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Welcome back, everybody. I’ve got a business episode for you today as is typical on Thursdays. I loved business episodes. Today was a good one, too. I really engaged quite well with my guest.
Aaron Carpenter is a dynamic individual. He is the founder of [00:01:00] Legendary Lion Creative Agency and the private practice growth system. Legendary lion is an agency that specializes in digital marketing and creative pursuits for mental health practices. The agency can help bootstrap your private practice or grow your practice into a more thriving group situation.
Aaron is here to talk all about search engine optimization or SEO. This is something that we have touched on in past episodes, but I’ve never really done a true deep dive into SEO. So, Aaron and I do cover some basics of search engine optimization just for anyone who might need a refresher or need to learn a little bit. And then we dive in and just talk all about search engine optimization.
We focus a lot on the decision to do it yourself versus bring someone else on to help you. And I think Aaron does a really nice [00:02:00] job of talking through ways that we can do SEO ourselves, and when we need to look elsewhere and recognize our limitations. And then we also talk about how to work with a digital creative agency, what you should ask them, what you should look for, and their services, and so forth.
So, this is a good one for any of you who are interested in a DIY approach to search engine optimization to get your website to rank higher on Google so clients can find you. And also, it gives plenty of information about how to move forward with a creative agency if you’d like to go that route.
As we talk about during the podcast, you can get more information and learn more about Aaron and his services at mentalhealth.legendarylion.com.
I think you’ll find quite a bit to take away from this interview. I know even as a long time [00:03:00] SEO, now, almost at a […] that’s completely the wrong word because I am not an expert, but I have been looking at SEO for a long, long time. And Aaron brought some new information for me to consider that was very helpful. So, I hope you take a lot away from this one.
All right. Without further ado, let’s get to my conversation with Aaron Carpenter from Legendary Lion.
Aaron. Hey, welcome to the podcast.
Aaron: Hey, how are you doing Jeremy?
Dr. Sharp: I am doing well. It’s good to see you again. A lot of people probably don’t know or don’t remember that we worked together about five years ago now on The Testing Psychologist logo, which has clearly been a smash hit, so good to [00:04:00] see you back and in a different context so we can be talking about SEO. I appreciate it.
Aaron: Yeah, man, it’s good to be here.
Dr. Sharp: Usually, with my clinical guests, I’ll start with this question, why is this work important to you? Well, let’s give that a shot here as well. So how do you, not necessarily, how’d you get into this, I recognize that’s a long story, but why this? Why websites, why search engines, my mental health folks? Why is this important?
Aaron: I got into this line of work as the classic tale of a passion turned into a career, turned into a business, just kept growing. And particularly mental health was some of our first projects. We did some work with Joe Sanok of Practice of the Practice. We did his logo and everything, and a website. And then, we just kept getting, like business does sometimes, we just kept getting word of mouth referrals. And the more we got to know mental [00:05:00] health clinicians, the more we got to understand their problems and everything, it became really important to me.
One of my favorite phrases is, we like to help people who help people. And the other thing that I found, whoever’s listening, please forgive me, but I’ve found generally that people that are in the mental health space have a lot of challenges around websites, digital marketing, SEO, that sort of a thing. It’s a highly technical field and it’s an entirely different field than what you’ve gone to school for. So, there’s a lot of need there. And my clients are just so cool. They’re very understanding. Do you know what I mean? That just makes sense. So, that’s why.
Dr. Sharp: I love that. I forget sometimes that psychologists and folks in mental health don’t necessarily gravitate toward this tech arena because I love it. I might be kind of an outlier and I joke that I could have been an engineer maybe [00:06:00] in another life or something, but it’s something we don’t wrap our minds around a lot and it can be really challenging. So, I’m excited to demystify some of this for folks today.
Aaron: I’m happy to bring some answers, some clarity to some of this stuff because it can be really challenging and annoying unless you know what you’re doing. And it’s kind of just more about knowing what you’re doing, and if you don’t, know where to get the answer.
Dr. Sharp: For sure. Well, I think this is one of those things. So, SEO- search engine optimization, this is one of the things that gets thrown around a lot especially as folks are maybe starting a practice, building a website, and a lot of people probably have a general idea of what it is, but not no in-depth understanding. So, that’s the hope. I hope we can do a deep dive and really give folks a good idea of what this is and how to help themselves.
Maybe we could start just super basics. [00:07:00] So tell me, what’s your definition of SEO?
Aaron: SEO, the most basic definition you’ll find and it’s probably the most accurate one is something along the lines of, how easy are you to find through a search engine? And that can mean a lot of different things. It could mean work that you do on your own website. It could mean getting a Google My Business listing. It could mean having a profile in Psychology Today. It really depends on what it is that you want to be found for when someone searches and what those searches are. But those are what we would refer to as key phrases are that people are typing in and hitting enter. What do they get back? And is it you? Optimizing what comes back for you is the whole name of the game for us to go.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, and it might be a no-brainer, but just to make it super clear for folks, why is that important? Why do we need to be found?
Aaron: There’s a couple of primary reasons I would say it’s most important. One is most obvious. Everybody’s thinking right now.[00:08:00] So that you can get clients, right? If you’re growing your practice or growing your business, that you can recruit other talents. They come to you and find you and know that you’re there.
