SEO for Veterinarians. Grow Your Online Presence and Increase Leads to your Practice

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The Current State of the Veterinary Industry

According to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey,
Approximately 67% of all households in the U.S. currently own a pet of some type. This translates, based on current population statistics to over 80 million families.

Further evidence of the growing need for pet care is found in statistics relating to consumer spending on pet care services. According to recent economic census statistics, for the decade ending 2017, sales of pet care services doubled, totaling $5.8B.

While not reflective of veterinary care spending, it does indicate that the general trend of pet/animal owners to spend more money than ever on their animals, which surely means more spending on vet animal care as well.

Also, it is a well-known fact that pet ownership rates increase with household income - so as western economies (including the U.S.) become more prosperous, more people choose to own pets as their additional disposable income gives them the financial resources to do so.

Factors Driving Growth in the Veterinary Field

The veterinary field is growing by leaps and bounds. According to one source, animal healthcare was estimated to be worth $139B in 2020 with a predicted compound annual growth rate for the period 2021-27 of over well over 4%. What might be some of the causes driving this growth?

  • Growth of the Pet Population. Very simply, the number of animals being cared for as pets is on the increase. Obviously, as the pet population grows in size, professionals will be needed to properly care for them.
  • Better and More Humane Animal Treatment. Despite obstacles, the message is getting out to larger society that it is wrong to allow animals of any type to suffer because they are not being cared for properly. Greater awareness brings with it a desire to seek out vets to ensure the best animal care is available.
  • Pandemic Restrictions. The COVID-19 outbreaks of recent years have required people to practice various forms of social distancing. As people become more isolated in their day-to-day contacts with people, they naturally will seek to enhance their exchanges with family, friends and the pets that are by their side. The growing importance of the support that animal relationships give to us only emphasizes the need to make sure they are cared for properly.
  • Prevalence of Pet Insurance. Almost unthinkable mere decades ago, increasing numbers of people carry insurance on their pets. The availability of pet insurance means that funds are available for pet health care should that pet become injured or develop a serious illness, making pet/animal owners more willing to seek out the services of a vet.

Competition is on the Rise in the Veterinary Industry

This enormous growth in the veterinary field has brought with it competition - and lots of it. Doing a quick search online for "pet clinics near me" or "veterinary care locations" will no doubt bring up lots of local listings.

While in the past people might go to the telephone book listings to see what veterinary clinics were available near them, today people will simply set at their computer or pull out their smartphone and start searching online.

So the key principle of SEO for veterinarians is that you must be found when people search the web. It is not enough to just get listed "somewhere" in the search engine results pages (SERP's), you need to be on page 1 for sure, and as close to the top as possible.

Understanding "Page 1" in the SERP's

Do an internet search using any of the major search engines (like Bing or Google in the U.S.) and you will find it conveniently divided into at least two - and possibly 3 - sections or areas:

  1. Paid Listings: These are found at the top of the page, and are usually marked with the tag "AD" or "SPONSORED" or similar wording. Those sites listed there have competed with other advertisers and the search engine has decided to display their paid ad. They are powerful places to be as most clicks go to the sites at the top of the listings.
  2. Organic (Non-Paid) Listings: If you can just pay to get to the top, won't those listings get all the clicks? Not necessarily. Searchers online already know those are paid ads, and so they may be reluctant to click an ad because they are not sure they can "trust" that site. Listings in the SERP's that are not paid for are called "organic" listings. These are the listings that must be earned. The higher your site placement, the more likely it is that the search engine thinks that this site has information that is valuable to their searching.
  3. The "Local Pack": While this area of the SERP's does not always display, it is more likely to appear for searches that are local in nature for service-based businesses with a physical address. Currently, Google seems to favor the "3-Pack," a short list of 3 business listings, complete with NAP (name, address, phone number information), overall rating from reviewers, and a location map. This is another powerful place to be, as the local pack listings stand by themselves and receive a lot of attention from web searchers.

Ideally the goal for any veterinary clinic or care center is to be at or near the top of the organic listings and ideally also be featured in the local pack as well.

For those with the budget, PPC advertising is also available but we would strongly advise against using PPC ads alone to drive traffic to your site. Should the costs rise beyond your ability to pay or you run into cash flow issues, and have to curtail PPC, your targeted traffic will also vanish as the ads will no longer be running.

