How to Make Your Veterinary Website SEO Friendly
If a pet owner goes online to look for a veterinarian in your town, does your veterinary website appear as one of the top listings?
If the answer is yes, you’ve implemented good SEO strategies. If the answer is no, don’t panic. There are simple ways to boost your site’s SEO ranking.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, can help attract new clients, retain existing ones, and build client loyalty. As a result, it can make your veterinary practice more profitable.
How Does SEO Work?
When a user types words in a search box, search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN analyze millions of pages across the internet. Then, they match those pages with the words used in the search and rank them from best to worst. Research shows that 95% of internet users never look past the first page of search results, and few even look “below the fold,” a term that describes results that only appear by scrolling down the page. Therefore, the goal for any website is to appear on the first page of search results.1
SEO Tips for Your Veterinary Website
Good SEO centers around original content. Without compelling copy that is valuable and relevant to clients, it will be difficult to drive traffic to your website.
There’s no guarantee your website will appear first, or even on the first page of search results. However, following these 3 steps can greatly improve your search engine ranking.
1. Select the best keywords – The first step in good SEO is choosing the right keywords. These keywords should be terms your clients would search for, not what you would search for.
The best keywords are actually phrases; sometimes three, four, or even five words. This helps narrow the field of competitive websites. In contrast, by using a single keyword you are competing against other websites that use that same word.
When it comes to choosing keywords or phrases, start simple. For example, use the name of your town and the word veterinarian or animal hospital. (Example: San Francisco veterinarian or San Francisco animal hospital)
There are several resources to help you research possible keywords and phrases, such as Google AdWords and Trellian’s Keyword Discovery. Once you have an extensive list, narrow it down to your top 5-10 choices.
2. Add Keywords to Your Page Copy – Once you’ve selected your keywords or phrases, add them to the copy on your website. Plan your layout by using them wisely. Overloading a page with keywords can actually hurt your site’s SEO ranking, a practice known as keyword stuffing. The objective is to incorporate keywords without sounding repetitive. To avoid this, The Yahoo Style Guide recommends repeating keywords 2-4 times every 200 words.
Formatting text for emphasis will help increase your site’s ranking. Use keywords in the following places:
• Page Titles
• Body copy
• Bulleted and numbered lists
3. Incorporate Informative Links – The key here is informative. For good SEO, you must clearly communicate where the link goes and what information will be found on the page. For this reason, link text that reads “click here” has no value. It does not communicate what the page being linked to is about and will only hurt your SEO ranking.
Instead, incorporate keywords into your link text and make sure you link to pages with similar topics. For example, let’s say there’s a page on your website that explains your clinic’s dentistry services. Use link text such as “Tips to Keep Your Pet’s Teeth Clean” to link to a separate page that provides clients with tips to help brush their pet’s teeth. This clearly communicates to the user and the search engine what the page being linked to is about.
Informative links on your website can be internal, links that are directed to other pages on your website, or external, links are directed to pages on other websites. Internal links help ensure that search engines find all your content. However, when adding external links, make sure the websites you are linking to are relevant for your audience. A few external links are okay, but don’t go overboard.
Search engines are constantly changing the way they calculate SEO, so pay attention to the newest or latest advancements. With an effective SEO strategy, search engines will find your veterinary website easily and clients will find the information valuable and useful, resulting in better business for your practice.
Veterinary Website Do’s and Don’ts
1. The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World. Barr C. 2010, pp 393-411.