Seeing your animal hospital listed #1 in search was simple 20 years ago. All you had to do was name your practice “AAA Animal Hospital,” and the ranking formula of the time would place you atop all of your less alphabetically savvy competitors. Plus, if you were willing to pony up a little extra cash, you could even bold your listing. All that was left was to sit back and let the customers come knocking at your door.
Well, perhaps it wasn’t quite that easy, but fast forward 20 years, and the phone book has vanished as the search medium of choice. (For the millennials who might be reading this: a “phone book” was a giant, yellow, thousand page directory of businesses and residences that was printed out on “paper,” a thin parchment made from trees.)
Today, of course, the search for products and services begins on the internet. You already know that, that’s how you got here. So what’s the recipe for animal hospital marketing success in 2016?
Where to Begin With Online Marketing for Animal Hospitals
No matter what kind of marketing you do for your veterinary business, the hub of all of your marketing activities will be your website; and the first thing you need before building a website is a domain name. Your domain name is going to be a part of every marketing effort you embark upon from day one. It will be on your business cards, your shirts, your pens, your mugs, your print ads, your receipts, your signage, your radio ads, your highway billboards, and eventually your Super Bowl commercial, so make sure you pick a good one.
Picking a Domain Name for Your Animal Hospital Website
Picking a domain name can be tough, but it is also a lot of fun. It is the first step in inventing your entire online brand. It is not an afterthought. Be creative and let your personality shine through. There is no magic formula for choosing the perfect domain name, but there are a few things you should keep in mind.
- Keep it as short as possible. The shorter your domain name is, the easier it is to remember. It is easier to share with others, it is easier to type (especially on a mobile phone), and from a visual standpoint, it more easily fits into the wide assortment of places it may appear online and offline. It will also end up being part of your email address. I personally would not want to have to tell people that my email address was gregory@NorthKalamazooVeterinaryServices.com. It hurts to even look at that.
- Make it easy to spell. Avoid dashes, homonyms, puns, or anything else that you would potentially have to explain to someone else. Have you ever played the telephone game in elementary school? It’s the one where you whisper something in someone’s ear, then they whisper it to the next person, then the next, until the last person in line says it aloud. Everyone has a good laugh when the last person inevitably says something completely different than what the first person said. Word of mouth for your business works the same way. You don’t want everyone in the chain having to say “No, it’s critter with a K. No, it’s doggie with an IE, not a Y. No, it’s kitty (dash) castle.”
- Get the .com extension, for the same reasons as the first two tips. If someone only remembers the first part of your domain name, they will naturally assume it ends in dot com. I’m not saying you can’t succeed with a dot net TLD (top level domain), but avoid it if possible.
- Avoid trademark infringement. Do some research and make sure the name you’ve chosen isn’t copyrighted. You don’t want to end up in legal trouble. You can also lose your domain.
- Make it intuitively obvious. An internet searcher should know what your site is about just by the domain name. You might want to honor your feline family member by naming your practice after him, but “GullysCabin.com” doesn’t necessarily convey that you run an animal clinic.
- Don’t focus on keyword stuffing. As per tip #5, having the appropriate words in your domain name is important in making it obvious what service you provide, but it is more important to make your domain name brandable than to stuff it with keywords for Google’s sake. First of all, Google gives way less weight to keywords in domain names than it used to. Their algorithm is much more sophisticated than awarding huge ranking mojo just for buying the keyword stuffed domain. Second of all, what better way to make your business sound mediocre than calling it PetClinicInRaleigh.com. Would you call your restaurant ChineseFoodinRaleigh.com?
Creating a Responsive Animal Hospital Website
Gone are the days where you can get away with a static website designed to fit on one kind of screen. In many industries, website traffic from mobile devices has already surpassed traffic from desktop computers, and this trend will only continue. Google, Samsung, and Apple are even trailblazing the path to putting the internet on your wristwatches and eyeglasses. Who knows what the future of wearable technology will bring, but the mobile revolution is not a thing of the future. It has already happened. Your potential customers are conducting searches and doing business on their mobile devices, and if your business isn’t where your customers are, you lose.
Get a Custom WordPress Website for Your Veterinary Practice
WordPress is the content management system of choice for millions of websites worldwide. One of the main things that makes WordPress so attractive is the size of the community that supports it. There is a huge pool of developers that are constantly creating new add-ons and plugins to extend the core functionality of the user friendly system. With a custom WordPress website from TheeDigital, you can have more than a beautiful “brochure-style” website, you can have an invaluable tool for your business operations. You can have interactive maps, online registration forms, newsletters, appointment reminder systems, and even full eCommerce functionality if you want to sell products online. With peace of mind hosting from TheeDigital, you’ll have a team of experts on your side to make sure your site remains up-to-date and safe from hackers. If you do ever want to take on the responsibility of managing your site alone, you retain full ownership of your website.