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Welcome to Day 1
Have you ever wondered how to create a website for your counseling private practice? This podcast is meant to help you decide whether you want to bootstrap building your site yourself or hire someone.
I went into The Website Roundtable series on the Practice of the Practice Podcast with the ideas that:
- Making a website should not be a chore for counselors
- If you have the steps and the hustle, you can make your own website
- You may decide not to design your own site, and I want you to go with people I trust if you decide it’s not worth your time.
This podcast is meant to be something that genuinely helps you. We’ve taken the transcripts and tried to make it into a book that can walk you through important steps for creating a private practice website. Even though it was three of us, I tried to find a unifying voice so it was easier for you, the reader. To hear the whole series, go to www.WebsiteRoundtable.com.
Throughout the podcast and book, there are tools, hacks, and links that will help you to build your own website.
Lastly, Aaron and Perry gave their time for free, they didn’t pay for this exposure, instead they knew that giving back is the best way to grow their businesses. You rock, keep it up, and let’s get started!
Website Roundtable Bios
Joseph R. Sanok
Joe is a private practice consultant and the owner of Mental Wellness Counseling in Traverse City, MI. He has had terrible website and great websites!
Aaron Carpenter owns Legendary Lion Web Design. They’re based out of Traverse City, Michigan and do custom web development. They try to give people the most value for their coin on making custom website applications.
Perry Rosenbloom is the founder of Brighter Vision. Brighter Vision is an all-in-one website solution for therapists so they build therapists’ websites that look like they’ve spent a few thousand dollars but in fact only cost them $59 a month. They do a fully custom website for you, with support and all of your SEO, for just a low monthly cost.
Scroll Below for the Whole Transcript
Website Vocabulary Definitions
Welcome to Creating the Best Website. This e-book is a companion copy of transcripts, bonus content, and links that goes along with The Practice of the Practice Podcast series “The Website Roundtable” available at www.websiteroundtable.com.
I’ve got Aaron and Perry with me. Aaron Carpenter from Legendary Lion, Perry Rosenbloom from Brighter Vision, these are the best website guys I know.
Why don’t we start with who are you guys? I’ll just flip a coin here. Let’s see. I’ve known Aaron longer so I’ll just start with him.
So my name’s Aaron Carpenter. I own Legendary Lion Web Design. We’re based out of Traverse City, Michigan and we do custom web development so really, it’s anything that clients wants, and we could deliver on. That’s what we do, really. So we try to give people the most value for their coin on making like custom website applications and we’re really sort of an extension of you know, if you want something right and done like just so and you know how you want it to work. Our discussions revolve around how we would accomplish that so that’s a basic overview of Legendary.
Well, thank you again Joe for having both Aaron and myself here. I’m Perry Rosenbloom. I am the founder of Brighter Vision. Brighter Vision is an all-in-one website solution for therapists so we build therapists’ websites that look like they’ve spent a few thousand dollars but in fact only cost them $59 a month. We do a fully custom website for you, with support and all of your SEO, for just a low monthly cost.
Awesome! That’s what I love about having the two of you on for this Website Roundtable. You guys are very different and kind of represent that spectrum.
Let’s dive right in! I know that for me, when I was first starting out, I didn’t ever know what SEO meant (Search Engine Optimization: aka making things work so you rank in Google). I didn’t know about like redirecting email or any of that.
SEO or search engine optimization: SEO basically means making sure that your website communicates effectively with the search engines. So that way, Google or Bing understand what your website is about, who you are and what type of clients you service and in what area you work. So often we see with clients that they’ll have home put in for their search engine optimization title. Whereas instead you might want to say if you’re a marriage and family therapist based out of Traverse City, you might want to say your name, then marriage family therapist, Traverse City.
There are phrases that are often brought up and they’re important to know even if you don’t plan on hiring an SEO firm if you want to try to see what you can do for SEO on your own and you’re feeling around to try to figure out what that might mean.
Keywords, key phrases, optimization: Keywords and key phrases center around the idea that whatever you type into Google to search is that particular phrase that was just typed is something that coordinates with a page or some content on your website. So a keyword and key phrases are kind of synonymous but really it’s a phrase that you’d be interested in and that would be made up possibly of keywords.
Hosting: Like you have your foundation where you have like all your data that might be like hosting like where the information from your website is. (Bluehost is Joe’s favorite hosting)
The hosting which is where your website’s going live and your domain name and then going back and touching upon the design of your house and the aesthetics of it, you’re going to have your theme or what platform you build on whether that’s a fully custom site, a Squarespace website, a WordPress website and how that house gets designed and structured is going to be dependent on which platform you choose whether that’s WordPress, Squarespace and then obviously, what designer you end up hiring. If you purchase a theme yourself through a third party tool, if you hire somebody like Aaron who’s going to build you a fully custom website for you or if you hire Brighter Vision who’s going to build you a website on one of our themes. So those are three really big terms that I think you did a far better job than I ever could right now there. But to define a little more concretely.
