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[00:00:00] Dr. Sharp: Hey y’all, this is Dr. Jeremy Sharp and this is The Testing Psychologist podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. Welcome, glad to have you here.

Today, I’m talking with my good friend, John Clarke. John Clarke is back. He’s one of only two repeat guests here on the podcast but he has come back to talk all about his specialty, which is digital marketing. Today, we drill down specifically into Google and the different ways that Google looks at your information online and the different pillars of what John calls crushing the Google game.

A lot of the things we talk about are free. For the ones that are not, he walks us through what to expect and how to dial in your presence on the internet so that people can find you and you can get your practice full. Hope you enjoy this interview with John Clarke.

Before [00:01:00] the interview starts, I want to give a shout-out to athealth.com where The Testing Psychologist podcast is available for CE credits. I don’t know about y’all, but here in Colorado, we’re coming down to the wire with CE credits before our licenses have to be renewed. So if you need CE credits, you can go to athealth.com, enter the code “TTP10” and get a discount off your entire CE credit order, not just the podcast, and get some continuing education credits for something you already listened to.

All right, y’all, without further ado, here’s my interview with John Clarke.

Hey, y’all, [00:02:00] this is Dr. Jeremy Sharp, and this is The Testing Psychologist podcast. Welcome back. Today, I’m talking with my good friend, John Clarke, all about online digital marketing and everything that that entails.

John, you are one of the only people to be back on the podcast multiple times. In fact, you’re this only the second person to be back multiple times.

John: I’m honored.

Dr. Sharp: You should be. It’s good to see you. I don’t think people know, maybe they know, maybe they don’t, but we connected two years ago now, which sounds crazy to me, at Slow Down School. I was listening to our original podcast last night from Slow Down School and it totally took me back to this magical time in the Michigan woods when we found ourselves and started to grow our practices.

And since then you moved to Paris and I haven’t actually [00:03:00] seen you face to face in months and months. So it’s nice to be on a Zoom call and see what’s going on here.

John: Yeah, absolutely. It’s funny, I go for months and months without seeing people that I know very well, but that exists.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. Well, it’s given me some inspiration that people actually can do this digital nomad thing. I feel like I read about that online but you’re doing it and you seem fine.

John: Well, thank you. Let me tell you the real truth, no, I’m kidding. It is funny though because I think there are a lot of people and a lot of therapists in particular who want to either be remote or want the option to be remote or have an online practice or have some component be online for flexibility.

I can’t say I designed my life this way from the beginning because it was only [00:04:00] until like two months ago that I owned a group practice in Charlotte, North Carolina that I recently sold but had been in the online business world as well for a number of years. And so when it came to the point where my wife was in between jobs and had a great opportunity to come to Paris and work for a French startup, it was just a no-brainer that we could do this. I could do it. I could pick up and bring my work to Paris and do it from anywhere.

And that was a real gift to be able to do that. What it also did is put my own skills to the test. Have really keeping this thing going online whereas before the online work was a smaller portion of my overall business and now it is the business. But with that being said, it’s been overall a good thing to put my skills to the test and walk the walk and to teach others what I’ve learned along the way.

[00:05:00] Dr. Sharp: Yeah, for sure. I wonder if there might be some parallels with our talk as we go along too; how much of a role online presence plays in folks’ practices and do we have to beef that up or not? Well, it’s pretty awesome to see that it’s working for you and like I said, inspiring as well.

John: Yeah. Thanks.

Dr. Sharp: You’re the guy for digital marketing. That’s been your thing for a long time now.

John: I found that by happenstance too. I started my first practice in San Francisco in 2013. I didn’t want to learn digital marketing but I did anyway because I had no clients and no money. I drove Uber and Lyft on nights and weekends. A lot of people don’t know this, but I lived in the 8 x 10 storage shed in the hills of Oakland for a year and a half while I was building my practice, working full time at a nonprofit, [00:06:00] making an offensively low salary and driving Uber and Lyft on the weekends.

Dr. Sharp: Oh, my gosh.

John: And then late at night, basically teaching myself everything that I needed to learn in order to get clients online. Those are the things that I ended up starting to teach therapists over time and have been doing it in some form or fashion since then.

Dr. Sharp: Sure. Where did you even, this is just out of curiosity, where’d you even start back then in the beginning when you say you learned digital marketing? What does that even mean?

John: The two things that I did, number one, I found a graphic designer who was a friend of a friend and she was really cheap, doing it almost for free, who created a really simple logo for me and then the rest was up to me. So I built a really simple Squarespace site. I built that site, and spent a long time on it. There wasn’t anything special about it. I just filled it with my credentials and certifications and my degrees and stuff like that, and hope that people would call.

I was [00:07:00] frustrated to find that no one was calling, and especially in a place as dense as San Francisco, it wasn’t going to be found anytime soon so I had to do more. So step 1 was, in effect to get that website found by people searching for a therapist as quickly as possible and as consistently as possible.

And that’s essentially all that I focused on for those years in building my practice. That’s the way I wanted to do it. I remember going to one networking event in San Francisco and feeling like there’s no way that I can build my practice this way. I see other people doing it. Everyone’s poking around asking for referrals or asking, hey, maybe I could get referrals from this guy or this person, and I just thought, man, with everything I have going on, I can’t do this every weekend. I just can’t. I have to have a life as well and I was intrigued by the idea of getting clients online.

And so [00:08:00] I started chipping away at it. I learned a lot of Google stuff by just Google searching everything for it. That’s how I started to put the pieces together.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, I hear that. I’ve had a very similar journey when I started my practice. I think mine was more around how to build a website and how to write copy that back then we thought worked for SEO, search engine ranking. It was fun but it was hard too, and I think it’s probably a lot harder these days than it was back then.

