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the definitive guide

to veterinary websites

Mike & Aimee

BY: MIKE HAMILTON // INCEPTION ONLINE MARKETING, OWNER

When it comes to veterinary websites, figuring out all of the details is like juggling and solving three Rubik’s Cubes at the same time. Although the internet can be a complicated and challenging place, the basic principles are quite simple. In the guide below, I do my best to explain both internet marketing and veterinary websites.

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The Design of Your Veterinary Website

Your website design is vital to your site. One aspect that many veterinarians overlook is the client's actions. As service providers, we can often get caught up solely focusing on telling potential new clients all of our services without considering one thing… Do people want to know this? In most scenarios, clients are more concerned with seeing your picture first rather than the services you provide.

mobile vet website

Education Focus or New Client Focus?

When veterinary websites began to become prevalent, the sites focused on client education. Many in the industry believed this was the way forward and another new client educational tool, but this was wrong. This format bored clients and enticed almost no one to read the content.

Is Your Website Professional or In Your Face?

The first client generating veterinary websites were in your face websites. Although this may work, is this the impression you want to leave with your clients and the people in your community? At Inception, we believe in and have designed a method to attract new clients without belittling them. A clear call to action on a professional site accomplishes the same results as in your face sites while also leaving a better reputation for your office.

Is a Video Necessary on Your Site?

The importance of video marketing is increasing greatly, but is it crucial to the performance of your site? From experience, video is a great thing to have on your site but it is not necessary. In fact, a video should only be used on the homepage if it is professional and high quality. Shooting a video with poor quality and posting that video to represent your business is not the greatest option.

If you do not have a video for your homepage, I do still recommend making videos with client testimonials. The clients we have who utilize these testimonial videos and do them well are seeing great results. The videos do not need to be the greatest quality and are a great way to give potential new clients a glimpse into the successes and reviews of your office.

Mobile Veterinary Websites

Many people are talking lately about mobile veterinary websites. Some website companies are going around telling people about how they are losing clients without a mobile friendly website. But, is this the truth?

When first addressing this topic it is important to look at the big picture. In some way, every site works on a mobile device. Some may transition better than others to a mobile format, but they all work.

Ask yourself this: If you are attempting to learn about a new service provider using your mobile phone, would you want to be able to access the entire site or just a snippet on a mobile version of the same site? Personally, I find more use out of the full site. Also, with the capabilities of smartphones today, the purpose and usefulness of a mobile site is declining.

All Inception websites are created with a responsive design. This mean that the entire site is displayed on all platform, but just changes shape to accommodate each specific device.

What to Display on Your Homepage?

On most veterinary website homepages, there are mountains of information. Test this yourself. Go around and look at different veterinary websites in your city or area and look at the results. When doing this, do you read the whole page and all its content or just the most predominant and eye catching thing? For me, the most interesting part gets looked at and the rest is ignored.

Through my many years in this industry I have learned that most potential clients do the same as I do. On average they will take 5 seconds looking at your page and if it does not peak their interest, they move on to the next one. And although they may come back, why risk it? If you can catch their attention and make them take action initially with a clean, focused and professional website with a eye catching call to action, your site will be more successful.

What is the Best Website Design Platform?

When it comes to the topic of website design platforms, many people begin to get lost. However, if you have heard of WordPress then you have a basic start to this understanding. Before design platforms, websites were built by hand using code. Now, most websites are created using content management systems. These types of systems can be visualized as building blocks. Web designers from all over the globe create plugins and modules that are meant to be used as the building blocks of the websites by being plugged in to content management systems like WordPress or Joomla. This method of web design is much easier to understand and give your as the veterinarian access to the site as well to make changes that you see fit.

Here at Inception Online Marketing, we use WordPress as our content management system for each of our clients. WordPress gives us access to cutting edge and trendy designs to offer to you. Also, we do not expect our clients to work on their own site. We handle everything. If there are any changes that you would like to make just let us know and we can have it done within minutes.

