If you are considering franchising your therapy or coaching business to a global market (outside of your home country) global SEO services can help you achieve your goals. But, before hiring a global SEO company, you want to think through the ins and outs of your international SEO strategy so you have a greater understanding of how it works.
This article explores the steps to take BEFORE hiring a global SEO agency. It will help you think through the barriers to building a successful global SEO campaign so you reduce mistakes and losses of time and money in your SEO campaign.
That said, the silver lining for many therapists is that the pandemic opened doors to extending your license outside of your home state or country. Whether you live in a new country and offer virtual services to clients in the US or you live outside the US and continue being licensed in US states, both SEO strategies can work.
But to be successful, you have to account for local SEO, have a good handle on the language differences and have a technical SEO plan for managing the country code variables in the structure on your website.
That said, global SEO is a bit of a misnomer.
When someone wants their website to compete in a particular country, your SEO strategy focuses on a specific country (or countries), not the entire world. Even big companies that have offices worldwide have website that are targeted to specific languages and countries.
You may see a list of countries to pick from – this often happens on websites with products or stores.
You may also see a flag symbol indicating that there are multiple languages available. Or even the words “Spanish” to indicate what translation options are available. This gives you a sense of the international markets the site is looking to have a presence in.
Your first task with global SEO is deciding where in the world you want your website to rank for.
As a mental health provider, your services are limited to where you’re licensed, so your international SEO plan should start with the countries you have extended your license to or the countries you want to become licensed in.
If you’re a coach, your restrictions are far less. But for both professions, you want to explore the countries you want to develop a following in before going to deep into this process. And you need to decide on a “country based” model or a global website model. More on that deeper in the article.
But before doing any of the technical stuff, you have to complete a little homework.
Here are 5 “homework” items for you to consider if you want to grow an international audience for your therapy or coaching practice.
First, begin with your licensing board.
Spend time speaking with someone there to inform you of the limits and boundaries of your license. Be sure to ask about international limits to your license and what to do if you want to practice in a country that doesn’t offer therapy licenses. This is true for many places in the world and you’ll learn more about this as you go.
Next, develop a list of countries you’re interested in ranking for.
Knowing this can make this process go faster when you’re planning or getting advice from license boards or your SEO provider. You can inquire about any restrictions or license limitations in various countries or if licenses are needed at all.
Often, clients share with us that they want to rank internationally for English speaking countries. This is very broad and it’s more effective to pick a target country or two to start with and then grow from there.
Once you have a place to begin, you need to get familiar with the culture.
By this, I mean more than just having visited one time or liking the potential demographic as “good leads” for your business. Effective international SEO depends on having a strong understanding of the local culture and their unique conversational styles.
Inquire with colleagues, friends or other local resources to find someone who can consult with you about the services you want to sell. Ideally, you want to understand if the local population uses these services. If they do, what do they call what you’re offering.
It’s very important that you are clear about your potential new market. And, for brand consistency, be clear that you’re not marketing something that means something different in another language or within a different culture.
Word choices matter.
If you’re writing an article for a Canadian audience, for example, you probably need to know that the word “counselor” is spelled “counsellor.” There are also different professional titles such as “counselling therapist” that may be the same as your degree in the US or not. Discovering how your credentials translate into the language your target audience is used to using/seeing is an important nuance to the global SEO process.
Check your keywords for global SEO potential.
Now that you know how to spell the words correctly, you want to know how often people are looking for your particular keyword. Tools like SEMRush offer keyword research in many countries so you can evaluate the search volume of your properly spelled keywords.
Build International SEO pages for the different countries you offer services in.
You are not limited by only one landing page. One way to optimize your SEO efforts is to have a unique landing page for each country you’re licensed to practice in. These pages should show your local connections and include your local office/mailing address to verify your in that specific community. This is true whether you offer virtual counseling services or in person services in some form or fashion.
The footer SEO should include all of the important branding information as well as the local address for ease of location and so Google My Business can find you easily as well.
Finally, you want to be sure that you’re offering a service that people are comfortable experiencing virtually.
If your offering international services to people you’re never going to see face-to-face, you has to confirm that your service will work well over video. Explore the challenges the clients may face working with you before you go through the efforts to develop an international SEO strategy. This will save you a ton of time and money.
All of this needs to happen BEFORE you start your international SEO strategy. Why? Because the technical SEO pieces that follow are determined based on your answers to the five questions above.
Once you have a handle on the answers, you can start searching for an SEO company that offers international SEO services.
Global SEO FAQs
What is global SEO?
Global SEO is the process of getting your website to rank for specific keywords in different, selected countries across the globe. A complete package of SEO services would include keyword research for country and/or globally specific keywords, GAP analysis, local SEO for your chosen countries, technical SEO for country-specific or globally specific keywords, global or country-specific website architecture, link building/backlinks and more.
What are country-specific versions of your website?
A country-specific version of your website is a domain that’s uniquely owned and hosted by you to show a version of your website on the url that matches the country you are serving clients in.
Examples include: crownsvillemedia.ca or crownsvillemedia.de
How is it different from local SEO?
Local SEO targets your local community and is often supported by tools like Google My Business to help local clients find your office or offer. Global SEO is not limited by location, but can be targeted to a specific country.
With local SEO you may target your exact address so you can connect with clients walking by your office or storefront. But with global SEO, your address, minus the country you’re in, isn’t really a factor. You’re focused on the entire country not just a handful of blocks or miles around your office.
Is there a global or international search engine?
While Google is the top reigning search engine worldwide, there are different (and very popular) search engines in different countries. If you want to rank well in China, you need to place highly in Baidu and in Russia, it’s Yandex. That said, Google does hold the vast majority the global search market so it will cover most of your bases.
Should I look for a global SEO company?
So that really depends. My experience and the clients I have worked with internationally (Israel, Canada and England to name a few) have both benefited from local and global SEO strategies. Global SEO services are often part of the general SEO company’s package, but you definitely want to check on their experience with country-specific page optimization and country-specific SEO.
Be clear with your SEO company about your international goals so you can assess if they have the skills to help you with your goals.
If not, search online for a “Global SEO Company” or “Global SEO Services” and you’ll get a list.
Just be sure to do your homework before you call!