How to optimize your online presence in the eyes of Google and boost brand awareness for your veterinary practice
The best way to get customers to come to your veterinary practice is to boost its visibility online. Most potential clients will be looking for a practice close to them, making local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) an effective tool.
One of the most potent local SEO tools is Google Business Profile, formerly known as Google My Business (GMB). Using it properly can increase your practice’s visibility in your area considerably.
However, you are likely to encounter competition for the top rankings. So to get noticed, you need to optimize your account for the best results. Although this can take some time to achieve, it is not necessarily difficult — provided you follow the basics.
Here are some practical ways to optimize your online presence with a Google Business Profile and increase your search ranking to attract more customers.
7 ways to optimize your online presence
If your customers are leaving a lot of good reviews, it tells Google they should show your business to their users. Businesses that have more positive reviews than their competitors will have the advantage, making it a good idea to encourage your customers to leave reviews for your practice.
It may take a while to accrue enough reviews to make a difference, especially if you have a lot of competition, but the results will make the effort worthwhile. Not only is the quantity of reviews important, but also the quality.
Focus on providing good service to your customers so they will want to leave you a glowing review. Click To Tweet
Potential customers are also likely to read your replies to reviews to see how you respond to feedback, positive or otherwise. Research shows that 53% of customers expect a company to respond to negative reviews.
This makes it a good idea to respond as often as you can, including to reviews that were not so positive. Show others that you’re willing to address any problems your customers encounter, and it will help paint your practice in a positive light.
The more information you give about your business, the more visible your practice will be. Give plenty of information to let Google know that your services match users’ search intent — this helps Google list your practice appropriately.
Ensure your Google Business Profile account details are identical to the details on your website. Otherwise, your practice might not get the visibility it could, and it could lead to confusion among customers. Using a local phone number on your account will also help increase your online visibility.
Google lets you add up to 10 business categories to your account. Every category you use will give Google more information about your business, which helps Google know how to rank your business in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
You can only select one primary category, which will give users an overall idea of the nature of your practice. Secondary categories tell Google about the more specific services you offer and will help you show up in more searches.
For example, if your practice uses digital X-ray machines, you can add the “X-ray lab” secondary category to help Google rank your practice highly for users searching for X-ray services.
While having more categories is beneficial, you should only use those that accurately reflect your services.
Keyword research tells you which search terms people use when searching for a practice like yours. Free tools like Google’s Keyword Planner will help you easily find the best keywords for your practice. Look for keywords with high search volume and low or medium competition.
However, avoid the temptation to stuff too many keywords into your account because it could lead to your account being suspended. If you ensure your content reads naturally and isn’t full of forced keywords, you shouldn’t have any keyword-related issues.
Keeping your content fresh will tell Google you are actively managing your account and that your business is active. Fresh content is also a great way to inform potential customers of any discounts or other incentives you might be offering.
Your online presence will be the first point of contact many potential customers will have with your business, so it’s a good idea to make the right impression.
Use professional yet friendly copy that will encourage people to visit your practice. A free grammar check tool will help you find errors that are easy to miss.
According to Google, businesses that add photos to their profile get more requests and website clicks than those that don’t. Make sure the images you use reflect your business well, and images of happy patients (canine, feline, or otherwise) with your staff could be ideal for a veterinary practice.
Ensure that any images you use are high quality and professional because poor quality images might reflect negatively on the quality of your practice.
The Google My Business app will be retired sometime in 2022, but for now, its messenger feature is a useful tool for your business — even if it won’t directly boost the visibility of your Google Business Profile.
For potential customers who would much rather chat using a messenger than shop by phone, having that option will make them more likely to get in touch.
GMB messenger can be used on a desktop computer as well as mobile. You can set alerts so you know there’s a message waiting, while you can also set up a welcome message that your visitors will see before they start typing.
Elevate your practice with your Google Business Profile
Your Google Business Profile is free and easy to use. It can take some effort to get the best results, but there are steps you can take to optimize your account, increase site traffic, and bring in new customers.
Your profile will help get you noticed in local SEO searches, making your veterinary practice more visible to people in your area who need your services. Your Google Business Profile can also help you keep people informed of promotions and other updates, like changing COVID-19 policies, and Google My Business Messaging is an effective communication channel.
Zach Norton is a digital marketing specialist for Maven Imaging, with several years of experience in business marketing, writing, and content creation.
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