Jessica Tappana on SEO for Online Counseling Services – Killin’It Camp Speakers Series 2 of 4 | PoP 523

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Have you delved into the world of SEO? How can you utilize SEO yourself to fully boost the rankings of your website? What information do you need to give Google for your website to be easily found?

We are sharing the Killin’It Camp speakers series. In this podcast episode, Jessica Tappana speaks about SEO for Online Counseling Services.

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Meet Jessica Tappana

Jessica Tappana is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who wears many hats including owning a 7 clinician private-pay group psychotherapy practice in Missouri and an SEO business where she helps

Jessica Tappan is the owner of Simplified SEO Consulting. Along with help from a team of SEO specialists, Jessica helps private practices get in front of more of their ideal clients by getting to the top of Search Engines.  As a group practice owner herself, Jessica understands the importance of not only getting more client calls but getting the right calls.  In addition to using SEO to grow her own practice, she and her team have helped countless other practices grow their own businesses through SEO.  In her spare time, Jessica can be found traveling, reading, or spending time with her husband and two young kids.

Visit Jessica’s websites: Aspire Counseling and Simplified SEO Consulting.

In This Podcast


  • Simple steps to follow

1. Tell Google where to rank you

Put a small textbox on your website that explains where you are located, both physically and virtually.

2. Tell Google what you are doing

Create some specialty pages and do not be shy with the specifics, because it gives Google the necessary answers that will help it to suggest you to people when they search for your niche.

3. Make online therapy its own page on your website

Describe specifically your online therapy services and if you are licensed in different states, be sure to give their names and link it to the services/specialty pages that you offer. Giving Google these specifics will help it to boost you when people search for therapy in these states. Using pictures is also very beneficial.

4. Describe the benefits

Have a section on your website that describes the benefits of having virtual therapy as this will also help Google boost your rankings when people search for these keywords.

  • Make sure that you have calls to action on every page
  • Make sure that each of your pages is at least 500 words

5. Start blogging

If you are having frequent discussions about a certain topic in multiple sessions with different clients, consider writing a blog post about it and then direct your patients to your blog.

Useful Links:

Meet Joe Sanok

private practice consultant

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

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This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 523.

Well, over the next four sessions, I am so excited to bring you four different talks from Killin’It Camp. These are speakers that rocked it out, got great audiences, connections, and, you know, honestly are just kind of top-tier people. And I’m really excited. It was so hard because we have over 30 speakers, we have over 20 hours of content, so many amazing speakers. These were some that seemed to represent a few of the biggest questions that we get. And so in this first session, we’re having Whitney, she’s going to be talking all about Instagram for therapists. Then in the next one, we’re going to have Jessica Tapanna talking all about SEO. And those are each 25 minutes sessions aimed at just kind of quick-hit things. Then after that, we’re gonna have Carrie Haynes, who is talking about adding groups to your practice, specifically online groups, how do you add groups. Not a group practice, but actual groups, she has The Art of Groups podcast. So that’s coming up, the third one. And then the fourth one is this awesome group practice discussion. We have Alison, Whitney, Susan, and Dawn that are all going to be talking about group practice.

And so, I mean, we only have four episodes to do this. And so if you want to get full access to all 30 speakers, all the 20 hours of content that we have, this was such a large three-day event, with just tons of great content, head on over to, you can grab that for only $197. Now we’re gonna probably be raising our prices for this soon. So you’re gonna want to grab that, you get lifetime access. Again, that’s Without any further ado, here we go.


So I’m Jessica Tappana. And I’m with Simplified SEO Consulting which Joe mentioned, actually, I have a private practice as well and started that first and then basically taught myself SEO. Got a little bit here, a little bit there, a little bit there and taught myself how to optimize my website so it would be found on Google. LaToya told us that we should tell stories, and I didn’t necessarily have a story prepared. But when I’m explaining what SEO is, I will tell you that three years ago, I didn’t know what SEO was. If you don’t, that’s okay. If you’re like, what on earth are you even talking about? SEO means Search Engine Optimization. And I had no idea how Google works. I thought I would just create a website. And if it looked, okay, people would magically find me, because that’s how this works, right? Like Google knows what your website’s about. And so I created the perfect website. And then I sat around waiting, and I’m so proud of it, and nobody was finding me.

