To save staff time, improve efficiency, and generate more revenue, your website needs to be working for your practice as an extension of the team, and in order to do this effectively, it needs to be search engine optimized.
To get you started, here’s a quick checklist to walk you through better website SEO for your veterinary practice.
- Create a contact page: Pet owners are typically looking for veterinary practices near them. Creating a specific contact page on your veterinary website will provide Google with information about your location to match it with local pet owner searches.
- Google Business Profile: When you search for local businesses on Google, some of the results will be local listings that connect you with Google Maps. You can easily ensure that your clinic shows up in these local listings by creating a Google Business Profile account.
- Services and location: Pet owners search for answers to common pet questions. For example, a pet owner might search for, “How much rest does my dog need after getting spayed?” Answer this question (and improve your SEO) by creating content using market-specific keywords about this service and include your location. Example: “Dog Spaying FAQs, Atlanta, Georgia.”
- Ask for reviews: Pet owners also commonly wonder what others think of your veterinary practice. To address questions about trust, ask for reviews, which are third-party confirmation about your website and service. (If you happen to get a negative review, here are the benefits.)
- Keep your information up to date: There’s nothing worse for existing and potential customers than finding a wrong address or wrong opening hours. Keep your information updated on all your channels: website, socials, GMB profile, etc.
- Advertise locally: Paid search and social-media advertising are excellent ways to boost your online presence to attract more website visitors but consider running an ad in your local newspaper. Despite assertions that “print is dead” and “no one reads anymore,” a new study conducted by Totum Research reveals that printed newspaper ads rank second for engagement only to search engine results, and this includes Millennials (or, the largest demographic of pet owners).
- Spread the Word with Your Current Clients: Websites disappear from the screen, but printed material tends to stick around, and when a current client passes something like promotional material to a friend, that person knows where to find you online and can more easily visit your website. Work your website into client conversations and provide a compelling reason for people to visit.
- Increase the community involvement: Raise funds for charity, have a pet-food drive, or sponsor a local sports team. Community involvement tends to attract good press and links to your practice website, and your involvement provides you with something fresh to write about on your blog or social channels to further attract more website visits.
- Title tag: Your title tag is one of the first thing search engines look for – and one of the first things potential visitors see. Make sure that the title is less than 70 characters. Google also recommends that you include your name after the page’s title, e.g., “Team Page | ABC Veterinary Hospital.”
- Meta descriptions: Check for missing meta descriptions on your posts. Update and consider descriptions no longer than 175 characters. Use keywords within titles and descriptions.
- Headlines: Use only one H1 headline per post, with H2 and H3 headlines arranged afterward. Use bullet points or numbered lists to make content easier to read.
- Content Creation: After your title tag, search engines scan your content to make sure it’s relevant. Being relevant means more than just writing about topics customers are interested in. It’s also writing about those topics in client-friendly language. Instead of clinical terms, use words that your customers would actually search for.
- Recycle content: Some pet health subjects are of perennial interest to pet owners. Use old content and update it with modified new meta descriptions, titles, add videos or new images, etc.
- Keyword density: Include your keywords liberally throughout your content, but only where they really fit. Search engines can actually recognize when you’re adding in keywords arbitrarily and can penalize your ranking.
- Page URL: Whenever possible, include keywords or key phrases in your URL, and place them as close to the beginning as possible. Also, use hyphens between words rather than spaces or underscores.
- Interlinking: Link your pages internally, which provides “link juice” to other website pages. Remove 404 links and substitute using new links that lead to a new page.
- Optimizing images: Upload images in mobile-friendly formats, use alt text in context, and avoid keyword stuffing. Resize images no larger than 800px wide.
- Image ALT Tags and File Names: Include keywords in your image file names so search engines can recognize what your image is displaying. Don’t include irrelevant keywords in your image ALT tags – making your image accessible is more important than adding keywords.
- Backlinks: When someone includes a link from their website back to yours, it’s (unsurprisingly) called a backlink. Collaborate with others in your industry to receive mentions on their websites.
- Participate in forums: Posting to veterinary forums allows you to interact with and gain exposure to new customers.
- Social media: Google has indicated that it crawls social platforms. Your content shared to social media could provide an SEO opportunity and help increase your website ranking. (For additional tips, read 12 Quick-Win Tips to Boost Your Social Media Presence.)
- Listings: Along with GMB, listings can provide reputation and ranking for a search.
- Newsletter and email: Share your website content in your email newsletter. This will provide a reference of traffic, helping you to rank.
- Update your website crawlability: Use the txt file to tell Google which pages to crawl and which ones to avoid.
- Check to ensure your website is mobile-friendly: If your practice website is not fully optimized for mobile devices, Google clearly stated the SEO cost for mobile-unfriendly websites in 2017. Run the Mobile-Friendly Test from Google, which will suggest fixes if necessary.
- Fix broken links: Broken website links deliver 404 errors, which translate as a bad user experience and hurt SEO and ranking if your practice website has too many of them. To fix this, redirect a broken link to a new link using a 301 redirect.
- Check for duplicate content: Duplicate content (e.g., two identical pet healthcare blogs) causes SEO issues because Google will not know which page is the original and most important one. Add a canonical tag to point to the original content.
- Check the functionality of redirections: If you create redirections, check their functionality. If they aren’t working correctly, verify the 301’s setup. 302 redirects should only be used on a temporary basis.
- Check your website speed: Search engines like Google are businesses. In order to keep people using their services, companies like Google are focused on providing the best user experience possible. So, Google is continually adjusting its algorithm to rank faster-loading websites higher on search engine results pages while dropping slow-loading websites down the page.
By following these recommendations, you’re setting your veterinary website up for long-term success and positioning your site as the go-to-source of trusted information for pet owners, while saving valuable staff time in the process.
Download the above checklist today or request a WebDVM consultation to learn more about how we can do the work for you.