The other reason is a little bit more along the lines of, are you attracting the right people, sort of pre-qualifying, and sales and business terms. So, if you’re lacking SEO around certain key phrases that say for, psychologists, ADHD testing, or autism testing, and if you’re lacking those but those are some of your primary service offerings and you’re drawn to other types of evaluations or something, that can slow up your business growth. So, I would say that’s a secondary, but also very important reason why you should be considering SEO for your business.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. In your perspective, when do we need to be concerned about SEO? Is this something that you do in [00:09:00] the beginning when you’re building your website? Is it something you could do after the fact like, if you’re established but recognize you maybe never did it? Is there a good time or the best time or is it just whenever?
Aaron: It should be your top priority, right? No, it really isn’t. The best answer I can give there to give clarity on that would be when you’re starting a practice, when you’re first building your website and stuff, if you know a lot about this or are willing to invest with a professional to apply it, that’s great, but you really need foundations first.
First, you need a site. You need a profile on Psychology Today. You need those types of basics to be able to then start to tool it up and add more content to it, which we’ll talk about I’m sure later, to be able to get yourself to rank for certain things. So, is it the very first thing you should be focused on? No.
But once you’ve got [00:10:00] some of those basics pulled together, then you can start to pay a specialist, which is entirely different from logo design, or web design. This is a whole different specialty to come in and take a look at your foundational online presence, website profiles. If you’re doing videos on YouTube or in this case, Dr. Jeremy if you’re doing a podcast, how is this podcast found? What might people be searching for to find it? And are you showing up? And if not, how can we get that to happen?
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, that’s so important. It’s good to know. I think people get concerned about like, oh, I missed the boat or it’s too late or whatever. It’s good to hear that there’s a little bit of time. It doesn’t have to be the main priority right in the beginning. There’s no missing the boat necessarily.
Aaron: No. And I think that’s totally fair to say. If you’re just getting started, you got a lot of things that are a high priority that you’re trying to get done. SEO can wait, but once you are wanting to [00:11:00] increase the flow, let’s say of leads and attention that you need to grow your business, then SEO is a core component of any marketing campaign for a business.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. When you bring that up, that makes me think of a question that I get asked a lot. I’m going out of order here, but I’m just kind of rolling with it. So, people ask, do I really need to focus on this if I’m full? My practice is full. I seem to have enough referrals. Is this something I should be concerned about? Everybody says I should worry about it, but is that true? Do you have thoughts on that?
Aaron: I really do. So, my background in formal education is that I’m a business major with a focus on small business and entrepreneurship. When I was going through school, one of the things that it makes sense when you hear it, but it’s not something you necessarily think of straight away as any business owner, [00:12:00] the time to market and spend on marketing is when you’re busy, because when you’re not, then you don’t have the funds to do that as much. And also, it’s the time that you can start to gather market share, like start to really establish your presence. But more than that, the inverse is even more true.
Right now, client and caseloads and stuff are really easy for people because just look at the past four years, right? We don’t have to explain it. But there will probably come a time where that will not be as fruitful and where other outfits or practices will be struggling. If you have positioned yourself and continue to position yourself even when it’s more difficult, that’s when you can really scoop up market share.
So, it’s always important, but I think, while you have the resources, that’s the time to experiment and learn and make mistakes. But when the market gets difficult, that’s when you really should be [00:13:00] prepared and have something stocked away to start to spend because other people won’t. That same sort of feeling you have of not spending on marketing money and pulling back, everyone else is going to feel. And if you break through that, then you can really start to grow your business and prepare yourself for when the market shifts again.
I want to elaborate on that too. We do a lot of work with therapists and group practices, and the interesting dynamic that I’ve learned in working with hundreds of clients in that realm is that there seems to be this sort of teeter-totter effect of hiring and bringing on therapists to be able to expand caseload capability, but then starting to need to reshift their marketing efforts and focus on drawing clients in, but then back and forth. And they just sort of like bypass step through growth that way.
There’s a tertiary component to it of office space. COVID and everything, but since everything’s going virtual now, I’ll leave that one [00:14:00] off to the side because it’s not as much of a problem. In those efforts, basically with all those clients, we have two primary components to our campaigns. One is therapist and talent recruitment for human resources essentially. And then the other side is drawing and clients for case loader, in this case, evals and that sort of thing.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a whole other thing I didn’t even really think about is recruitment and HR reasons. That’s not something that we focused on our website, but probably should be. Hiring has been really tough lately, as I’m sure you have heard in our field.
Aaron: Yeah. What I’m hearing is there are deals on the table and they’re getting snatched up right away. Some of the concerns I hear on the “darker side” of that if you want to call it, that is that there are a lot of new outfits that are springing up that are [00:15:00] making a lot of promises. And I’m talking to older outfits that have been around that are like, I just don’t know how they can realistically commit to that. Do you know what I mean? They’ve been in business longer, so they know what they’re saying.
My word of caution out there to people who are in the field who are looking to get hired and stuff too is just, think critically and cross-check some of those offers and stuff because basically everybody wants you right now. You’re hot if you’re in the mental health field and you have experience and everything and you’re licensed. So, you got to be careful, I think out there right now, but so many opportunities and it is difficult if you’re a growing business to get the right person because it’s becoming like a hot commodity, I guess.
Dr. Sharp: Absolutely. Well, hopefully, some of the things we’ll talk about, we can apply to our hiring and job opportunity pages too, not just our client service pages.
Aaron: Yeah, for sure.
Dr. Sharp: Well, let’s see. Let’s roll it back just a [00:16:00] little bit and talk about, so we got some basics about what is SEO, but can you talk about the factors that go into it, specifically with search engines, Google, I guess is the main one. Is there any competition for Google at this point that you even pay attention to from a website design perspective?