John: Fun is an interesting word because most therapists don’t find it fun at all. I don’t necessarily find it fun. That’s another kind of surprise for people who think they know me. I just like what it can do for therapists.

So a lot of times, I tell people, it’s not marketing that gets me out of bed in the mornings, it’s that early on when I was starting to help therapists, I [00:09:00] realized the biggest question that therapists face is how am I going to get more clients and I latched onto that question and I just thought to myself, I’m just going to do my best and focus as much as I can on answering that question for therapists. And I really haven’t stopped since in terms of the work that I do with private practice owners.

Dr. Sharp: Well, there are different ways to do that. I feel like I personally gravitate toward the “in-person marketing.” When I think about marketing, you can correct me, but I think there’s digital and in-person and that’s what it is. I feel like I get the in-person part and have all sorts of ways and we can talk about that all day but it’s really this digital side that is more of a mystery and maybe continue to be more of a mystery. It seems to be getting more mysterious. I don’t know.

John: It’s a moving target. It’s always changing. Therapists [00:10:00] struggle with where do I go to learn what’s working right now other than a free Facebook group where some random person said, I blogged five times and I got 100 clients. These kinds of anomalies or this kind of random information that’s out there.

So part of it is where are you getting your information because a lot of times, let’s say, in a free Facebook for instance, the people posting on there are, they’re posting because they’re having problems with their digital marketing or they’re trying to figure things out versus the people that have dialed in digital marketing; they’re not posting in those groups because they’re busy in a full practice or they’re busy in seeing clients and the phone is ringing consistently.

I think the good news is there’s 100 ways to build a practice and market a practice. The bad news is there’s 100 ways but this is my preferred way to do it. [00:11:00] I think, especially for you group practice owners out there, which there’s a lot of, when it comes to the in-person stuff, that will only take you so far because if you’ve built an entire business around you and your reputation, well, guess what? Even if the phone is ringing more, a lot of times those people are just going to want to see you or get on your waiting list, not your other three associates or clinicians or whatever.

The last thing I’ll say about that is, if you get to a point where you want to sell or transition your practice and a lot of therapists think, oh, that’s never going to happen to me. I can’t imagine doing that. Who would buy it? How much would I sell it for? None of that matters. What matters is if you build a practice just entirely based on your reputation alone and maybe you’re networking your tail off when you leave, that business isn’t going to be worth much because it’s not going to keep working without you.

And so that was extremely important to me when I started my second practice in Charlotte; to make sure that I built a brand that could exist without me very easily and one that [00:12:00] could effectively be sold. I’m glad I did that way the second time around because I didn’t do it that way the first time around in terms of the brand and the website and everything. So when I left San Francisco, I was frustrated that all that work I had done and all other work I’d done to get that website ranking well in San Francisco and getting great paid traffic and all this stuff was for nothing. I just had to switch it off and move on and try to replicate that once I got to Charlotte.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, for sure. There’s a lot of different directions we could go, or it’s already talking like branding and paid traffic and web design and all that. So I would like to try to just zero in on some of the low-hanging fruit on this online or digital marketing side. So first, what does that even mean? What are the main avenues or options for digital marketing these days for a mental health practitioner?

John: Before, I want to talk about what I call the three pillars [00:13:00] of Google. I don’t know why I call them this but I just have. So I want to explain the three pillars of Google but before you even think about Google, I want to let people know that you need to have a message that’s going to compel people to call.

There’s a really simple matrix that I like to walk people through. The simple way to kick start your copy is to think about the before and after of the services that you provide. So before your services, what is the person? What do they have? What do they feel and who are they?

So what do they have in terms of the problems that they have or maybe they have a child who’s acting out constantly? What do they feel? They feel like a parent who is failing. They feel like a parent who’s constantly behind. Who are they? They feel like a [00:14:00] failure of a parent. So you could do that. You could break it down into those categories.

And then you just go to the other side and you think about the after. So in an ideal situation, when you’ve worked with a client or let’s say you’ve worked with this parent with a struggling child, what is the after of all that? So what do they have? What do they feel? Who are they?

They have a straight ‘A’ kid or a kid who’s getting good feedback from teachers; what do they feel? They feel like a parent who’s in control. They feel like a good parent. Who are they? They are a good parent or they are the parent they always imagined.

I’m doing a bad job of piecing that together, but you see, even just in that, there’s two pieces you could pull out. Become the parent you always imagined. [00:15:00] You want your kid to be the kid that’s getting best behaved in class or whatever it is.

So think about the before and after of your services and think about positioning yourself in the middle. You position yourself in the middle as part of the solution to bridge the gap between before and after.

That’s all I’ll say about copy, but I just want to say one thing and one exercise that your listeners could do to kick start their copy because everything I’m going to talk about next is going to fall flat. If you have a message that doesn’t resonate, that’s not client-centered in plain language, and really speaks to the benefits and outcomes of therapy, not just the symptoms and pain points, and not just the therapy itself.

So make sure, when in doubt, focus on those benefits and outcomes. That’s what people are buying when they buy anything. They’re buying the future that they want. They’re buying the future they imagine. So always think about those things before you go into the Google stuff, which is where a lot of therapists jump [00:16:00] to and they get really lost or they get frustrated because they get a bunch of traffic but then people aren’t going from their website to a call or to filling out their contact form.

