After taking over marketing responsibilities for a startup in the equestrian industry, I have a newfound respect for the hard work SEO professionals put in each day. Google has a plethora of resources available for anyone willing to subject themselves to a crash course in SEO marketing and advertising, but let me tell you…
This stuff is hard.
It’s not difficult to understand, per se. But it is difficult to implement the tactics that will supposedly yield first-page rank results and a reliable stream of conversions keeping my client in business.
Ranking a business on Google is not a simple process. And for veterinary practices, proper SEO tactics and digital marketing strategy go a long way — if someone is knowledgeable enough to man the ship.
But what are some of the best ways to optimize a practice’s ranking on Google search results? How can a practice manager or the marketing manager in charge achieve the best results online? Let’s take a deeper dive into different types of search results, also known as Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), and how to optimize them.
Paid Search Results on Google
Google has one of the most robust ad portfolios online thanks in large part to the fact that it is the top choice for search results in the world. In many cases, businesses can boost their presence on Google by paying for an ad campaign.
The route that a practice takes on Google Ads depends on a few variables and end goals. This is an important step for a practice: identify what you want to get out of an online digital marketing campaign such as Google Ads.
Generally speaking, Google Ads offers two formats in which businesses can pay for their ads to appear: Pay-per-click (PPC) or pay-per-impression ads.
PPC marketing is perhaps the most popular option. For this, the business only pays for the amount of clicks achieved by an ad.
For example, let’s say a veterinary practice elects to run some Google Ads to promote their monthly discount wellness plans. In its first week, the ad achieves 30,000 impressions and 500 clicks. Instead of paying for each impression, or times the ad was viewed, the business will only pay for each click.
PPC is a way to optimize a Google Ads campaign to be cost-effective. However, creating the right copy and call to action in your ad will make or break the success of the ad. If 1,000 people view the ad, but only one person clicks, the cost per click (CPC) goes up. The goal is to have a lower cost per click, which comes from garnering a higher number of clicks from impressions.
Now, a practice may also simply be happy with achieving reach, or impressions. For example, a newer practice in town may prioritize reaching as many new people as they can, thereby letting the community know that there’s a new practice in town. For this purpose, paying for more impressions may be the more logical choice.
Paid search results can be finicky. They are dependent on budget and quality of ad content. However, paid ads can be a quicker way to rank higher and achieve higher levels of visibility quickly when compared to organic search results, which we’ll dive into next.
Organic Google Search Results: An Exercise in Patience
Organic search results on Google are highly valuable. To achieve a first-page ranking takes a lot of time and hard work — and even more patience.
At the root of a successful first-page rank is a solid understanding of search engine optimization (SEO). By mixing in powerful keywords (topics that users are searching on Google for), backlinks, and quality content, a business can successfully achieve a higher rank on search results, which will boost its organic traffic.
But this is not an undertaking that will yield overnight results.
In order to rank higher over time, start with quality, shareable content. Let’s use the topic of vaccinations for pets as an example.
A quick search for “dog vaccinations” yields a variety of results on the first page. Northwood Animal Hospital, a clinic in Irvine, CA, has achieved the top rank on this search without paying for an ad. How did they accomplish this?
Education is key here. Regardless of opinion on vaccinations, the fact remains that there is a lot of information that everyday pet owners may not be aware of. All too often, asking for advice on social media yields more of an argument than anything else.
So Northwood Animal Hospital saw an opportunity here. They compiled useful information for dog owners on vaccination schedules, information on each type of standard vaccination, and side effects to be watchful for.
This is considered evergreen information — educational material that will never stop being relevant.
With this simple tutorial, Northwood was able to achieve a first-page rank, which has more than likely caused them to snag a few extra clients who stumbled across the article.
How can you educate your target market?
Local Search Results: Best on the Block
Local search results are a great way to obtain new customers. Perhaps a pet owner has recently moved into the area; when they do a cursory search for “veterinary clinics near me”, will your practice show up?
Unlike other search result options on Google, companies cannot pay to rank higher on a local search. Google uses several factors to rank businesses locally, with proximity to the user and quality of the listing being two prominent criteria.
If your practice isn’t showing up very high on the list of local results, try tweaking your online presence.
Google ranks businesses based on “complete data,” which translates to having complete details on the business (think hours of operation and a link to a working website) readily available in the listing.
Do your clients love to leave you rave reviews? Utilize those! The more feedback a practice can solicit from clients, the more seriously Google will take the listing.
The world of digital marketing and ad space can be dizzying for someone unfamiliar with the ins and outs. Thankfully, Google has plenty of resources designed to optimize a business’s experience using ads and SEO.
A strong online presence is, in today’s day and age, instrumental to the success of a veterinary practice.
As practices struggle to modernize and update their methods of operation to keep up with the behavior of customers, maintaining a complete and competitive online profile will be time well spent.