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Google Ads for Therapists, Counselors, EMDR: 8 Steps To Book More Clients

There are thousands of daily searches in your area for therapy and counseling services. Google Ads offers you the means to tap into this client base, get your mental health practice in front of ideal clients and generate more leads. Google Ads are the silent heroes of online marketing. While many businesses choose to spend money on flashy video ads on social media, Google ads for therapists still provide some of the best returns on investment in the advertising game.

For mental health professionals, the need for Google Ads is even higher. Competition between practices is sharp, and by placing at the top of search results, particularly around your city or region, you can make your business a local household name a lot more cheaply than you would if you were to purchase ads on billboards or at bus stops.

Join us, and explore Google Ads in depth as we walk you through the process of brainstorming, creating, and maintaining Google Ads strategies tailored specifically to therapists, counselors, and EMDR therapists. Our Google Ads practice, New Digital, is devoted to maximizing the ad spend of our clients, so we’ll share some of our industry tips with you in this article.

What Are Google Ads?

Google Ads are carefully placed advertisements that show up all over Google and its subsidiary websites like YouTube. Most commonly, Google Ads appear at the top of Google’s search results. This is the segment of Google Ads that is most relevant to you as a therapist, counselor or EMDR therapist. Most practices don’t have the budget for video ads, and moreover, the fact that Google search ads allow you to target precise keywords is an opportunity that is too good to pass up.

Why Therapists, Counselors, and EMDR therapists Need Google Ads

The first thing you should ask yourself is, how do your clients usually find you? If you aren’t using Google Ads for therapists already, it’s probably through referrals.

But why does someone refer your clients to you, and who does the referring? It’s usually another trusted expert referring a client who needs your services.

But before that potential client asks that trusted expert for help, it’s quite likely that they’ll have done some research themselves. And where does that research happen? More than 90% of the time, it happens on Google.

That’s why Google Ads are so important. If you can genuinely answer your potential clients’ questions, and educate them in the process, then you build a meaningful relationship with them. That allows you to do things like collect emails, book appointments faster, and finally, create lifelong clients. It’s better to put your name out there ahead of time before your competitors.

google ads for counseling start
More than 90% of prospects find their therapists on Google

The 7 Steps To Google Ads

Let’s get straight to it, this is how Google Ads work, step by step.

  • Step 1: Understand Your Audience
  • Step 2: Preparing Your Website
  • Step 3: Set Up Your Campaign
  • Step 4: Research Keywords
  • Step 5: Write Ad Copy
  • Step 6: Select A Bidding Strategy
  • Step 7: Run Your Campaign

Step 1: Understand Your Audience

In the world of therapy, EMDR therapy and counseling, connecting with your audience on a deep level is not just beneficial—it’s essential. As a practitioner looking to enhance your presence and clientele through Google Ads, a substantial first step in this journey is to understand your audience intricately. This process involves identifying various audience characteristics and tailoring your services and offers accordingly. Here’s how to cultivate an insightful understanding of your audience.

Identifying Your Target Audience

The first stage in creating a successful Google Ad campaign is pinpointing exactly who your target audience is. Different demographics have varied needs, preferences, and behaviors that influence their decision-making processes.

Age: Different age groups might seek a different range of services from therapists and counselors. For instance, younger individuals might be more inclined towards counseling for career or relationship issues, while older individuals might focus on life transition phases. Crafting your ads to resonate with specific age groups can potentially increase their effectiveness.

Location: Geographical location is another crucial factor. Understand the common issues and preferences of the people in your service areas. Google Ads offers geotargeting features that can help you focus your ads on potential clients in specific regions, thus increasing the chances of conversion. For instance, you can exclusively target people in your city, to ensure that they actually live there and need your services.

Scope of Needs: You know the specific needs that your potential clients might have. Some might be seeking stress management, while others may require trauma therapy. Tailor your ads to address these specific needs, portraying your practice as the solution to their problems.

Your Audience Behavior

The key to learning more about audience behavior is to engage with them! You already have a few clients, and likely, years of experience in your field. As such, you have a prime demographic to survey when it comes time to learn more about the demographic information of your target audience.