Dr. Sharp: I want to highlight that because I think that that message or that process, I guess I would say, fits really well for therapy but I think it fits extra well for testing because it is a very clear before and after service where you do the testing, you give them the report and then there’s the outcome. It totally lends itself to what we do, which is awesome.

So thanks for putting that out there right off the bat. Copy is going to be good. Okay, so you were talking about three pillars of Google.

John: This is the way that I phrase it. If you want to see what I’m talking about, open up a browser right now and search for a local business in your area or someone else’s area. For some reason, I always like to use Chicago as an [00:17:00] example. Who knows why? I like Chicago and I know a lot of therapists there.

If you were to search Chicago, Illinois therapist or psychologist, search that and you’re generally going to see three sections. The first section at the very top is Google Ads formerly known as Google AdWords. This is paid traffic. These are people who’ve paid to run an ad based on those keywords. Those people are only going to pay if you click on their ad. So if you really want to piss someone off or there’s a therapist in Chicago you don’t like, click on their ad for five times today, they’ll have to cover this.

Dr. Sharp: Nice, I’ll keep that in mind.

John: So that’s the first section. That’s your paid traffic. Google Ads formerly known as Google AdWords. The second section where you’re going to see the map and a few listings with stars or no stars beside them, that’s Google My Business. Google My Business is, in my opinion, the lowest of the low hanging [00:18:00] fruit for a therapist who wants to do better at Google overall.

It’s a free listing. If you don’t have your local business registered there already, you need to do it yesterday. Go to business.google.com, register. You’ll get a postcard in the mail and you submit that code or whatever and you’ve got a listing up and off the ground.

Once you have that listing, you need to please Google and you need to fill out all the sections. You need to upload high-quality photos as much as possible and this is super important. We can’t ask for testimonials from clients. There’s most of us in most states and countries so how do we get reviews knowing that that’s the way that Google ranks the Google My Business section?

Well, you ask trusted peers and colleagues who are in your area to speak to what they know of you or how you help or your services or whatever, keyword in your area. So a lot of therapists in those free Facebook groups will go and say, hey, everyone [00:19:00] reviewed my Google My Business listing.

Well, if Google really relies on trust and wants to see, are you a trustworthy business and therefore should we put you in front of our customers, which are people searching in the web browser and you are a therapist in Chicago but you have reviews from therapists in Idaho and New York and California and Texas, it starts to diminish that trust factor a little bit because they go, oh, this is a local business so why are you getting reviews from all these, these must not be real or genuine so we actually might de-rank you a bit in that Google My Business view.

The last thing I’ll say about Google My Business is you can create a post within Google My Business similar to a social media post. Whenever Google offers a feature or a blank that you could fill in or a new thing you can do, you need to do it.

We don’t know precisely how it factors into the bigger picture and to SEO at large or your ranking at large, but [00:20:00] it’s just a good idea to do it. So if you’re listening to this and new features have already come out, well, you should do those too. I’m just going to go ahead and endorse those as well because you want to make Google as happy as possible.

Dr. Sharp: Got you. I wanted to ask about that. So that post feature, it’s not brand new but it’s relatively new, I suppose. I was on there this morning with a consulting client, walking through some of this and I did not know this. You have 1500 words and the opportunity to put a picture on there on these posts. Is that a place where you’re seeing people writing actual full-length blog posts or how are they utilizing that feature at this point?

John: Here’s what I suggest doing. What’s important is that whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it consistently. So whatever you put in that blank and whatever pitch you upload, just make sure you’re doing it consistently but this is what I teach; you can and should have content already on your website and it makes a lot [00:21:00] of sense to not reinvent the wheel. So to do what’s called repurposing some of that content.

So what I do and what I did for my group practice Google My Business listing was I would take the most recent blog posts, I would take that image from that blog post that had my logo on it and the name of the blog post. I would upload that into the Google My Business post. I would upload the first 1500 words or whatever or characters, whatever it is. And then I would say … And then the call to action would be read more or learn more.

That’s it. I would just do that and I would do it as often as Google would let me. So that post will expire after, I forget how long it is, 10 days, maybe more. And then when it would expire, I would just repeat that because I was already creating content for my group practice site so I might as well use it there.

Dr. Sharp: Cool. You mentioned putting photos on the Google My Business listing, I know that there are folks who are contracted to take professional business photos. At least around here, I [00:22:00] feel like it’s maybe $500 or something, I don’t know. Would you say something like that is worth it or can we just take pictures in our office and upload them ourselves or what?

John: If you don’t have anything right now, start with pictures from your iPhone. Most iPhones are really good right now so it’s going to get you something up there and it’s better than having a bunch of blank spaces on your listing.

With that being said, as soon as you can pay that $500 to a photographer, have them take pictures of your office, the outside of your building, and your whole team together, just get as many options as you can there and if start looking at the other listings on there, you’re going to see that a lot of people have like, they’re rocking selfies at the beach with a drink in other hand, it’s like out of frame.

Dr. Sharp: So don’t do it.

John: Well, you can if that’s on brand for you, but if not, you want to do everything you can to stand [00:23:00] out in the eyes of Google and the eyes of consumers. So I think money spent on nice photos is money well spent.

I think the other thing I would say for you group practice owners who have a lot of clinicians and get in this treadmill of every time I hire a clinician, I’ve got to hire the photographer again, there might be a point where you just buy a nice $500 digital camera and take some nice photos of your clinician in the office or the same setting as the other clinicians once a month or something like that. I did that for a while. At some point, that was a better way for me to do it. As long as you have natural lighting, you can get away with some pretty nice pictures on your own.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, absolutely. Not when I could then. You said earlier, even the iPhone pictures these days are pretty good. And if you can get decent lighting, you can take a decent photo with your iPhone.

