Despite constant changes to Google’s algorithms, veterinary keywords remain a constant in veterinary SEO to rank your practice website higher in search results and attract more clients.

If you’re new to veterinary keywords and why they’re integral to veterinary SEO, this straightforward guide walks you through:

  • Why veterinary keyword research is essential.
  • How veterinary keywords impact veterinary SEO and online visibility.
  • How to choose veterinary keywords.

If you’re new to veterinary SEO and don’t know what keywords are, here’s the CliffsNotes explanation.

Keywords are word or phrases that pet owners use when searching for pet health information online. If pet owners are searching for information related to heartworm prevention, for example, they may use phrases like “heartworm symptoms” or “heartworm prevention in dogs.”

Relative to this is search volume. Though some pet owners may use the search phrase “heartworm prevention in dogs,” more pet owners may search “heartworm symptoms,” meaning the latter has a great search volume.

So, veterinary keywords (and veterinary SEO as a whole) represent a strategy. It’s about identifying key words and phrases (hence the name keywords) that pet owners are popularly using in searches and including these search terms in your website content so search engines view your website as relevant and valuable to user queries and rank your website higher in search results pages.

In short, veterinary keywords are the backbone of a solid veterinary SEO plan.

Here are some key steps to put that plan together.

Identify Optimal Veterinary Keywords

Just as veterinarians may check several different things before making a diagnosis, identifying optimal veterinary keywords for your veterinary SEO plan can involve several different methods, including:

Google Suggest (or Autocomplete)

Simply launch Google, start typing a service or query related to your veterinary services in Google’s search bar, and take note of Google’s autocomplete suggestions. Per Google, “Autocomplete predictions reflect real searches that have been done on Google.”

Long-tail keywords (meaning longer, more specific search phrases) are particularly valuable. Despite their typically lower search volumes, they can be particularly valuable to veterinary SEO. “Long-tail keywords,” writes WordStream, “are valuable for businesses who want their content to rank in organic Google searches,” adding that although long-tail keywords may attract less traffic to your practice website than short keywords, “the traffic you do draw will be better: more focused, more committed, and more desirous of your services.”

Google Search Console

This web service by Google enables you to see keywords for which your practice website already ranks. To get started:

  1. Log into Google Search Console.
  2. Navigate to Performance\Search Results and ensure all the overview boxes at the top are ticked.
  3. Explore the Queries section to find a list of keywords for which your website is already ranking, along with valuable metrics like clicks, impressions, clickthrough rate (CTR), and your ranking position for each query.

Keyword Magic Tool

Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool provides a wealth of information about what keywords pet owners are searching for and their search volume. This includes filtering by broad match, phrase match, exact match, and related keywords.

The Keyword Magic Tool also allows you to filter by question, which helps you create content that directly answers pet owner queries—and directly match questions as keyword phrasing to improve SEO and online discovery. If you key in “pet diabetes,” for example, Semrush shows the exact phrasing of pet diabetes-related searches, such as “Can animals be diabetic,” “What are the signs of diabetes in dogs,” and “Can dogs get type 2 diabetes.”

Keyword Gap Analysis

Semrush’s Keyword Gap feature shows you what keywords competitors are ranking for so you can add them to your veterinary SEO if they’re missing. To use Keyword Gap:

  • Enter the domain name for your practice website.
  • Add the domain names of up to four competitors. You can choose them yourself or let Keyword Gap choose domain names based on organic search competition.
  • Set your location to tailor the analysis based on where your practice operates.
  • Click the Compare button to discover veterinary keywords that competitors are ranking for (but you aren’t) and valuable keywords that could boost your veterinary SEO to attract more pet owners to your practice website.

Understand Pet Owner Search Intent to Identify Veterinary Keywords

When pet owners Google something, there’s an intent behind their search. They want to find something (either answers to general questions or something more specific) and your practice website offers a range of information about your veterinary services, contact information, etc. So, an important step in keyword planning is choosing keywords that match relevant pages of your website to search intent.

A few examples:

  • Navigational intent. If a pet owner searches something like “veterinary clinic hours,” relevant keywords on your Contact Us page (or wherever you provide your hours of operation) match the specific information that pet owner seeks.
  • Informational intent: If a pet owner searches “symptoms of feline diabetes,” they may not be seeking immediate veterinary attention for their cat, but they’re certainly looking for information that may lead them to seek veterinary consultation. So, relevant keywords placed in something like your website’s blog (versus your services page) match search intent while positioning additional website information that can make it easy for them to seek consultation.
  • Commercial intent. If a pet owner searches “best flea protection for dogs,” they may be comparing options and may be ready to buy something that’s relevant to a page on your website.

Urgent intent. If a pet owner searches for “emergency vet services near me,” they may have an immediate need relevant to a page on your website that provides information about the emergency services you support or recommend.

Understanding the relationship between search intent and keywords helps you hone a veterinary SEO strategy that supports both online visibility and pet owners no matter what their need.

Examine Search Volumes for Veterinary Keywords

Search volume means how often a keyword is used by people each month when searching on Google. Employing relevant high-volume veterinary keywords can significantly increase traffic to your website, and keyword research tools like Semrush can help you find them.