How Much Should a Veterinary Website Cost?

Knowing the proper cost of a veterinary website can be difficult for many veterinarians. How do $49 and $250 websites compare? The lack of knowledge in this area generally comes from the lack of experience and an unclear understanding of what they are paying for. I believe that you should not be paying over $500 monthly for a website. In junction with this, paying $200 or less is likely to result in you not receiving all of the services you believe that you are.

What about the Content of Your Website?

The strength of your website comes from your content. As Google visits and assesses your site, the are evaluating hundreds of things. They attempt to compare your content against the content of your competitors and others in your industry. Let me sum up some of the important factors which Google looks for.

The first aspect of your content is its specificity. If you are trying to rank well in Google, it is important to make sure that they keywords you want to rank for are in your article and the article is well written. Doing this will help you surpass other websites easily as the often have little to no written content. As well as quality, the length of the page is important. A one or two page article will help you site much more then one that is only a few paragraphs. When you work with Inception Online Marketing you don’t have to worry about any of this since we create the content for you.

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social media marketing integration

More than likely, at some point in your online marketing journey you have been told that the key to new clients is social media marketing. Although this may not be as prevalent lately, many social media gurus have been preaching that Facebook is the missing link in generating tons of new clients. The social media aspect is vital to the completion of your online presence, but don’t believe the hype. Social media is important have for Google to see your social media connection, however, it will not be the easily done, driving force behind getting clients in the doors like many believe it is.

Facebook Marketing

In the past and currently, veterinarians are finding success through Facebook marketing. But what is often unseen about this success is a large local following that they have generated over many years. This is where the difficulty comes in. If you’re thinking this sounds hard, that because it is. It may just be so hard that it would not even be worth dedication time and money to for many offices.

Although Facebook may not be the greatest for connecting with new clients, staying in touch with current ones is a breeze. Your clients love when you take time to share what you know with them. It isn’t necessary to post everything you know in the veterinary field, but better to post a mix of veterinary information as well as inspirational, funny or helpful tips. Creating a stronger connection to your clients like this is a great way to ensure that the next time the have veterinary needs, they come and see you.

Google+ Marketing

Google Plus will not be the social media that generates you new clients, but it is very useful in other areas. Your organic Google rank in your local area is massively based off of this. An entire article could be written on this topic, but a quick overview is that it is vital to find a professional. Our team here at Inception Online Marketing took a year to master the program so your chances of doing this yourself is slim. Without a top ranking site in your area, how many potential clients are you losing?

LinkedIn Marketing

LinkedIn is a great place to talk to other professionals, however is not the place to find new clients. So what’s the purpose you may ask? Having this account helps you in the eyes of Google because they like to see you having confirmed and active accounts on social media. Generating connections to your profile will also likely raise the weight of your account in Google. This will give you more authority and benefit you and your site.

Twitter Marketing

Personally, I believe Twitter should be on the bottom of your priority list. Although some potential new clients may be generated from it, the layout and mechanics of the platform doesn't really allow for strong relationships with clients. In my years of experience I have yet to find a veterinarian who has had clients come in because of Twitter. In most cases, Twitter is just time consuming. This is still important to Google and therefore you should have an account, but I would not focus too much time into it.

YouTube Marketing

Of all the social medias, YouTube is on of if not the most important one. It allows your clients to get to know you and begin to trust you. They are also a great way to boost website rank. Video series on topics such as pet care or healthy diet options for animals are a great way to get people interested in you. Also, posting video testimonials to YouTube and placing them in your website will greatly help your site. Not using YouTube is a vital mistake due to the power it has on Google and your site rank.

Pinterest Marketing

Pinterest is the newest of all the social media platforms. Many veterinarians are attempting to make use out of it, however I do not see many results in generating new clients. Like many things, if you put enough time and effort into Pinterest you will see results. But, I do not think that the results will be able to outweigh the time and effort needed bring in the clients. Pinterest is still an area that we are looking into to be able to utilize it in the best way for our clients.