John: The best thing you can do and if you’re struggling with that, stand in front of the biggest window in your [00:24:00] office or your house and take a picture. Same thing for any of you, I know I’m jumping around, but if you’re doing content, like if you’re doing a video or a video blog or you know what I mean, doing a Facebook live, you don’t need a fancy lighting kit. You don’t need a fancy flash on your camera. Stand in front of a big window put the camera in front of your face and just start going.

Dr. Sharp: There you go. Cool. So we got Google Ads, which you pay for. They come at the top. We got Google My Business, which is the second section with the reviews, the map, and so forth. And then we have?

John: The third pillar is what I would call your organic search or your SEO; search engine optimization. This is an acronym that makes therapists tremble everywhere and one that we don’t have to be so afraid of. It means that those websites that you’re seeing there, in that section, which is the rest of your Google search [00:25:00] is; those are people who have accomplished what I describe as the two things that Google values most. These are two factors.

And if you want to jot these down while you’re listening, these are good things to keep in mind. It’s less about how I do all the technical stuff and the keywords and the placement and the links and the backlinks and more about understanding Google as if it were a person. So here it is, Google rewards two things; popularity and thoroughness. I should say them in reverse because let’s talk about thoroughness first, so thoroughness and popularity.

Thoroughness means effectively this; you have the right keywords on all the right places on your website. That’s really what that means. Popularity means you’re [00:26:00] consistently getting more people to your site, making it a cool place to hang out and getting them there from different places. And that people are hanging out more consistently over time.

If there was a third factor, it would be trustworthiness because the more that Google sees people searching for pizza in Chicago, and they keep going to the same site over and over again and spending more time on that site, that website has earned the trust of consumers and therefore of Google. So Google is going to like that.

They don’t want to do is if I’m searching for pizza in Chicago and they send me to a Sushi website, well, that Sushi website, even if they serve pizza, it’s going to get de-ranked really fast because it’s not what I’m looking for. and you’re going to confuse people. You’re basically going to create a bad search experience.

So [00:27:00] it really is like, if you’re a testing practice, you want to tell Google two things:

1. I’m a testing practice.

2. Here’s where I’m located.

I see a lot of practice owners do about half of the work when it comes to keywords. So the first half would be testing and assessment practice, working with children, teens, and adults period. Well, that’s great, but where? You know what I mean. Couples counseling; call now. Well, where?

Especially if you have a site that’s not showing up and you haven’t done any of this groundwork for SEO, even if you’ve been blogging your tail off, you’d be frustrated with no results because people don’t know where you exist yet. Google doesn’t know where you exist yet. So if you’re a psychological and testing evaluation and neuropsychology practice; [00:28:00] where are you? So those pieces need to be in there.

The last thing I’ll say is they do need to be based on a little bit of keyword research. This is where we get into some of the nitty-gritty and where a lot of therapists get overwhelmed and decide to go check their email instead because they don’t want to look at this stuff. I don’t blame them.

What we imagine people are searching for, for instance, testing practice is a good example. Testing practice, Austin, Texas. I think, oh, that sounds good. It’s in other words, we could assume that they’re searching one thing, but they might be searching something totally different.

Dr. Sharp: Right. I think we do fall prey to that more than we think and maybe even more than therapists because we call it neuropsychological testing or psychological assessment but I don’t know that people are searching for that thing. They’re [00:29:00] probably searching for like ADHD testing or autism diagnosis or something that we would never call the process.

John: Exactly. It’s the same, I don’t know who started doing this but people started putting “individual therapy” on their website, assuming that clients are searching individual therapy. They’re not, they might be searching anxiety therapy or EMDR or, you know what I mean but it was just one of those things that caught on and therapists started using it and reusing it and seeing other therapists using it but then it’s like, wait, where did you get that phrase? Is that phrase actually based on search volume and just some basic keyword research? And if it’s not, then you’re really just guessing and you might make a really long and delayed SEO process for yourself. That’s going to be the consequence for just guessing.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, for sure. So the things that you talked about, [00:30:00] I’m guessing a lot of people out there listening like myself are always thinking can I do this for free or can I do this myself somehow, and if not, how much is it going to cost and how do I find someone to do that?

And just to be very clear, because it’s going to get murky, we’re talking about this whole process of one building a great website with great copy that people come to and love and want to work with you, but then it’s like this process of writing those ads that people click on or optimizing your website and doing this keyword research and making sure that people are finding your website. So can we do that ourselves? And if not, what do we do?

John: Here’s my catchphrase for that. You just need to do enough to get [00:31:00] results. That rule of thumb could be applied for anything in your business. It’s like, well, how many sessions a week do I need? You need enough to hit your income goals. How much should I charge? You should charge enough to hit your income goals. How much blogging should I do? You should blog enough to hit your goals. You should just blog enough to get the results you want.

Results in terms of organic search in Downtown Manhattan is going to be a much steeper climb than in rural Ohio.

I don’t know why I always use Ohio as my rural example but I do, just in rural places. And so that’s part of it. Part of it depends on your market; part of it depends on therefore your competition and your saturation.

Can a psychologist in Downtown Manhattan get themselves ranking organically? Yes, absolutely. Here’s how I would do it. If we think about search volume [00:32:00] in Downtown Manhattan, you’re going to have some practices who are going after the terms with the biggest volume, therefore with the highest competition. So if people search psychologist, Manhattan 200,000 times a month, that’s going to be more contested and therefore a lot harder to compete for.

