How to be Google's No. 1 veterinary clinic
Fact: Pet owners choose veterinary clinics increasingly based on whether they show up higher than others in search engine results. So how do you ensure your practice tops the charts? The technique is called search engine optimization (SEO), and it's not as hard as you might think. Here are my jargon-busting, red-hot tips to ensure that your website will be No. 1.
1. Publish original content often.
Google will love your practice if you regularly publish high-quality content. Clients will love your practice if you regularly publish solid advice. Pet owners are looking online for answers to their problems or ways to achieve their pet-related goals. In order to appear frequently in search results in your area, you must post articles (at least once a month) covering a range of pet-centric topics.In your blog posts you should answer these questions: What do you do better than your competition? What are the key growth areas in your clinic? Soon, you'll be a local expert on Google and your client's eyes.
In my case, this means appearing as the local pet dental expert. I publish content that ranks high for just about any search term relating to pet dentistry. Now I have clients from all over the city, thanks to SEO.
2. Chat it up online.
Google knows your friends and followers, and what articles you "liked" or commented on. It uses this information to tailor search results to your personal preferences. So products and pages from companies and organizations you have "liked" or interacted with on a social media platform like Facebook are going to appear higher in your search results.
If you're not tweeting regularly or posting on social media and your practice website, clients will have a tougher time interacting with you, and that will be reflected in a low ranking when people search for a local hospital. In other words: The more active your practice is online, the better—make it easy for clients to find you!
3. Learn to love keywords.
Keywords are terms that pet owners type into Google's search box when they're problem solving. Some common keywords that pet owners might use are: veterinarian, dogs, cats, parks, pets, heartworm, etc. Pet owners use them in different combinations looking for answers.
For example, a dog owner new to your area might Google, "Where are local dog parks in San Diego?" Google scans web pages for content with headlines with similar words. So your blog, "Five awesome local dog parks in San Diego" is likely to show up. And just like that, a new potential client has been introduced to your practice.
To regularly appear in pet owners' searches, anticipate questions and post articles on your website that would answer these queries.
4. Rack up cyber kudos.
When someone links their website to yours, they're endorsing your content. Google values this "cyber-shout" as it shows that you're publishing something worthy of attention.
To get links to your website, dust off your Rolodex and build relationships with local pet businesses. People want to know you're good at what you do before they endorse you with a link.
Follow these four tips and pretty soon your veterinary practice will be flying up the rankings.
Dr. Dave Nicol is a veterinary surgeon, hospital owner, and veterinary business consultant in Sydney, Australia.