You might also have new audiences in mind since advertising is about expanding your customer base.

From this research, you can develop detailed personas and tailor your content, messages, and services to meet the specific needs and behaviors of different segments of your audience.

Calculate Customer Lifetime Value

An often overlooked yet vital aspect of understanding your audience is calculating the Customer Lifetime Value (LTV). This metric helps in determining the total worth of a customer over the lifespan of their relationship with your business.

To calculate this, figure out the average amount a customer pays for your services and then multiply it by the average duration that they remain your client. Knowing the LTV will guide you in budgeting your ads and formulating strategies that maximize customer retention, ultimately helping in the growth and sustainability of your practice.

Create An Offer For Your Audience

Once you have an in-depth understanding of your audience, it’s time to entice them with attractive offers. These offers can be in various forms:

  1. Free Consultations: Offering complimentary consultations can be a great way to attract potential clients. Through this, they get a glimpse of the quality and approach of your services.
  2. Removal from Waitlist: If your practice has a waiting list, offering a removal from the waitlist or priority scheduling can be an enticing offer for potential clients who are eager to start their therapy sessions.
  3. Discounted Packages: Offering discounted packages for your services for a limited period can also be a great way to entice new clients to choose your practice.

Step 2: Research Keywords

Researching keywords is much more complicated than it seems on the surface. Obviously, if you have a therapy practice in New York, you would want to include keywords like “therapist in New York” in your campaign. But that’s usually too simplistic. Everybody is bidding for that keyword, making it one of the most expensive keywords that can break your advertising budget.

Instead, you want to find some keywords that are not as obvious to the average advertiser and beat your competitors to them. Let’s look at some strategies to achieve this.

Types Of Keywords

Keywords are the critical elements that bridge the gap between your prospective clients’ queries and the solutions you offer as a therapist, counselor or EMDR therapist. Understanding and utilizing keywords efficiently can dramatically improve your online visibility.

When delving into keywords, you will encounter various types:

  • Short-tail keywords: These are concise phrases that capture a broad audience. For instance, “therapist in Seattle”.
  • Long-tail keywords: Longer phrases targeting a more specific audience segment and generally promising higher conversion rates. For example, couples counseling for new parents in Austin.
  • LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords: semantically linked to your main keywords, aiding in painting a comprehensive picture of your content’s context for search engines. For instance, “therapy techniques”.

Tools To Use

To refine your keyword research process, several tools stand out as industry stalwarts. Google Keyword Planner, which is Google’s free tool, gives insights into keyword search volumes and competition, steering you in crafting well-informed strategies. SEMrush goes a step further, offering not only keyword analysis but also competitor insights and site audit features, which can be vital in creating potent SEO and PPC campaigns. Finally, out of all the tools out there, Ahrefs is renowned for its expansive keyword data and backlink analysis.

Selecting Keywords

To select the most effective keywords, understanding user intent is paramount. It helps in crafting ads that resonate with the audience. Similarly, a keen eye on the competition allows you to find potential gaps and opportunities, carving a niche for your services. Equally important is selecting keywords with a judicious balance of search volume and competition, ensuring your ads reach a substantial yet targeted audience without being lost in the crowd.

Integrating Keywords

The next logical step is seamlessly integrating these keywords into your Google Ads campaign. Begin with crafting ad headlines that are not only catchy but also resonate well with the selected keywords, ensuring high visibility. The descriptions should be well-crafted, embedding keywords naturally, and showcasing the value proposition clearly. Moreover, including keywords in the display URL can enhance the ad’s relevance and credibility. Lastly, do not forget the landing page SEO, where keywords need to be infused naturally within the content, meta tags, and alt texts, creating a cohesive and organic user journey from the ad to your website.


Step 3: Preparing Your Website

One part that most people overlook when planning Google Ads for therapists, is the fact that they need to prepare their website before they prepare the ads. Fundamentally, all the best ad copy and bidding strategies in the world won’t matter if your site loads too slowly or looks too ugly.

Website Essentials

First impressions are often formed based on your online presence. Therefore, equipping your website with a user-friendly interface stands as a prerequisite. Easy navigation paired with an organized layout can facilitate prospective clients in effortlessly finding the information they are seeking. Moreover, it is essential to highlight dedicated service pages that detail the various therapies and counseling services you offer.