On the other hand, if someone searches EMDR psychologists, Upper East Side, that might be a phrase that I could go for based on my keyword research. So what you want to look for in that case is something with what we would consider medium volume with medium to low competition or low to medium competition.

I will direct you to a tool real quick that I use for this and that I recommend using. It’s called Ubersuggest just like the car sharing app, Ubersuggest. It’s by a guy named Neil Patel, who is a highly regarded SEO [00:33:00] guru.

So Ubersuggest is going to allow you to take a phrase like that, like psychologist, Manhattan, punch it in and it’s going to show you a number of things. It’s going to show you how easy or hard will it be to rank for this keyword. What’s important is it’s going to show you related keywords that might give you more bang for your buck.

So it might show you, female psychoanalyst, Upper East Side. And if that’s you, that might be something you go for. And that might have 10,000 searches a month. And on that site, it’ll literally tell you, that’s medium volume with low competition. It’ll tell you, yes or no, hey, go for that. It’s going to be easy to rank for, or don’t go for that, it’s going to be hard to rank for.

I love that tool. It’s a tool that I teach to my students and whatnot because it’s easy to use. You can do some basic keyword research in just a few minutes and it’s all based on actual search volume.

So what I would do is, if I had a page that I wanted to rank, let’s say I have a page about [00:34:00] neuropsychological testing in Denver. What I would want to do is I would want to start by seeing what people are searching around those terms. I would just start by guessing. So if I think the natural phrase is, neuropsychological testing, Denver, I would start with that phrase and I would see first of all, are people even searching that? Is it something I should go for?

Or if I’m a testing practice where neuropsychology is part of what we do, I might look for psychological assessment, Denver, Colorado, and start there and go after bigger keywords like that to get more people to my site. And then from there, I can show them the different kinds of testing we do. I can show them the different offerings we have, the different specialties we have if we do ADHD testing, et cetera. But again, it’s never enough to just guess what people are searching.

The same principle applies when it comes to running [00:35:00] Google Ads. You’ll have success with Google Ads when you’ve done some similar keyword research within the Google Ads platform and are actually basing your strategy on what people are searching versus just what’s in your head and what you assume people are searching.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, it’s such a good point. All of my people in Denver are really excited right now.

John: Yeah. […].

Dr. Sharp: No, it’s so true though. Anytime that I’ve tried to dive into this, I was always surprised that little people were searching for the things that I thought that they were.

John: Especially testing, I think a lot of consumers of testing don’t know exactly what the phrasing is. So you have to really think about that and dig into it a little bit. If you’re a testing and a therapy practice, then you’re going to have to think about the different parts of your site separately and marketing those services separately based on Google search volume.

I’ll throw a [00:36:00] little monkey wrench into all this and say that in a perfect world; every small business owner, every therapist, psychologist would address all three pillars of Google. I think that’s the right way to do it. If you run good Google Ads, you should see quicker, faster-acting results whereas the organic stuff is going to take three to six months to see anything happening in your practice.

I just want to put this out there that you could arguably bypass all of this and just run a lot of Google Ads and never mess with SEO. There are people doing that and having success.

Dr. Sharp: Okay. I want to dig into that a little bit. Before I do that, I just want to make it totally clear. So once you do this research in your keywords, let’s say you are motivated, you go back and find some keywords. These are the phrases that you want to put on your website in an [00:37:00] appropriate conversational manner that right rather than stuffing your website with these keywords over and over.

John: You definitely don’t want to keyword stuff. That’s a term that was created because people were doing it too much. So you can’t just find that search phrase and stuff it into everywhere on a page and hope that Google likes that. In fact, that’s a quick way to violate Google’s trust or to lose Google’s trust.

I can run down, in real quick, the main places you want to put these keywords once you found a phrase that you’re going to weave into your page. First would be URL, but only if it’s a new page. If you already have a page that’s your website.com/neuropsychtesting, you don’t want to change that URL because it might already be getting some traction with Google. So you don’t want to confuse Google too often. So if it’s a new page, it would be /neuropsych-testing-denver, if that’s your phrase.

The next [00:38:00] place you would put it is in the page description or what’s sometimes called the snippet or the search engine-related phrase. This is just a little description that actually shows up in Google searches. It’s the part that’s most visible to Google.

So in that phrase, you would write two or three sentences with a character limit about what this website or what this page is about using that phrase but not overdoing it. From there, you’re looking at the headings of your site and the body of your site.

Those are the levels. So from top down, URL page descriptions or search engine-related phrases or snippet page headings, which that text is more readable to Google and finally your body. If you want to do it the right way, you’d put those words in some form or fashion, maybe changing them up a bit in those different places on your page.

Dr. Sharp: Cool. These are all things that theoretically we could do ourselves. That’s great. Let’s see, I was going to ask about [00:39:00] something else before we moved on, but now I can’t remember it. Maybe it’ll come back but we can keep going.

John: We could Google.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, maybe

John: You can ask Google, what was I thinking just now,

Dr. Sharp: If that worked, I would be much better.

John: We’re not far off.

Dr. Sharp: We’re getting there, I know.

John: You have Alexa listening in the room or something, you might want to say, Alexa, what was I thinking a few minutes ago? What did I mean to ask John?

Dr. Sharp: Hopefully, we’re a little ways away.

John: I hope so.

Dr. Sharp: So we were, I’m not sure what we were talking about. Oh, in a perfect word. So you were talking about, we could do all three. That’d be great but there are people who just run Google Ads and that works. So the question that I get a lot is, folks who are starting a brand new practice, maybe they’ve left their full-time job. [00:40:00] They’re literally starting from zero in private practice. There’s always that question of how do I market this practice.

