost involved.

Just click on the image below to download The Website Platform Comparison Guide and start building your private practice website today.

free download therapist website platform comparison guide 1

The Best WordPress Plugins for Your Therapy Website

WordPress plugins are an amazing way to add new features, increase security and truly customize your private practice website. In this post, I’ll share some of my favorite plugins and how they can improve your therapy website.

WordPress plugins are an amazing way to add new features, increase security and truly customize your private practice website. In this post, I’ll share some of my favorite plugins and how they can improve your therapy website.

What Are WordPress Plugins?

First off, what the heck are WordPress Plugins?

A plugin is a collection of files that can be uploaded within WordPress, to perform a specific task.

If there’s something you want to do with your therapy website that’s not present in the basic WordPress setup or your WordPress theme, chances are a plugin can help you achieve it.

Adding an online store to your website would be a great example.

A basic installation of WordPress does not allow you to display products easily or accept payments.

But an e-commerce plugin, such as WooCommerce, can give you everything you need to create products, send email receipts and accept payments – everything you’d expect an online store to do – right within your WordPress website.

My Favorite WordPress Plugins

Below are the plugins that I personally use the most and recommend for any private practice website.

GM Block Bots

If you have Google Analytics installed on your website, and you’re tracking where your traffic is coming from, chances are you’ve seen lots of spam websites sending you a good chunk of your traffic.

The problem with this is that it can skew your numbers, making you think you’ve had a lot of pageviews and people viewing your content, when in reality, it’s just spam traffic.

Here’s a snapshot of some spammy websites that were showing up in my Google Analytics:

GM Block Bots can help block spam on your private practice website

Not the type of traffic you want.

GM Block Bots filters out that spam traffic and let’s you see a more accurate picture of your Google Analytics data.

This way you can truly understand where your traffic is coming from and how many visitors were real people.

The best part about this plugin is you can set it and forget it. Install it once and you don’t have to mess with any settings.

However, it is good to keep it updated, as they continue to add new spam websites to the list that the plugin blocks.

W3 Total Cache

I’ll admit that I don’t fully understand the entire technical scope of what W3 Total Cache does. Because it does a lot!

But the basic function it serves is to speed up your website by making all the code easier for browsers to load.

If you feel like your website is not performing well and taking a while to load, you’ll want to check out this plugin.

If you do install it, there are some basic settings you’ll want to make sure get right, so check out this article here.

Just a warning: I’ve seen this plugin conflict with some other plugins and make other parts of a website get a bit wacky.

If you install it and run into issues, disable the plugin from the WordPress plugins area of your dashboard.

If something goes really wrong and you can’t log in to WordPress (it’s rare but it’s happened!), use your website’s control panel (with your hosting provider) to delete the plugin and try another caching plugin, such as WP Super Cache.

SumoMe

I love this plugin and I love this company!

Heck, I even wrote an entire blog post about it and how you can use their social sharing tools to boost your blog’s visibility.

This plugin is really more like a suite of plugins.

While they have different levels of customization that you could pay for, I’ve been just fine with the free version.

I (and my wife, the therapist) mainly use SumoMe for their Share plugin, which puts a stylish bar of social media icons on my blog, so readers can easily share it with their networks.

If you’re on a desktop computer, you’ll see it on the left side of this blog. On mobile you’ll find it at the bottom of the screen.

It lets me choose how it looks, where on the page it’s located, and if I want to hide it from certain pages entirely.

List Builder is another great plugin within this suite of plugins.

This is a great way to help you build an email list, if that’s part of your online marketing.

Just like the Share bar, List Builder lets you control the location and visibility of a pop up or slide-in box that you can connect to your email marketing service, like Mailchimp.

Another way of growing your email list is with their Smart Bar.

This plugin places an opt-in bar across the top of your website, only showing it to those who haven’t seen it yet.

You can check out all of SumoMe’s capabilities on their website here.

Yoast SEO

If I could recommend just one WordPress plugin, I think this would be the one.

Yoast SEO has become somewhat of the industry standard for SEO plugins.

What I love about this plugin is that with every page or blog post your create, it gives you an idea of how well (or poorly) your page will perform in search engines.

