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There are millions of websites on the world wide web (WWW), and the majority of them are junk! Search engines are supposed to help us find what we want, but often search results are mixed. Have you ever searched for psychological information on the web? Usually, you get a mix of reasonably useful sites, along with high school and college student sites, and unrelated hits that don't seem to fit your search requirements at all. Worst of all, many useful and informative sites do not get listed in the search results, or are so far down the list, that you give up before you find them.

Rule #1 - Finding one small site by chance on the web is
like finding a needle in a haystack.
Small websites are more
visible on the web if they are grouped together with similar sites.

As a psychologist in private practice, you are definitely a needle, not a haystack. I have spent hours searching for the individual websites of practicing psychologists (OK, maybe I need a better hobby!) The results have been meager, and it's not because these sites are terrible (although quality does count).  If you want people to find your website, list your practice in as many free directories as you can find.

The world wide web is built around free information. People search the web because they are looking for information - and lots of information is out there. Many websites provide free information that appeals to a demographic group, and then generate revenue by selling ad space on the pages of the website.

Psychology practice advertising has almost always combined community service and public education with the marketing of professional services. For example, you give a free workshop on stress management, in hopes of generating interest in your stress management group. Most psychologists feel more comfortable providing public education as a way of advertising their services, rather than paying for a billboard sign like this:

"Depressed? In a Crisis? Call Dr. Smith and Jones."

I share this distaste for this type of crass advertising. Psychologists do need to market their professional services, especially in the age of managed care, but we should remain professional in our advertising methods.

Rule #2 - If a website provides a large amount of useful information about a topic
 that is helpful to people, it will attract more visitors.

The website still needs to be registered with search engines, to be constantly revised and updated, and to use a site marketing plan to generate links from other sites, but quality information is the foundation of a good website. Psychology Information Online provides several hundred webpages of information about psychological problems and treatment services. As a result, the site ranks well on many search engines (Yahoo, Altavista, Excite) for many search terms. Psychology Information Online has also received a Four Star Rating from Mental Health Net, a nonprofit group that rates psychology sites on the web. This award (and the listing on Mental Health Net that accompanies it) also increases traffic to the website.  We are continuing to develop additional psychology topics for Psychology Information Online because we want to create a website that provides more useful information about the practice of psychology than most other sites on the Internet. As we expand, more search engines rank the website higher, and for more varied search topics.

Publishing an article on Psychology Information Online can help bring people to your website, because of the popularity of Psychology Information Online. Someone searching for information on a specific psychological topic (for example, depression) is more likely to find Psychology Information Online because of our size, and the amount of information we have on the topic. By publishing an article on a specific aspect of treatment for depression, people on our website, would be directed to your website for more information. Publishing an article on Psychology Information Online allows you to share our popularity.

As the information on a website expands, search engines tend to rank it higher in search results. But search engines are not the only way to expand visibility. There are many content specific sites on the web (such as Mental Health Net) that specialize in listing links to other sites within a specific topic. These sites are ranked high in many search results because of their extensive links. Encouraging these sites to link to Psychology Information Online takes time and perseverance, and will only happen if the website contains a lot of useful information. Some psychologists trade links with colleagues in hopes of increasing traffic to their website, and some people will simply link to a website because they like it. Trading links might help improve the traffic to your website, but only if the other site gets traffic, and only if the link tells people enough about your site to stir their interest.

Rule #3 - Reciprocal links will increase traffic to your website, 
but only if the links are organized by topic, describe the
information available on your website, and appear on websites
that receive more traffic than your site.

The concept, "I'll link to you, if you link to me" eventually creates a long list of links to obscure sites all over the web. Maybe one link connects to the website of a psychologist in another state, and another link takes you to a website on depression. Many lists of links do not identify the content of the sites, and often the links no longer work. The link to your site might appear in the middle of a long list of links, without any description of your site. Such reciprocal links don't help much.

A directory listing of links, organized by content or location, works much better, but requires a webmaster to keep the directory organized and current. Psychology Information Online maintains the National Directory of Psychologists, sorted by state, free of charge for all licensed psychologists, and includes links to the websites of psychologists in the directory! Even psychologists without websites can be listed in the National Directory, but having a website allows you to provide more information about your practice, instead of just listing your name and address.

In summary, to maximize exposure for your website, you need to connect with other psychology websites, affiliate with larger psychology information websites, and list your practice in online directories.  You also need to register the website with search engines, and share links with other psychologists in an organized manner. In addition to all this, you should also list your website on your letterhead and business cards, and in your Yellow Pages advertising.

Psychology Information Online would like to help you publicize your practice website.  If you want more information about the services we offer to psychologists and other professionals, follow this link:

Internet Services for Psychologists

or contact us at
djfpsych@blast.net

 

Psychology Information Online is a service of Internet Practice Solutions
Contact Donald Franklin at
djfpsych@blast.net for information about:
Website Design and Maintenance, Domain Registration, Hosting Services, Online Publishing

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