Aaron: A one-word answer. No. There really just is Google at this point, but there are other considerations we can talk about.
Dr. Sharp: Thinking about search engines, there are tons of factors. I think you said before we started recording, there are something like 200 factors that Google is looking at when they’re looking for websites. What are some of the main ones that we need to be aware of?
Aaron: If we’re thinking in terms of DIY, you want to dip your toe in the water and see what you can do to your own site, I got to tell you, there’s [00:17:00] nothing more thrilling than doing something like this and then searching for it a week later and seeing that you do rank number one on something, and you’re not even an SEO specialist, right? That’s super cool. And I’m here to tell you that even though it’s one of the main service offerings we provide as specialists, it is totally doable.
I’ll give you some tools in this podcast that you can use to take a swing at this, and then I’ll start to point out some yellow flag and red flag territory, where like you might be getting in deep water there and that’s maybe time to bring on a specialist. So, let’s just cover the basic tools you need.
First, if you want to rank on something, you should have a page dedicated to that thing. So for instance, if you do ADHD testing, say, if you right now have a page that just services and you’ve listed all out there, my suggestion would be to split that page up into pages for each service and make [00:18:00] that for something that you want to rank on. So ADHD testing, autism testing, and so on.
Two other rules of thumb. You’ll want approximately 750 words of content. There is no magic number, but the more content you have, Google recognizes, it’s more difficult to create unique content than larger than it is. And so, 750 words is a sweet spot of spending enough energy into it to get a lot of value, but not going overboard and getting diminishing returns.
You’re going to want to repeat that phrase in several key places. So, I’ll use ADHD testing as an example. It should be the name of the page. So if you’re on a WordPress site, it doesn’t matter what platform you’re in, but most people probably have a WordPress site, you’re just calling the page that thing. WordPress will automatically make it the link. And that’s the second thing. You want it to be in the link. You want to have a header tag or a title tag on the page that reads ADHD testing. And then you want to repeat it two to three times in your [00:19:00] content. You want to repeat it a few different times. And you can write whatever you want, but there are some other things that you can do to help yourself out more.
If you search in your area for ADHD testing in Google and you just look at the search results, you’ll see a whole bunch of different descriptions. You’ll see in the auto-complete when you’re typing into that a text field, a bunch of suggestions, and you’ll also see at the bottom of the page related search results, you can look at the related search results, what comes up in the auto-complete and what comes up on that first page and other website content, and assume that Google finds all of those phrases and little snippets of text, very, very relevant to the thing you just searched for. So if you can include any of that also in your content when you’re writing out your service page, you’re doing really good. You’re banging on all cylinders.
If you just do those things, odds are, you’re probably going to outrank your competition in your [00:20:00] local area unless your competition has hired an SEO specialist who did all of that and so much more. We talked about five and there are over 200 that we know of. And it can get to be a pretty deep pool of things.
Those are basics. Yellow flag territory is one of the things that matter is Google cares how quickly your website loads because they don’t want to have someone click on their search result and then just have it spin and spin and spin. That makes Google look bad. So, that’s a ranking factor and that usually needs a developer or a technician or an SEO specialist to solve. And there are many more that are even getting into code semantics and stuff, which I am not going to bore you guys with, but you can keep squeezing value even out of a single page or a whole website by going further and further down that rabbit hole.
And usually, a good SEO campaign is all about continuing to work yourself into a more difficult territory to [00:21:00] achieve the result you’re looking for, and then cutting your losses and focusing on other keyword phrases when it just no longer makes sense. So, it’s a bit of that kind of a game.
Dr. Sharp: I hear you. I was going to ask, going back a little bit, I get this question a lot from my consulting clients and they always ask, “If I’m doing my website myself, which service should I use?” And so, I’m curious just from a DIY SEO standpoint, you mentioned WordPress, of course, there’s Squarespace, there’s Wix, there’s any number of others. From a DIY SEO standpoint, do you have favorites among the group?
Aaron: I definitely do. WordPress is the way to go. With your own hosting and you can get, we should probably talk about hosting just a little, but you can get a WordPress site spun up with any hosting company and that would be sufficient for you to start with.
Why WordPress over other [00:22:00] things? Is WordPress paying me to be on his podcast right now, right? No, they’re not. The big reason is that Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, GoDaddy’s website builder, all of these things have something in common, and that is that they have built these software suites to provide a website building service to you, the non-technician, to be able to build your own website. And that’s awesome.
But because they’ve done that to somebody who’s untrained in website design and development, they’ve had to close a lot of doors to you and things that you could normally do that once you get into those spaces, you can easily break a website and it can be very confusing and frustrating to that type of a market.
A big trade-off to that are the types of things where I just mentioned past that like the first five that we talked about into the 200 plus ranking factors and stuff, and SEO specialists really can’t do many of those things. So, we’re handcuffed in what we [00:23:00] can do when you’re using a website builder like that.
The other thing and this does tie back to SEO, but the other big thing with it is that you really can’t migrate your site or take it or do anything with it. You don’t own the whole site. It’s built-in their system. It’s a proprietary system. I can’t copy a Wix website and move it into Weebly. I’d have to rebuild the whole darn thing.
WordPress, you own the whole thing. Anybody who’s an experienced technician in my field can do anything with it. They can get all the way down into the code. They can move it to different places. They can do whatever they want. So because you have complete and total ownership over your project, you set yourself up for success for the next steps to be able to invest in that same project that represents your business online.