All you have to do is set a keyword for the page or post you’re working on, and Yoast SEO will give you a score and let you know a few ways you could improve your search engine optimization.

It will also let you know where should put your keyword to boost your SEO potential.

Here’s a screenshot of what it’s showing me as I’m working on this blog post. You can see I still have some work to do!:

A screenshot of Yoast SEO, one of my favorite WordPress plugins you can use on your private practice website.

UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore

UpdraftPlus takes the stress out of backing up your WordPress website.

Let’s face it, things can go wrong with your WordPress website.

Plugins can get screwy and updating WordPress itself can potentially conflict with your theme.

Things happen.

So, it’s always good to have a backup of your website’s files and the database, should you need to revert back to a previous version.

That’s what UpdaftPlus does.

Within the plugin, you can tell it how often you want to back up your website, and where to save it to.

I really like that I can save my backups to DropBox, giving me easy access to files should I need them.

When it comes time (hopefully you won’t need to) to restore a website, just choose your backup and let the plugin do its work to get you back on track.

Limit Login Attempts

Limit Login Attempts is a super simple one that gives you a boost of security to your private practice WordPress website.

Hackers like to break into websites to gain control over them. That’s just what they do.

One way they do this is by using code that will try combinations of usernames and passwords until it finds the right one.

Then they have control to do what they want.

To combat this, Limit Login Attempts does just what the name implies. It allows you set a limit to the amount of times someone can try and log into your WordPress admin area.

Your pretty much just set the limit and then don’t worry about it.

Do make sure you have your WordPress log in credentials saved, because if you forget them, you could end up not just keeping the hackers out, but yourself!

Conclusion

So that’s a roundup of my favorite WordPress plugins you can use to improve your own therapy website! Do you have any favorite plugins that you use on your own website? Let me know in the comments below.

Get Started With WordPress Today

If you've tried using WordPress to build your private practice website, then you know how scary and overwhelming it can be.

That's why I created A Little Course About Wordpress.

This short online course is an introductory guide to using WordPress, where I teach you exactly how to use it and break down each section of the WordPress dashboard and settings.

I'll help you take WordPress from a mysterious, scary and confusing beast to a friendly puppy, easy to navigate and use. Just click the banner to get started:

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How to Create & Edit The Sidebar On Your Therapy Website

The sidebar on your private practice website can be a great place to quickly display some of your most important info to potential clients. In today’s post I’ll take you through the process of creating a sidebar for your blog, using WordPress, so that you’ll know exactly how to build one yourself.

The sidebar on your private practice website can be a great place to quickly display some of your most important info to potential clients. In this post I’ll take you through the process of creating a sidebar for your therapy blog, using WordPress, so that you’ll know exactly how to build one yourself.

Finding Your Sidebar Settings in WordPress

If you’re starting at the very beginning with WordPress, there’s probably not a lot going on in your sidebar at the moment.

If you’ve already installed a WordPress theme, then maybe it looks a little bit more interesting than the generic one you’ll see after WordPress is installed.

For my tutorial on setting up a therapy website using WordPress (in less than 10 minutes!) check out this post here.

For the sake of this tutorial, I’ve got a fresh install of the Divi WordPress theme going on. You can see the sample blog post page and the boring default sidebar below:

Here's what a default sidebar may look like on a new therapy website

The default info is fairly generic, all text and pretty boring. So where do we go to change it?

Once you log into your WordPress admin dashboard, you’ll find your sidebar content under Appearance > Widgets.

Clicking on Widgets will bring you to a page like this:

Put widgets in a sidebar on your private practice website

Now, this area will look slightly different to you depending on what WordPress theme you’re using.

With my Divi theme here, you can clearly see a box on the right marked “Sidebar”.

A sidebar in WordPress is made up of small content blocks, called “widgets”. Hence them being found within the Widgets section of WordPress. Clever nerds!

These widgets are the darker gray boxes within the sidebar. Each one performs a different function and displays different content. Comparing the titles of each one in your WordPress dashboard with what you see when you load a blog post, will give you an idea about what each widget does.

Adding and Removing Widgets from Your Sidebar

Adding and removing widgets is as easy as dragging and dropping them where you want them to be.

