With the advent of the internet, it’s difficult to stand out from the other veterinary hospitals out there. What can you do to differentiate from the rest? What is it that you really need to make your clinic stand out?
Search Engine Optimization (or SEO for short) is a digital marketing strategy that utilizes search engines to help you appear when someone searches for your clinic or a related keyword. By focusing on locality and special keywords, this is an easy way you can stand out from other veterinary clinics in the area. In this article, we will be talking about Local SEO and provide simple steps for your clinic that will help boost your search engine rankings.
Why Local SEO?
Local SEO is a tactic that’s often used for small, privately owned businesses. Local SEO focuses on the locality of a place and creates search results based on that. With Google maps, Apple maps, and certain web browsers that allow for mobile location, you can search for things that are near you within a certain radius.
Local SEO is a way to optimize for those individuals who search for your clinic within a certain radius. The best part about it? The results you get from about a few hours of work can boost your rankings (stat).
Here are a few steps we suggest taking to help bolster your local SEO strategy:
1. Focus on a Localizing Keyword
In SEO, keywords are specific words or phrases that an individual would type into the search bar that you want your business to show up under. A good first step to bolster your local SEO is to optimize for a localized keyword. For example, if you’re a veterinary clinic in Folsom, CA , you might want to try to optimize for “Folsom, CA veterinarian”.
2. Optimize the Title, Meta Description, and Content for Your Localized Keyword
After figuring out what keyword you want to start ranking for, the next step is to add that keyword into different aspects of your web page. While the “title” part of the website seems obvious, the “meta description” part may be unfamiliar.
Here are some SEO vocabulary words to help you out:
- Title: The title of a web page, it’s usually seen in the tab of a browser and sometimes on the page itself. On a search result from a search engine, it’s the first line that you see in a search result.
- Meta Description: The short blurb of words underneath the title in a search result. This section usually requires about 160 – 200 characters.
- Web Content: Any words or media that you see on a web page can be considered web content. In the case of this blog article, we are specifically referring to the text on a web page.
In all three of these sections, we suggest including the city where your practice is located, in addition to the name of your practice. If PetDesk was an animal hospital, our title may look like this:
PetDesk Animal Hospital | Banker’s Hill Veterinarian
For this example, we used the specific neighborhood in San Diego we’re located in, since San Diego is such a large county to localize our search even closer. We will continue to use the same keyword, (in this case, “Banker’s Hill Veterinarian”) within the meta description and the website content.
3. Claim Pages on Major Directories
There are thousands of internet directories out there, but Google tends to rank some higher than others due to credibility and the amount of traffic they receive. A good place to start is to claim your business on major search engines, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yellow Pages, and Yelp.
Here are links to instructions on how to claim your businesses on specific search engines:
Another good way to boost your clinic to the top is to claim all of the major social media handles, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If possible, use the same handle, or username, across all accounts and list your address and phone number on each of them, even if you don’t regularly post on these sites.
4. Ensure Consistency Across Directories
Google rewards the websites with accurate information across the internet. That means that on your main website, the contact information that’s on there is the same as the contact information on Yelp or Facebook. Double check it!
Make sure that your address is consistently spelled across ALL of the different directories that you’re claiming. That means deciding whether or not you want to spell out boulevard or abbreviating it. These small details help Google cross-reference the information on certain pages and push the accurate information higher. This ensures that those looking to contact your clinic specifically will get the information they need.
We suggest typing out your address into a document and copying and pasting it into your directories. This will ensure that your information is the same across all sites.
5. Emphasize Your Positive Reviews
Search engines like Google tend to reward businesses with positive reviews more favorably than those with mediocre ones. If you have a good amount of positive reviews, showcase that on your website!
If you don’t have many positive reviews, this is also another good opportunity to try and gain more. Using a tool like PetDesk to help encourage more positive reviews of your veterinary clinic is a step in the right direction. We recommend a personal approach and recognizing your favorite clients, then asking if they can help spread the word by leaving their feedback online.
Local SEO does not have to be complicated – in-fact, it’s a fairly easy undertaking that can be done inside your veterinary clinic within one week. While there are a lot of facets of SEO that can be very complicated, most veterinary clinics only need to know the basics of local SEO to get by.
As long as you maintain an SEO friendly website and all of your contact information is up to date on the most popular online directories, there’s no reason to invest in costly monthly SEO plans. You can do more than you imagine to benefit your business by yourself!