Furthermore, your website should be populated with clear and prominent calls to action. Positioned ideally in the site header and footer, these beckons serve as directives guiding users to take the next steps. Whether it is to “Book a Free Consultation” or explore a unique incentive, these calls to action often act as catalysts in encouraging user outreach. To supplement this, comprehensive contact information should be a mainstay on your site. By offering multiple avenues such as phone numbers and contact forms, and strategically placing them on the website, you pave the way for quick and easy access, facilitating smoother communication channels between you and potential clients.


Optimizing Site Speed

Understanding the profound impact of page speed on user experience and consequently on Google Ads’ performance is vital. A swift, responsive site not only retains user attention but also significantly elevates the chances of conversion.

Studies have consistently shown that 47% of customers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less and a 100 millisecond improvement in the homepage’s load time resulted in a 1.11% increase in conversion rate.

To help you measure and diagnose your website speed performance, Google offers its own speed testing tool – PageSpeed Insights. It measures the performance of a page for mobile and desktop devices.

website speed test PageSpeed Insights home page
PageSpeed Insights is Google’s website speed testing tool

Website Image Optimization

Moreover, image optimization forms a crucial aspect of the website speed optimization process. It’s not just about beautifying your site; appropriately sized images can substantially improve loading speeds, enhancing the user experience manifold. Here, tips and tactics on how to effectively size images without compromising quality come into play, serving as vital cogs in the wheel of optimizing website performance.

Enhancing Existing Website Content

In your quest to forge a strong connection with prospective clients, paying keen attention to the content and display of your website is paramount. To start with, your homepage and service pages should vividly state the areas you serve, supplemented by a dropdown menu in the site header that outlines your primary services. This not only enhances navigability but also caters to the specific needs and preferences of different user segments.

An ‘About’ page, well-crafted and authentic, can serve as a window into your practice, offering insights into the experiences and expertise that you or your team bring to the table. Going a step further, showcasing reviews on various site pages can act as powerful testimonials, fostering trust and building a strong rapport with potential clients. These reviews, woven naturally below each page’s body content, can be instrumental in nudging users towards choosing your services, sealing the deal with authentic, positive feedback from your clientele.


Step 4: Set Up Your Campaign

As a therapist venturing into the world of Google Ads, establishing a robust foundation for your ad campaign is crucial. We will now take you step-by-step through the actual setup process to ensure you make the most of your advertising efforts.

Getting Started with Google Ads

First, head over to and sign into Google Ads using your Google account. If you’re setting up a new account, select “New Google Ads Account” which directs you to the “New campaign” page. For a more detailed setup, click on “Switch to Expert Mode”. This setting is especially recommended for therapists, as it provides nuanced options conducive to the therapy practice.

Crafting Your Campaign

At this stage, select “Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance” to bypass the conversion tracking initially and streamline your setup process. It allows for a more straightforward setup, eliminating the complexities involved in setting up conversion tracking at the initial stages.

Choose your campaign type next. If you’re aiming for visibility and engagement, selecting “Search” will be your best bet. Remember, Google Ads might test changes in user interfaces and steps, hence be ready to adapt accordingly.

Defining Your Objectives

As you scroll further, you’ll come across a section where you can specify the results you anticipate from your campaign. Here, activate “Website visits” and input the page linked to your ad. If you want to integrate a phone number in your ad, toggle on the “Phone calls” option, keeping the “App downloads” option deactivated of course.

Identifying Your Practice

Proceed to input your practice name and website URL to direct potential clients to the right page post clicking your ad. Linking your Google Ads to dedicated service pages proves to be beneficial, especially when targeting specific keywords such as “depression therapy” or “couples therapy”.

Optimizing Your Business Information

On the subsequent page, focus on the “Phone number” option if you are keen on incorporating a direct calling extension in your ads. It gives you the flexibility to either showcase a phone number or allow visitors to land on a page before revealing a contact number.