To remove a widget that currently appears in your sidebar, just drag it from the sidebar area on the right over to the bank of widgets on the left. WordPress will automatically save it and now when you visit your blog, you won’t see that content any more.

To add a widget to your sidebar, choose from the list of widgets on the left and drag one over to the right, placing it in the sidebar box where you want it to appear.

Depending on the theme you’re using, you may have many more options for widgets than in the example photo above.

Try adding each one and seeing what it does. This way you know all the options available to you to make an awesome sidebar.

Example: How To Create A Bio For Your Therapy Website Sidebar

Enough talk, Daniel, more show!

Ok ok, I’m on it. Let me give you an example and walk you through the steps.

Let’s create a short “about me” widget in a sidebar.

The Divi WordPress theme that I’m using comes with a widget that’s got everything I’ll need to do this, which is pretty sweet. It’s labeled “ET About Me Widget”.

create a bio widget for your counseling website

I want my bio to appear at the top of my sidebar, so I’ll click and drag it over to the right, placing it in the first spot:

Dragging the widget into your sidebar, you can then edit the info

When I drop it into my sidebar, the widget expands to automatically show me what options I have and what content I can place in it. Looks like I can add a title, and image and a paragraph of info about myself.

Note: In order to add an image, I’ll need the URL to where my image is uploaded. So I’ve added a photo in the Media section of WordPress.

Now I can go to my Media Library and click on the photo to get the URL I’ll need:

Find an image for your therapy website's sidebar

I’ll go ahead and copy that URL and paste it into my widget settings, like so:

Fill in the info for your private practice website widget

Now, I’ll click the Save button and then reload my blog post to take a look.

A bio widget in a WordPress sidebar

Beautiful!

Now here’s a little tip if your theme doesn’t have a specific “about me” widget but you’d still like to add a bio.

You can use the default WordPress Text widget and just a little bit of HTML code. Gasp!

Don’t worry, it’s not that tricky. You’ll still need to upload an image to your Media Library and get the URL for that image. The difference here is that you’ll probably have to upload it at the proper width for your sidebar.

If you don’t know the width, you can get away with making it about 300 pixels wide, then use this snippet of code to add the image to the HTML widget:

<img src=”your-image-url-here.jpg” alt=”” width=”100%” />

Except you’d replace your-image-url-here.jpg with the URL to your own image. Here’s how it looks in the WordPress dashboard:

Using text widget for a bio for your therapist website

And how it appears to visitors of the blog post:

Preview of bio text widget in therapy website sidebarConclusion

So, if you’re using WordPress on your private practice website, you should know have a grasp on what a sidebar is, how it’s structured and how to make some basic edits to your existing sidebar.

Stay tuned for the next post, where we’ll talk a bit more strategy and what types of content you should include in the sidebar on your therapy website.

It’s gonna be wild!

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How to Choose the Perfect WordPress Theme for your Therapy Website

Of all the platforms you could choose to build your private practice website on, nothing offers the most power, flexibility for your business, customization and SEO potential as WordPress. But with so many amazing WordPress themes out there, how can you tell which one is right for your therapy website?

In this post I’ll break down the process of choosing a WordPress theme for your private practice website.

How to Choose the Perfect WordPress Theme for your Therapy Website

What Exactly Are WordPress Themes?

WordPress is a free website framework. It gives you everything you need to create a website and update it easily with pages and blog posts. One of the great features of WordPress is that you can add on any theme of your choosing to make the website look exactly how you want it to look.

A WordPress theme modifies the way your website is displayed without modifying the core WordPress software that runs your website.

A flexible theme will allow you to change the look and feel of your website, adjust colors and fonts, create advanced page layouts and add elements like contact forms and social sharing.

Where To Find WordPress Themes for your Therapy Website

My favorite resource for WordPress themes is the website themeforest.net (affiliate link).

This website is a place where thousands of professional designers and developers sell the products they create, including WordPress themes.

I highly recommend using a premium WordPress theme (a theme you pay for) rather than a free theme, and themeforest.net is a great place to find them.

Premium themes are often better designed, easier to use and often come with customer support to help you when you get stuck while putting your website together.

