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 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 places and businesses near you within a certain radius.
Local SEO is a way to optimize for individuals who search for your veterinary practice within a certain radius. The best part about it? The results from just a few hours of work can boost your rankings.
Here are a few steps we suggest to help bolster your local SEO strategy:
1. Focus on a Localizing Keyword
In SEO, keywords are the specific words or phrases that an individual would search for to find your business. A good first step to bolster your local SEO is to optimize for a localized keyword. For example, if your practice is 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 determining what keywords you want to start ranking for, the next step is to add those keywords into different aspects of your web page. While the “title” part of the website seems obvious, the “meta description” part may be new to you.
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 that links to a website.
- 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 practice 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 websites with accurate information across the internet. That means that the contact information on your main website should be consistent with the contact information listed on Yelp and Facebook. Double check it!
Further, make sure that your address is consistently SPELLED across the different directories. That means deciding whether or not you want to spell out “Boulevard” or abbreviating it to “Blvd.” 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 practice will get the accurate information.
We suggest typing out your address into a document and copying and pasting it into your directories. This ensures 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 them on your website!
If you don’t have many positive reviews, this is a good opportunity to get more. A tool like PetDesk will help encourage more positive reviews of your veterinary practice. 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 doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact, it’s a fairly easy undertaking that can be done in-house in a week by you or a willing individual on your team. While there are a lot of facets of SEO that can be complicated, most 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. Now go optimize your local SEO!