How much did you learn about marketing in veterinary school?
What about creating a website — one that’s optimized for SEO?
If you’re like me, this probably wasn’t a hot topic in school. There may have been a standard business class, but after that, much of what we learned about business and marketing was left to good old “real-world experience.”
And that can be hard…
Because you’re already very busy. So, how do you find the time to market your practice in the modern, competitive, online world?
One way that is extremely cost-effective is by improving your practice’s searchability online.
In plain English, here’s what that means…
By making it easier for clients in your area to find you in an online search (and then having a welcoming, user-friendly website to match)… you increase the likelihood of them bringing their pets to see you.
After all, they can only bring their pets to you if they know you exist!
However, SEO (which stands for search engine optimization – it’s the keyword strategy on your website that helps clients find you in an online search) can sound very daunting if you’re not familiar with it yet…
And, it can be complicated… but, considering that some SEO copywriting gurus have reported that an SEO makeover got better results than expensive pay-per-click advertising for some of their clients, it really is worth the investment.
And, there’s good news… In order to get results, you don’t need to understand everything there is to know about SEO.
There are a few simple tips you can start with, that could make a big difference in terms of how your practice’s website shows up in the search rankings…
You don’t need to outdo everyone on Google
In fact, you have less online competition than many other kinds of businesses!
One good thing about most veterinary practices is, you are primarily looking for local clients.
That means, you don’t need to be like Amazon or Walmart, or other websites that sell products online to the whole world. And, if you’re in Chicago, you don’t need to reach clients in New York City or Australia…
Instead, your focus is on building relationships with clients who live nearby — clients that you’ll meet in person, that live close enough to bring their pets to you on a regular basis. You’ll get to know them and their furry family members, and build trust over time.
So, in order for these local clients to find you, remember to include your location on your practice’s website!
It’s surprising how easy it is to forget this vital piece of information… and even to forget important words like “veterinarian.” It happens all the time!
And, it’s totally understandable. After all, writing for your website can feel very different from having an in-person conversation with your clients.
So remember to include your city and state. Don’t overdo it and repeat them over and over, but try to find two or three spots where these words fit naturally.
The header (the banner at the top of your website, what you see before you scroll down the page) is a great place to start. You can include your practice’s address, phone number, and email there.
Keep it readable
While it’s important to include your physical address, of course that won’t be your main key phrase…
Words like “veterinary,” “veterinarian,” “animal hospital,” “dog,” “cat,” “pet,” and so on can all be relevant.
And in general, I’ll try to use “dog” or “cat” rather than “pet” wherever possible. Most clients would be searching either for “veterinarian” or for a phrase like “dog vaccines” rather than for “pet vaccines.”
So, you’ll want to include words and phrases that a client might search for when looking for you.
Use your imagination, and think like a client – what would they be searching for?
That will give you a clue as to what words you’ll want to include.
This may include things like:
- Dog/Cat doctor
- Veterinarian in CITY
- Animal doctor in CITY
- Dog/Cat dental care
- Dog/Cat spay/neuter
As you can imagine, the list can be quite extensive. And there are longer key phrases, too (whole sentences rather than just a few words). But for now, let’s just focus on the shorter ones like I listed above.
Did you notice something else? A lot of these words are probably words you would already include on your website… whether you were thinking about SEO or not!
And that’s one great thing about SEO nowadays. The search engines no longer favor keyword “stuffing,” or overusing the keywords to the point where a website is hard to read, or sounds like a robot is speaking.
Instead, they favor websites that include valuable, user-friendly content.
Here are some examples to help illustrate this point…
DON’T write like this:
We have the best veterinarians for dogs and cats in New York City. Our doctors for dogs and cats are highly trained in treating dogs and cats, and provide valuable veterinary services to all dogs and cats in New York City who need veterinary care. Bring your dog or cat to see our New York City veterinarians today.
As you can see, this includes a lot of keywords – but, it’s totally nonsensical to read. Google doesn’t like that! Your potential clients won’t like it, either.
DO write like this:
Your dog or cat deserves top-of-the-line veterinary care to help them live their best life, and that’s what we offer you here at New York Veterinary Hospital. Let us help you keep your furry best friend happy and healthy.
It doesn’t contain as many keywords… but, it contains enough for search engines to recognize. And, even more importantly, it’s a useful message that a prospective client will appreciate reading.
It puts a friendly face on your practice, even before their first visit.
So, by writing naturally… you may just find that you’ve already included more valuable keywords than you even realized. Start by writing naturally, and then go back and evaluate what you wrote. You may be pleasantly surprised, and find you don’t need to change or add very much.
Now, these tips don’t cover all of SEO. It’s an art you can take a lot further, if you find that you enjoy it and are seeing good results.
Plus, there’s a whole “behind the scenes” aspect, for keywords that are put into the coding of the website and aren’t actually visible on the pages.
But, if you’re totally new, this is a great place to start! And, you might be surprised at how much of a difference just a few simple changes like this can make in terms of your website’s searchability.
You can even experiment and see the results yourself…
Try searching “veterinarian CITY” now, and see where your website ranks. Then, make some changes to include keywords, and look to see if there’s an improvement in the search rankings.
****But note, it will take several weeks (or even several months) to see results. So, give it some time before you expect a big change.
Next month, I’ll provide you with a couple more tips, if you want to take your SEO a step further.
See you then!