Creating your Online Presence as a Speech Pathologist
As the world is evolving and shifting, having a strong online presence is a must for speech therapy private practices. Although the shift has been coming for a while now, a sudden global pandemic has accentuated the need for flexibility and creativity as private practice owners.
Right now more and more practices are taking their business online to keep up with the outside world. In-person marketing is limited, and we don’t know when, or if, things will get back to the way they were. Private practices may have been able to thrive based on word-of-mouth or provider referrals before, but now we must be more intentional about our online presence to showcase our services and attract new clients
A note before you get started:
There are several strategies you can use to grow your business online. What works for your practice might not be the best tactic for another. It may take some trial and error to see which techniques are most effective for you. Implement one or two strategies at a time, and track their effectiveness. Need some ideas? Check out this post) Take that information and see what worked well and what could be improved before you switch tactics again.
1. Keep Your Clients In Mind
As you start creating your marketing plan, you’ll need to center it around your audience. Who are you helping? What are their needs? How are your services going to make their life better?
You’ll want to think about your specialty and what clients are looking for when they begin searching for a speech-language pathologist. If your focus is working with children, your strategy will be different than someone who is looking for speech therapy for themselves or a loved one who has had a stroke.
Identifying your specialty and target audience will help you to tailor your content and strategy so you are making the most out of your marketing. Focus on creating connections and offering value to your audience, so do some research on what their needs are before you make a long-term marketing plan for your speech therapy practice.
2. Figure Out Your Marketing Strategy
A marketing strategy is best defined as an achievable plan for reaching specific marketing-related goals. Knowing these goals will help you stay focused and make it easier to create your content and drive traffic to your practice.
Your strategy is your end goal consisting of step-by-step tactics to get you there. Common marketing tactics include:
==> Social media posts
==> Blog posts
==> YouTube videos
==> Search engine optimization (SEO)
==> Free resources
You don’t need to implement all of these into your strategy. Choose a couple that mesh well with your personality and that are sustainable in the long run. Doing too much too quickly, or trying to cover all the bases will lead to burnout.
It’s a good idea to house all of your strategy in one place so you can keep it consistent and simple. Trello is a visual organization tool that allows you to create boards, lists, and cards to manage content, ideas, and projects. You can also add team members if you are outsourcing to get extra help with your marketing. Trello is free to use, but you can upgrade to the paid version to get access to additional tools and features.
If you’re looking for a tool that can help you organize your business, this is it. ClickUp is a project management tool that offers a variety of views like Kanban board, list, Gantt, and calendar. They also have free templates to get you started. There is a free and a paid option. You can easily track your goals and progress in one area and your actual content in another.
3. Create Your Website
Your website is the virtual storefront for your speech therapy practice. Even if a patient was referred by another provider, chances are that they will see if you have a website before they actually meet you.
Keep in mind that even though your website is about you and your speech therapy practice, you’ll want to keep the preferences and needs of visitors in mind. It should be easy to read and navigate, have a clean layout, and showcase relevant information. Above all, your website content should answer your potential client’s most important question: Why are YOU the right SLP to help them?
Visitors should be able to easily find information on how you can help them or a loved one, whether it be through your blog or services page. Your site needs to show contact information, stories, and testimonials from past clients, and a way for them to connect with you on social media.
Before you can build your website, you will need to have it hosted somewhere. A web host is a service that will host your website’s files and data in order to deliver it to your audience. A few recommended web hosts are SiteGround, WPX Hosting, and BigScoots. Stay away from the certain discount hosts like Bluehost, HostGator, and GoDaddy – they tend to provide slower servers with more downtime, have poor service, and upsell unneeded services. Learn more about why certain website hosts are better than others.
The most common website builders are WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace. If you are tech-savvy, you can build your website yourself with tutorials and videos. This isn’t always an easy feat, so if you’re overwhelmed, I suggest hiring a website designer as soon as you can afford it who can make sure your website is properly built and follows today’s standards.
4. Utilize SEO
When you use SEO correctly it can drive traffic to your website and content long after it’s been published. Using relevant keywords the right way will tell search engines that you are a reputable source and boost your rankings. This increases your chances of being found when someone Googles a phrase like “speech-language pathologist near me” or “speech therapy resources.”
You should exercise caution when using keywords. A practice called “keyword stuffing” has long been found to lower your ranking in search engines and will decrease the user experience. Keyword stuffing is when a website or post is unnaturally loaded with keywords, often in a list or group in an attempt to manipulate their ranking.
Keywords should be spread throughout the webpage in a way that makes sense; there should be a flow to how they are used. Sprinkle keywords in titles, headings, and throughout the content, but avoid being overly repetitive or putting them in places they don’t belong.
Need help with your SEO? Our last offer for a Website Review – including competitor and personalized keyword recommedations will be this September.
Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that helps you to optimize your content for search engines. Its main features are that it helps you choose focus keywords, cornerstone content, and page readability. It’s free to use but does offer premium paid plans based on the number of websites you manage.
If you have Squarespace, their tools make it easy to optimize your content.
Paying attention to your own analytics, as well as your competitors, will help you create content and optimize your website. Ahrefs is about as robust as it gets when it comes to SEO and analytics. It is on the pricier side, starting at $99/month, but it allows you to see a lot of information on competitors and can identify any weaknesses that your content has.
5. Be Social
Social media is one of the most useful tools to market your practice, and it can develop your social proof. Social proof is a powerful way to get clients. If someone leaves a review on your Facebook Business Page saying how much you helped their child with their apraxia, your potential clients are all the more likely to trust you and your expertise.
Being active on social media also gives your clients a different way to connect with your practice. Social media is a direct avenue to interacting with your clients. When you answer questions, share resources, and boost engagement, you’re building trust and authority with your audience.
The key to social media is to be consistent and stay focused. You don’t need to be on every platform because you will spread yourself too thin. Identify where your target audience spends most of their social media time, and focus there. One or two highly focused social media accounts do much better than five or six scattered attempts.
Social Media Tools
Your marketing strategy will shift and evolve over time. It doesn’t need to be perfect to get started either, and you don’t necessarily need to make a huge investment in branding right off the bat. Cohesive colors and professional photos go a long way to presenting a scroll-stopping social media presence. A lot of private practice owners get tripped up on the photography piece, believing they need to shell out a lot of money for professional headshots and branding photos. There’s a better (and less expensive!) way to find high-quality photos: using stock photography. She Bold Stock is one of our favorite stock photo sites. They offer a ton of stunning, eye-catching images that you can use for your social media or web content.
Another tool is the popular graphic design software, Canva. It’s very user-friendly and offers a free version if you are on a budget. There are templates available as well as stock photos and preloaded dimensions.
Social media can become time-consuming, but there are tools available to help you schedule and plan your content. Popular schedulers are Later, Buffer, Hootsuite, and Planoly. If you are on Instagram, try out Tailwind with a free month with this link. Each scheduler has different plans and features, so see what works best for you and your budget. By planning and scheduling your content in batches, you can reduce overwhelm and increase your social media presence.
How are you feeling about your marketing plan? It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all things digital marketing, but when you zero in on your specialty, target audience, and specific goals, you will see the benefit for your speech therapy practice. If this year has taught us anything, it is that we need to be able to adapt to changes, including the need to be more visible online.
Get started with your online marketing by following this guide. Take it one step at a time so you don’t get too overwhelmed. Use what you think will work the best for you and your practice, and be open to the idea that it may take some trial and error to get it right.
Now get out there and get marketing!