Setting Conversion Goals

Your next step involves setting conversion goals which are pivotal in tracking lead generation. For professionals in the therapy sector, tracking “Lead form submissions” and “Lead calls” is a prudent choice. Google Ads has built-in infrastructure for this, allowing you to optimize your campaigns seamlessly.

Choosing Bid Strategy

The bid strategy is a critical aspect of your campaign setup. Initially, it’s advisable to focus on clicks rather than conversions to gauge the genuine conversion potential. As your campaign matures, transitioning to a “maximize conversions” strategy can significantly enhance your campaign performance. We’ll discuss more about this later.

Fine-Tuning Campaign Settings

Within the campaign settings, deactivate options like “Include Google search partners” and “Include Google Display Network” to channel your budget towards Google Search ads, which historically attract more clients seeking therapy.

Location Targeting

Concentrate on targeting locations where your potential clients are situated. Initially, focus on local areas and gradually expand your reach as you begin to see positive results. The goal is to reach individuals actively seeking therapy services within your locality or state, especially if you offer telehealth services.

Ad Groups

Depending on how many different services you offer, you might want to create an ad group for each one. Ad groups are collections of keywords that all relate to a similar service or basket of service, with specific ad copy for each.

Integrating Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

To ramp up your campaign’s effectiveness, integrate it with your GA4 account. This integration will offer a detailed view of customer interactions, enabling you to target and optimize your ads proficiently. It’s a gateway to harnessing deeper insights and amplifying the returns on your investment.


Step 5: Write Ad Copy & Create Marketing Assets

Now that you have Google Ads for therapists set up, your website is ready for ads, and you’ve selected some useful keywords, you can begin actually writing the ads for your campaigns.

At this stage, we highly recommend hiring a Google Ads agency or a professional Google Ads copywriter and expertwho can put together ads for you. The creativity and writing skills they possess will likely exceed your own. And even if you manage to put engaging ads together yourself, the amount of time you will have spent is likely too prohibitive. After all, your time is better spent on what you know, which is meeting with and counseling your clients.

Understanding Google’s Ad Structure

Understanding Google’s ad structure is pivotal to creating effective campaigns. The platform provides a variety of components that help in constructing persuasive and clickable ads. Knowing how to optimally structure your ads, incorporating elements like headlines and descriptions, can steer a campaign towards success, making the ads more appealing and conducive to achieving your business goals.

Writing Effective Headlines

Successful Google Ads for therapists always have eye-catching headlines. An effective headline acts as a magnet, grabbing the attention of your audience amidst all the noise online. Beyond just attracting eyeballs, a well-phrased headline encourages clicks, paving the way for higher traffic and potentially greater conversion rates.

Crafting Descriptive Lines

Description lines are the next thing the searcher sees after the headling. While they are predominantly informational, they should still be engaging. By providing essential, crisp, and compelling information, they retain user interest and foster a connection between the brand and the potential customer, encouraging them to click to explore further.

Call to Action: Encouraging Potential Clients to Take Action

The Call to Action (CTA) is a decisive element in the ad copy, urging viewers to move from contemplation to action. Crafting compelling CTAs that resonate with your audience can significantly encourage conversions, turning potential clients into customers.

Landing Page Optimization

The Role of Landing Pages in Google Ads

Landing pages are the bridge that connects your ads to conversions. They play a significant role in enhancing the user experience by providing a seamless transition from the ad to a webpage that holds the promise made in the ad. A well-optimized landing page can significantly amplify the effectiveness of your Google Ads, facilitating higher conversion rates.

4 Elements of an Effective Landing Page

Clear Headlines

A clear headline on a landing page serves as a guidepost, communicating the value proposition effectively and guiding the user journey towards a desired action, enhancing the overall user experience.

Trust Signals

Integrating trust signals like testimonials and reviews into your landing page can build credibility. These elements work to enhance trust among users, providing social proof that can influence their decision-making process positively.

High-Quality Images and Videos

Incorporating high-quality images and videos is pivotal in creating visual appeal on your landing page. These assets work to enhance user engagement, offering a visually stimulating experience that can retain interest and encourage conversions.

Mobile Optimization

Ensuring responsiveness through mobile optimization is key in catering to a significant segment of users. A mobile-optimized page guarantees a seamless experience for users accessing your site through various devices, potentially leading to increased conversions.