But as I transitioned into a group practice, I knew that I needed to up my marketing game. It’s very different to try to fill just me. Referral sources were working great for that. But everybody was calling and wanting me and I wanted them to see my clinicians. So I started teaching myself search engine optimization so that I could market my practice. And they started calling Aspire Counseling, not Jessica Tappana. And then it was easy to move them over to my clinicians. We were a brick and mortar. We were a brick and mortar practice. How many of you, I can’t see very many faces so feel free to turn on the camera if you want to, because I really love talking and interacting with people but either nodding or in the chat, tell me if you were, if you had online services before COVID, I’m curious. Okay, so several of you did. I did not. A few of my clinicians offered it once in a while but not regularly. And I’d had a few SEO clients in my other business at Simplified, who had come to us for online counseling and we had, early on I disclosed I was like, look, I don’t offer online services, but I have some things I think will work.

And so we had been playing around for a year and a half with how to get an online counseling website ranking well, when COVID hit. On March 13, one of my SEO specialists calls me and she says, oh, Jessica, I have a question about such and such site. And I go, Cory, I’m sorry, I can’t respond to you right now. Like, I just realized, I’m gonna have to move my whole practice online, and we’ve never been online. And she was like well, let me put into place for your practice the plan that we’ve used for other practices, and it worked. And now we’re ranking pretty well for online counseling.

Dana says hate online counseling. I hear ya, it’s not the same, although I do. I like it more than I thought I would. But it works. And we’re getting calls that way. So let me share with you this formula that I used to say, so I’ve tried this, it’s worked for people, but I haven’t done it. Now I can say we’ve also used it on our own practice. The only thing is, I’m not gonna be able to see the chat, I’d love to be able to answer your chat questions here too. Let me get a better thing. So the first thing that I’ll mention is, even if you go back to not doing online counseling in the future, these things that I’m recommending you do will still help you get local clients as well. So these are good, general SEO things. Okay. So hopefully, you can see this now.

So four simple steps to improve SEO for online counseling services, Joe or Whitney, can one of you guys tell me what time I need to stop to ask questions so that I make sure I don’t go too long, because I could talk all day.

He’ll stop you.

Okay, he’ll tell me. They’re gonna tell me when to stop, so hopefully, I don’t go too long. Okay, so four simple steps. The first thing I want you to do. So you basically, if you’re trying to market online counseling, you need to give Google two really important pieces of information. The first is you want Google to know where to rank you. And so with online counseling, most of us are licensed in our entire state. And so now we need Google to know that like, hey, I want you to rank me well any time anyone, anywhere in the state of Missouri, is searching for my services. So that’s a piece of information number one, Google needs to know where we’re located. And the second is Google needs to know what we’re doing and needs to know that we have some authority there.

So the first step is I want you to put a small statement on the footer of your website, that tells Google where you’re located. So for instance, it might say something like our counseling office is physically located in Columbia, Missouri, but our online therapy services are available to anyone in the state of Missouri. So there I have mentioned my physical location, but also my virtual location. So let’s say you are actually located, you know, licensed in two states, and you have another clinician who happens to be licensed in a third, then I would recommend that it says something like our counseling office is physically located in St. Louis, Missouri, but our online therapy services are available to anyone in Missouri, Illinois, or Kentucky, whatever the case may be. So that’s step number one.

Step number two is, again, we want to tell Google what to rank us for. And this is where I’m like, this is gonna help you whether you’re doing online counseling, or brick and mortar in the future. Everybody needs to have a few specialty pages. And so even if you have, if you think that like, hey, I really only do one thing, I do couples therapy, that’s really, I really love that, Joe convinced me to niche, listening to him, and Alison and Whitney, and LaToya speak, like, I figured out I need to have a niche, I got a niche. It’s couples therapy. Okay, that’s great. You still can have multiple specialty pages. So I want you to think about like, what are the three types of couples that you most love working with? Let’s say I really enjoy working with couples who are contemplating divorce, who are affair recovery, and who are new parents, then you can create a specialty page, even though your homepage talks all about couples, your specialty pages can be each of those three pages, you’re giving Google lots of great information that anybody, anybody that is searching for marital problems with a new baby, like I want to rank for, anybody that’s searching for affair recovery, I want to rank for that.

And so Google, if you have just a normal couples counseling page, which is what so many people have, just a couples counseling page. And you have this list, a long list of issues that might bring a couple to marriage counseling or couples counseling. Google’s gonna be like, that’s great. You know how to spell affair recovery. If I have a paragraph on that long couples counseling page, and it lists like one paragraph about each of these specialties, Google’s gonna be like, cool, so you know how to define affair recovery. If you have a whole page, a whole specialty page, Google’s gonna be like, wow, you’re really serious about affair recovery, like you know your stuff in that area. This is a resource. Google wants to give people the best possible experience and so you are showing you’re a resource, you are a source of authority on this subject, and they’re going to be much more likely to send you there.