The themes range in price from $29 up to $64. What’s amazing is that this is a one-time fee you’ll pay; a small investment to have your therapy website look professionally designed.

How to Choose a WordPress Theme

Ok, let’s go step-by-step through my process and the things I want you to look for when choosing a WordPress theme for your therapist website.

Head on over to themeforest.net and click on the WordPress link in the gray navigation bar.

Choosing a WordPress theme for your private practice website

Now you should be looking at an un-filtered list of WordPress themes:

Choosing a therapy wordpress theme

Now is where the real fun (but often time-consuming) work really begins. Use the Tags section on the left to narrow down the results. This way you won’t waste your time looking at WordPress themes for real estate or something not your style.

Use the tags to find the perfect WordPress theme

Take a look at the various ways that Themeforest tags the WordPress themes available. Some WordPress themes can span a few different tags, but try and think about you’re own style and types of therapy websites you’re inspired by. Are they simple or clean? Are they creative or modern or elegant?

Use tags to narrow down your therapy WordPress theme search

Use the tags to narrow down the search a bit.

Here’s a tip: I’ve had a lot of luck with the tag “personal” as these often contain WordPress themes for a personal blog or website, rather than a corporate business.

Another great tip is to use the tag “multipurpose”. The resulting WordPress themes are often great for many different types of businesses and blogs. Heck that’s where I found the theme I’m using at the time this post was written.

Start Collecting WordPress Themes You Like

Ok, now that we’re looking at a smaller pool of WordPress themes by clicking on some tags, it’s time to start previewing a few and collecting some that you think would work for your therapy website.

If you hover over the image next to each theme’s name, you’ll see a little preview of what it looks like. If one piques your interest, open it up in a new tab (so you don’t loose your place).

This will take you to the landing page for that specific theme:

Choose a WordPress theme for your private practice

This page will give you all the information about the WordPress theme, including reviews, comments and price. You’ll also be able to see some screenshots of what it looks like.

Some will even list out all the features of the theme, which is extremely helpful to get a glance of some of the special things the theme can do.

The next thing you’ll want to do is check out the live preview of the theme to see if it could work for your private practice and personal taste.

A new tab will open up with a demo of the WordPress theme. Spend some time here really clicking around and checking out the various web page layouts.

Many of these premium themes come with “demo” content, which means you can import them at the very beginning of building your therapy website, as a starting place. You’ll just go in and fill it with your content later.

Look for that demo content, as well as homepage layouts and imagine your content within these pages. Really try to envision it!

If you like what you see, go back to the theme’s landing page and click on the “Add to Favorites” button. If you haven’t already created a free Themeforest account, you can do so here.

Adding the theme to your favorites folder will save it for later as you continue to look at other themes you may want to use for your private practice website.

Continue this process with as many WordPress themes as you like. It’s time consuming but will be worth it when you find a theme you really like for your therapy website.

I’ll usually do a first sweep, adding about 10 themes to my favorites. Then I’ll come back another day and start winnowing it down to the best one for the project at hand.

How to Choose the Best WordPress Theme

So, now that you still have a bunch of WordPress themes in your favorites, how do you choose the best one for your private practice website?

Here are some ways to help you make the best decision:

  • Read the reviews and comments to see what past customers of the theme are saying. Are they satisfied with the theme? Are they having trouble with it? Also take note of how the theme author responds to those comments.
  • Make sure you go with a theme that offers support from the authors of the theme. This will pay off when you have questions later as you start building out your website. For a small price you can often extend theme support to a year.
  • Check to see that the theme is responsive. It should say so in the features but you can check to see how it looks at different sizes by dragging your browser window in and out. You don’t want to purchase a theme that will not look good on mobile devices. They’re hard to use and Google awards websites that are mobile friendly.
  • Pay attention to the buyer rating and don’t go with a WordPress theme with a low rating
  • I recommend purchasing a theme with a drag-and-drop page builder, like Visual Composer. This means you’ll be able to create new web pages without writing any code. You can easily choose from a number of content elements, drag them where you want them and edit from there.
  • If you want to save time, go with a theme that has demo content. This will give you a great place to start if you really like the theme’s demo layouts. You can then replace their text with yours and save a lot of time
  • Some WordPress themes also come with video tutorials or online documentation. These are extremely handy, especially if you’re new to WordPress. They’ll show you how to make updates and use the Themes settings.