Dr. Sharp: Those are great points. I was not aware of some of that. And so if I hear you right, I just want to clarify, you’re saying even for those of us who might want to bring on an SEO technician, [00:24:00] that is even more challenging in some of the prebuilt software suites compared to WordPress. It’s harder for a technician to do some of the detailed work. It’s not just harder for us to do the DIY work and some of those other options.
Aaron: Correct. And all things being equal if your website is in WordPress and a colleague’s website is in Wix and you both do the same things that I just described in terms of creating those pages, you’re probably going to outrank your competitor with your WordPress site because you would in that case, and I’m painting with a broad brush here, there are caveats, but you would have a project that probably loads faster and is optimized better than something that would be built in a website builder.
For instance, WordPress by default resizes all of its images and serves them in the latest and greatest way. That’s non-geek speak [00:25:00] and some website builders don’t. And so what you can have is like, you put this really pretty picture that you love on the homepage of your site, but it’s actually like a 5MP. In terms of data size, it’s large. And it reminds you of the dial-up days where you had to wait for the image to load.
Sometimes you’ll even see that in images now, even with a cable connection, because the image is just so huge because cameras can snap such big resolution pictures. And now we’re getting back to the whole page loading thing that I talked about with Google, right? WordPress just takes care of that for you. And yes, some website builders do that too, but they leave room for opportunity for mistakes like that to happen.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, I hear you. Thanks for going down that little detour. I was curious. That’s something that comes up a lot and I’m sure people are wondering, can’t I just do this myself on this easy platform?
So a little bit more of a learning curve with WordPress. That’s what I’ve always used and I love it. It [00:26:00] seems pretty customizable and easy to work with once you get to know it.
Aaron: Yeah, for sure.
Dr. Sharp: You didn’t talk about blogging. I’m curious about blogging and this whole DIY approach. This is another thing we hear a lot. You need to be blogging regularly. That’s going to help you with search engine ranking. So, can you talk through that a little bit?
Aaron: Yeah. I think most of my colleagues would smile and give me a tip of the hat by saying blogging is a waste of time. Let me explain why, because it doesn’t have to be. We all have email accounts and Facebook and different social media and everything, and we all recognize what sounds like noise and which is what is interrupting our experience in browsing our inbox or a social channel or whatever.
You recognize that but then as a business, you feel compelled to just put stuff out there and it’s just [00:27:00] noise too. And my concern is the amount of effort or the opportunity cost of your time in putting in the time, energy, and effort to create those things but you’re getting like no traction. If anything, you’re being found as a bit annoying. You really need to strategy.
So, if you have a strategy, a strategy can look like you’ve identified your target market, your audience, you know the main questions that they have and every post that you create is centered around solving one of those questions and it’s really value forward, then you’re in pretty good shape just in terms of content creation.
So back to the question. I hear that a lot too. People will ask me, I’m reading online that blogging is good for SEO. Well, like I said before, if you don’t have a page on something, you’re not going to rank on it. So, let’s say that to draw it back to ADHD testing. When you’re doing some [00:28:00] searches around that yourself for your business and trying to see what people are searching for and what kind of content is there, you might find that there are more articles about questions. Top 10 questions about ADHD testing. Maybe what parents are searching for is, is ADHD testing safe, whatever that is.
And so, when you find that, that’s probably a good candidate for a blog article, and if you make it, you might rank on that and that could be really useful to you. But generally speaking, just blogging isn’t good for SEO. You have to be putting some thought under it like I just did in getting a blog post out there for something that your target audience would be searching for. Just kind of sharing your thoughts is nice, but ultimately it doesn’t do anything for you to rank or do anything for your site at all. And so it could be a lot of wasted effort.
That’s where I like to say this gets into that yellow flag territory again, where maybe that’s something where if you want to do it yourself, that’s cool. Like you would with an accountant or an attorney, pay for [00:29:00] a consult with an SEO specialist, have them explain to you what they see and what would be a good set of content to create and terms to kind of try to stay around and then take that and run with it so that you know you’re at least getting more bang for your buck out of your own time.
Dr. Sharp: Got you. That makes sense. So, with blogging, did the same principles apply? Like if we do our research and find, let’s say these keywords or these questions people might be searching for, do the same principles apply where if we have those terms in the blog post and in the content and the page title and link and everything, is that going to be helpful?
Aaron: Yeah, it certainly would allow you to rank on those things. The one thing that I would add to that too, is like with those service pages that we talked about, or like a blog post, it’s great if you rank on it and people search for it and find you and find your site, but don’t forget, this is like a digital marketing thing. You guys don’t [00:30:00] forget to add a call to action at the end of it.
Invite them to call you or invite them to fill out a contact form or something. Because without that, they may just move on to the next thing. And then they might start looking at another page or whatever, and you’ve lost them.
When I was getting keynotes, I used to belong to a BNI group- Business Networking International, but a lot of people in your sphere probably are very aware of them. I gave some keynotes while I was in a group there. And I remember describing the attention span of internet users as being like squirrels on crack. They are literally just flitting from place to place to place. And if the site doesn’t load within a second, I close again, and I’m moving on.
And if you treat all of your internet traffic like that, I know it’s obnoxious, but if you treat it like that and you explicitly tell them, you search for this, here’s what it is, here are your next steps, you’re going to get so much more value out of your site and out of those pages than if you just leave it up to [00:31:00] them to make those decisions.
Dr. Sharp: Sure. It’s funny you say that. I’ve said that a number of times to my clients or my consulting folks that we have to assume people don’t know what to do on our websites. You have to make it very explicit what you want them to do and what you want them to read next and where you want them to click, and how you want them to contact you. It’s got to be super clear. People have very little patience.
