Every now and then your therapy website needs a refresh. There are lots of good reasons for a website redesign, including transferring it into a content management system (CMS), your getting lacklustre results, or it looks like it was built in 1997. (eek!).

A redesign can be a huge success, or it can be a disaster. That’s when a checklist comes in handy.

By having a clear plan for your website redesign, you’re much more likely to create  website that brings you clients and becomes a resource for the public.

Here’s my checklist so you can make sure you’re covering all your bases as you’re redesigning your website.

1. Determine Your Current Statistics

Before you start thinking about anything, it’s essential you get a picture of where your website is at the moment.

Some of the statistics you will want to look at includes:

  • number of visits/visitors/unique visitors
  • bounce rate (the percentage of visitors that click away after arriving on your entrance page)
  • time on the site
  • current SEO rankings for your keywords
  • domain authority (the level of trust and authority that Google gives your site expressed out of 100)
  • number of clients who came from your website inquiry forms
  • the income your website has generated from those clients

If you don’t have access to this information, I encourage you to consider adding a tool like Google Analyticsso you can track your site’s performance.

This is your starting point so you know how your website is performing  before the changes, so you can track the improvement after the redesign.

2. Determine Your Website Goals

Every website has a different goal. It’s important to consider what’s the goal of your website is.

It’s not enough to say “I want my business to look bigger” or “I want to attract more clients” or “It’s about time we had a fresh look.”

Use the statistics above to determine which goals you want to improve. Then make your goals measurable and convey these to your website designer.

For example, you may want to increase the traffic to your site by 50% in the next 6 months. If so, this will need to be considered in the design and function of your website.

Also see where your traffic has been coming from. This can be done in Google Analytics, or Google Webmaster Tools, which are both excellent free software applications.

If your traffic is coming from a directory listing, like Australia Counselling, or perhaps from social media, this is all important information to know, so you can increase your presence and invest in the channels that are driving your traffic.

3. Determine What are Your Assets

While a redesign is a great way to improve your online presence and attract more clients, it can also hurt you.

Your website contains lots of assets that you’ve built up over time and you can potentially lose these during a redesign.

Again, check your analytics for:

  • most shared content
  • pages that get the most traffic
  • best performing keywords and the pages associated with these
  • the number of links to your individual pages

For example, if you remove a page, or change the URL of a page that has lots of links, you can lose a lot of SEO credit, which could hurt your ranking for those keywords.

It’s important to remember that many web designers are not marketing experts and often have no training in SEO.

4. Look at Other Therapy Websites

It’s helpful to understand how you compare to other therapy websites, particularly those that are marketing to the same clients that you are.

  • use Marketing Grader to get a report on your website and marketing is performing
  • run your competitors through Marketing Grader so you see their strengths and weaknesses
  • look at other websites in your niche to decide what you like and don’t like.

Important! Don’t copy other websites or plagiarise the content. Instead, get a feel for the direction you want to go in and work out what you can do better.

Remember, it’s through making yourself unique that you will attract the clients you want.

5. Identify What Makes You Unique

So that leads us onto the importance of making yourself unique.

When you can identify how and why you are different from the therapist down the street, and then convey this to your reader, it’s much more likely this website visitor will become a client of yours.

It’s essential that you help yourself stand out from the crowd, and you do this by identifying what’s called in marketing language your Unique Value Proposition (UVP).

Your UVP is the bedrock of your practice and what you have to offer your clients. If you’ve spent years working with victims of sexual assault and have advocated for the health and well-being for women, then this positions you to be the perfect person to be working with this population. But more importantly, you need to communicate this to your website visitor.

Think about what your UVP is and then consider how you can communicate this in a clear and succinct way to your website visitor.

6. Design Your Site for Your Ideal Client

You probably understand the importance of designing a website that’s about your client and not yourself.

Most people arrive on your website thinking “what’s in it for me?”

When a prospective client is in pain and you are writing all about your expertise and training, do you think that’s going to connect well with them? Not likely.

So the way to approach this is to design  your content specifically around your ideal client.

The way to do this is to create a client persona that is an amalgam of your ideal client. This client persona includes:

  • Demographics– name, job, socio-economic status, cultural heritage, sexual orientation, gender and any other unique demographics related to your ideal client
  • Identifying their needs– what problems are they trying to solve, what’s their pain/struggle/distress/despair about and what are they looking for from the therapy?
  • Online behaviours– what do they do online? Are they on social media, do they subscribe to newsletters, what information do they consume and how do they consume it?

Once you become clear about your ideal client’s persona, then this will inform your website redesign by showing you what’s important and what’s not important to have in your website.

7. Optimise Your Site for Search

We all know that getting found in the search engines is now an essential part of the success of any website. If no one if coming to your website, it’s unlikely you will get many inquiries, no matter how beautiful your design is.

Some things to consider for your designing your site for SEO;

  • Determine your most search-valuable pages: as mentioned in step 3, look at which of your pages have the most strongest SEO rankings for traffic, links and keyword rankings
  • Create a 301 redirect strategy: work out which of these pages are important and use 301 redirects to redirect those pages to your new pages. (A 301 redirect is a bit of code that links you from one page to another, but retains any link juice.)
  • Research your keywords: choose one to two keywords for each page of your website and make sure you use those words in a natural, recurring way to help you rank for those words.

8. Identify Calls to Action

A call to action is the part of your website that tells the visitor what desired action you want them to take.

Whether it’s to download your free report, audio or video, click through to your online appointment scheduler or you want them to call you or email you, it’s important that you tell your website visitor what action you want from them.

Calls to action can include:

  • download your ebook
  • get your free report
  • subscribe to your newsletter
  • call you for a free 10-minute phone consultation
  • enter their details into a contact form
  • contact you for an appointment or assessment

Make sure there are clear and direct calls to action on your website so the visitor is left with no doubt what you want them to do.

9. Create an Ongoing Content Strategy

The more content you have on your website, the more website visitors you will get and the more inquiries you will receive about your services.

On average, a 50-page website will outrank a 5-page website 99% of the time.

The fastest way to add fresh content to your website is to start a blog and add regular articles to create an ongoing flow of great content.

Blog about the problems of your ideal clients and the solutions you offer. Blog about news in your industry and practice. Summarise research into easy-to-consume information for your readers.

10. Don’t Forget the Extras

So any therapy website needs the basics: a home page, services pages and contact page. But consider some of these extras:

  • Video: a great way to introduce yourself and for your prospective clients to connect with you.
  • RSS subscription button:  so people can subscribe to your blog.  Feedburner can automate this process for you, or use MailChimpto send out your newsletter.
  • Social share buttons: add social media sharing buttons such as Share This to all your pages so people can share your articles and information quickly and easily.
  • Analytics: start analysing your results right from the beginning. Then you can track what’s working and repeat this.

Many therapists get caught up in the look and feel of a website without considering  how well it’s working and meeting their business goals.

Follow this checklist to get your redesign off to a strong start.

Any other items you would add to this checklist? Add your comments below.

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