For example, at Find-a-Therapist .com you can purchase a package allowing you to put your listing on as many as four separate therapist-locator sites. You can choose from a long list of sites, including NewYork-Therapists.com, 4AngerTherapy.com, MensTherapy .com, ChildrensCounselors.com, and ChristianTherapists.US.com.
Both Find-a-Therapist.com and Counsel-Search.com are great places to get started if you don't have a web presence, but want to start one in a low-key way. Your listing with both of these services will come up as a one-page website for you. It will display whatever information you put into your listing; it's basically a one-page site where you create the content. As an added bonus, if you select the one-year membership with Find-a-Therapist.com, they'll create a press release for you. You can submit this to your local papers to become better known in your community. Since the online therapist-locator services work hard to rank high in search engines, like Google, Yahoo, and MSN (meaning, they're likely to be near the top of page 1 and not buried at the bottom of page 43), you don't have to. The beauty of the online therapist locators is that you can show clients and prospective clients how much you care about the problem they're having. You can fill in several paragraphs to show potential clients that you're compassionate and knowledgeable and want to help. For example, "Does it seem like everyone but you is pregnant? When a woman wants a baby and hasn't conceived yet, it feels like she's the only one on the planet without a child. If this is happening to you, I'm sure you understand the rollercoaster of emotions that can come up—happy for your pregnant friends and sad for yourself. Sometimes it's hard to find someone who can understand these feelings. You aren't alone. I'd like to help."
A therapist in Los Angeles told me she was on the Psychology Today online therapist locator, but wasn't getting much response from her listing. The first problem was that her listing was all about her. It talked about her credentials, her eclectic style of therapy, and her training at a psychoanalytic institute. What it didn't talk about was her target market—couples. When we changed her listing to open with "Tired of having the same old argument?" she started to get more response, but still not many clients. We checked and there were 56 therapists listed on Psychology Today in her zip code. No wonder! Most people on the web aren't going to look at 56 listings before choosing a therapist to call. So, before you choose a service, check how many others are in your zip code. If there are more than 25, I'd recommend using a different online therapist-locator service.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising. Once you have a website or blog, one way to get people to your website is with sponsored ads or pay-per-click advertising. Here's how it works.
You identify the geographic area—such as "East Lansing, Michigan"—where you'd like a short text ad to appear and the terms that your potential clients would be searching for on the web. For example, the headline in your short text ad might read "Counselor for my teen" or "Psychologist, East Lansing." You then have one or two more lines in which to put more ad text. You might say, "Helping frustrated parents and teens get along better. Call today for an appointment." The next step is to create a "bid amount" for each search term. You can bid $.05 and up per term. The services will recommend a bid amount for you. They might tell you, for instance, that if you want to be in the third position in the sponsored listings, you'll need to bid $.80 per search term. Then when someone searches the Internet in Google for that term, your ad will come up in the "sponsored listings." Each time someone clicks on your ad, you'll be charged whatever you bid for that search term. The pay-per-click advertising service I recommend is Google AdWords. They have great tutorials that show you exactly how to set it up.