Don’t Forget To Develop Creative Display Assets

We’ve focused mostly on search engine ads in this article, and for good reason. However, banner ads hold a significant place in some practices’ Google Ads repertoire too. They serve not only as attention-grabbers but also as potent tools to convey your brand message succinctly. Creating visually compelling banners that align with your brand identity can drastically enhance the impact of your campaign, fostering a cohesive and engaging narrative that resonates with viewers.


Step 6: Select A Bidding Strategy

In the vast ecosystem of Google Ads, selecting a precise bidding strategy is pivotal, especially when targeting a specific audience like individuals seeking therapy services. The right bidding strategy not only helps you maximize your ROI but also ensures that your ads reach potential clients at the right time. Here, we’ll delve deep into the critical process of selecting an apt bidding strategy within the context of Google Ads for therapists.

Developing an Effective Bidding Strategy

When it comes to selecting a bidding strategy for therapists aiming to reach more clients through Google Ads, understanding your competition can serve as a valuable starting point.

Analysis of Competitor Bidding Strategies

Begin your journey by analyzing the bidding strategies employed by your competitors. Tools like Google’s Auction Insights can provide a comprehensive view of how other therapists are bidding on similar keywords. Recognizing the competitive landscape can guide you to craft a bidding strategy that stands out and captures the attention of potential clients efficiently.

Choosing the Right Bidding Strategy: Manual vs. Automated

Once you have insights from the competitor analysis, it’s time to choose between manual and automated bidding strategies. Manual bidding allows for greater control, letting you set bids at the keyword level. It can be particularly useful if you want to allocate more budget to keywords that directly relate to therapy services.

Generally speaking, we recommend manual bidding. However, automated bidding utilizes Google’s machine-learning algorithms to optimize bids in real-time. This strategy can save time and potentially maximize ROI by automatically adjusting bids based on a myriad of factors, including the time of day, user behavior, and more.

If you’re just starting out, it’s better to set bids manually at a level you’re comfortable with so your budget doesn’t get blown out.

Bid Optimization Techniques

Regardless of whether you choose manual or automated bidding, employing optimization techniques is vital. Consider implementing bid modifiers to adjust bids based on factors like device type, geographic location, or time of day. For therapists, focusing on bid adjustments that target individuals seeking therapy during specific times can be a beneficial tactic. Moreover, continually monitor and adjust your bids to ensure optimum performance and budget utilization.


Step 7: Launch and Run Your Google Ads Campaign

Once you run your campaign, your work is hardly done. New competitors enter the Google Ads for therapists field all the time. And for the good of your practice, you should always look for new ways to reach users and maximize your revenue. Therefore, you’ll need to actively manage Google Ads, especially in the first couple of months while you find the right market fit.

Note that even if you have a great Google Ads campaign, it can still go stale. People are attracted to novelty, especially when they’re browsing online, so you’ll still need to generate new ad copy and headlines from time to time. As always, a Google ads manager can help do the heavy lifting in these scenarios.

Setting Up Google Analytics for Monitoring

Before diving deep, setting a firm foundation is essential. Integration with Google Ads serves as a cornerstone, allowing you to pool valuable data directly linked to your advertising efforts. It facilitates tracking user behavior and traffic patterns, among other metrics. Furthermore, acquaint yourself with the overview of key functionalities. This knowledge base will guide you in extracting actionable insights from the data acquired, leveraging it to augment your ad campaigns effectively.

Understanding Key Metrics

In your analytical journey, certain metrics hold pivotal significance. The Click-Through Rate (CTR) stands as a testament to your ad’s attractiveness. A higher CTR indicates that your ads are resonating well with your audience, encouraging them to take the next step. Conversely, the Conversion Rate portrays the success rate of translating these clicks into actions, potentially an inquiry or a booking in the context of therapists, counselors and EMDR therapists.

Another metric to keep a close watch on is the Quality Score. This metric embodies the health of your ad campaigns, indicating how Google perceives the quality and relevance of both your keywords and ads. A better score can enhance your ad positioning, therefore leading to improved performance and perhaps, a lower cost per click.

