Veterinary marketing can be something of a challenge. Getting the right message to the people who want to see it at the exact time they need to see it can be tough. Most pet owners out there probably don’t give it a lot of thought – not until something tragic happens to their beloved pet.
So how do you make sure they think of you when it’s time to bring their pets in for a checkup or when they’re sick or injured. These are the times when they’ll sit down in front of the computer and find out where the nearest veterinary clinic is and, more importantly, what other people think of that clinic.
Using SEO to Build Reputation and Rankings
As long as search engines like Google continue to rely on mathematical algorithms to deliver relevant websites to users, search engine optimization (SEO) will remain an important marketing tool for veterinarians.
There is a lot of misinformation floating around out there about what SEO is and what it can do. Some of those misunderstandings are the result of the simple fact that the search engines themselves change greatly over the years, and the strategies that match the new best practices have to change accordingly.
In general, though, we can define the goals of SEO as:
- Improving the visibility of content that your potential clients want to see
- Providing answers to important questions, and making them findable through online searches
- Creating high value content
- Promoting useful content
- Making technical changes to a website to make it easier for search engines to crawl and users to use
- Improving page layout, site load speed, mobile friendliness, quality of content, and other elements that are known to play a role in the algorithm
SEO is all about capturing interest when someone sits down in front of their computer or gets out their smartphone because they need to know where you are right now. We know they’re looking for you based on the keywords they use (something like “veterinarians near me” or “best veterinary clinic in [city name]”), and if your site appears in the rankings for those terms, they’re more likely to choose you over the competition.
The internet “technically” means your business could be found by people all over the world. That’s nice and all, but not terribly important when all you really want to do is reach the people who are living within a certain geographical area.
This is where localized, veterinary SEO comes into play. This is a strategy that specifically targets people in your area. It involves getting you listed on Google Maps and local listings so people who search for a veterinarian with a specific location in mind will be led to your clinic.
Local SEO is extremely important for veterinarians. These types of specialized searches imply that the searcher is ready to take action. They’re not looking for general answers about pet health, they want to know who is nearby.
It doesn’t end there, though. These searchers are also probably looking for reviews on your clinic, because they want to know that they can trust you with their beloved pets. These local listings can include reviews and other indicators of your reputation and experience.
Will It Really Make a Difference?
Many veterinary clinics still rely on word of mouth referrals or traditional marketing methods to drive new business. They don’t see their website as much more than an online business card that exists, that might be useful for people to use to make appointments. They don’t see it as a way to actually reach new clients.
Let’s take a look at some of the numbers, though, and see why it really can make a big difference.
- 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information about businesses, such as addresses, business hours, phone numbers, and more
- 87% of adults in the U.S. use the Internet
- 58% of those adults access the internet with a smartphone
- 92% of consumers read online reviews
- 80% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal referral
The Benefits of SEO
Turning your veterinary website into a powerful marketing tool through SEO tactics offers a lot of great benefits, especially compared to more traditional advertising channels. Rather than just sending out direct mail and hoping someone remembers your name when their pets need help, you can make sure your website is the first thing they see when they’re ready to take some kind of action and get their pets to the vet.
SEO is an effective way to track online behavior, so you’re never tied to the same strategy if it’s proving ineffective. Website data will show how visitors to your website interact with it, how long they stayed on the site, and where they left. You can see how many people visit every day, and see which efforts have the most impact on those numbers.
It’s affordable, and it’s measurable, which means you can minimize wasted effort and increase the visibility of your website.