Choosing veterinary keywords based on search volume represents a balancing act. Choosing high-volume keywords means it may be more difficult for your practice to rank for them in searches. Low-volume keywords mean fewer competitors are using them, so you stand a better chance of ranking for them. Overall, the higher the difficulty percentage of keywords, the tougher it is to rank for them.

To help you navigate the keyword balancing act, Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool categorizes keywords into six levels of keyword difficulty (how hard it would be to rank for them):

  • Very Easy—the best opportunities to start ranking new web pages on Google with the least amount of effort.
  • Easy—keywords that have some competition but for which ranking is still achievable.
  • Possible, requiring (per Semrush) “quality, well-structured content that is properly optimized for your target keywords.”
  • Difficult, requiring “quality backlinks along with producing well-structured and optimized content.”
  • Hard—keywords requiring effort, including quality backlinks to support well-optimized and unique content.
  • Very Hard—keywords requiring significant effort: high-quality content, link building, on-page SEO, and content promotion.

Identify Keywords That May Trigger Local Pack Appearance

The Local Pack (a.k.a. the Snack Pack) is a search engine results page (SERP) feature that displays three local businesses that Google’s algorithms deem relevant to a local search. Tools like Semrush help you identify keywords that can trigger appearance in this coveted spot.

Weight Cost Versus Benefit for Veterinary Keywords

Choosing the right veterinary keywords to optimize your veterinary SEO involves more than simply spotting opportunities. It’s about weighing cost considerations against expected gains.

Cost considerations include:

  • Effort—how much work it will take to rank for keywords.
  • Resources—whether you have the expertise to optimally execute SEO or whether you require assistance from Veterinary SEO services.
  • Tools—the cost of investing in quality SEO tools to research and execute an optimal veterinary SEO strategy.
  • Time—how much time it will take to implement veterinary SEO and what other time may be lost, such as time connected to appointments and patient care.

Striking the right balance means aligning your keyword choices with your clinic’s goals, resources, and the potential return on investment.

Putting Veterinary Keywords into Action

  • Start by cataloging your keywords. Using a tool like Semrush’s Keyword Manager lets you save and categorize your keywords, making them easy to access and review.
  • Build your keyword strategy. Group related keywords together. This helps create comprehensive content that addresses multiple queries at once. Select a primary keyword for each cluster to focus your efforts on the most impactful terms. Additionally, map out which page on your site each keyword cluster should target, ensuring your content strategy is both organized and effective.
  • Prioritize high-quality content. It’s not just about inserting keywords. It’s about providing value to pet owners while simultaneously spotlighting your practice’s authority to build trust and engagement.

Use Veterinary Keywords Strategically

There’s a fine line between strategic placement and overuse when using veterinary keywords. They should flow and fit naturally in your content.

  • Prioritize placing veterinary keywords in key content areas:
  • Introductory paragraphs.
  • Headlines and sub-headlines within content.
  • Meta descriptions
  • URLs

Advanced Veterinary Keyword Research Tips

Use Semantic Keywords in Your Veterinary SEO

Semantic keywords are simply words or phrases that are conceptually related to each other. For example, if one of your primary keywords in “puppy vaccinations,” semantic keywords might include “puppy care” or question-form phrases like “What vaccinations should puppies have?”

Tools like Semrush’s Content Template analyze top-performing content related to your industry and recommend semantically related keywords.

Stay on Top of Veterinary Keyword Search Trends

Thermostats and clocks may represent set it and forget it, but veterinary SEO doesn’t. Because pet owner priorities, values, and interests can change over time, so too can things like search terms change, which is why SEO is often described as a moving target.

This means that once an initial SEO strategy is put in place, monitoring and adjusting SEO over time is critical to manage and maintain optimal SEO performance. As Moz writes, “Measuring the impact of your work and ongoing refinement is critical to your SEO success, client retention, and perceived value.”

Google Trends is a go-to tool for identifying keywords on the rise and breaks down search-term popularity according to geographical regions relevant to your practice. Google Trends also provides Related Queries—keywords with significant search frequency increases, signaling emerging interests or questions from pet owners.

Beyond the above:

  • Stay up on veterinary industry news. What’s new in veterinary medicine could soon be an emerging keyword among pet owners.
  • Stay connected to pet owners through social media to stay connected to what pet owners are talking about and what online content is catching their attention.
  • Collect feedback from your clients. Direct conversations with pet owners (whether in-person or via surveys) can uncover areas of interest or concern.


Veterinary keywords are the backbone of a solid veterinary SEO plan to rank higher in search results and turn more clicks into clients, and veterinary SEO strategy planning includes weighing gains against implementation cost considerations like time, and time is certainly a premium for practices.

That’s why practices choose the kind of veterinary SEO services provided by LifeLearn Animal Health.

Backed by 30 years of specific and proven experience helping veterinary practices across North America reach their goals and thrive, LifeLearn’s SEO services are designed to rank your practice higher in search engines—and keep your rankings high—so you can spend more time focused on patient care.

Find out more about LifeLearn’s Veterinary SEO services.