Improving your position online: a case study on improving your client base

 

I was chatting with a friend of mine, who is a self-employed counsellor, when he happened to mention he was struggling to get enough clients to keep going.  I asked him how his clients were finding him.  His answer, that it was mainly by word of mouth rather than online, piqued my interest, so I asked him if he would mind me having a look at his online presence.

He was happy, so I settled down with the laptop to see how he appeared, both in terms of websites (and rankings) and social media.  It became very obvious very quickly that he was so far down in the online rankings as to be invisible: when I carried out google searches on ‘counsellors in Cornwall’ the top 5 hits were all websites with lists of counsellors grouped by area.  Although my friend did have a profile on each of these sites, he was at least four pages back on each one, and only had a short profile in comparison with the competition.

The first thing I did was rewrite his profile to be equivalent to  those appearing on the first page.  I also advised him to invest in his profile, and pay to appear on the first page of listings.  This was only about £40 and he immediately (as in within 24 hours) had three bookings directly from the site (more than covering his investment).  This increase in interest continued and demonstrated very markedly the benefit of being on ‘page one’ in searches.

Next, I had a look at his social media presence.  My language became quite colourful as I realised that his twitter account (which was linked to his professional profile) was very much a personal account (complete with inappropriate jokes etc.).  It was very, very easy for potential clients to find this account and (presumably) be discouraged from contacting him.  We set up a completely separate, professional Twitter account, linked to his profile, and populated it with links and articles related to his profession.  I also helped him set up a simple Facebook page, containing his contact information, some pictures and a brief outline of his professional history.

Following the above, I carried out a series of searches (via Google), searching both for my friend directly and for more generic ‘Cornwall counsellors’.  He now appeared on the first page of results, and all direct links led to professional pages and contact details for him.  As a direct result of what were, really, quite minor changes, he saw a 50%+ increase in clients, which has continued into the longer term.

In summary

Make sure you’re on the first page of results, whether that’s on Google or within a listings website (and it’s almost certainly worth paying to get there)

Look at your competition – ensure your profile is as good as (or better) than theirs.  Is the picture professional? Does the information cover everything a client may want to know? Is it easy to contact you?

Remember, there is nothing to stop potential clients looking at your personal social media presence (subject to privacy settings).  Create a professional set of social media profiles, and make sure your online presence links directly to these, rather than personal accounts.

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