Making Data-Driven Decisions

Armed with insights from Google Analytics, the next step is making data-driven decisions. This entails evaluating ad performance, pinpointing areas that are blossoming, and identifying those that require revaluation. A robust strategy involves optimizing keywords and making prudent budget adjustments, keeping an eye on maximizing ROI. Furthermore, fostering a curious mindset with analytical questions can guide optimization, helping unravel new avenues or untapped potentials in your existing strategy.

Continuous Optimization Strategies

Venturing into the realm of continuous optimization strategies, the Dashboard Overview serves as your command center. This is where you orchestrate your advertising symphony, keeping various sections in harmony. The sections such as Ads & Assets and Keywords allow for meticulous management and analysis, facilitating timely reviews and adjustments based on performance data.

Equally important is understanding your audience and fine-tuning your strategy to cater to their preferences, which can be orchestrated through Audience Targeting. Moreover, adapting your campaign settings to align with different locations, ad schedules, and device targeting forms best practices that could potentially augment your reach and impact.

Navigating through the Search Terms Report helps in making informed adjustments based on actual search terms, thus aligning your strategies closer to user behavior and trends. This strategy extends to efficiently managing Negative Keywords, safeguarding your campaign from irrelevant ad displays that could potentially drain your budget without yielding results.

Conversion Tracking

Lastly, the backbone of an optimized Google Ads strategy lies in proficient Conversion Tracking. Understanding its importance and implementing it correctly can serve as a catalyst in refining your campaign’s performance over time. Setting up and scrutinizing conversion actions, coupled with tips for maximizing effectiveness, can guide your campaign to a trajectory of sustained growth and success.

In conclusion, the journey through analyzing and optimizing ad performance is continuous, requiring vigilance and a proactive approach to adapt and evolve. For therapists, EMDR therapist and counselors venturing into Google Ads, embracing this dynamic process can pave the path to successful and rewarding campaigns.


Step 8: Remarketing Strategies

This is a bit advanced, but if your therapy practice is big enough to warrant it, you should give it a try. Remarketing allows you to reconnect with people who already interacted with your ads in some way, and follow them around Google’s various ad channels to remind them that you’re still around. Think of it like a set of billboards sprinkled across your city. It seems small at first, but eventually, all that extra nudging adds up.

To implement a successful remarketing strategy as a therapist, start by segmenting your website visitors into different lists based on their behavior on your site. This allows for more personalized and targeted remarketing campaigns. Additionally, ensure that your ads and landing pages are aligned, offering a cohesive and reassuring experience to potential clients.

Remember, the goal of a remarketing campaign for therapists is to gently guide potential clients back to your services, fostering trust and credibility, without intruding on their privacy or personal space.

PMax Campaigns for Remarketing

A relatively new Google Ads campaign type, Performance Max (or PMax), offers an additional option for retargeting your prospects and conducting remarketing campaigns.

While it’s not obligatory to create a separate PMax campaign for remarketing ads, doing so can offer advantages in budget allocation, audience segmentation, bidding strategy, and reporting. PMax remarketing campaigns provide a powerful means of engaging with potential customers who have already demonstrated interest in your brand. By customizing your ads for these individuals, you enhance the probability of conversions and encourage valuable actions.


For Google Ads for Your Therapy Practice, Reach Out to New Digital

To attain Google Ads success the way we described in this article, you’re going to need to put in a lot of effort. Unless, of course, you seek the help of a Google Ads expert.

To get to the position you’re in, as a respected therapist running their own private practice, you needed years of schooling. Someone who walks in off the street can’t do nearly as good a job as you can, and would likely cause some pain to your clients if they tried.

Similarly, you’re liable to cause pain to yourself and your practice if you try running Google Ads alone. We’ve spent years honing our skills as Google Ads managers and have worked with hundreds of companies, including practices like yours, to get to our position as a leading Google Ads agency. We aren’t therapists, and you aren’t Google Ads managers, in the long run, you’ll end up earning more money if we work together. Even if it costs you a bit more upfront.

Reach out to us for a consultation to learn more about how to apply the strategies in this article to your ads.

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