This is part of MyWellbeing’s 4-part series on search engine optimization (SEO) for therapists. You can find the other articles here:
So far in our series on the basics of search engine optimization for therapists, we have covered what SEO is and how to improve your site’s ranking in Google search results. This week, we’re digging deeper into a crucial part of the SEO process: keyword research.
Keyword research is the process of looking at data from Google, other search engines, and third-party providers on the terms people are searching for so you can use those terms in your website’s content to get more search traffic.
Outside of optimizing your website, keyword research can also give you a sense of the ways that prospective clients look for you online and describe their problems that you can use to market to them using the terms they understand.
You should do keyword research to understand the demand for content about specific topics in your space, and figure out terms where you can realistically rank in the top 10 Google search results.
The end goal of keyword research is to build a list of terms that you can rank your website for to achieve your goals.
Keyword Research also significantly helps with clarity. It will show you which keywords to pursue first, and can help you figure out which keywords to add to existing content on your site to help it perform better.
There are three main keyword research tools that I'd recommend.
If you’re just getting started with keyword research, I would recommend the basic version of Ubersuggest (which is free) and the Google Ads Keyword Planner (which is free if you sign up for an Ads account--you don’t have to run ads immediately to set up an account). The free tools should provide enough information to help you research keywords for the amount of content you'd be writing part time for your practice.
Google Ads Keyword Planner is a great place to get keyword information directly from Google itself, but you have to sign up for an ads account and Google won't give you as much information about how competitive specific keywords are as Ubersuggest will. Google will just label keyword competitiveness as “low,” “medium,” or “high,” while Ubersuggest gives you a numeric estimate of keyword difficulty between 1 and 100.
You can also always upgrade if the free version isn't quite working for you, but I don’t recommend it until you’ve maxed out the free versions and figured out how valuable keyword research can be for your practice. If you plan to pay for a keyword research tool, I recommend Ahrefs for the sheer convenience of its data and filtering tools, and its incredibly helpful blog on how to use the platform.
Let's go ahead and take a quick look at how we can do some keyword research. We’re going to use Ubersuggest because its free version provides the most helpful information, but you can use similar principles to do keyword research with Ahrefs and Google.
Start your keyword research by going to ubersuggest.com. The home page looks like this:
It can take a moment for the tool to load. That is totally normal; there is a lot of data running through the system.
Let’s imagine that I was looking for keywords to promote my coaching practice. I would type in “coaching” as the prospective keyword I want more results about, and then click search. Here are the results of that search:
Looking at this quickly, there is a high number of searches for coaching (823,000, to be exact!). However, there is a relatively high difficulty score on this term (83). SEO difficulty is a metric of how difficult it is to rank in the top 10 search results for a term, and the number can fall between 0 (very easy) to 100 (basically impossible). This ranking is important because the vast majority of search traffic goes to the top ten results for a particular search term.
83 out of 100 is really difficult. This is the level of difficulty that mainly national sites with entire teams of writers will rank for. We recommend that you look for keywords with an SEO difficulty around 0 to 15 as your website's getting started, because those are the ones that will be easiest to rank for.
Since coaching isn't the best keyword, I can scroll down the page and look at other related keywords that Ubersuggest recommends for me.
Coaching, coaching jackets, coaching NFL; it looks like a lot of the keywords around coaching are focused on sports coaching, which makes a ton of sense. Let’s look at life coaching instead.
The SEO difficulty has already dropped substantially (from 83 to 58), but it's not quite where I want it to be. So let’s scroll down again and look for more potential keywords.
We're already getting into difficulties of 14 to 32, which is much better.
When you are optimizing your site or building a blog post, run some keywords around your work or the topic of the post through Ubersuggest. Look for the keywords with the highest search traffic and the lowest SEO difficulty to figure out which keywords might be the most impactful for you.
You will need to make trade offs; not all great keywords have a high search volume and low competition. As you’re starting out, I would recommend looking for the keywords with the lowest difficulty above keywords with the highest volume. It doesn't matter how high the search volume is for a particular keyword if you can't get your site on the first page of search results for it.
What keywords are you thinking of trying first? Take a minute to test out a few keywords on Ubersuggest to see which ones might work best for you!
Match with the *right* clients for your practice while growing your professional community.
Mariah was Head of Growth at MyWellbeing. She is a marketing expert in the areas of content strategy, digital advertising, business growth, and anything related to helping therapists grow their practice.