Aaron: For sure. We also use the term Murphy proofing things. We want to Murphy proof it. So, anything that could go wrong, we’re already thinking about all of that and then trying to make it where that doesn’t happen. And another common phrase that we’ll use in SEO and design, kind of gets into design and stuff, but I often use the phrase taking away the reasons to say no.
I talked about defining your audience and knowing that… we have some tools and materials that we [00:32:00] can share and I can talk about at the end of the podcast, but basically, some different ways, referred to as a buyer persona, we call them action avatars, but really it’s just defining like that type of person and then coming up with all their common objections and fears and those types of things, and also goals and aspirations around your service, and then using that information to guide when you’re creating content for answering those questions.
If you have a sales page or a service page or something, look at that and address all of those common objections and things that they have truthfully of course, but actually give them that information because if you do, odds are they’d be more likely to be calling you or filling out a form for an evaluation versus your competition where they’re unsure. And so they’d rather start with you and call you and start the process than have the call and ask all the questions and try to figure it out.
Dr. Sharp: Right. Such a good point. I wanted to ask you as well [00:33:00] about the integration with other Google stuff. I’m thinking particularly about Google My Business or Google Maps, and how those are related. Is there anything we need to do or be aware of on that side of things as far as getting found?
Aaron: Yeah. I’ll keep it short and sweet there, but, but it’s super important. So, on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of what you’re doing, this is something you can do yourself. And it’s like a solid 9.5 out of 10. Get yourself a Google My Business listing. If you’re unsure how to do that, Google Murphy proved it. You just search for Google My Business listing, make one.
A common question I’m sure that would come up for everyone right now would be, well, I don’t necessarily either see people in person or I’m operating out of a home office and I have a satellite office or something like that. What about the location?
You don’t have to display that information to have a [00:34:00] Google My Business listing. You don’t have to be a brick and mortar. You just have to include your home address. In that case, you will need to include an address, but nobody else will see it. It’s just for Google’s benefit primarily because it’s like a form of authentication. They want to make sure that you are a valid business listing. So by using an address, even if it’s a home address, one of the methods that they’ll authenticate your account is to send you a postcard in the mail with a pin on it. And then you’ll put that pin back in to authorize your Google, my business listing, essentially.
And then you can just say like in a 50-mile radius from Asheville, North Carolina, I provide psychology-based services or something like that and add some categories to that. So, you should absolutely do it. The whole process can be very fast. You can have your thing up into like a week and that’s another way that people can find you.
From there, then you’re getting back into yellow flight territory. It’s time to bring in a specialist who can actually [00:35:00] look at that, look at your practice and your services, and set to the tool that up to make it much better.
Dr. Sharp: Got you. What role do reviews play in SEO? Do you have thoughts on that?
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All right, let’s get back to the podcast.
Aaron: Yeah, they’re big. Social credibility, in general, is big. Let’s just talk about that for a second. Almost everybody listening here probably bought something on Amazon and everybody has gone on a buyer’s journey of figuring out what of two, three, or five products they wanted to purchase, which one they wanted. And often what you’ll do is you’ll look at the reviews and you’re looking for more than just 5stars. Aren’t you?
You’re looking for, like, does this review even look legit? Is this a fake review? Did they buy it or do they put it in themselves and create, because you don’t know. And especially, if there are only 2 or 3, you’re less likely to sign up for that than seeing one 4.
For instance, I was looking the other day for one of those protein shakes with a [00:37:00] cap on it and it’s got the little steel ball and you can check the protein drink and everything. The first one I searched for has like 77,000 reviews and it’s got five stars and it’s people posting pictures clearly authentically of all the thing. And I was like, okay, well, no brainer. I’m totally going with that one.
Well, when people are searching for your services, it’s still the same story. The interesting thing in the medical field and mental health field is that there are some ethical concerns around soliciting reviews, but as long as you have that in place and people are willing to post on their own accord and everything, that can be great. And it’s really amazing for your business.
On the other side of that conversation, my clients will ask me, well, what happens when we get negative reviews because you can’t just delete them, otherwise, what would be the point of the whole thing? What you can do is respond in a professional way to reviews that are less than favorable and also just show, in that social credibility [00:38:00] that you didn’t just drop the ball with someone.
And often, those negative reviews, people are willing to be a bit judicious about letting a lot of that slide especially if you’ve responded in kind and it seemed completely even keel as I’m well-mannered. Do you know what I mean? You tried to resolve the situation or something. So, those negative reviews can actually be valuable. You just have to actually respond to them and call the ball for what it is essentially.
Dr. Sharp: I know this is an area that a lot of us really struggle with because I think there is maybe conflicting advice about how to deal with negative reviews. There are definitely thoughts out there like we can’t respond at all because that breaks our client’s confidentiality. There are some who say, respond generically without acknowledging that this person was actually a client. There are some that say ignore.[00:39:00] I don’t expect you to solve that problem for us. It’s more of an ethical thing, but it’s complicated maybe it’s the right word for it. And I think we would love to be able to unequivocally respond to all negative reviews in a kind and compassionate way, or maybe not so much sometimes, but it’s tough.
There’s definitely some advice out there to not do that. I think people get stuck and they’re like, oh, what do I do about all these reviews that may or may not be true?
Aaron: It’s totally valid, and I’ll take a stab at solving that for you. Probably the best safe play to do with a negative review on any platform would be to respond without acknowledging that they are clients or breaking any client privilege, and just respond and apologize that that was their experience or something to that effect, and to invite them to call back to continue the conversation or communication back to the business.
