How can you ensure your best-fit clients read your therapist website, understand how you work, and want to work with you?
How do you inspire them to action and actually reach out?
And how do you do so in a way that’s not long and wordy?
Effective website copy is copy that is effective at expressing who you are, the help you provide, and inspires hope that healing is possible. Instead of feeling jargon-y or salesy, the most effective therapist websites are simple, clear, and authentically connects with visitors.
What Is Therapist Website Copy?
Copy is any written content that explains how you help and inspires a next step to be taken. On a therapist website, the website copy would be on pages like “Home”, “About”, specializations pages like “Depression Therapy” or “Therapy for Women” and also pages like “FAQ” and “Contact”
These pages work together to help a website visitor understand who you are, how you help, and reach out to you to take the next step towards getting your services.
The ultimate goal of copy on a therapist website is to help your best-fit clients get the help they need from you. For therapist website copy to be considered effective, it ought to take a website visitor from reading about the services to becoming a client.
The Most Important Copy A Therapist Puts On The Internet Is Their Website Copy
The top three reasons website copy is important for therapists are:
- It helps best-fit clients identify you as their best fit
- It allows potential referral sources to get to know you, trust you, and send steady streams of clients your way
- It also helps search engines find you
When written well, copy can help communicate sometimes complex and challenging aspects of how you help.
For therapists, their website copy also connects with potential clients when they are in crisis. As such, it becomes even more important for the words to convey things clearly, accurately, and empathetically.
Writing Copy Isn’t The Same As Writing Content
It’s important to distinguish between “copy” and “content” because thinking that copy is content will sharply reduce the ability of your website copy connecting with those seeking help.
Granted, it is quite easy to confuse them, especially when it comes to a website. While both copy and content can be on the same website, and while both are very important, knowing the difference will help ensure you have the most effective website possible.
Copy is written to help people understand your services and become a client. So copy is sales material. For example, a “Depression Therapy” page sells visitors on services to help with their depression.
Vs. content which is written to inspire, educate, entertain and ultimately to attract traffic, build authority, or build and nurture relationships. So content is marketing material. For example, a blog post on “The Top 5 Ways To Tell If You Struggle With Depression” helps educate on how to spot depression and might be used to demonstrate the therapist knows their stuff or to nurture relationships with their audience.
Unlike copy, content can also have multiple types of invitations, also known as “calls to action,” whereas copy typically will invite only a single next step. On a blog post, a therapist might invite a website visitor to sign up for their email newsletter while on a sales page, a therapist would invite a website visitor to reach out for a free consultation call to learn more about their services.
The main way therapists mix the two is using educational content in place of website copy.
But What If You Feel Like Selling Therapy Is Bad?
If by this point in this article, parts of you are feeling disgust, fear, sadness or other powerful emotions around the idea of “selling” therapy services, know that it makes sense to feel that way.
Many therapists are sales adverse. I’m not going to go into depth as to why in this post, but I would like to briefly and gently encourage you to examine what message the distressed part of you might have for you. Is there a belief there? A belief like, “I’m worthless” or “I have to struggle to survive” or “It’s not ok for me to be ok if other people are struggling”?
I’ve found messages like that within myself during my own healing journey. I’m sharing the suggestion to explore out of compassion for what may be there for you too.
Cognitively speaking, there is nothing wrong with selling therapy services. In fact, selling therapy allows both the therapist and the client to get their needs met.
On one side, a client needs to be seen, be understood. They need healing. They need care. They need empathy.
And on your side, as the therapist, you need purpose, contribution, appreciation. You have a big heart. But you will not be able to meet any of a client’s needs without respect for your own physical wellbeing, your own freedom, and your own healing. All of these are only possible with sales.
So a client’s financial contribution to you, in turn, enables you to help them. There is nothing wrong or unethical with that.
But knowing that selling is ok does not erase the feelings that may say otherwise. Take good care and heal what you may need to. And onwards with making your sales copy as effective as possible.
The Keys To Effective Therapy Website Copy
We know that good copy is important. And because it’s read during a vulnerable, crisis-filled moment in a therapy client’s life, it’s even more important to get it right. It’s something that can make all the difference in someone’s ability to identify you as their best fit and reach out for help.
Let’s look at some of the keys that make therapy website copy effective.
Key 1: Get Their Attention
Anyone who lands on your website is there for a reason. They are probably struggling with something and are seeking specific help.
But their circumstances are a double edged sword. On one hand they have an intention behind being on your website. They are seeking care, they are arriving with a mission.
But on the other hand, with increased cognitive load and emotional distress, visitors may be short on patience. They have questions they want answered, information they need confirmed, and their own set of internal criteria that needs to be met.