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Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is the process of trying to get your site noticed by Google. Your site, along with all others in the veterinary field in your area are trying to get in front of the same clients. Because of this, Google needs to make the decision of whose site to show to the people who are searching. Google wants to make sure that their users are happy with the results they get so they will put the highest quality site first.

Google has continually improved on its ability to search for quality. Each time a search is made, Google checks hundreds of factors to determine the quality of the website. Understanding what it looks for and how to optimize for these things has become a full time job. There is no definitive answer for what makes a site the highest quality it can be. The day someone finds this answer, is the day Google will no longer exist. However, there are a few things which I have figured out on this subject that Google is likely looking for on your site.

On Page SEO

On Page SEO entails all factors that can be optimized inside of your website. I would say that this is probably the most important area of optimization. Incorrectly doing this will render the rest of the optimization work you do practically useless. I will guide you through the factors that contribute to this.

The Meta Data

As you already know, a search on Google will populate tons of results. The results are formatted in a list with a blue underlined title that is clickable with text underneath. What you are seeing is a part of each site's meta data. Meta data is comprised of meta descriptions, meta keywords, and title tags. For optimization, meta data is vital. It is likely the first component of a site that Google looks at when looking for search results.

Even with its importance, many veterinary sites miss this crucial first step. Two mistakes are generally made. Either the meta data doesn’t match the proper keywords or there is no meta data at all. The most important ranking factor for your site is the title tags. If these are messed up, the rest of the site’s optimization could fail.

Header Tags

Following the check of meta data, Google likely looks at the header tags. These tags are worked into the content of your site and should match with the meta title and description. A website that is formatted correctly should have one H1 at the top, and one or two H2 below. Also, the content on the pages should match the topic of the header tags.

Keywords

As previously stated, keywords are used in these areas of the website. The meta data, header tags and content should contain the important keywords. When creating the keywords, be sure not to make the keywords stuff. The words should be naturally placed in the page and in random variations.

Structured Data

Recently, Google has added structured data. This allows the Google bots to quickly find the important information. In these data sections, information such as clinic name, website creator, and customer reviews can be placed. Most of today’s websites do not utilize this information area and can give you a hand up in search engines.

External SEO

On top of the optimization of the internal page, optimization of the external section of your veterinary site is also important. This type of optimization is made up by creating links on other pages that direct to your website. Links like this increase the popularity of your site to Google. However, like everything, there are guidelines that are important to follow.

For many years, search engine optimizers could automatically generate these external links. This method was hard for Google to catch and allowed for a site to rise to the top of searches quickly and easily. This method has now been halted by Google. Today, the amount of links is not what matters, it is the quality of them. More than ever now it is quality over quantity.

Building Links

Instead of wasting your time looking for loopholes and hortcuts, a better use of your time would be creating real, solid links. You should do this by creating videos or written content that people want. That is why I spent the time writing the article. I knew that there was important information that I could provide to you, and in turn I would generate more business for me. Business is a give and take. You must give something of value in order to get something of value.

Out of all of the possible links you could create, here are some of the best performing ones today:

  • Written Articles by You which are High Quality
  • Your Videos or Video Testimonials
  • Blog Posts
  • Guest Blog Posts
  • Citations

After you build the links to your website, another great idea is to create more links for the links. For example, you can link your website in a great blog post you created. Then you can make a YouTube video and link that to your blog. You could even post the video on social media to create an additional link. This would create a multi-level link chain directed towards your site. Now the hard part is finding time to do all of this.

SEO Companies

My least favorite thing that I have to do or my business is to tell something that they must scrap their website and start all over. Roughly once a month, a potential client approaches me and there's nothing I can do. They previously used an SEO company who destroyed their site’s credibility in the eyes of Google. Abandoning a URL and starting over will take months to get the site ranking on the first page of Google again. When working with a SEO company, be careful.

