Guessing how many Google searches are performed each year is a bit like guessing the speed of a domestic house cat. Sure, it’s fast, but how fast? And sure, we use Google a lot, but how much are we using it, exactly?
Well, Google’s search engine performed a total of 1.2 trillion searches in the 2016 calendar year alone. You can actually watch a real-time counter of every Google Search performed at http://www.internetlivestats.com/google-search-statistics/, which showcases the startling speed of these queries as they roll in. Any way you choose to slice it, 1.2 trillion is a truly massive number of searches (oh, and since you asked, a domestic house cat can top out at 29.8mph – whaaaat? Not any cat I’ve seen.).
When I educate veterinary practices, I often stress the importance of keeping up with Google; whether it’s securing positive Google Reviews to safeguard your online reputation (which we’ll talk about in the future), or simply maintaining best practices for an optimized mobile website. While Google’s power can feel overwhelming at times, having a favorable ranking among Google’s search results is actually easier to both understand and achieve than most people think.
SEO, in a nutshell, means “Search Engine Optimization” and refers to your site’s overall visibility and natural page rank. The higher your rank, the easier it is to get found on the web and ideally, convert pet owners to clients as a result. A large chunk of Google Searches go directly to local businesses and commerce, so often having the highest Google review rating and page ranking can mean securing several new clients on an on-going basis.
When you work in digital marketing, keeping up with Google is a lot like checking the weather. You can avoid keeping up with what’s coming if you want, but by doing so you risk being caught off-guard in a downpour. Simply by thumbing through the most prominent tech blogs on a routine basis (in conjunction with setting up a few Google Alerts) it’s easy for me to keep track of what major changes are coming about in.
Unfortunately, some marketers focus on communicating complicated changes in Google’s latest algorithms and frighten people in the process. Google updates like “Panda,” “Penguin,” “Pigeon,” and “Payday” can mean major changes for search engine indexing and what’s needed to perform well. While it’s important for me as an IT expert and digital marketer to understand the deeper implications of these changes, do you really need to understand them?
“Yes, SEO is complicated. But there are basic steps you can take to understand and improve your SEO today.” – Eric D. Garcia
After all, you’re busy running your practice and would be better off dedicating time to keeping pets healthy.
That’s why I want to teach you the basics to SEO. If you learn these skills now, you’ll have them down and you can move on to what matters most…your clients and patients.
To that effect, here are 5 techniques you can use to start mastering your veterinary practice’s SEO today:
- The first key to SEO success has stayed the same despite a number of recent changes made to Google’s algorithms. Start securing the best Google reviews possible to anchor the online search results of your business. Statistically speaking, people across all demographics gravitate toward higher ranking businesses (four or five stars) and remain neutral or hesitant about other listings (those with one to three stars). Make sure to solicit new reviews, especially from loyal pet owners who are delighted with your services. I recommend emailing your top 25 clients with a letter and link to your Google listing. Securing a higher ranking will help your search results and is something you can get started on today.
- Next, use ‘Moz Local’ (moz.com/local) as an easy way to register your practice across multiple websites and ensure it’s as easy as possible to get found online. This resource works wonders, and makes sure that your business is listed correctly across major online databases. I also encourage you to claim your veterinary practice’s listing on Google and Yelp.
- Use a set of naturally occurring keywords to make sure your website performs well and ranks optimally during relevant searches. Don’t try to outperform here by cramming in extra words or hiding keywords in your site. Just make sure to clearly include core details about your practice, including city, concentration (animal clinic, veterinary hospital, emergency veterinarian, etc.).
- Make sure your website is optimized for mobile. Take advantage of the free Mobile-Friendly Test tool (https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly) provided directly by Google. This handy feature will run a quick check on your existing website to make sure it’s optimized for mobile. Since an increasing amount of web traffic comes from smartphones and mobile devices, this step is more important now than ever. A good mobile website strips down the best of a desktop site, and makes it easily available for the user to access on their mobile device. Mobile devices are smaller and more compact, and thus the aesthetics and build of a proper mobile website reflects this. A good mobile site will emphasize big buttons that are accessible on the go. This might mean a tap-to-call button that lets the user call your primary business line with a single finger-tap. The same functionality can be lent to locators and GPS features that can ostensibly bring a new client right to your door. A proper mobile build will show off the best of your brand with a custom color pallet and seamless links to Social Media. Well-conceived and implemented mobile builds will also boast simple bits of information that any prospective or current customer might need to know (think location, phone number, slogan).
- Add fresh, organic and valuable content to your website regularly. Make sure that this content naturally uses the same keywords as mentioned above and adds real value to pet owners who chooses to engage it. This will serve two major functions; ensuring that you keep a growing readership that visits your site for new content and giving Google more ways to index your website effectively.
Though at first it can appear overwhelming, it’s actually easier than most people think to implement important SEO techniques that maximize online visibility.
Once you’ve started to implement these techniques, over time you’ll start to see your page ranking increase.
In an age of rapid digital transformation, keeping up with the breakneck speed of change can be difficult. By staying tuned to this column, you’ll know what changes are coming your way, and how to adapt accordingly.
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