John: Or how do I find a new location; if I’m an existing practice and I just opened a new location 20, 30 miles away, how do I market that new office? It’s the same dilemma.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. And so in some of these cases; folks are in a town where they know a lot of people and they have some warm in-person marketing they can do but there’s always that question of, okay, where’s the tipping point and when is it helpful to start paying for Google Ads or trying to run Google ads? Are there other digital ad options that might be helpful?

John: I’m always going to advocate for running Google Ads. It’s always been a big part of my approach to practice building and still is. It’s something that every therapist I’m working with is doing [00:41:00] with results.

There’s a lot of reasons why therapists fail with Google ads. A lot of times the account is not set up properly. A lot of times, they’re using the Express version of Google Ads, which is not going to give you access to all the features. A lot of times, therapists are not testing different ad copy against one another or different headlines.

Well, the good news is with Google Ads, you only pay when someone clicks. So it’s guaranteed traffic. People get frustrated though when they see people are clicking but I’m not getting new clients on my couch. Why is that? It’s because your copy sucks because your message is unclear.

What I say to that is it’s actually not a bad thing to run ads and be unsuccessful because what it did is just give you a whole bunch of data. If you’re a testing psychologist, you better like data because you all sift through worlds of it every day. I have a good friend who’s a new testing psychologist and I call him [00:42:00] and we talk and I’m like, how’s it going? He’s like, oh, I’ve just been sifting through IQ data from this one test with this one kid for 9.5 hours. I’m like, are you going to do this for 30 more years?

Dr. Sharp: Love it.

John: I’m not sure but we’ll figure that out later. So the good news is you have a bunch of data that you can look at. In order to complete the full conversion process of getting a new client, there’s basically three things that need to happen. There’s three conversion points that you should be measuring and evaluating with the perspective of a curious experimenter.

The first is, do I have enough traffic? If you have enough traffic, then from there, you need to figure out, because I know I’m getting people to my website, let’s say this week I had 100 unique people to my website, and that’s something that your Google Analytics can tell you. So within Google Analytics, this is called users; [00:43:00] the amount of unique users.

So I have 100 unique users on my site this week. Oh, that’s great news. How many of them jumped off of your site and onto a call or your contact form or whatever? The benchmark that we shoot for and that my students hit is around 6%. It doesn’t sound like a lot, right?

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, it is lower than likely.

John: The way that you get that or the way that we calculate that number and we have an Owner Dashboard that they get set up with and they can track these numbers really carefully; it’s basically, the number of users divided by the number of inquiries from my website this week. Super simple. So 100 people divided by 6 inquiries this week. So that’s the second conversion point. That means your website is effectively converting at a 6% conversion rate.

Dr. Sharp: Is there some science [00:44:00] behind that? I’ll just have to ask, like why 6%?

John: The science for me is that with everything that I teach basically in my program for therapists is we see, that’s a benchmark we want to hit at a minimum, the same way that we have benchmarks you want to hit for running your ads and everything. And even the number of calls that actually convert into a paying client.

We want to study those numbers really carefully because when you know those conversion points, you can effectively grow and scale your practice theoretically to the sky, if you know exactly what those conversion points are. Especially when you think about paid traffic and let’s say, if an ad is generating those 100 people per week, and my website’s converting at 6% and I’m spending $300 a month on ads, well, then if numbers don’t lie and they usually don’t, if statistics don’t lie, if I spend twice as much, I’m going to get [00:45:00] twice the amount of increase and therefore twice the amount of conversions, which is twice the amount of clients. Those numbers should repeat themselves.

Based on the therapists I work with, their websites, their copy, their calls to action, their branding, everything that we help them dial in; their websites are looking to convert at least 6%. That’s why it’s a benchmark, ideally higher.

I was looking at one therapist; her numbers today and one week it was 7.9, the next week it was 8.9, the next week it was 11%. That’s fantastic. It was a fantastic week. We want to be shooting for at least 6% and higher.

So if you’re thinking about making changes to your site, the first thing you want to do is stop and actually measure your traffic. And when you measure your traffic, even for a week, and see out of my traffic for a week, how many inquiries did I get this week? Divide those numbers. You’ve effectively found your website conversion rate. Ideally, you would do that for four weeks or so before you make any [00:46:00] changes.

Once you have a data set, then you can make some changes and you can measure again and you’ll know confidently whether the changes you just made to your site are actually producing results or did they hurt your website. Do that without guessing, which is really cool. I’ve been really nerding out on that little math there because it’s something I wasn’t always measuring and wasn’t always teaching and it’s been really neat to have therapists see that and to make informed decisions about their website before they go tinkering with things all at once.

You need to change one thing at a time, like a good experiment or two. You need to know what your independent variable is and you need to isolate that variable and roughly change one at a time so that you know that when I changed X, it actually produced Y.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, absolutely. It’s amazing to me how much we do love data and science and experiments and yet when it comes to this sort of stuff, we’ll just jump around all over the place [00:47:00] and change the copy and then move the calls to action around. Yeah, exactly.

John: And we should weigh from those numbers because it overwhelms us and we’re not sure what we would do about it if we had those numbers. The key here again, step 1 is just get some numbers first, and then let’s figure out a real diagnosis of what’s going on.

Dr. Sharp: Cool. So you said, okay, so first check out how much traffic you get. You can find that through Google Analytics or any analytics program that you might run. And then checking out that conversion rate. Do you have a special way of tracking incoming calls that convert? I know some people do a Google form. Some people just by hand. Some use an Excel spreadsheet.