The next thing I want you to do. So now you have a couple of specialty pages. And these are specialty pages that describe the type of work that you do. The next thing that you’re going to do is you’re going to make online therapy its own page, you’re going to expand more specifically about online therapy. Um, yes, Nathan had asked about making my PDF more visible, I’m trying to just kind of hone in on the part I’m talking about in that moment. And I will add this to, Whitney just pointed out, I can add this to the Facebook page later. So I will do that. Or if you want to put your email in the chat, as soon as I’m done speaking, I’ll save the chat and save all the emails. And I will email it to you, I’m not going to add you to my mailing list, I’ll tell you how to do that if you want, but I will just send you this PDF if you would like it. So I’m more than happy to do that.

Okay, so the next thing that you’re going to do is you’re going to make online therapy it’s own page. Notice I said, I first want you to have your specialty pages. That’s because next you’re gonna have a specific online therapy page. And so like mine would be online therapy in Missouri, yours might be online therapy in Maine, wherever you’re located. If you’re located in more than one state, you can create landing pages for each state. And when I have somebody whose business is solely online, and that’s really like they really want to attract people in multiple states, they will create a landing page for each state that they have someone licensed in. So that’s 100% an option. But for sure, you want to have an online therapy page. There, you want to describe specifically your online therapy services, some of the things that you want to mention there are mentioning several areas of the state.

So for instance, I’m going to go with Missouri, because that’s where my practice is located and that’s what’s off the top of my head, but I might say, you know, whether you live in the Boot Hill of Missouri, or the busy metropolitan area of St. Louis, um, you want good quality therapy services, right. So I might mention something like that in the header, or in the entry, where I’m trying to, like, get their attention. I’m purposely mentioning these very different parts of the state to try to tell Google like, hey, I want you to rank me, if somebody is searching for online therapy in the metropolitan area of St. Louis or if they’re searching for online therapy in the Boot Hill. Sorry, I talk with my hands a lot. But you’re just going to have to bear with me, because that’s just what I do. I just realized I’m like, I’m totally doing that a lot. But so I want to give Google as many clues as I can say, same with pictures, if you can include pictures on your online therapy page, taken from different areas of the state, that’s fabulous, you know, maybe again, to use the Missouri example, maybe have a picture of the arch. And then maybe I have a picture of one of our state parks. And then maybe I have a picture of our counseling office where I say you don’t have to be located in Colombia and be able to come to our counseling office to use us.

You want to include links to your specialty page. This is especially important if you have more than one state that you’re serving, you might have to mention that like in Missouri, we can offer trauma therapy, and anxiety treatment. But if you’re in Kentucky, maybe my therapist that specializes in those areas isn’t in Kentucky. So there I want to explicitly mention which services are offered there. When I do that, then I can link to those specialty pages, even if you only have one state like I only have therapists licensed in Missouri, but we still have links to other pages because we have a list of some of the reasons that you might be seeking online therapy. And so if somebody does find us because they do search for online therapy, and they end up on this page, I want them then to click on that link, and go to my other page and learn more specifically about the anxiety treatment that we offer, for example.

For some of you, I think of like eating disorders, or trauma, or some of you have things that you’re like, you know, if it wasn’t for COVID, not 100% sure that I’d be offering online, or I might only offer online if they met certain conditions. And that’s fine. You can have a section about that on your page that really directly describes that. Other people are like, hey, you know, my specialty [unclear] online most of the time. And so you can kind of mention that too on your online therapy page. I think right now, it’s a great idea to mention, is this something you plan to do long term, or is it something that might be short term. And when you’re writing that content and sharing that content on there, it actually helps. It helps Google as well, because you’re naturally using things like if I’m writing about how typically eating disorder treatment will be in person once it’s safe to return to the office, I’m mentioning eating disorders while I’m talking about that. So that can be helpful for Google.

One thing that I really think is helpful is to describe the benefits of online counseling and to have a section on that because a lot of people are hesitant to do online counseling. And so having a section where you explicitly describe the benefits can also help with SEO because again, you’re mentioning online counseling, you’re mentioning online therapy several times in that. I also want you to have a call to action. I don’t want you to have a call to action on every page, I just put that on here because I think that’s so important. You want to call somebody into action. To me when we talk about search engine optimization, a lot of people call me like, I’ve got to get to the top of Google, I’ve got to get to the top of Google. That’s great. I agree, you do. And what good does it do for us to drive all these people to your site, if they’re not calling and converting. And so to me, a very important part of it is that you’re also getting calls. And that starts with directly asking people to take the next step.