This intentional presence of your website visitors means you don’t have time to waste. They aren’t on your website for recreational purposes. They aren’t “just browsing”
They have a specific pain and you’ll need to bring attention to your specific solution – and as quickly as possible.
So how can you grab their attention? And move them smoothly on a journey towards getting your help?
Attention Getting Strategy #1
One excellent way to grab attention is with empathy. Reflecting the exact types of experiences they are going through and in the way they are thinking and feeling and speaking about it themselves.
You want them to say,
- “It was like you read my mind”
- “It was like you knew exactly what’s been happening with my emotional teen!”
- “It’s like you heard me talking about my relationship to my best friend”
How to reflect your best-fit client’s experiences back to them? Observe them. Listen to them. Start taking notes. And incorporate what you find directly into your website copy. (More on this later in Key 2)
Attention Getting Strategy #2
Another way to grab and hold attention is to use a pattern interrupt. A pattern interrupt is a neuro linguistic programming technique that breaks someone’s typical routine, thoughts, or expectations. And when it comes to your website, you can certainly find ways to shake things up.
One method of pattern interrupt is to say something that paints a unique or funny picture in the mind. For example,
“You’re a Mom, not an juggler, but that doesn’t stop everyone from thinking you can juggle it all”
Relatable but also funny. Describing a Mom as a juggler here has a dual meaning that makes it hit home.
Other ways to pattern interrupt are to include something unexpected (“it’s possible to recover from trauma by looking at blinking lights”), use important data (“…90% of americans think mental health is important”), or make true but bold claims (“you don’t have to love yourself before you can love someone else”).
The main idea behind pattern interrupts is to pique a visitor’s attention. By interrupting expectations you can lead your visitors towards reaching out and getting the help they need.
Key 2: Use The Same Language That Your Best-Fit Clients Use
Every therapist has their unique best-fit client. And that best-fit client has their own language for describing their concerns, expectations, needs, and desires.
For example, if your best-fit clients are executives struggling with workaholism the language they use and will respond to will be different from the language you’d use with college graduates struggling with gender and sexual identity.
You will not be successful if
- It’s written to be very general – “appeals to everyone approach”
- It’s written for a different audience than the one you’re trying to attract
The copy you write must be relevant to resonate. And in order for it to be relevant, it is important to fully understand who your audience is.
Using language that is communicating how you help must include specificity that it’s “for me” Feeling understood is a basic human need.
To get more clear on the language
- Start listening closely to the things they share with you in the first call and first session
- Get feedback from your existing clients
- Create an avatar, persona, or an empathymap and really dig into what’s going on in their mind
- Follow influencers they follow to get a feel for the types of language that might resonate with them
- Immerse yourself in any cultural or social groups. E.g. first responders
What to avoid: psychobabble. It can make your website visitors confused or even feeling as if they aren’t smart enough. Or more likely- that “this must not be the therapist for me. Since I don’t “get this” then they must be speaking to someone else”
Your website visitor needs to feel reflected in the language and easily understand it too. The way to get there: use the same language your best-fit clients are using.
Key 3: Reflect Their Journey
The most effective therapist website copy reflects the journey that their best fit client is on.
This journey includes:
- Reflecting who the client is: what they like and dislike, what their interests are, the cultural and circumstantial contexts in which they find themselves
- Reflecting their pain points: their current life challenges that inspire them to look for therapy
- Reflecting their needs: where clients want to be once they’ve completed therapy
Reflecting these critical parts of their journey helps website visitors understand why they should be interested in your help.
You’re demonstrating that you really understand them: who they are and what they are going through. And beyond that, how your help is the solution to their problem.
You make yourself relevant by showing how you fit into their transformation from miserable to healed. From depressed to excited about life. From on the verge of a breakup to in love again. Reflecting the journey that a client is on and positioning yourself within it is key.
Key 4: Anticipate And Care For Concerns
A website isn’t you. It can help communicate on your behalf, but it will never be equal to getting the opportunity to sit down with you and have a chat.
Since a website is a set of documents that people visit and read, it cannot ask questions and respond to what a website visitor may be concerned about.
So if you are unable to speak to every single website visitor in person, the next best thing is to write your copy in a way that anticipates visitor’s concerns.
In sales speak, concerns are often called “objections.” Objections are the concerns or hesitations a potential client might have that hold them back from getting started with your services.
Effective website copy anticipates what might hold clients back and compassionately cares for the needs underlying the concern.
There are four main areas of concerns that seem to hold therapy clients back: price, risk, trust, or stalling. Here are some examples:
- Therapy is too expensive
- What if I invest in this and nothing changes?
- I’ve never done therapy before and I’m scared.
- I don’t know if I’ll get results.
- Why would I trust you?
- Are you legit?