For some examples of WordPress themes you could use for your therapy website, check out this post here.

Conclusion

Themeforest.net offers you thousands of choices for the perfect WordPress theme for your private practice website. And they’re adding new ones all the time!

With a little patience, you can narrow your choice of themes down to a few that you love, then really spend some time with them, envisioning where you’d put your content, reading reviews and exploring the WordPress theme.

And guess what? If you get tired of your theme after a year or so, the beauty of WordPress is that you can always switch it for a new one.

For even more guided learning, check out my online course The Create My Therapist Website Toolbox, where I share step-by-step video tutorials all about how to create an awesome therapy website using WordPress. Just click the banner below to learn all about it:

Create your own therapist website using WordPress

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11 Things You Should Do To Every Blog Post Before You Hit Publish (+ Free Checklist)

Let’s face it – blogging can be a lot of work. As a therapist focussed on face-to-face client time, it may be hard to juggle all that goes into blogging for your private practice website. You’re busy writing client notes, not SEO ready, easy-to-read, highly-sharable blog posts. But you know that blogging is a fantastic way to get potential clients to your website.

Let’s face it - blogging can be a lot of work. As a therapist focussed on face-to-face client time, it may be hard to juggle all that goes into blogging for your private practice website. You’re busy writing client notes, not SEO ready, easy-to-read, highly-sharable blog posts. So, in this post, I’ll share 11 things to do before you publish your next private practice blog post. Making these things a habit along with your blogging routine will help ensure each post is the very best it can be. I also created a free checklist you can download and refer to during your blog-writing session. Click to download!

So, in this post, I’ll share 11 things to do before you publish your next blog post. Making these things a habit along with your blogging routine will help ensure each post is the very best it can be. I also created a free checklist you can download and refer to during your next coffee-fueled blog-writing session. (or am I the only one who needs coffee when they blog?)

1. Write An Awesome Post Title

How is your blog title looking?

When it comes to your blog post title, you’ll want to be aware of 2 things:

  • Is it intriguing and does it encourage readers to click through to your brand spankin’ new blog post?
  • Does it contain the keywords or phrases you want people to use to find you in search engines?

The title of your blog post is extremely important. It’s the very first thing that readers will see before reading – or NOT reading – your blog post.  So it deserves some special attention and time to make sure you’ve written a title that will persuade people to read it.

For me, I usually spend this time after I’ve written the blog post.

Check out this neat tool from CoShedule. It’ll help you analyze your blog post titles and score them based on the types of words you use and the emotions they project.

You can have the most amazing therapy blog post ever, but if your title is weak, then people may never read it.

Your title also holds a lot of SEO weight and is key to being found by search engines. So make sure you include keywords in your blog title to optimize it for SEO.

Ok, let’s take a look at an example.

A so-so blog post title could be something like: “How to Communicate in Marriage.”

This isn’t a great title because it’s pretty boring. It’s not intriguing and it’s very vague. That post could be about SO many different things.

A better title could be: “5 Things Newlyweds Need to Know About Communication.”

This is better because it’s much more descriptive about what you’ll learn from reading the post. It also targets a population – Newlyweds. So it’s much more optimized for SEO and could be something a newlywed would search for.

2. Break Text Up Into Short Paragraphs, Sections and Bulleted Lists

I like this tip because it’s simple.

You’re writing blog posts for people with short attention spans and probably reading on their phones.

You are NOT writing the next great American novel.

So leave out the long, drawn-out paragraphs and huge blocks of text.

Because the majority of visitors to your therapy website will be skimming the content to decide first if it’s useful to them, you want to make it easy to digest. Doing so will help them stay longer and hopefully lead them further into your content.

Here’s how you can make your blog post more readable:

  • Break up large paragraphs into smaller ones of about 2-3 sentences
  • Use section headers to signify to the reader the different parts of your blog post
  • Use bulleted lists (hey! I’m doing that right now!)

Creating huge blocks of text overwhelms readers and keeps them from being able to quickly assess what your blog post is about.

