Are your clients finding what they need and want on your practice’s website? Is your site following basic search-engine best practices? How findable is your veterinary practice’s website for new and prospective clients? Test your knowledge with this quick and fun quiz!
1) How many pet owners who regularly visit the veterinarian also go online for more pet health information, either before or after their visit?
- 1 in 10
- 3 in 10
- 4 in 10
- 6 in 10
Answer: D, 6 in 10.1
According to a survey of more than 1,000 pet owners in the U.S. who regularly visit their veterinarian, 6 in 10 are researching their pet’s health online in addition to going to the veterinarian.
2) True or false: When I perform a search for my practice website or pet-health issues in Google, I’m seeing the same results my clients are.
Google and other search engines provide individualized search results based on a number of factors, including location, personal search history, social connections and more — even in private mode.2
In other words, while you and your clients are probably seeing similar types of results when you perform a search, ranking and exact content can vary. This is why looking at average ranking for keywords is so important for your practice’s website. No two searchers are exactly alike and your site may rank differently for each person. To get an idea of how your practice’s website ranks for certain terms, check out Google Analytics’ Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Queries report, or the SERPS rank checker tool.
3) True or false: Ranking well on Google website results and Google maps is the same thing.
You may have noticed a few years ago that Google started giving more prominence to certain types of results in search. An example of this is the appearance of Google Maps results above the regular search results when your search indicates that you’re looking for something in a specific area. Google might even be taking this a step further and showing you local results when you haven’t included a local term. (As I wrote this, Google shifted my search results for the term “animal hospital” from webresults first to map first.) However, ranking well in Google Maps and Google web results pages are not the same. You can learn more about the factors that contribute to high-ranking map results here.
4) True or false: Despite local map results, targeting keywords relevant to my customers and business on my practice website is a key part of my site’s search optimization.
This appears to be an underutilized advantage among veterinary practice websites. For example, according to Google’s AdWords tools, the basic term “animal hospital” receives twice the search volume as other possible practice descriptors in the Portland, ME area. However, only one of the practices on the first page of web search results is using the term — and that practice is half an hour away. The websites are otherwise very similar, so by targeting the most searched term in a nearby area, this practice that is farther away has managed to surpass the ranking of 20-plus much closer practices.
5) Which of the following can be effective ways to help enhance your veterinary practice’s average rankings in search results pages?
- Ask clients to leave your practice a review on Google Places.
- Check out what pet health topics people in your area are searching for — then write a weekly blog about them.
- Look at your site analytics and prioritize optimization of any pages with high bounce or exit rates.
- Review your site’s services descriptions and check to make sure they’re using the same keywords as people use in your area.
- All of the above.
Answer: E, all of the above.
Remember, while many website platforms and services will promise “SEO for practices,” none can replace a little local research and a lot of creativity. Good website structure and “bones” are only the beginning. All of the above are examples of creative, lower effort ways to help your practice show up more favorably in search rankings.
- IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. Pet Owner Bonds Research conducted January 2015; n=1,001. As presented at the AAHA 2015 State of the Industry Address 03/2015.
- http://searchengineland.com/guide/seo/personalizationsearchenginerankings accessed 3/22/2016.
As the former Editor-in-Chief of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network and Senior Producer for Petfinder.com, Jane Harrell's spent a lot o f time thinking about search engine optimization (SEO). By focusing on helping pet owners find the right pet health content at the right time via third parties like Google, Bing and Yahoo, Jane’s helped petfocused websites increase organic (unpaid!) search traffic by the hundreds of thousands per month — all by using some of the simplest SEO techniques.