In other words, if you can just [00:40:00] come up with a way that you’re comfortable in acknowledging the negative review, but inviting that person to resolve the problem, you’ve essentially solved it for everyone else that’s reading those reviews, like, okay, if I have a bad experience, at least what I can expect is that this person is going to try to make it right with me. And that’s all that I can ask, right?
So that would be my recommendation. If you can do that ethically without breaking a client privilege, that’s what I’d recommend.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, that’s reasonable. That’s a good perspective.
I know we’ve talked about a lot. I have some random questions though that hopefully, we can address.
Aaron: Well, Pizza is my favorite food, Jeremy.
Dr. Sharp: Thank you. You read my mind. So here’s what I am wondering about search engine ranking and so forth. You’ve talked about ways that we can do it ourselves. And you’ve given some like [00:41:00] yellow flag areas. What are some other places where you maybe have seen people try to do themselves or places where people mess up or just like kind of clear boundaries where you would say like, okay, if you’re getting into this territory, you should probably call someone to help with this?
Aaron: Sure. I apologize. I’m going to do a little bit of geek-speak here, but it’s mainly just like for recognizable phrases so that you’re getting into red flag type of territory, you can break your site or be detrimental to your SEO and you really need a specialist in here now because we’re getting into website surgery, so to speak. We’re really getting into deeper territory. So don’t do this on your own, bring in someone.
But things would be like if you see a phrase called cache or your website caching. Website caching effectively is just kind of pre-building the website to serve to a user. And the [00:42:00] reason gets back to the speed component that I talked about. It just makes it load right away because it doesn’t have to build it on the fly, which is how a lot of websites work these days. It just kind of grabs all these different pieces and builds the page on the fly for the person visiting it.
And the reason why it works that way is because there is a lot going on with websites that require it to work in a modular form that way and be built just on the fly and served. So caching builds a carbon copy and puts it in front of that process so that you can just get the prefabbed version, but that can if done poorly, actually hurt you. It could hurt you in ways where your content is not getting updated, the way that cache is being built could be built wrong. So caching, that’s one.
Another one would be anything around DNS- it stands for Domain Name Servers or Domain Name Service. And this has to do with your domain name. Anytime you get [00:43:00] into territory where you’re doing stuff with your domain name, that’s where you should definitely be talking to the specialist.
And then hosting, that would be the other big one. So hosting, I use an analogy to explain. Website hosting, first of all, what is that? I get that question a lot. Website hosting is pretty simple. Any website that you visit actually is just a bunch of files that sit on a computer that’s connected to the internet 24/7, not all that dissimilar to files that you have on your computer. It’s just that a bunch of technical magic has happened to make it so that anybody in the world can access it through that domain name, but not all hosting is equal. Just like your computer is not equal to a colleague’s or a previous computer that you had.
So what do you need to know about hosting? Well, the analogy goes like this. There are really three tiers of hosting with a lot of nuances in between. The first is called shared hosting. This is what you get for a [00:44:00] few bucks a month. So Godaddy, Bluehost, a whole bunch of ones like that, where if you see a price like $5 a month, you’re talking shared hosting.
That is a lot like a youth hostel. Basically, they just cram as many projects as they can onto a very low-grade machine in order to facilitate the basic service of serving it up. But it comes with nothing else. And you’re sharing your bunk beds with who knows what other website essentially. You do get your own little space as you would expect at any youth hostel, but it’s the bare minimum.
And it’s usually quite slow on load times because it has to work to serve up all of these sites all of the time. And you don’t know if the site next to you is a really heavy website that requires a lot of resources to load. So, tier 1 shared hosting.
Tier 2 is shared hosting with an agency like mine or a hosting specialist. And how that differs is they [00:45:00] have a machine that only they are in. So, they would give you your own space and it’s a little bit more like a condo where you have your whole space. It is just your space. There are certain rules around it and it’s much more elevated and there are certain services and things that come along with it that are really great.
Things like SSL certificate, which gives you a little padlock and is also good for SEO on your site. Things like backups, you typically get from a service like this automatically, and several others.
Then the top tier would be dedicated hosting. This is only appropriate for huge websites, e-commerce websites, and that sort of thing. So, it doesn’t totally apply here. It’s good to know. A dedicated hosting usually will run you somewhere in the ballpark of $500 to $700 a month. And it is you on your own computer. You get your own whole computer. You can call that hosting company and say, I would like some more storage in there and they go sure. And they go and plug that hardware into your computer. And that can be awesome if you are running an app [00:46:00] or one of the other e-commerce stores. So you guys don’t need that.
But shared hosting is probably, unless you’re just getting started, probably a little too low. You probably want to talk with a creative agency or something like that and get some higher-level service so that you get those faster load times. You get a technician who’s very familiar with the equipment and it’s only those people in and out of it. So there are no mystery people coming through and doing all kinds of crazy things in hosting, that sort of thing.
Dr. Sharp: That makes sense. Great. Gosh, any other places or things that we need to look out for in terms of messing things up?
Aaron: I don’t think so. If I got more into the technical side of things, I would introduce those, but you probably are not going to find those. As long as you’re not getting into files like FTP and messing with anything called SSL, doing cache, changing hosting without [00:47:00] talking with someone first, or making sure it’s something like I described, I think you’ll be okay.