- I’m not sure I’m ready for therapy
- What if my partner isn’t interested now? Should I wait until he’s ready or start my own individual therapy?
The concerns your unique best fit clients might have are unique to your clients. So in order to write your website copy to be effective at caring for your potential clients’ concerns, you’ll want to create a list of possible concerns and write copy to care for them.
You may be thinking, “Ok, this sounds good but where do I add this information on my website?”
The answer is: on every single page. Depending on the purpose of the page, you can work it into the appropriate place within your copy, add addressing concerns into an FAQ style section, or create a separate page if you want to care for concerns that broadly apply to multiple ways you help.
Wherever you manage to add the information in, anticipating and caring for the concerns your potential clients may have is key to making therapist website copy work.
Key 5: Keep It Concise
Concise copy is more effective copy. Website visitors appreciate finding the information they need quickly and easily. Writing in a way that isn’t wordy, passive, or irrelevant keeps things engaging too.
Luckily, there are a multitude of techniques to make copy more active and succinct that are on the technical levels: things like eliminating filler words and using clear language.
But before you zoom into the nitty gritty sentence level, it’s good to understand the overall strategy behind using the space on your website efficiently. Here are some guiding questions:
- What information do my website visitors need?
- What information do they expect to find on each page?
- Who is my best fit client? What do they already know that I don’t need to explain? What do they need explained?
- Is what I am writing to help sell? Or am I mixing in educational content?
- How relevant is this to the known experiences of my visitors? Am I speaking to what they know or what I want them to know?
Every word on your website ought to have a purpose. Going through your copy and critically examining whether it is necessary to turn a website visitor into a client.
Whether on a sentence level or on a broader strategic one, making copy concise can be a painful process. If you have a big heart and a lot you’d like your potential clients to know about, editing long copy down can feel impossible. But doing so makes copy more effective.
Note that in some cases, more words are better. For instance, if you are avoiding psychobabble, you may need to use more words to explain something rather than fewer. Or you may also want to use repetition to emphasize a point or create a certain rhythm.
The goal is to be concise with the flexibility to be not concise where needed.
Key 6: Format For Readability
Creating highly effective therapy website copy doesn’t stop with finding the right words. It’s also a matter of how those words are laid out on the page.
When we are visitors to websites, we often take for granted the word a designer has put into making the text readable. It turns out that the format of our grad school thesis papers are not what humans find easeful to read: long paragraphs, long lines of text, and extremely repetitive in terms of layout.
People on the web are impatient and distracted and tend to skip page content. This skimming saves time and helps visitors quickly find the actual information they are seeking.
Visitors are also scrollers, and can often quickly scroll through to try and get a quick image of what information is available on the page.
If you disregard how most people visit websites, your copy will be less effective. Instead, meet visitors where they are. Serve a format that is easeful for them. Here are some quick tips for best results:
- Use headings and subheadings
- Split long paragraphs into shorter ones
- Use numbered and bulleted lists
- Insert images and graphics to break up the space
- Shorten the line length in the design so text doesn’t span all the way across the screen
Another powerful formatting trick is to create sections. For example, a list of things that your clients desire could be in it’s own section on the page and then an “about you” paragraph could be in a separate section. Things like columns side by side or completely separate horizontal rows can be good concepts to have in mind for how to better format your text.
Bonus Key: Optimizing For Search Engines
The side-effect of writing effective copy that will naturally be more likely to be found in search engines like google.
This happens because effective copy reflects who you are trying to attract including who they are, how they are feeling, what they are seeking, and in the language they use. Without even trying, you’ll be working in the types of keywords and keyphrases that your best-fit clients type into search boxes to find services like yours. Which is awesome.
But if you want to take it a step further, you may want to intentionally and strategically optimize your website copy for search. Using a tool like Empathycopy can get you off on the right foot. And beyond that, finding good-fit courses, resources, or direct help with SEO can level-up the SEO of your already very effective website copy.
Effective Therapy Website Copy
Effective therapist website copy connects with a website visitor so they see you’re their best fit and reach out to get started.
If your website visitors feel heard and understood, if they feel like you “get them” and that they “know you,” if you address their concerns and questions, if you invite them to reach out, these are all key ingredients to client attraction.
As some of the most important words you can use for marketing your private practice, copy on your website needs to also stay sensitive to who your audience is.
They are both unique in identity but also similar in state of mind. With most therapy-seekers being in a place of unease or even crisis, caring for them with empathetic, clear, words makes a difference in how it lands.
But before you start writing, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine the types of clients you are trying to attract. What language are they using to describe their experience? What is it like to walk in their shoes?
With clarity on who the audience is, the copy becomes a lot more easeful to write. And don’t hesitate to find help with writing your therapist website. Therapists deserve ease too!