John: Well, whoever’s answering the phone for you, whether it’s you or someone working in your practice, an admin assistant or whatever, a VA, you need them obviously tracking how many inquiries [00:48:00] they got, whether it’s through the contact form or a call or whatever. You need to track where they came from and then how many of them converted, that’s going to give you, in our illustration, the last conversion point.

So the benchmark that we aim for, for most private pay practices is 50%. So you see that math, if I had 100 people at my website this week at a conversion rate of 6%, six people reached out, then again, if numbers don’t lie, roughly 3% on average of those people are going to convert into paying clients. So whatever I spent on ads in this case, or whatever I’m doing to generate traffic for my site, just got me three clients at a minimum.

If you have insurance in your practice, even if you’re a hybrid and depending on a lot of other variables; your market, your competitors, et cetera, you might see a much higher rate than 50% but again, it’s just a benchmark that I use and that we see a lot of times for [00:49:00] private pay practices and especially those that are all private pay in a market that’s not all private pay, we use 50% as a benchmark because it just clarifies that if you need, again, if you want 10 new clients, you need to generate 20 new inquiries.

Dr. Sharp: Right. I think putting it in black and white like that is really helpful. I was just talking to somebody this morning. We were just talking through, is your phone ringing? No. Okay. Are people looking at your profile? Yes. Okay. And so just dialing in where the system is breaking down and just knowing that these are the three points that you should really be looking at. That’s how you track the success of these things.

And then maybe you’re going to get to this, but I think once you have that final number, then you can get your cost of acquisition per client, and how much do you have to pay to get one client and how much is that client worth? And [00:50:00] then that can help drive a marketing budget.

John: There’s a little cost to getting a new client in the door. I recently ran the numbers as an illustration that someone who was spending $300 a month on their Google Ads was getting roughly, I think it was 150 clicks per month, something like that. We basically worked the math backward to figure out that it costs them $33.33 per new client, which is, in my opinion, a great deal.

When you think about ROI or if I’m selling this water bottle I’m holding in my hand and I paid $33 for it and I’m selling it to you for $100, I’ll take that or $150 or $175 or whatever. I’m pretty happy with that. A lot of times, ROI is going to be well beyond that because I paid $33 to acquire [00:51:00] this client or this water bottle. It might be $130 in the first session and $130 next week. You think about the lifetime value of a client in your practice, they could come for 10, 12 sessions. They could come for the next six years and that acquisition only costs you that money upfront.

So a lot of times, the reason why therapists don’t get into this stuff or don’t run ads or whatever is they don’t run that math all the way and figure out what a great deal it really can be when you’ve set everything up and you know your numbers and when you’re really on top of it and you’re not afraid of, if I put more money in, am I going to get my money back? That’s what there was really want to know.

They’re really afraid of making a mistake or spending $300 and they never get it back. You need to be okay with some of that to figure out your numbers, to tweak things, to experiment with things so that you can start getting the kind of numbers that you’re really after.

Dr. Sharp: Sure. Two questions; [00:52:00] again, going back to this question of, okay, I’ve started a practice from scratch, would it be helpful to run Google Ads? You say yes,

John: Of course.

Dr. Sharp: It seems to make sense.

John: It’s the quickest way to get new clients rather than later.

Dr. Sharp: Okay. So that was one of my questions is, does it work immediately? When you start to run ads, how long does it take? Because your website takes, you said, three to six months to start ranking. So how quickly did ads work?

John: I would say a loose rule of thumb would be three to four weeks to start seeing some results because you’re going to have to work through what’s essentially the testing period of ads. So if you’re starting from scratch, then you’re just guessing with your ad copy, you’re guessing with your negative keywords, which are the words that you don’t want to show your ads for. You’re going to be paying for those negative keywords if you don’t have help with all that stuff, basically. So you can see results faster for sure but I would say [00:53:00] if you want to be safe, think of a timeline like that.

Also think about your goals and your budget. If you have a higher budget, you’re going to move through that testing period certainly a bit faster than someone who’s only spending $100 a month on ads and then getting frustrated as to why this isn’t working. It’s not meant to be an inexpensive thing because it’s meant to be something that literally generates business for your business. So it’s not going to be inexpensive, but when done properly, it has an ROI every single month.

Dr. Sharp: Well, so that leads to my second question really nicely. Thank you for that. You keep using this number of $300 a month, is that an average? What can people expect to pay for Google Ads and the service and making sure it’s happening?

John: Well, if we go back to our other number of cost per client lead or what is going to be cost per inquiry; it’s either going to be cost per inquiry or cost per actual client. So let’s say it’s [00:54:00] $33.33 per client that’s converted. If we have that number, then I would probably just start there and figure out how much do I want to spend.

So if it’s roughly going to cost me that much to get a new client, let’s say, each week, how much am I willing to spend each week to get X amount of clients each week? Is it 5×33? Is it 10×33? So if it’s 5×33, 150-something, or more than $150 per week. So you’re looking more at $600 a month.

But again, until you know that kind of cost per client, you won’t be able to really figure out what the right budget for your practice is because a lot of it has to do with the performance of your ads, the performance of your site and the last conversion point that I didn’t really get to was the conversion that happens when you have someone inquiring into your business. Oh, I did get that to that one. Sorry, I’m confusing myself, that 50%. Once you know those numbers, [00:55:00] you know more closely, how much to spend to get the result that you want.

Dr. Sharp: Got you. Which is nice. I like when it all flows together and there’s a formula.

John: That’s the formula.

