Whether you're offering professional counselors information or targeting individuals seeking services, counseling websites are in a highly delicate, sensitive, and yet ultra-competitive space. To increase organic traffic and hit other key goals, it takes planning. That means creating a content strategy is paramount to sustaining and growing your counseling website.
Regardless of what you know about content marketing, creating a content strategy takes a great deal of research, but it's time well spent. If you base your content strategy on an in-depth analysis of your audience, a keen understanding of your competitors, and a list of the search terms you need to target, you will end up with sustainable, lasting results that only snowball as time goes by. This means not only more traffic but more leads and better engagement all the way around.
So, how do you go about putting content marketing to work for your counseling website? Read on to learn more about how content writing and a content strategy can empower your digital marketing.
The Challenges of Content Marketing for Counseling Websites
No niche is without its unique challenges, but the sensitivity of counseling-relating subjects poses some
unique challenges in content marketing, particularly if your site is targeting potential clients and not
just counseling professionals. Let's take a closer look at these challenges, not to discourage you from
pursuing content marketing, but to identify the opportunity that lies within each one.
- Emotional topics — Counseling often deals with emotionally charged topics, be it divorce, loss of a loved one, or other major life changes. This means working an empathetic and caring tone into your content while using the appropriate, respectful terms for particularly sensitive topics like gender and death can be difficult. Failing to do so can polarize your audience and harm your brand's reputation. On the other hand, you don't need to sugarcoat things, as that can cause more harm than good. Ultimately, if you commit the extra effort to finding an educated writer who can speak on these topics with the right tone and accurate information, you'll stand out from competitors.
- Liability and accuracy — If you're covering counseling-related topics, you have a responsibility to speak from a place of expertise, ensuring accuracy in your content and avoiding liability by inserting the proper disclaimers. This can pose additional complexity, which can be overcome by opting for a licensed or highly educated content writer. While that will come at a premium, the result is instant authority for your website and peace of mind knowing you're offering the best information for your readers.
- Risk in new ideas — As a counseling website in what is often a serious industry, it's worthwhile to try new content formats and even new writing styles. This trial-and-error process will help you define your brand by finding unique opportunities competitors have yet to explore. However, there is also associated risk. For instance, if you try to shift a caring tone to being a little more lighthearted, you may be accused of being insensitive. At the same time, you may find a large reader base who that appeals to. To make your content strategy effective, you'll need to differentiate yourself, but you must realize the inherent risks of testing new waters.
As you go through these potential challenges that you may face in creating a content marketing strategy
for your counseling website, realize that each one may take time to overcome. On the other side is an
opportunity to further establish your website as a trusted, reliable, and engaging resource in your niche,
and that's the ultimate goal.
Benefits of Investing in Content Marketing for Your Counseling Website
When it comes to content marketing, the long list of benefits associated with a great content strategy far outweighs the potential challenges you'll face along the way. Here's a closer look at the primary benefits.
Authority may not seem directly measurable in terms of profit, but it is a major component in attracting and converting leads. If your brand is an authority in its niche, that means people regard it as highly reliable and trustworthy. Other websites may reference your brand when citing information. Readers will be more apt to share your content. Visitors will be loyal to you because they know they can always trust the information they find on your blog.
You can gain an instant authority boost by utilizing content writers who are professionals in the counseling industry, as that will make readers trust your content more while also ensuring content accuracy. However, you can gain authority even without licensed counseling writers by checking your content against the best practices, facts, and latest studies in the industry.
Another way to build authority is by offering high-value original content, such as case studies, to bring traffic to your site. For example, conducting your own research study would produce a unique white paper with statistics that people can't find anywhere else. This makes for authority-building content that many people will reference and look up to, helping build a name for your brand as a reputable and reliable figure.
How often have you clicked on a search result only to hit the back button? If you have a high "bounce rate," that means many of your visitors are doing that exact same thing. The biggest reason is that they couldn't find the answer at-a-glance. Great content features subheadings, images, bullet points, and other elements that break up the wall of text and help users quickly see the value in your content.
When you build a content strategy, you're able to boost engagement across the board for one simple reason: You've done your research. In the above example, your content offers them what they want at-a-glance because you did the digging to know who your audience is, what they're searching for, and what their pain points are. Because of your research, you know exactly how to title your content, what sub-headings to use, what questions to answer, and so on.
Another way your content strategy helps you increase engagement is by allowing you to publish consistently across platforms. Not only will the voice and tone be consistent and resonate with your audience, but the frequency and quality of your content will be consistent, too. Now you're starting to get visitors to come back to your blog all the time because they can anticipate new content. On social media, you'll see better engagement for similar reasons.
As you increase engagement across platforms, you're going to see a major uptick in the size of your following. Whether that's likes on your Facebook page or the amount of organic traffic your website is getting each month. By growing your following, you're automatically increasing the number of leads you have to target. Whether you're converting them to newsletter subscribers or convincing them to get a free consultation or something else, the size of your following is directly connected to your profits.