The main rule of thumb is just one page per key phrase you want to rank on. Get some content in there, like 750 words. Repeat the phrase two to three times. And then, Google will have to crawl your site again before it recognizes it. We didn’t touch on that, but I should say that is like a little caveat. It won’t happen right away. Organic SEO, that’s the proper phrase for it. Organic SEO is different than paid SEO. Organic is the type of activity we talked about and not paying for ads to get traffic to your site. And in organic SEO, it’s a lot like growing a garden. You water it. You do the proper things and everything you give it time to grow.
And so a good rule of thumb is, wait a week, a week and a half. I mentioned that I think at the top of the podcast, wait about a week, and then you see that. And if you get your own page to rank, number one, you see that in a week. That’s awesome. But it won’t happen right away. You don’t make the change and Google immediately knows. You have to give them some time [00:48:00] to recrawl your site.
Dr. Sharp: Fair enough. I’m glad you brought that up. I was going to ask about that. People sometimes get, they’re like I created my website yesterday and I can’t find it. It takes a little while.
Aaron: Yeah, that’s why.
Dr. Sharp: Related to that, there’s a, at least a belief that I have in my mind, I don’t know if it’s backed up by research or not, but do you know anything about how often people go past the first page on Google? How important is it to be on the first page?
Aaron: Yeah. So I’ll do you one better. There’s a great website if you’re interested in digging deeper on that stuff called Kissmetrics. They do a whole bunch of research on search engine optimization, website optimization, user experience, and that sort of thing. They can jump into the science of it, but they deliver it in layman’s terms.
But generally speaking, it’s like 90 to 95. It depends on the industry and the user intent, but basically, 90 to 95% of users never jumped pages anymore. [00:49:00] You’re looking at it like the top three results. So, basically, you want to own a key phrase.
And if you want to get more into this strategy or at least speak intelligently with an SEO specialist, one thing to consider is this idea of the long tail and short tail keyword phrases. So, it’s hard on a podcast to draw a visual, but I’ll try to correlate it.
We’re all familiar with the idea of diminishing returns or exponential decline. So starting on the left of the graph, if you were looking at the height of it, that would be difficulty to rank. And so that would be, say, psychologists. Just sort of show up number one on psychologist. It’s a very short, generic keyword phrase. And so it’s very difficult. A lot of people have spent a lot of time, energy, and effort over many years to own that. [00:50:00] I don’t want to get into caveats that of, but basically, that’s difficult. There’s a sweet spot in between short tail and long tail. That’s where you want to be. We’ll come back to that.
And then, on the far right of the graph where the line has declined all the way to the X-axis, there is a long tail. The long tail would be like, ADHD testing psychologist specialist in Asheville, North Carolina. Like that is your whole keyword phrase. Someone would search that to find you. It is so long and specific. It’s actually quite easy to rank on, but in terms of that graph, and we’re considering that both with difficulty but also in search volume, 10 people a year searching for that whereas we’re looking at like millions of people a year searching for psychologists. So, that’s something to consider.
So, let’s go back to the middle. There’s a sweet spot there where it’s not too competitive, but you also get a lot of search volumes. And so, you don’t want to get stuck on trying to own something too short or necessarily too [00:51:00] long. And a good rule of thumb is this is what I typically suggest to DIY people, pair your service page that we talked about with a Geo local, especially if you’re not getting it to rank just with the service.
So ADHD testing, Asheville, North Carolina. Autism testing, Asheville, North Carolina. You can literally write that out on your page. And yeah, it looks a little goofy, but who cares if you actually rank on the thing and people are getting the answer they’re looking for it, right? That’s the difference between short tail and a long tail.
And I just wanted to bring that up because it’s important to understand that concept and not get too hung up on trying to rank on something you’re doing yourself for too much of a short tail phrase and then being disappointed because you’re not seeing anything. If you want a quick win, you can go super long tail and make like a super obscure page and you will see it ranked number one when you search in a week. But then the question becomes, how many people are actually searching for that to find you?[00:52:00] Dr. Sharp: Right. Well, and my understanding is that there are some tools out there to help us know what people are searching for and search volume versus uniqueness of phrase and that sort of thing. Is that right? Like a keyword research tool or something like that?
Aaron: Yeah, we’ll include that in our SEO 101 toolkit that we’ll have on our website. But there are a few that I can mention now that you can check out. There’s Ahrefs, there’s SEMrush, there’s moz.com. And then my favorite is google.com because you’re going right to the source, but those other tools are really, really great. You can go there and some of them have free trials or free versions, and you can type in a keyword phrase and you can start to infer a lot of information on how this stuff works. And what’s relevant to relate to it.
Moz is pretty great in terms of teaching. [00:53:00] It’s a tool for marketers and for digital SEO specialists, but a layman can use it and get a lot of information or even read their blog on what SEO means. What is good SEO? Where is your time best spent? I use Google when I’m feeling a client, like when I’m doing a discovery call, I’ll jump in Google and just use that as a broad tool to see what Google is telling me for certain search results because I know how to read it, but you do too.
You can read the auto-complete like I said, when you start to type out a phrase. You can look at the related searches when you actually press enter and you can see what is coming up there. And that gives you a lot of information that you know Google is telling you just straight up from that search, as of today, as of this moment, this is what’s really relevant to what you just looked for. So that gives you a lot of information on what you should add to that page and figuring out how to work that in. That’s the art side of this half art half science field.[00:54:00] Dr. Sharp: Right. This is great.
I wonder if we might start to close a little bit with just a combo thing. I mean, this is the work that y’all do, obviously. If people want to go the more pro route, what should people be looking for in an SEO service? What does that process even look like if somebody wanted to work with a helper?
