Health Check For Your Therapist’s Website
Let’s start at the beginning, as it seems the most obvious place to start! Below is the typical process we go through when speaking to a new client. Think of it like a basic health check, or that initial appointment you have with a new patient.
First, we’ll take a look at your website and do some initial assessments. As with therapy, this assessment will give us a better idea of where to start the in-depth analysis and work.
Typically, in the assessment stage, we see and uncover issues that lead to follow up questions and further analysis. The analysis and assessment grow almost organically, like a good therapist’s conversation would with a new client.
This Website Health Check Guide won’t cover the full range of our services. However, it is a good place for you to understand and learn some tools to improve your website. We’ll present to you the basics of checking your website, allow you to identify the most common issues, give you some tools to use, and give you an idea of how to fix these issues. Remember, you can always contact us if you want further advice or help.
Software and Security Updates
Your website can get hacked if you don’t keep all the software up-to-date. You might ask, “Why would anyone want to hack my website?”, and that’s a legitimate question especially for a typical therapist’s website that doesn’t contain any payment functionality. The first thing is to realise that a lot of hacking happens via bots, so it’s not the stereotypical teenage hacker on his laptop we imagine or see on TV. Most hacking attempts via bots aim to redirect to a scam site or infect a visitor’s computer with a virus.
It’s a good idea to make a backup of your website before doing any software updates. Most good hosting services provide a daily backup and a backup on demand. You could also create what’s called a staging site before doing a backup. This is basically a copy of the site, which once you do the updates, you have a look around to make sure everything works as you expected. After making sure that everything is in order, you click a button and this copy overwrites the current live version. Again most good hosting sites will provide this functionality, if not you can look at our favourite host SiteGround here.
In a WordPress site, there are three areas you need to check;
- Core WordPress
All of these can be found in the dashboard section of the backend.
We’ll keep out of all the technical detail for now, but we will cover it in more detail in a future article. Simply put, your website needs to be HTTPS rather than HTTP – the S stands for secure and adds a layer of security to the person visiting the site. This is normally switched on in the hosting server and you can also “enforce” this via certain plugins. Most good hosting providers provide the certificate to ensure the HTTPS is part of the package you are paying for, if not then you should purchase it or consider changing hosts.
There are three major reasons for making sure it’s HTTPS: one is to protect your users; second, your users might get a warning before opening your site; and third, it’s very important for Search Engine Optimisation and Google rankings.
Mobile and Browser Testing
We’ve updated and secured the website. Now we want to make sure that when people open your website it looks great. This means we need to open it on mobiles, tablets, and desktop computers using the major browsers.
Ideally, you’d want to test all the following browsers, but if you don’t have the time, then testing Chrome and Safari will cover 86.4% of users.
- Chrome 52.5%
- Safari 23.9%
- Firefox 4.4%
- Edge 3.0%
* “Dashiki: Simple Request Breakdowns”. Analytics.wikimedia.org. October 2021, All browsers
Here are also a couple of free online tools that are useful.
While time-consuming, there is nothing better than literally checking your site yourself using different browsers on different devices.
You should proofread and ideally, get someone else to go through your site as well. I’m terrible at proofreading, but luckily my partner is brilliant at it, so I also ensure that she reads through anything before I publish. If anything here is spelt wrong, then it’s almost certainly my fault, and I’ve not followed my own rules!
So proofread your site, then ask someone to read through it as well.
After proofreading, it’s also worth putting your content through a plagiarism checker. We’re not suggesting that your content is not original. However, it’s worth running content through a plagiarism checker to ensure it is not inadvertently similar to others. Content that gets flagged as plagiarised will have a significant and negative effect on Google Rankings. There are several tools available online. Here is a free one that we use:
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
I will cover CRO in some depth in a later article, but there are a few quick wins that you can implement to increase the number of people looking to contact you.
Call To Action (CTA)
Is it clear how someone can contact you? Is it clear what you would like them to do? Make use of “calls to action”. These should be strategically placed across your website to encourage and make it easy for people to contact you. In a therapist’s or counsellor’s website, this is most likely to be a contact form, email or a phone call. Your call to action could say:
- Make an appointment
- Give me a call
- Schedule your appointment
- Drop me a line
Do you really need all the fields on your contact form? There is something called Hicks Law, named after British and American psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman. To put it simply, the more choices you give someone, the harder they find it to make a decision. So when it comes to contact forms, the simpler the better. A name, email address, and message are probably all that is needed.
If you have a new website or it’s been redesigned, check that the contact form sends a message to your email and that the email doesn’t end up in the spam/junk folder. If an email does end up in spam, indicate to your email system it’s not spam, and that should fix the issue.
Email & Phone Links
If you have email or phone numbers on your website, then it makes sense to make life as easy as possible for people to contact you. When clicking on the email you can use a “mailto:” command to automatically open up their email and fill in the email address field. You can also set it so it fills in the title and some of the email text if you want. With phone numbers, you can link this so it automatically dials the number using the “tel:” command.
Site speed has a major impact on your Google rankings. While there is a huge amount of technical work that can go into speeding up a website, sometimes it is as simple as finding out if an image has been loaded onto the website without being optimised. The optimal size of a website image should be under 300kb, so if you’re finding one at 1.4Mb, then it’s best to replace it with a smaller-sized one.
Here are a couple of tools we use to find out the speed of websites:
Hopefully, this Website Health Check has proved useful. You can use the tips and tools I have discussed right away to improve your own Therapist’s, Counsellor’s and Psychologist’s website, or any website in fact.