With that said, don't envision your content as a stream that pushes all of your readers into a pond where you have to fish them out. Instead, think of your content as a waterfall with multiple tiers. When created based on a content strategy, your content will help nurture and qualify readers as they go from one article to the next, meaning that every piece you publish has a place in the conversion funnel and ultimately produces qualified leads for you. So, instead of having to fish good leads out of a pond of everyone, your best leads are sorting themselves out.
Tips for Creating a Winning Counseling Content Strategy
Now that you've seen examples of content strategy at work, here's what you need to do to create one for your counseling website that targets long-tail keywords, competes with high search volume, and brings valuable traffic to your website.
Calling back to the example of Mary DiOrio's website, it's crystal clear when content is backed by a strong, well-defined branding strategy. As such, before you spend any amount of time crafting content or even planning it, it's essential that you look at your brand and ensure it is distinguishable from the rest.
Creating a brand book will help you define your brand for internal purposes and will also give you an easy guide to give to writers and anyone else you outsource to, ensuring your brand is represented consistently by everyone. When profiling your company, think about how you want to make readers feel, what makes you stand out, and the keywords you'd use to describe your brand's "personality."
Once you have defined who your brand is, you need to define who your customers are. Creating your customer personas is a major step in the process, as knowing who your audience is will impact what you write about and how you present it. Beyond knowing the basic demographics, you need to know details like the platforms your audience spends time on and the type of content they like to consume.
By getting to know your audience, you'll gain an understanding of their pain points and the obstacles they need to overcome to ultimately become a lead for your business. Knowing these things will enable you to effectively address them through your content, which makes it possible for your content to nurture and convert leads on autopilot. Use tools like Google Analytics, along with other dedicated services, to help you take a deep dive into who your audience is.
With information about your audience, you can begin to evaluate where your brand should be publishing content and what that content should be. For instance, if you know that your audience spends a great deal of time on Instagram, that might be a platform worth pursuing. Behind-the-scenes photos, motivational quotes, and other relevant imagery may be appropriate, depending on your brand image.
Ideally, you'll select just 2-3 social media platforms to start in addition to your blog. You can add more platforms later, but it's best to start small so you don't stretch yourself too thin. Once you're able to post consistently on these platforms, see if your audience might be interested in seeing you on any other platforms.
With your list of platforms in hand, you can also define the types of content you're going to publish. This will be constrained by the type of content your audience often interacts with and by your budget. For instance, even if your audience loves watching YouTube videos, that doesn't mean you have the budget to produce them regularly, so it's best to shift focus elsewhere.
With all of the preliminary research complete, you can now put all of the puzzle pieces together to create your content strategy. This means looking at the types of content you want to publish across platforms and organizing that information into a content calendar, which defines how often you'll publish what. With your content calendar in hand, you can then begin filling in keywords and topic ideas.
Of course, most people think that finding topic ideas is the hardest part of creating a content strategy, but it isn't. In reality, the blog posts come easy since you know your target audience and what they're searching for by conducting keyword research. The tough part is putting your content strategy into action once you have it all laid out.
Even if you can handle the on-page SEO yourself and you know a bit about SEO strategies, getting someone to link to your site or earning a featured snippet isn't easy. In general, most website owners find it is highly cost-effective to outsource their content writing to the right professional.
Successful Counseling Websites (and How They Did It)
Now that you know all the benefits content marketing has for counseling websites, here are some examples
of a good content strategy at work.
BetterHelp is a fast-growing startup that offers counseling through video and chat sessions with licensed therapists. The homepage and overall site design feel clean and modern, with lots of graphics, client quotes, and images to add interest. Most of their content is under the "Advice" section, which is, for all practical purposes, the brand's blog. There, content is organized by concern with a "Recent Articles" and "Popular Articles" list above the archive list.
The content itself is powerful, addressing everything from postpartum depression to everyday anxiety in an empathetic manner. Statistics, sub-headings, bullet points, and external links to resources boost the ranking of the content while providing real value to the reader. At the end of every article, you'll find a call-to-action encouraging the reader to partner up with BetterHelp for professional counseling.
Beyond their website, this brand has done particularly well with content marketing on social media platforms. On YouTube, they recruited a number of influencers, big and small, to talk about their services. On other platforms, consistent posts have boosted their reach, and their following is only growing through their mix of paid and organic marketing.
The website of Mary DiOrio Psychology is a great example of content marketing at a smaller scale. Her branding is hopeful, caring, and empowering. That shines through in the bright imagery and overall design. The website's homepage immediately introduces you to the person behind the practice, telling readers about her background as a psychotherapist with a link to her robust About Me page.
The call-to-action throughout the website is to schedule a free 15-minute consultation. She services both New York and Portland, with Telehealth in both locations and a downtown location in the latter. Questions are quickly answered with the straightforward FAQ page, but the real proof of her content marketing strategy lies in her pages dedicated to her various therapy services and on her highly active Facebook page.
She stresses confidentiality, the pursuit of relief, and getting past the initial hurdle of pursuing therapy so the reader can receive treatment. Phrasing like: "Depression can be effectively treated, but only you can take the first step," empowers the reader to take action rather than burdening or blaming them for having not yet done so. Her positive perspective motivates, showing a strong brand image and deep research into her audience's pain points.
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