3. Use SEO Optimized Images With Alt Tags

You’ll want to be aware of two things when it comes to embedding images in your blog post:

  • The title of your images contains the keyword relevant to your post
  • The Alt Tag contains a full description of what your post is about

When you create images (especially your featured image if your using WordPress) you’ll want to literally name the JPG file so that your keyword appears within it.

5-things-newlyweds-need-to-know.jpg is much more descriptive than image495838.jpg

It’s another indicator to search engines what you blog post is about.

Alt Tags don’t carry a ton of weight with search engines but there is one huge benefit to making sure you include a descriptive one with each image you upload.

That huge benefit is Pinterest.

If and when someone pins an image from your blog post, Pinterest will automatically pull in the text that is in the Alt Tag. So you’ll want to  make sure you optimize this text with keywords and a clear description.

Check out this post for some more tips on using Pinterest to promote your therapy website.

If left up to the reader, they may leave it blank or just fill it in with something that’s not descriptive, that will never lead new readers back to you.

In WordPress, you can add the “alternate text” when you upload your image. Or you can do it after it’s uploaded, by clicking on the image edit pencil icon, and filling in the alternate text field:

Adding ALT text to images in a blog post may help with SEO

4. Write Around 1500 Words

There has been many tests done to see whether long-form content impacts your Google rank.

That study, by CoShedule showed that the top 5 pages on Google for a keyword averaged more than 2,000 words. The results for pages 6-10 averaged around 1400.

The reason being is that longer posts tend to rank higher and be shared more because they are perceived as more valuable.

Basically, just writing more than 1500 words alone will not boost your post in search results. But combined with other SEO best practices, it is one of the indicators of the quality of your content.

It really all comes down to the usefulness and quality of your blog post. If you can write an awesome blog post that’s super useful to your audience in less than 1500 words, go for it. But if it takes much more than 1500 words, that’s fine too.

I’ve found that with my blog, it’s very hard to be useful in just 500 words, so I prefer longer posts where I can give a lot of value to amazing folks like you.

So go big, be helpful and write write write!

5. Write A Meta Description That Contains Keywords & Persuades Readers to Click

This goes hand in hand with your awesomely optimized title that we spoke about earlier.

You’ll want to write and informative and persuasive meta description for each post you write.

A meta description is the description of the page content that people will see under the title in Google. If I search for “How to dance salsa,” one of the results looks like this:

Add a meta description to your blog post that is SEO optimized and persuasive
See how descriptive that sentence is below the title? It contains the keyword “salsa dancing” three times.

If you’re using WordPress, you can create custom meta descriptions using a plugin like Yoast SEO. This plugin is amazing and will analyze how many times you use your keyword in a blog post, so you can continue to optimize it.

6. Make Sure the URL Contains Your Keyword

Another shot in the arm for the SEO of your awesome therapy blog post is to make sure the URL for your post contains the keywords you’re targeting.

This is one of the first indicators to Google as to what your post is about. So let Sir Google know!

One way to do this automatically in WordPress, is to make sure your permalink structure is set to /%postname%/ under Settings/Permalinks.

Use SEO-friendly permalinks in your blog posts

Now, when you publish a blog post, it will use your title (which I KNOW you already optimized, right?) for your URL. You can, of course, customize it entirely by clicking the Edit button under your WordPress title:

Edit the URL of your blog post to help with SEO

7. Add A Call to Action

So what do you want the reader to do AFTER they read your blog post?

Think about that. Do you want them to comment? Do you want them to call you for a free consultation? Do you want them to sign up for a newsletter?

Determine the end goal of your blog post and make sure to include a call to action. A little nudge or signal that their interaction with you has only just begun.

When we leave out these calls to action, we leave it up to the reader, which just might end in them leaving your website and going on their merry way, never to return again. #bummer

So create a button or link or ask a question and tell readers to leave a comment. Do something to lead them in the right direction, which is towards more of you!

8. Make Sure the Post Contains Internal & External Links

The reason you’ll want to add internal links is to help with your bounce rate.

Bounce rate is the rate at which someone comes to a page on your site then leaves without doing something. It is very important when it comes to your page rank in Google, because it lets Google know that people are finding your website useful and sticking around.