I want you to write at least 500 words, now that’s my standard thing. I want your specialty pages to be 500 words, right? So if you’re a couple’s counselor, I want each of those pages to be 500 words. If you are in a competitive state, so I’m looking at you if you’re in New York, Florida, California, probably North Carolina, there are several of these states that we know have a ton of people right now targeting online counseling. If you are in a really competitive state, I’m going to be totally honest with you. If you want to rank for online therapy, you may want to write more like 1000 words. The reason I typically say 500 is you’re much more likely to do that. It is better to do that than to do nothing, than to be like well, she told me to write 1000 words, but that’s too many, I’m not going to write an online therapy page. No, no, go ahead and write 500, it will help you rank. But do know that some of you that are in more competitive areas, you may need an even longer online therapy page, because again, we’re appealing to the whole state with online therapy, we’re not just appealing to the one little area that we live in. And so now your competition is not just your friend down the street. But your competition is everybody in your state.

Okay, and then we already mentioned having a separate page for each state that your practice covers and linking them, each of those should have links to each of the specialties that you have therapists for in that state. So again, like Missouri, I can link to pretty much every specialty. And then if I have one person, like, if one of my clinicians might next year move to Colorado, she does and she’s licensed there, we would only link to her specialties on a Colorado landing page if we created one. The next thing, okay, I hear the groans, you see the word blog up there because I moved it a little bit. Please don’t groan too much at blogging. Blogging, I feel like get’s such a bad rap. I know. Nobody wants to blog. Nobody wants to write [unclear] talk about it. I love blogging, I’m sorry, I can’t totally relate. But I love blogging because I see it as a service to my clients.

One of the things I do with blogging is if there’s a discussion that I have frequently in session, I write a blog about it. Earlier today, someone I’m sorry, I’m blanking on who, I feel really bad. I want to give credit. But somebody else was talking about their podcast episodes they were using as a resource for their clients, like, hey, go read this, this thing that we’re talking about. And we’ll talk about, I mean, go listen to this podcast and come back and we’ll talk about it next week. I do that with my blogs. So you can do this with online counseling, too. I think this is especially awesome to do if you know that you are going to be doing online therapy long term. Start with a three part blogging series that highlights your online services. So think specifically about your niche. So the example of the eating disorders where I’m like, you know, I think normally I’ll probably want to be in person, then maybe write about that, like why you’re offering online right now, but why you might not in the future. I want to say that, like I think we’re learning we can do a lot more online long term than we had initially expected. Whitney, is your phone ringing? Sorry, guys, Whitney is behind me. I blame her.

Okay, so thinking about what you can blog to highlight, I’m giving you a couple of ideas but these are just really ideas. So the first one if you are a, and I say a three part blog series, because I think that at least three blogs starts to give Google enough information that like Google sees that you have this online therapy page. And then it sees three blog posts about online therapy. And so Google is now seeing that you have a lot of content on your website, across the whole website, all about online therapy, it’s starting to get the idea that you actually know something about online therapy. So for instance, if I work with teenagers and I specialize in working with teens, then I might write a whole blog series on why teens do well with online counseling.

It was one of the first copywriting experiences I had for online services was to write a single blog post on this like, I immediately came up with all the ideas, I mean, teenagers are used to connecting with people online. It’s very convenient. Parents don’t have to worry about giving them a ride, all of these things that are benefits. And so I wrote one blog post that described like three benefits. Well, that’s great, but if you are a teen practice, you really want Google to get the idea that everything to do with online teen counseling, you’re the go to person. So for that reason, what I would actually do there is write a whole series and turn that single blog post I wrote into three, so that each one is like 500 words about one reason that it’s so helpful for teenagers.

The next one is top questions about online therapy answered. And so this is where, remember I was talking about, like, I write blog posts that I can actually use, and I’m seeing them as a service for my clients. This is where if you have, if you’re like me, I have several clients that when I called and said, we’re transitioning online, they said, no, no, I’ll wait till COVID’s over. I’ll wait till we can meet in person. And so I had access to a few blogs on online counseling, both that we had written and that some of our clients had written. And I’ve had a few people reach out recently that I’ve actually sent these blog posts to, and it’s helped to answer some of their questions and help them feel a little bit more comfortable with the idea. And so right now, if you have some skittish clients, who maybe had left, but are looking at coming back, write these blog posts directly to them, answer their questions, right? So you can really explain, or maybe you had a brick and mortar office, you got sick of paying the rent, and you were lucky enough that your lease came up. And now you’ve decided that you’re going to stay online, and you’re worried about breaking that news to your clients, write these blog posts, and then send them along, you know, like, maybe write a blog post on three of the reasons that I’ve decided to give up my office other than just you hate paying the rent when you’re not going in. But coming up with, again, the benefits of both and highlighting that.

