5 answers to your questions about search engine optimization
The better your practice is at search engine optimization (SEO), the more likely it is that your practice will show up in the first few listings that appear when a client does an Internet search. Here are five ways to improve SEO at your practice and increase traffic to your site.
1. WHAT IS SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION?
It's the process of taking steps so your website will have a higher ranking with major search engines when your clients type in specific keywords or phrases such as "animal hospitals" and the name of their city.Keep in mind the average consumer will only look at websites that show up on the first page of their Internet search. This means your practice's website needs to appear in the top seven listings if you want pet owners to click on your site.
2. HOW CAN I MAXIMIZE SEO AT MY PRACTICE?
First, know your rankings on search engines. Go to Google and type in keywords a client might use to find a new veterinarian. See if your practice shows up on the first page. If it doesn't, it's time to try some SEO strategies. Start using keywords, such as, "Dallas animal hospital" or "Kansas City veterinarian" in the first paragraph of your articles. This makes searching your hospital easier.
Also, use different title tags for each page of your website. Title tags show up in the title bar of the browser and indicate to the search engine the content of the page. Instead of using the same title such as "ABC Animal Hospital" on each page of your site, use different titles that include the name of your city and other different keywords that a pet owner might use to find a veterinary practice.
3. DO I NEED TO HIRE A COMPANY TO OPTIMIZE MY SEO?
If you are the administrator for your website, you can take steps to improve SEO. However, most practice owners are not experts in website design and search engine optimization. It would be worthwhile to work with your website hosting provider or a marketing consultant to help you improve your SEO. Most website design and hosting companies routinely work with their clients to establish and enhance SEO for the business.
4. WHAT RETURN ON INVESTMENT CAN I EXPECT FOR MY TIME/MONEY SPENT ON SEO?
Devoting resources to SEO is definitely a worthwhile investment since most people spend time on the Internet seeking information on veterinary practices rather than print directories. One way to quantify the ROI for any time or money you spend is to track the number of new clients you see each month.
After taking steps to improve SEO, you are likely to see an increase in new clients who come to you as a result of Internet searches. Adding new clients means more client transactions, which essentially results in more income for you and your practice.
5. WHAT KIND OF COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE DO SEO STRATEGIES GIVE MY PRACTICE?
Regardless of your SEO or rankings, if pet owners are not impressed with what they find on your website, they aren't going to choose your practice. However, if your business is ranked higher on search engines, pet owners will be more inclined to click on your website as opposed to other area practices that have lower rankings.
Dr. Amanda Donnelly, MBA, owns ALD Veterinary Consulting in Rockledge, Fla. Send your comments to [email protected]