Why veterinarians shouldn't be allowed to blog
When I give presentations to veterinarians on search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing, I’m always hesitant to come forward with the statement that veterinarians shouldn’t waste their time blogging on their practice website. I even scan the audience for SEO experts and marketing mavens—easily identifiable with their dark rim glasses and iPads—for fear of being pelted with stale conference food. If the crowd looks safe, I say it: “Veterinarians shouldn’t be allowed to blog.”
Every SEO guru out there may disagree with me, but I’m a veterinarian and I understand the realities of veterinary practice marketing and the limited, precious time veterinarians possess.
So here’s my reasoning:
Rank is tricky. If a veterinarian writes a post about overheating in dogs, that article should help them rank online for those search terms, right? Not so. There are so many pet-owner-targeted sites out there—eHow.com, VetLive.com, etc.—that no independent veterinary hospital will ever rank well enough to generate web traffic.
SEO takes practice. Veterinarians might not know how to create SEO-optimized posts with the correct keyword density, best practices for linking, and proper use of appropriate tags. An article could be well written, but without SEO-friendly optimization, the article is simply lost in space.
Blog topics count. Rarely do veterinarians know how to do keyword research to determine what topics they should write about to increase visits to their practice. And without keyword research, article-ranking success is rare. More effort and more articles have to be produced to realize the same benefit as a targeted optimized campaign.
And finally … your time is too precious. If you’re a good writer, you shouldn’t waste your time entertaining a small audience on your own website—you should be writing for external publishers. And by doing so, you’ll generate links to your website.
So what should you give your dedicated website visitors? Skip the blog and stick with news. Create a practice news center—it’s much easier to write and tends to have better keyword density. When you stay focused on practice news, you tend to write more about new products and services you offer, which can help you with searches on the web. And practice news doesn’t need to be written by a veterinarian—another team member who enjoys writing can tackle the task. Also, don’t forget that you may even be able to repurpose articles you wrote for a publisher, although you may have to wait a few months to publish them to avoid copyright infringement and duplicate content search engine penalties.
Although I maintain that veterinarians shouldn’t bother to blog on their websites, they should most definitely write and create article content. We’re still one of the most respected professions, and we have an immense amount of information to provide pet owners who eagerly consume vet-created web content. We just need to make sure we’re getting the most marketing bang for our buck.
Jed Schaible, VMD, MBA, CVPM, is director of market communications at the veterinary purchasing group Purchasing Services Inc.