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Improving your website’s SEO

The aim of your SEO game is to appear first in any local Google searches for vets

29 April 2020, at 9:00am

So, you’ve built an amazing new website for your clinic – but unless people can easily find it, your lovely new site is going to go unread and unloved. This is where search engine optimisation (SEO) comes in. SEO is the science of helping as many people as possible to find and explore your business online.

How important is it to appear at the top of local searches for vets? Well, the latest statistics show that the top placed vet on a local Google search gets 36.4 percent of all clicks, the number two spot gets just 12.5 percent, whilst number three gets a paltry 9.5 percent of clicks available.

How do I get to number one?

The two ways to reach the coveted top spot are either by paying Google to advertise (via a paid Google AdWords account) or by what are known as “organic” results.

Organic results are instances where your site is prioritised by Google as being particularly relevant for local searchers. To do well in organic searches, you need to design your online presence to meet Google’s preferred standards, with relevant and easy-to-access information, ensuring that you naturally rise to the top of search results. The best thing about organic SEO compared to Google AdWords is that, apart from a bit of your time, it’s free!

What’s the benefit?

When people see you in the top spot of search results, then the high level of “social proof” that you’re giving them about your status and professionalism means that potential clients will implicitly trust that you’re the best choice for their pet.

If you’re right in front of your customers, at the right moment, with the right solution, you’ll be in the perfect place to win their business.

Simple steps

There’s a lot of confusing and highly technical stuff out there from SEO experts. The good news is that by taking a few simple steps to optimise your pages and content you can go much of the way towards producing similar basic results to the professionals. Set aside a morning and you’ll be able to make these changes yourself.

For the sake of simplicity, we can look at making improvements in four areas:

  • Your own website
  • Your Google listings
  • Reviews
  • Link building

Your own website

Google needs help in understanding your business. There are things you can do which can help Google rank you.

A good web developer should be able to demonstrate that they have built your website to the latest Google standards and that they are keeping your website up to date, and working 100 percent as it should be. Page load speed, metatags, URLs, how your site appears on mobiles and keywords are all things that Google will be looking at when ranking your site.

If you think your site might need improving, then this is an area where you might consider employing someone to do some SEO consulting work for you.

Your Google listings

Google prioritises websites that use their Google My Business page. If you search online you can find easy checklists to help you optimise your listing to its maximum potential. Key things include having your opening times listed, lots of professional photos of your smiling team and a blog section to post regular updates of your current special offers.

Reviews

A few years ago, Google moved to prioritise reviews in search listings, so the simple upshot is that the more five-star Google reviews you have, the higher up the rankings you go. Make sure you regularly remind your team to ask for reviews from happy customers, and ensure that you are responding and actively managing any negative reviews so that you look as good as you can to prospective new customers.

Other people’s pages and link building

The other thing that really helps your listing is the amount of “backlinks” that you have to and from your website. A really simple way to grow your backlinks is to ensure that your practice is listed on all the available free listing websites you can find, such as Yell, Yelp, Bing and Thomson Local.

Conclusion

Whilst the points above are a start with the basics, there are lots of other more technical things you can do to improve your SEO. If you’re in a highly competitive area and want to ensure you stay ahead of your rivals, then speak to an SEO expert about really mastering your online presence.

Will Stirling is a freelance marketing consultant who has worked in small animal practice marketing for over a decade, consulting on marketing strategy. He now spends his time helping independent veterinary clinics to grow and thrive.

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