To help veterinary practices stay financially afloat during the COVID-19 crisis, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) recently released a list of recommendations. Among them, the OVMA recommends that practices maintain their websites while cancelling advertising and other forms of marketing as much as possible, and the recommendation makes sense. Websites represent business and operational lifeblood for practices. And with practices changing the way they serve clients with things like after-hours telehealth triage services, websites become extra important in letting pet owners know in order to retain clients, attract new ones, and ultimately weather the economic storm.
The challenge for practices right now is internet usage. While website traffic is down for some industries by as much as 50%, traffic for health websites has surged as people search for answers to all kinds of COVID-19 and health care questions. This means online competition for any health care business has dramatically increased. And the surge will have lasting effects on companies as people discover new businesses online and develop new loyalties.
To help protect against lost clients in the new competitive landscape, companies of all stripes are ramping up SEO and website marketing (which can include online ads to drive website traffic). And leading search and intelligence companies like Conductor advise businesses that SEO is the most cost-effective and direct path to maintain business during economic downtimes.
So, what’s the best way to get started if you’re new to SEO and website marketing?
The first step is to understand some essential SEO and online marketing terms. Here are 15 that every veterinary practice should know:
1. SERP—Search Engine Results Page
Whenever you complete an online search in Google or other search engine, the results of your search appear in a SERP (search engine results page). As a veterinary practice, your goal is to rank higher on a SERP than competitors because rank can dramatically improve business.
In findings from a joint 2019 study by Backlinko and Clickflow, the #1 organic result in Google’s search results receives 31.7% of all clicks, and is 10 times more likely to receive a click compared to a result in the #10 spot.
2. Organic Search
Not all results on SERPs are created equal, which is what makes SEO so crucial to your practice’s ability to reach pet owners. An organic search—or natural search—refers to the standard, unpaid results that appear on SERPs.
3. Paid Search
A paid search refers to any sponsored listings that you see on a SERP to promote visibility and traffic to a specific webpage. Typically, paid search results dominate the top and bottom results of a page and are labelled with a small “Ad” icon at the top left of a headline. Advertisers pay each time a user clicks on one of these listings in order to rank higher in SERPs.
4. Google My Business
Google My Business listings are knowledge panels of information that come up with photos, directions, reviews, and more when you Google a business. On desktops, the listing displays to the right of organic and paid search results. On mobile, the listing often appears at the top of the screen. Google My Business manages your online presence across Google, including Google Search and Google Maps, and makes it easy for customers and potential clients to connect with you.
According to Ipsos MORI, businesses with Google My Business listings are 38% more likely to have searchers visit the location, and visitors are 29% more likely to become customers. If your practice hasn’t claimed and verified a free Google My Business listing, or if you have one but haven’t updated it in a while, read How and Why to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing.
Have you ever partnered with a local pet rescue or shelter that linked back to your practice website? When any type of third party includes a link to your website, it’s called a backlink. Also known as inbound links, these online shout-outs play a significant role in determining how highly your website ranks in SERPs.
Typically, this refers to a snippet of text shown on search results for your website. A snippet acts as a preview or summary of what a pet owner can expect if they click through to your website.
Google generates snippets from page content, as well as other factors. While Google can’t manually change snippets for individual sites, Google is always working to make them as relevant as possible, and provides general guidelines for improving the quality of snippets.
A web crawler (sometimes called a spider bot, or spider) is an online program sent out by search engines to index and organize web pages. A crawler works by following links on a website and storing information about the pages it finds. This is how Google and other search engines build the ranking of pages within SERPs.
8. Bounce Rate
A bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave a website after only visiting one page. A high bounce rate is an indicator that your website isn’t giving visitors enough of a compelling reason to stay and explore your website.
9. Page Load Speed
Load speed is how quickly a website page completely loads onto a user’s screen when they visit a website, and a fast load speed matters because user satisfaction with any type of website is now measured in seconds. According to the Aberdeen Group, a one-second delay in web page load time causes 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and a 7% loss in customer conversions.
10. PPC—Pay Per Click
Pay Per Click refers to a form of online advertising where advertisers pay search engines to rank their content higher in SERPs based on a per-click fee. Every time a person clicks through to a sponsored listing, the advertiser pays a fee for the resulting traffic. Examples include ad platforms like Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) and Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads).
11. CPC—Cost Per Click
Closely related to PPC advertising, CPC (Cost Per Click) involves a fee per click to run a particular paid search ad. The fee largely depends on the type of ad, the chosen keywords, and how long someone wants to maintain the ad, among other factors.
12. Clickthrough Rate
Often abbreviated as CTR, clickthrough rates measure the effectiveness of paid search ads based on the percentage of times people click on it when it appears in search results. A high clickthrough rate commonly indicates an ad that is well-matched to what a user searched for.
Not every user will click on a link to your veterinary website, even with a PPC advertisement. But that doesn’t mean your practice isn’t being seen in SERPs. Impressions indicate the number of times an ad has been shown through Google Ads or other PPC advertising or a web page has been listed in a SERP.
14. Search Impression Share
A search impression share refers to the number of impressions you’ve received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive. Eligibility is based on ad targeting settings, approval statuses, bids, and Quality Scores.
15. Quality Score
When you run a paid search ad, Google rates the quality of your content based on the relevance of your chosen keywords and how well they perform with your intended audience. Quality Score helps determine how often your ad is shown and what cost per click you pay in comparison to competitors. The higher the Quality Score, the better your ad will perform.
In summary: In these unprecedented times, your practice website plays an important role in staying competitive, serving clients, and retaining them. And we understand that, in the face of new and unique operational and economic stresses, your team may not have the time or resources to assess the current health of your website’s SEO in order to know where to focus on improvement.
We’re committed to helping practices remain strong, So, to help your practice quickly understand the health of its website SEO, we’re offering a free SEO assessment when you book a free demo of WebDVM custom veterinary websites.
LifeLearn’s team of veterinary SEO experts will analyze your website’s current performance on Google and other search engines and identify opportunities for improvement.
Book your free WebDVM demo and get your free SEO assessment
In times of crisis, pet owners have many questions and want to know who they can trust for answers. With a suite of industry approved pet health content and online resources, WebDVM positions your practice as the go-to source of trusted information, which strengthens client engagement and keeps them coming back for more.
To further help your practice better serve clients, improve efficiency, and stay connected through the current crisis and beyond, we’re also offering WebDVM custom veterinary websites free for the first two months (valid on purchases until June 30th, 2020) and waiving all design fees.
All editions of WebDVM come standard with our SEO Kickstart package, which includes location-based keywords, SEO technical optimization, and submission to search engines.
See why more practices are switching to WebDVM.
Book your free WebDVM demo and get your free SEO assessment