So Aaron, what do you use for hosting? So there are a lot of options out there for web hosting. We currently use Liquid Web based out of Lansing, Michigan. Their support has been phenomenal. Their connection times across the United States have been amazing. So we are a huge fan of theirs. But when you go to look for a hosting company essentially what we’re talking about there with hosting is you think about it like you’re renting space on a computer that’s connected to the internet, all of the time and that’s where your website goes. So you just pay a monthly fee to be able to have your files there available. When people type in your URL, your domain name or if they search for your site and find it, they end up getting those files from that computer.
Shared hosting: Is great for bootstrapping is really my primary recommendation. Shared hosting means that your website sits along a whole bunch of other websites on the same computer, but because you’re sharing that space and because you don’t really need a whole lot if you’re just doing like a startup website, you can get hosting for as low as like $5 even sometimes like $3 a month through hosting providers, Joe recommends Bluehost for cheap shared hosting of $3-$5/month.
The number one most important thing that you should look for is support. Most web hosts these days are more or less created equal in terms of the technology you’re going to get, if you’re paying in the $5-$10 range. And then the difference really comes down in my mind to support. Can you get somebody on the phone? How fast do they answer a ticket if you have to use email? How quickly will they and how much will they actually help you?
If you’re looking for more of a managed solution and you want to pay a little more for better support some things to look into would be we used to use a company called Pressable. They used to be called ZippyKid, as well. They’re pretty good under the Radar Company and another one is – gosh. What are they called? I can’t – I’m blanking out. They’re really huge and they provide you with – as content delivery network so that way your – oh, WP Engine.
That’s it; wpengine.com and what they do is they allow your website to be really fast essentially and they’ll deliver your content through something called the Content Delivery Network which basically means no matter where somebody’s at, your site’s going to load really, really, quickly for them and I’ve heard a lot of great things about WP Engine, but it’s one of those things that you’re going to be paying a little more for. You’re going to be paying for that really high quality support, paying for the technology to deliver your website in a very quick manner.
So that’s something that you just have to consider. If you’re going for shared hosting, you know, HostGator, BlueHost, even GoDaddy has really improved their hosting lately. You can go at any of those options. You know, it’d be really great. Or if you want to spend a little more and get that great support I’d recommend something like WP Engine or Pressable to get that faster delivery, faster support that you pay for a premium.
URL: That’s your address for your house would be like the URL. So for Brighter Vision, our domain name is brightervision.com. That’s also our URL.
But then hosting, hosting can be done in a whole slew of different ways. If you register a domain name, register your address with GoDaddy, you could have your hosting which is where your website’s going to live with GoDaddy or with BlueHost or with Brighter Vision if you’re a client of ours.
Google has released updates to reduce the impact that your domain name can have on your search rankings but it’s still considered a very strong ranking signal. So if you’re just getting started and you don’t have a domain name yet:
We still encourage our clients to choose a geographical plus counseling or therapist kind of domain name so like traversecitycounseling.com or bouldercounselingandtherapy.com, something like that because it is still a ranking signal.
Google uses over 400 ranking signals and your domain name still is one and you can have a bit of an advantage long term if your domain name includes your location and other key phrases or keywords.
Platform: The design of your house would be kind of what platform you choose like a WordPress or Squarespace.
Spam: One of the best pointers I can give you is not to include your email address where it can be selected, anywhere on your project. If you do that it can be crawled by programs that run on the internet and are looking for that information so that they can email-market to you.
So if you are going to include some sort of email communication, we highly recommend that you use a form, probably with iCapture or some form of those things you’ve seen where you have to enter in the letters and numbers. That’s actually to prevent spam mail like computer robots filling those out automatically and just sending you tons of junk. I think that kind of covers spam.
PPC or pay per click advertising: This is an elevated concept for most bootstrap website projects. Really, that’s where you start a program through Google. Here’s a walk-through video to take you through the Keywords Process)
So if you search for something, you’ll see on the top and on the side there results that are actually advertisements. So they’re not organic results as we would refer to them where they just naturally your website shows up in the search engine results underneath those ads because it’s relevant and Google finds it relevant. It’s actually a paid service where you get to be put right up there so that you can generate traffic to your site.
Ranking: Ranking means where you show up in organic searches or where you show up on the searches or page on Google, Bing or Yahoo.
