By Joe Borders, MFT
September 23, 2018
We’re extending the free period for therapist listings to April 1, 2019!
Why are we doing this?
Because we want SacWellness to be useful to you before we actually charge you for it. As you may know from your own marketing experiences, it takes a lot of work to get a site ranking in search engines. We’ve been working around the clock to get this to happen, but its going to take some time.
When we first launched we figured we would just take it as we go and adjust the free period in 3 month increments as needed. We’ve increased the free period by 3 months once before and now people who signed up on launch are getting almost a whole year free!
Read on to see about our progress, how we’re reaching our goal, and some pointers for how you can do similar things for your own rankings.
Since we launched in June we’ve had 4,710 unique visitors to the site and 6,318 overall site visits. That’s an average of 2,100 site visits/month! We’re also ranking in the first two pages of google for over 40 keywords we’re tracking, including “Sacramento therapist directory”, which we are ranking #1 for.
We’ve also currently got 110 therapists registered for the site! We’ve got a couple of holes in our coverage and we’ve been calling therapists in areas like Woodland and Citrus heights to find providers in these cities. Soon we’ll be contacting people who speak languages other than English to expand coverage for people seeking therapists who speak different languages.
How We’re Doing This
1) Lots of Blogging:
We’re putting out a new blog post every 5 days…..actually to keep it straight in my head we’ve been doing every day that ends in a 3 or an 8 :-p. After reading this you might go and fact check this. I haven’t posted anything on the last 2 blog dates because I was sick for a while. But I’m back now! ^_^.
Blogging is a really good way to get your site ranking in search engines. It shows Google that your site is active and you’re delivering new content. Also, the more quality content you write, the more stuff there is that will potentially land people on your site, and the more they will have to interact with.
Which brings me to another important part about blogging. Blogging enables you to use an SEO technique called “silos”. Blog silos are essentially pages where you put lots of blogs posts that are on similar topics. This helps search engines to see that a page is really about this one thing. So take for example our page for therapists who specialize in LGBTQ+ issues. If you visit the page you’ll see there is some info at the top that talks about LGBTQ+ issues. All of the therapists listed are marked as specializing in LGBTQ+ issues. Finally, if you scroll to the bottom of the page you will find the blog silo where there are currently 3 blog posts about LGBTQ+ issues. All of this together is interpreted by search engines as meaning that this page is really really really about therapists who work with LGBTQ+ issues. Essentially the more quality blog posts we write, the more our category pages will rank.
2) Getting Links to The Site:
Starting this month we began the process of building backlinks to the site. One of the main ways search engines determine how to rank a site is by the quantity and quality of other sites that link to it.
In general the more backlinks you have the better, but you want to stay away from anything that search engines might look at as “blackhat SEO” which can get you penalized in search engine rankings. Maybe you’ve come across these before; Sites that are pretty much just a long list of links with no other content. Don’t list on those. Google could see that as you trying to scam their system.
Our key strategy right now in building backlinks is to specifically target local organizations so Google can see that we are truly a local resource, what area we serve, and ultimately rank us higher than other sites like Psychology Today. Our big victory in this regard this month was that we got linked to by NAMI Sacramento. Thanks NAMI! ^_^
If you would be open to it, we would greatly appreciate you linking to us if you have a local resource page ^_^. You can read more about backlinks in our post: 3 Important SEO Tips for Therapists and How SacWellness Can Help
3) Facebook Ads:
When we get closer to the point where we’ll be charging people for listings we will be switching primarily to google adwords for our advertising. Our current goal is to focus on getting more traffic to the site so our search engine rankings will go up. This makes Facebook ads a better option for us right now.
On average, the Adwords I use for my personal practice cost something like $3 a click. Thats $3 every time someone clicks on my ad on google. In comparison, the facebook campaigns I have been running for SacWellnes have cost anywhere between 10 and 50 cents a click. Facebook sounds like a much better option right? The problem is that Adwords are much more targeted and people who click your adwords are much more likely to be actually looking for a therapist, while Facebook clickers may just be interested in a blog post.
Google has said that it does not consider social media clicks as highly as it does organic search clicks in ranking a page, but it has also said that it intentionally keeps adword clicks separate from its SEO algorythms so that people can’t buy organic rankings.
All in all we’ve decided to stick with facebook ads for now because its getting more people to visit our site, increasing brand awareness, and we believe, contributing to increasing our search engine rankings more than adwords would.
We are planning on switching to primarily buying adwords in February. This is because at that point we will be approaching a place of charging people for our service and our goals will be switching from primarily focusing on ranking to focusing on maximizing visitors to the site who are looking for therapists. This is essentially what’s at play here. We’re extending the free period so we have more time to focus primarily on our rankings.
How this benefits you
Extending the free period means you get more free time being listed on the site! Being listed on SacWellness can help you in lots of ways with your own SEO. Even though we aren’t a fully mature site yet, we’re getting lots of visitors daily and a lot of them are looking for therapists. Over the week leading up to this post we had 38 views of therapist listings. That number is certainly going to grow over time. If you haven’t joined yet, please do! We’d love to have you in our community resource and we’re really here to help if you ever have any questions or run into trouble with the site.
How this benefits us
Because I believe in full transparency with something like this; pushing back the free period benefits us too. In some ways it sucks because it will be longer before SacWellness makes any money, but doing this gives us more time to build search engine rankings. Like I said earlier, as soon as we start charging for SacWellness we’re going to have to dump a bunch of money into adwords to compensate for any lack or search engine rankings we’re having. So for now we’re able to spend 350$/month on facebook ads, whereas we’ll likely be paying 1400/month combined in facebook ads and adwords once we get to a place of charging for the site. That number will increase with the number of listings we get. We really want to make SacWellness something that is useful for people, so we’re completely dedicated to doing what it takes to get our site to a place where it’s ranking in search engines and bringing you clients.
We’ve been working on a lot of changes to SacWellness and are releasing a big update within the next week. Our next project we’re looking at is developing a way to have something like the “verified by” button that Psychology Today and other sites offer. We’re also currently talking with a couple of organizations about the possibility of a billboard for our 1 year anniversary…..turns out the one we wanted around the 80 split costs $13,000/month! But we’re looking at some other options. not sure if this one will happen, but its at least something to keep in mind for the future.
Thank you for your interest in SacWellness! I’m really here if you ever have any questions or trouble with the site, just shoot me an email ^_^
About the Author
Joe Borders is a marriage and family therapist located in Roseville and Sacramento. He is primarily a sex positive gender therapist, but also specializes in working with couples, teens, addiction, and the LGBTQ community. Joe is also the owner and founder of SacWellness. You can find out more about him by visiting his sacwellness listing or by visiting his website: therapy and counseling in Roseville and Sacramento