And then this one, too, I keep meaning to write and haven’t had time. So somebody go write this for me. I want to write one on why our therapists love online counseling. And I want to have like, three of my therapists write their blog posts. Because I’m really curious, I think we each would have a slightly different take. And so have your therapist, maybe one person who’s been doing you know, if you have a group practice, or if it’s just you, you could write one on, you know, three surprising things I love about online therapy, where one can be, you know, I’m learning so much about, my clients and I are able to connect on a different level when we’re able to see each other’s homes. It’s amazing the things that we see, right, in the middle of sessions. I’ve had multiple clients meet my new puppy virtually, because he’ll start, you know, barking in the distance or whatever. And so that’s been fun. I’ve seen clients’ bedrooms, and gotten to know my teenage clients in a whole different way. Because, you know, I’m like, oh, you have that poster up. I didn’t know you like such and such.

And so those sorts of things you can write in a blog post. And that, again, is providing that content that really communicates to Google what to rank your website for, which is all things online therapy related and all things your niche related and specifically if you’re in their location. How are we doing on time?


Okay, what time are we, what time am I stopping…?

About 2 more minutes.

Okay, oh, I get extra time. Cool. Good deal.

No, you don’t, you don’t get extra time. If you want to take questions, you have two minutes left.

Two minutes. Okay.

If you want to take questions, you have two minutes for the questions.

Okay. Okay, so who has questions? I’m trying to see if there are any over here. Is there any, Joe, that you’ve seen? Susan likes talking with hands. Thank you, Susan.

Yeah, it’s the people saying that they’re doing awesome because they hired you, other people talking about kind of figuring out spam links versus inquiries and how to deal with that. So yeah, why don’t we start with that? How do you weed out, when you’re doing good SEO, kind of good SEO from all the spam that comes through?

I think that’s a really good question. There’s a whole bunch of things there that I would love to, I would love to hit on. One is that the danger of having good SEO, so my private practice, I’ve been working on SEO for a while. And then all of a sudden, we’re starting to target the state of Missouri, we have been getting calls from everywhere. And my poor VA is like, just like, I keep getting calls from Colorado. And I’m really lucky that I know some therapists in Colorado, one of which is here and that I referred somebody to the other day, right. And so that’s fun, but that’s one of the dangers of getting really good SEO with online therapy, where you’re targeting a larger audience, is that you can start getting calls, not overnight. I’m not trying to tell you like overnight, it’s gonna be like this, but you can start getting as you have a wider reach.

But the other thing is you can start getting like one problem that will happen sometimes, people really find my website as good SEO, they want to leave a comment that links to their spammy site like some really inappropriate sites that want to link on by commenting with a link to their site online. So I have a setting, I have a WordPress site where if somebody comments on one of my blogs, it goes to me and I have to approve or disapprove it, and that allows me to disapprove it because I really, there are some things that I do not want in the comment sections of my blog and I’m able to filter those out. I don’t know if that was exactly what you meant about the spammy links. The other thing that you can get is spammy backlinks, where some sites link to your sites that you don’t want to. That’s a whole other discussion. If you think you have some links to your site from spammy sites, email me, I will send you a blog post that we’ve written on that because it can be a bit complicated to figure that out, because it can hurt your website, if like, really low quality sites are linking your site. And if you’ve paid for backlinks, definitely email me. I’ll have some

All right. Last question is do you have to send anything to Google? Or does it just identify the SEO itself?

Yes, connect your website to Google Search Console and submit a sitemap. So you give Google a map of every single page of your website.


I’m so excited that you got a sneak peek into Killin’It Camp. We had, I think 150 people that signed up for Killin’It Camp this year. In 2019, when we had our live event we had 123 people. It is such a fun community of people that think differently about private practice, that they want that community, they want that connection, they want that learning, they want to push the envelope. And so if that sounds like you, I would love for you to sign up for the Killin’It Camp course where you get full access to those 25 minute sessions on pillars of practice, those 55 minute sessions on scaling your practice, and then those 55 minute sessions that are all about multiple streams of income. It is such important work that we do and if we don’t understand the business side of it, how’s it gonna help us? So make sure that you head on over to

And today’s sponsor is Gusto. If you don’t have your payroll set up, you have to do that. Head on over to Gusto is the payroll solution that we use so make sure you go sign up for that today. Thanks for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have a great day.

Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music; we really like it. This podcast is designed to provide accurate, authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.