Pages vs. blogposts: The difference between a page and a blog post. One of the things that we advise clients on before they start an SEO program with us is if you want to rank on a key phrase with keywords that you’re interested in, you absolutely want to have a page on that thing. That page that I just mentioned could either be like a blog post page or it could be a website page. As far as the differentiation between the two, my personal recommendation is that if it’s a main idea that encompasses your organization or your services or something about your organization it probably should be a page on your website so that people can read about that when they’re in the beginning of their experience of finding out what your practice is like.
If it’s more of a subject about your theory on an approach to practice at a given time or something like that, it probably more belongs as a blogpost as like a sort of informal discussion topic that you’re expanding upon through written word.
Plug-in: The word plugin is associated with WordPress and basically WordPress, because of the way that it’s structured it’s built under licensing called open source, it allows anybody to develop a plugin to make it more effective for your needs. It’s one of the really fantastic things about WordPress. It basically allows web development and the price for web development to go down considerably.
Before WordPress due to the functionality that plugins provide websites used to cost a lot more. Now a plugin basically allows you to use somebody else’s code to do something on your site so you could have a contact form plugin that makes building a contact form on your website really, really easy. Or you can have an SEO plugin. That makes doing your search engine optimization really easy. There’s all sorts of really cool plugins that you can purchase and install or download for free and utilize.
The problem with plugins is like you said, they can add bloat to your website. So a plugin allows you to really accelerate the speed at which you’re doing things and to accomplish things that used to require a lot more technical expertise.
So it’s kind of like an app for your website in a way kind of writes the HTML code.
HTML and HTML code: HTML isn’t really the – if we’re using the house analogy, it’s the 2”x 4”s that make up the walls.
It’s really the markup of the whole project. It follows a certain language just like German is different than English and French and if you don’t know it, you don’t necessarily need to know any HTML to work with websites and bootstrapping a project now. Plugins help extend the functionality. There are a lot of page builders that allow to you sort of make up sections and just sort of drag and drop and place them in your project. Square is a good example of that. So is Wix. They write that language for you. You don’t need to know exactly like how to write HTML to bootstrap your own project, but it’s good to know what that means and what it’s referring to.
Google Analytics: Google analytics is a way to track who comes to your website, how they arrived on your website and how they interact with your site. It’s really robust, it’s been around for a long time now and you know, and they’re the main big player in the space. Google analytics is great. It used to be better when Google actually told you what search words people used to arrive on your site. They now hide that data from you which is a little aggravating, but it’s a really great way to see how people are interacting with your site. (Here’s a video on Joe’s top Google Trends tips).
I find myself more often using clicky.com as my analytics tool that I go to every single day. They offer a free plan for up to 3000 daily page views which you know, is more than enough for you know 99.9% of therapists out there. And that’s actually what I’ve been using more than Google analytics these days.
I’m not surprised that the trend is that people are moving away from staples like Google analytics for tools that provide more specific functionality that they’re looking for and it’s really a ruler; it’s a yardstick to measure like how your website is doing and there are a lot of applications out there that can do that.
If I was sticking with analytics and I were to give you like the bootstrap pro tip:
How many sessions you’re received
How many times a website’s been loaded
How many page views
Bounce rate: Bounce rate is what percent of people leave your website quickly, it’s available in your Google Analytics. When you first log into Google analytics you look at your dashboard there. You will see bounce rate as a statistic and that is people that arrive on your site and leave almost immediately. That includes bots, like I was talking about before with spammy forms and bots looking for email addresses and stuff so you might want to read a little bit about bounce rate but if you can make your website attractive enough on the initial view, what passes what we call the blink test where if you were to show your website to someone who’s never seen it before, and they just look at it for a second and then close their eyes, would they know what that website’s for? If you can do that on your project then you’re most likely going to decrease your bounce rate – people leaving right away because some people might see it and not know what it’s for and think that it’s not for them and leave and go to the next results that they’ve searched. I think bounce rate’s definitely a pro tip to be aware of.
Behavior flow: Behavior Flow is how people go through your website, it’s available in your Google Analytics.
You can see where people land on your website. You can see where most of them exit on your website and you can actually see the first second and third interactions with your website where they’re clicking. What it gives you is a very, very good overview of how is the traffic sort of flowing through your website? And where is a lot of your fall off because that’s probably something you could spend a little attention on and keep people on your site longer or direct them to the next thing that’s important. I think that again, just to recap:
The admin menu in the dashboard
Click on behavior
Then behavior flow. It’s very intuitive and you should definitely check it out.
If you got so much traffic coming to that one page, figure out how to give a giveaway, how to give a giveaway to capture email addresses so you can continuously market to people like that.