Aaron: So, like I just said, this is half art, half science. I can tell you what you’ll see. You’ll see a wide range of pricing, and it will not be correlated with experience necessarily. You’ll see a wide range of services of different ways that they provision SEO and what they feel is important for SEO.
So what do you need to know? I would say, look at their services and ask specifically what they would be doing. And when they start to speak jargon, ask them to stop and talk to you in [00:55:00] plain terms, because it’s really easy for that industry to just start leaning into jargon and be like, well, we’re going to do internal links and external links. And we’ll use ones with high domain authority, and I’ve already lost you, your eyes glazed over, right?
So just ask them, what does that mean and how will that translate? Make sure whoever you’re working with is going to give you a clear report of what phrases did you optimize this month and where are we ranking on those now? Ideally, not all SEO outfits do this, but ideally, that firm also shows you for sure how many leads you got that came off of those search engine listings? Because it’s great to be number one, but how many evals did you book off that? What was the investment worth?
And then, I would definitely just shop around service. If you get reports or examples from an SEO agency, feel free to share that with another one. Don’t try to play the cards too close to your chest where you’re trying to just see what they all [00:56:00] tell you and judge for yourself who’s going to be the best fit. Let them judge themselves and then infer off of that information. Because if a client came to me and said, Hey, I’m looking at three different SEO agencies. Here’s what they gave me over there. What do you think? I would tell them what I thought. Do you know what I mean?
Dr. Sharp: Yeah.
Aaron: Again, depending on the person. I just do that. I’d be like, these guys are awesome. They’re totally in your niche. They do restaurants. We don’t do restaurants. You should totally go with them. You’re probably not going to get that same kind of candid answer from every outfit you talk to you, especially if you’re talking to a sales guy, but it can’t hurt to just see what they say as well.
So, I would say, just look for those things, though. Make sure that you’ve got clear reporting, make sure they’re telling you in plain terms what it is they’re going to be doing, and make sure that they have experience in your field because that goes a long way with SEO to just know the search terms and what to look for.
Dr. Sharp: Cool. Are we talking about a long-term relationship with SEO specialists? People ask that a lot. Is this like a one-time fee or [00:57:00] a year or what?
Aaron: I never really liked this analogy, but it is appropriate. If you think of your website as a car, it’s going to need maintenance over time. And that’s like fixing stuff. Things will break that just comes with having a website. The internet changes, it’s influx things with updates and stuff, change how code works. And so sometimes you get errors and bugs and stuff, and it’s not your developer’s fault. That just happens. So maintenance is part of it.
Using that analogy, SEO is like tuning up your car for a race. And so, is it an ongoing relationship? Well, after someone has modded up your car and made it go faster and do all the things you needed to do to get from point A to point B in the right amount of time, it could be a temporary relationship. But the deal is over time, things change with SEO, rules change, Google changes its algorithms to better serve their audience. [00:58:00] And that changes potentially what you should be doing with your site. They offer new services like they offered Google plus for a while and Google My business was new and all of that. And if you’re not currently working with someone, you miss out on all of that stuff, because they do all of those things.
So, an ongoing relationship is typically most fruitful, especially if it’s paired with some sort of content generation. So we talked about blogging, maybe your SEO outfit also does content generation for you. And they build one article or one page per month to continue that going for you. It’s stuff that you approve and you have worked with them to previously identify what types of content they’ll be making or what the subject matter will be. But then it’s on autopilot, just like you paying an accountant to take care of your taxes or a CPA to file your taxes, or any other professionals.
So yeah, it works best in an ongoing relationship. It doesn’t necessarily have to be if you’re still in those beginning stages of your business trying to invest a little bit, get some of that [00:59:00] business back, and then reevaluate it in a year or two.
Dr. Sharp: Sure. That’s awesome. I feel like you’ve shared a lot of info today. I have done a fair amount of research into this stuff over the years and was definitely taking notes. I’ve learned a lot myself, which is always nice. It’s a nice bonus from these interviews. And I think other folks are probably taken away a lot and as well.
I know you had mentioned, what did you call it, an SEO tool kit or something like that? Is that something you have that folks can check out if they want to?
Aaron: Yeah. So by the time this goes live, it’ll be up. We have mentalhealth.legendarylion.com. And there we’re posting, different toolkits. Things that help with like brand design or logo design, if you’re doing it on your own and you’re trying to get the most out of that process, SEO crash course- the ultimate mental health website and what you should be including. So it’s exactly what you’d expect. I am going to ask for your email just so that I can stay in touch. I’m not going to sell you anything.[01:00:00] One of the main reasons I asked for an email on those is so that when we do update those things, because we do that, then we can shoot you an email and say, Hey, if you’re still interested in this SEO 101 crash course, we just changed it. You might want to download it again and take a look. But yeah, we have a whole bunch of different tools that you can check out there and hopefully add value to your practice.
Dr. Sharp: Awesome. Well, it’s definitely in the show notes, so folks can check that out if they would like. Thanks again for being here. This is great. It was good to chat with you, Aaron.
Aaron: Yeah, man. Invite me back anytime. We can talk about the meaning of life or SEO or whatever, man.
Dr. Sharp: Whatever. It’s all fair game here.
Dr. Sharp: All right. Appreciate it.
Aaron: Thank you so much.
Dr. Sharp: Okay, y’all, thanks as always for checking out The Testing Psychologist podcast. If you have not subscribed or followed the podcast, I would love to have you do so. We do business episodes every Thursday, clinical episodes, every Monday. So there’s something for everybody.
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All right, y’all take care. I will catch you next time.[01:02:00] The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologist website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
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