One way to lower your bounce rate is to include internal links to other content on your website that is relevant to the post they’re reading.

The reason why you’ll want to add external links within your blog post is that Google likes to know that you are adding value to the online community you serve, not just out to promote yourself.

So, having a link or two to valuable and relevant information that supports your topic can be an indicator that you are providing quality and helpful content.

So with each blog you write, try and include some helpful internal and external links.

9. Add a Featured Image (if using WordPress)

There are two main reasons why you’ll want to make sure to choose a featured image for your blog post:

  • This image will be used by your WordPress template throughout your private practice website
  • This image is what will be associated with your blog post when someone shares it on social media

Most WordPress themes use this featured image in various places throughout the theme.

The most common place is on your blog landing page, which is typically a list of your latest blog posts, displaying the featured image along with the post title and maybe a few sentences of the blog post.

This page will look a lot prettier and engaging if you include a high-quality photo along with each blog post.

Another place where having an image along with your post title can boost engagement is on social media networks.

According to Buffer, posts with an image get 39% more interaction than text-based posts.

If someone reads your blog post, then shares it on Facebook, Facebook will pull in your featured image along with the post link and title.

So before you publish that pretty therapy blog post, upload a pretty photo to go with it to maximize the quality of the post and boost engagement both on your website and on social media.

To set your featured image in WordPress, look for this box on your edit post page, and click on “set featured image”:

Make sure to set the featured image of your post for social sharing

For great places to find free professional stock photos, check out this post.

10. Preview It

It’s always helpful to preview your post in it’s natural habitat – within your website, surrounded by your header or sidebars or whatever else you have going on.

I’ll often work for hours on a blog post within WordPress before I finally look at a preview of it on my website.

Often when I do this, I’ll notice things like images out of place or the wrong size. Or maybe a subhead is using the wrong size font and not consistent with the rest of the blog post.

Always preview it to see exactly how it will look to your readers before you publish.

11. Proofread Your Blog Post

Do I REALLY need to mention proofreading? Do I?!

Yes, I do. Because it’s something I often need to remember to do myself.

I’ll often proofread my blog posts multiple times and STILL find errors after I hit the ol’ publish button.

So make sure you do it too. Read and re-read your blog post. Read it slow and take in each sentence so you can really focus in on the structure of each one and find any mistakes lurking there.

I once had a grammar mistake in a sentence ABOUT grammar. A reader had to point it out to me.

Don’t be like me. Proofread over and over and over again.

I've created a free checklist for you to reference when writing your next blog post

I hope I haven’t overloaded you with this to-do list! Believe me, as you blog more and more and create a habit out of content creation, it WILL get easier. And to help you get into that flow and make sure you don’t forget what to do, I’ve created a FREE checklist that you can print out and refer to whenever you write your next blog post. Just click here to download it.

What do you think? Will you add any of the above to your blogging repertoire? Let me know in the comments!

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What Do YOU Want to Know About Creating and/or Marketing Your Therapy Website?

I want to take some time out to get some feedback from you. Yes… YOU!

While I may know a couple things about how to build a therapy website or digital marketing, I want to make sure that I provide the best, most helpful articles to my readers. And I can’t do that without knowing more about you and the questions you may have.

It would do you a disservice and be prideful for me to just assume what your needs are with building or marketing your private practice.

And I don’t want to do that!

Maybe You’re Wondering:

  1. How can I make sense of Google Analytics?
  2. What’s the most important part of my therapy website’s homepage?
  3. How can I use social media to market my private practice?
  4. What’s the best way to attack a Rubix Cube?

Ok maybe you don’t care about that last one especially. But it proves the point. I can’t assume what challenges you face as a therapist or counselor marketing their practice.

So, Could You Answer a ONE Question Survey For Me??

It would help me out immensely and I would love you forever if you could answer this question for me. I created a one-question survey that asks, ‘What are/has been the biggest challenge you face in creating a successful private practice website?’

It should only take you a minute to fill out. Just click the button below, fill out the survey and I’ll do my very best to answer your questions to the best of my ability.

 

Thanks!

~Daniel