How did I get on the front page of Google for the terms “counseling” and “Traverse City”? I often get this question. People will say:
“I bet you paid someone a lot of money to help you with that.”
“Did you go through ‘therapy sites’ to make it happen?”
“You probably pay a lot of money for your website.”
None of these statements are true. All I pay for with my websites are the hosting fee and the domain name. The domain is around $10 a year through NameCheap and the hosting is through BlueHost. BlueHost has unlimited domains, so it is cheaper to start new websites. I pay $2.50 a month for hosting because I share it with a friend.
But how did I get to the front page when “Traverse City counseling” is Googled?
First, your website needs to intentionally use your key words often. For me, the key words are “counseling” and “Traverse City”.
- Front Page: Make sure the key words are on your front page in several places that look natural. I don’t put the key words everywhere, because I don’t want future clients to think I am crazy. Instead here and there I’ll put “As a Traverse City counseling practice…” or “At our Traverse City clinic” or “Counseling can be a hard thing to start…” Your key words should be 2x every 250 words or so.
- Tagline: Make sure your tag line has your key words. Mine is: Mental Wellness Counseling | A Traverse City Counseling Practice
- Index your website with Google. There are tons of websites to help depending on what site you designed through. https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home?hl=en should help you get started.
- Links within: Any photo, link, or upload I add the keyword to the title. Say I have a picture of a form. I will name it “Form Traverse City Counseling”
My next step was to create articles and other things that referred to my website. These need to be authentic articles that have useful content. As well, they should be applicable to your key words. For example, I write for our local paper: Take Time to Slow Down. Within this, I have my key words and a bio that links to my website. This builds websites that refer to my website and increases how Google sees my status.
The last step is to have multiple blogs that refer to the articles, NOT your website. If you just created 1,000 blogs that said “Go to this website” your website would get blacklisted by Google…that is a terrible thing. Instead, you have blogs that reference multiple websites that have your articles. They don’t get blacklisted and it also protects you from having your website blacklisted.
I do want to send a shout out to Pat Flynn from http://www.smartpassiveincome.com who taught me his “back linking strategy.” It has worked and I didn’t have to pay anyone for it.
It is not a destination
Remember, just because you are on Google’s front page does not mean that you will stay there. You need to continue to build relevant content that draws people to your site. Refer to your site while giving advice on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Change around your front page once in a while so that it is updated. Everyone else is trying to take your first page spot!
I don’t have the time you have
On the front end this take a lot of set up time. I currently write at least one article per week for some website and do a blog post weekly (or more depending on my inspiration) on both www.mentalwellnesscounseling.com and www.PracticeofthePractice.com. Once you have the blogs set up, I bookmark them and have an “open all” function. There are services that you can pay to update for you, but I don’t want to spend money.
Since I really enjoy the challenge of all this, I see it as a fun challenge. I am learning skills that cost thousands of dollars. Even though it took me probably 20 hours to get to the front page of Google, if I would have paid a web developer and SEO person $1,000, I’m still making $50 an hour tax free since I saved the money. Good luck with your own SEO, if you need help, drop me a line.
Thank you Joe, you have inspired me to submit a site map to Google – something I have meant to do for ages, and given me lots of food for thought about how to generate more traffic. Good article.
Thanks Judy! I appreciate your comment. I did not realize the importance until I did it. Within one day I went from page 2 to page one. Thanks!
Well written and informative article. Thank you for sharing the useful information, Joe.
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