Dr. Sharp: And for us, I think that’s actually, it lends itself well to testing or testing lends itself well to budgeting in the sense that most of us have a really good idea of that lifetime value of the client because the evaluation is a fixed cost. Even if you take insurance, you generally know, I’m going to get $1,500 for this one evaluation or if you’re private pay, it’s like, I’m going to get $1,500 per evaluation. And then you can walk it backward and say, okay, I need six evaluations a month to hit my income goals so I’m going to need to pay X amount for Google Ads.

John: One of the biggest strengths and opportunities for a testing psychologist is that you’re generally earning a lot more per client than a therapist, at [00:56:00] least right off the bat. They might only come for one assessment, that’s $1,500 gross revenue for your business versus a client that pays $150 but needs to come at least 10 sessions to get that same value. There’s just a lot of strengths to having a testing practice and having basically, a high ticket service like that, that you can provide for a client.

Dr. Sharp: Right. This is cool. I’m glad that we’re talking through this. I guess this is stuff that I maybe understood intuitively but actually talking it out, it’s like, yeah.

John: Yeah, this is great.

Dr. Sharp: So we’ve covered a lot of ground, I feel like. What else is out there? We haven’t asked about Facebook Ads at all. What’d you say?

John: I said, I would say so, I’m exhausted.

Dr. Sharp: Well, it’s like ten o’clock where you are. Are there other forms of online marketing or digital marketing that are even worth considering?

John: Here’s my line in the [00:57:00] sand and this gets me some people who are like, oh, that makes a lot of sense, and other people who get mad at me. There’s two things that I don’t mess with and teach when it comes to practice building. One is organic social media, posting to Instagram, posting to Facebook, et cetera. The other is, right now, Facebook Ads, at the time of this recording, et cetera.

You can use Facebook Ads effectively to market your practice if you’re doing what I would consider retargeting. Meaning, someone came to your site and you basically tagged them with a pixel and they didn’t convert and then later they were on Facebook and it said, here’s Dr. Jeremy Sharp’s practice. So it retargeted them. That can be an effective way of running Facebook Ads. I don’t personally do that because most therapists don’t need that level of advanced digital marketing.

In general, the reason why pretty much everything that I focus on and teach is having a great [00:58:00] message that compels, that converts having calls to action across your site, that stand out, that are big bold, makes sense and are repeating throughout your site and then getting that site in front of people searching for a therapist right now, that’s effectively the approach.

The last thing I would add to that is building your email list and keeping in touch with your email list and growing that as an asset to your business over time and a brand awareness thing. I built both practices with zero social media, zero Facebook Ads, zero Instagram, et cetera.

Because there’s people sitting down right now in your area looking for a therapist and I want to be more or less obsessed with getting in front of those people as consistently as possible. And when I do that, and when I know these numbers that we’ve talked about today, I know exactly where my business is going. I know when to hire my next clinician. I know how much I can afford for my office rent and et cetera.

So [00:59:00] that’s why I like approaching things this way. I don’t expect the way that clients find a therapist to be changing anytime soon.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, I think you’re right. Seems to only be going this direction more and more. Nice. Good conversation, man. Thank you.

John: That’s fine. Like I said, I’m exhausted but that means that you put me to work.

Dr. Sharp: Well, I appreciate it. There’s a ton of good information here. I was taking notes throughout and we’ll have a lot of show notes for this one, some applicable tools and formulas. The hope is that people can walk away and say, maybe I’ll try this but if not, here’s what I can expect to pay, and here’s how to work.

John: Yes. If I can help, let me know.

Dr. Sharp: Of course. If people want to find you, what’s the best way to do that?

John: Just head to PrivatePracticeWorkshop.com. and there you can learn more about my training program.

It’s called Fully Booked. [01:00:00] You can watch a free training on my website or through my website to learn more about Fully Booked.

If you just want a piece of what we talked about today, you can actually get our Owner Dashboards where you can track all these numbers. That would be a good tool to have under your belt. It’s got a lot of other really great metrics for group practice owners like client retention and attrition.

You can do some projections of revenue and stuff like that, as well as track all these digital marketing metrics. So the Owner Dashboard is a good tool to have on your belt as well, but yeah, privatepracticeworkshop.com. You can find me there. I’ve got a podcast like you, that’s going to be starting up again soon. So that should be fun. Will be glad to hear from anybody who wants some help with this stuff.

Dr. Sharp: Very cool. Well, just being friends for two years now, I’m talking with you many times along the way. I know that you put a ton of work and energy into both thinking about your products, so to speak, and making sure they’re quality so I [01:01:00] can back that and hope people check them out.

John: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, of course. Good to see you. All right, y’all, hope you enjoyed that interview with my good friend, John Clarke. We touched on a lot of things during that interview that we didn’t do a deep dive into but like I said at the beginning, John has crafted a life where he is truly living remotely and doing his business online.

So if that’s any model that’s interesting to you, there are a lot of resources out there for that. He also sold a group practice, which could be in some of your features as well. And mostly, I hope you enjoyed the talk about digital marketing, really important stuff, clients got to be able to find us.

Like I said at the beginning, if you need CE credits, go to athealth.com and search for The Testing Psychologist podcast, use code “TTP10”, get a discount off your whole order, and get [01:02:00] some CE credits.

All right, y’all, I think that is all for today. Got some great interviews coming up and I hope that you tune in and continue to listen. If you have not subscribed, please do that. It takes about 20 seconds. You just look in your podcast app and there should be a big subscribe button somewhere in there very obviously and then you automatically get the episodes when they’re released.

All right, take care, enjoy the summer and/or what’s left of the summer, and we’ll talk to you next time. Bye bye.

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