If SEO is something that is really interesting you, keep an on on MOZ.com and SearchEngineLand.com.

definitive guide to SEO
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Website Keywords

What are keywords? These are the words, phrases and terms people search for on Google. For example, if there is a veterinary office located in Chicago, people are likely to search “veterinarian Chicago” to find what they are looking for. Your veterinary website should be optimized to populate search results for these keywords in your city.

Keywords also should be intertwined in the content of your site. On top of this, content pages dedicated to a specific keyword can be beneficial, with the keywords scattered within.

Marketing Your Website?

So now, you have your veterinary website and keywords as well, but how do you market it. Using different terms, how are you going to get new clients from your website? How are you going to get people to see your awesome site? Let’s discuss this.

Paid Advertising for Veterinarian Marketing

When searching Google, have you ever noticed the small Ad mark next to the first few results? This is because of Google Adwords. The offices whos results you see have paid Google in order to improve their rank. But, is that really worth it? That answer varies based on the city.

Including Google Adwords, there are a few pain advertising options:

  • Google Adwords
  • YouTube Promoted Ads
  • Facebook Paid Ads
  • Google Remarketing Ads

In different situations, each of these can work better than the others. Doing research and finding what works in your area is vital. Paying for ads blindly is a quick way to waste money. We at Inception Online Marketing will help you narrow down the direction of tour ad campaign to save you from wasting time and money while also generating quality new client leads.

Veterinary Video Marketing

One of the most effective yet unused marketing techniques is video marketing. The reason these are effective because when people come to your website, they are not looking to read a bunch of articles. However, they will take the time to watch a video. Videos allow you to explain your message, introduce yourself, and begin to gain their trust all at the same time.

Starting to create videos does not take much. A $75 camera and a few talking topics and you’re ready to begin. Your office could benefit greatly by creating weekly videos and using YouTube to promote them.

Veterinary Reputation Marketing

Due to its importance, reputation marketing in the veterinary field will be something everyone will be doing within the next few years. Your reputation is a very fragile thing and can be easily destroyed by a few unsatisfied customers who write negative reviews. Picture this, every time someone searched for your website or business, they were meet with negative reviews and unhappy clients. This would quickly turn away many if not all potential new clients from your office.

On a site like Yelp, one or two bad reviews can destroy future business and it can be hard to recover from here. It is very difficult to hide or pull down a negative Yelp review. To prevent this situation, you must be proactive. ASking current, happy patients to write reviews for you is a necessity. If you begin with a good and solid online reputation, the bad reviews that are bound to come will hardly affect your office.

Google Plus Local

Does Google services such as Maps, Places and Plus Local confuse you?

If yes, you are not alone. However, your website rank relies greatly on you knowledge of these services. Your Google Business listing must be completely filled out, and your account confirmed. Without a neat Google presence like this, any local website will struggle against yours. At Inception Online Marketing, our team can do this for you, but if you wish to do it on your own, make sure to do your research.

Tracking the Health of Your Website

Keeping an eye on your website is now easier than ever. Google has helped to do this by creating tools like Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. These tools allow the users to track the traffic to their site as well as any problems that are occurring. Understanding and learning how to properly use all of the tools Google has to offer is about as hard as getting through veterinary school, however, the information is out there if you ever choose to learn it.

Many other companies will try and keep you website unassociated with a Google property. They do this because they believe that if your business is not connected with Google, it is much easier to hide shortcuts and loopholes. But this way of thinking is incorrect because Google can still see everything. No connecting a Google account to your veterinary website could result in big losses for you. If Google identifies an issue with your site, there is no way for them to reach out to you to inform you to fix it. Your site could be getting penalized without warning or understanding why.

Finally, I believe I have reached the end. This article will be continually updated as time goes on and as I learn more about SEO. If you still have questions about this topic, or about anything else associated with a veterinary website, we at Inception Online Marketing Websites are here to help. Although online marketing is very involved, it will be worth it in the end. In today’s market, just a website won’t do. Let the expert at Inception Online Marketing help your website perform to the best of its ability.

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