Organic SEO can secure rankings that will stay high over extended periods of time, often requiring only periodic low-spend "maintenance" SEO campaigns to ensure your competition does not start to outrank you in the SERP's.

What Kind of Searchers Might be Looking for Your Site?

Let's think for just a moment about why someone would look for a veterinary practice. They might be -

  1. New pet owners looking to get scheduled for their pet's first visit
  2. New movers who have pets and who need to find a new clinic to take their pets
  3. Those looking to switch vets, perhaps because of a negative experience with another vet
  4. Those with a sick or injured pet who need immediate care
  5. Those with special needs who need care for a service dog or comfort animal
  6. Those in rural areas needing veterinary services for the care of their farm animals or livestock

To Get Found Online you MUST Have Relevant Content

How do search engines determine which sites to show in the SERP's? The exact "formula" is known only to them of course, but we know the broad strokes.

When a search query is executed the search engines must do several things at once:

  1. They must try to understand the intent of the search being performed. Just what is the searcher looking for? This is actually the more difficult task as it requires developing an understanding of the nuances of language - how the meaning of individual words combine into phrases, and also the grammar/syntax of that language.
  2. Once they have evaluated the search query itself and decided on the most likely intended meaning or intent of the search, they will then check their index of website pages. This massive database has information on the content of webpages - their best estimate about the subjects talked about on that page.
  3. Finally, they must evaluate each page that they know of, trying to decide which of those webpages will satisfy the searcher's query most completely. Those pages thought to be most helpful to the search query will be displayed first, followed by pages that are judged to be of less value for that particular search.

This means that for search engines to do their job properly - that is, accurately assess what your webpage is all about and its quality and relevance to the search - that they need CONTENT.

This is why resource articles are so important.

For example, you already know that some will be seeking vet services when their pet seems to be ill. To meet this need you need to have content on your page that will help searchers to know what certain symptoms may mean. They will also need to know your hours of operation, if you have a 24/7 care hotline, and clear location information so that they can get to you quickly.

For those searchers who are new pet owners, your site should have pages dedicated to their interests:

  • Getting your pet ready for their first visit
  • What to expect on your vet visit
  • What shots does my pet need?
  • Caring for my pet at home

For searchers looking to switch vets, you should have content on your site that presents your credentials. Satisfied customer testimonials are also important - as well as "case studies" of successful treatment outcomes. Pet insurance that you accept, as well as some information on costs will also be helpful.

For those looking for farm animal/livestock care, you should give information about the specific animals that you are experienced in treating. They need to know that you can travel to their location and that you have all the necessary restraining equipment, are licensed to administer drugs, and your current schedule information, especially if you split your time between work in your clinic and work on the road.

And if you are a traveling farm/livestock vet, photos of you "on-site" with you equipment will give searchers an impression of your professionalism and expertise.

For all types of searchers full contact information and driving instructions/directions will be needed. Pictures of your facilities (if you operate a clinic) and staff will help to humanize your practice. If you do seminars or group presentations, make sure upcoming presentations are highlighted, with a way for pet owners to register to attend.

And it goes without saying that you should mention any degrees, certifications, awards, and professional veterinary organizations you are a part of. If you are actively seeking and accepting new patients make sure you communicate that as well.

The Pitfalls of Amateur SEO

Let us give it to you straight: SEO for veterinarians is not something you should attempt unless you are a practicing professional in the field.

Why? Because we constantly take on new clients where our first task turns out to be fixing issues brought about by "bad SEO."

These well-intentioned site owners tried to handle their site SEO personally, perhaps spent a little money and invested in the latest fad or shiny new analysis tool.

Or worse yet, they turned over their SEO management to persons totally unqualified to do the work. Bad SEO can lower your SERP's rankings, and perhaps even your reputation.

At Posirank we are here to help. We have over a decade of experience in operating as a company and our staff and ownership have worked in the SEO field in private consultancy for many years. We know what works - and what doesn't.

We are not interested in taking your money until we have given you a plan to achieve your SEO goals. A plan with measurable ROI.

You will work with staff who are available through your own dedicated communications channel. We are not rushing to fill a quota. We don't charge add-on fees or require contracts.

Just want to talk and test the waters? No problem. Just click this link to go to our booking page where you can pick a date and time that works for you. If you want to start the conversation via email or even a quick phone call you can do that also. The important thing is to reach out - because we can't help you unless you step up. Again, here's the link to schedule a consultation call. Do it today!

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