Nina Drasko, a junior brand marketing manager at LifeLearn Animal Health, helps veterinarians across Canada and the U.S. grow their practices. She studied marketing and communications at Conestoga College in Ontario, Canada, and lives in Kitchener, Ontario.Read Articles Written by Nina Drasko
An up-to-date, well-designed website is crucial for any successful veterinary practice. Yours should possess all the elements that resonate with visitors and not make them say, “Next.” What are some practices doing right when it comes to their online presence? It all starts with the aesthetics, feel and content. Find out which checkboxes your practice can mark off when updating your website in the coming year.
What Are Veterinary Practices Doing Right?
1. Using Advanced Forms
When pet owners navigate your website, they’ll go through a series of steps before wanting to book an appointment. They might read your content, perhaps look through the photo gallery showcasing your clinic, employees and patients, and then decide to be a new client. To make the process as seamless as possible, user-friendly online forms help get their feet in the door. Advanced forms can be used for booking appointments, of course, but also for boarding requests, prescription refills, patient histories and more. In recent years, booking appointments through an online form at home is easier than calling in. Even if you use online forms, clients need a way to get in touch with you if they have additional questions. Therefore, place your contact information in a consistent place on your website, such as in the footer or upper right-hand corner.
2. Designing Clean Layouts
Your website’s design should be captivating to the eye but also easy and quick to read. Intuitive website navigation is the first thing to keep in mind. Prospective and current clients don’t want to hunt for information about who you are or the services you provide. Clearly identified navigation links of less than 10 items makes it easy for people to find what they want. The design should have lots of white space to draw the eyes to where they should go. On the other hand, a cluttered design with too many elements looks outdated and unprofessional.
3. Posting Fresh Blog Content
Maintaining a website blog is a great way to stay relevant with pet owners. Though the frequency of fresh blog posts depends on what’s best for your practice, marketing companies like HubSpot and Marketing Insider Group suggest a magic number of one to four blog posts a week. Keep your blog fresh with new topics, like pet care, news, entertaining information and industry trends, so clients stay engaged with your services, insights and team. Posting regularly boosts your Google search results since you’re staying on top of new content, which Google loves.
4. Leveraging Social Media Platforms
Having a reputable online presence means your social media profiles need to stand out along with your website. Social platforms build trust so that people know what your practice is all about. Posting about things like the accomplishments of your practice, home pet care tips, national pet holidays, client testimonials and webinars can lead people to your website to book an appointment. Let pet owners get a taste of how fun and creative your team can be.
5. Optimizing for Search Engines
Hiring a team of search engine optimization specialists is one of the best things you can do for your website. They can analyze your website’s content using key performance indicators and discover things like time spent on a given page, the bounce rate and what visitors search for. Keywords such as “veterinarian websites,” “veterinary clinic website” and “veterinary website” rank well in terms of SEO.
What Are Veterinary Practices Doing Wrong?
1. Using Too Many Words
When pet owners search for a veterinarian and visit the website, they don’t expect clutter. A clean design will draw the visitor initially, but if the homepage has too much content to read and isn’t straightforward and to the point, your audience might look for another clinic. Webpages containing 500 to 700 words are generally considered optimal for SEO. Though the word range might not apply to all your pages, such as team member profiles, higher word counts help Google better understand what the content is about, which can improve rankings.
2. Not Being Mobile Friendly
In this day and age, all websites must function on desktop computers, tablets and mobile devices. There is just no way around it if you want new clients to discover you and return. Pet owners browse on their own time using whatever tool is most efficient, usually their mobile phone. So, whether you hire a developer or create your own website, you must ensure that your website works on mobile devices. When testing to see how your pages look, always test them on a desktop computer and a mobile browser to look for cutoff or overlapping content and the layout’s appearance. From there, you’ll know what needs to be fixed. Mobile friendly versions of your website boost traffic because of the easy accessibility.
3. Inserting Too Many Navigation Options
People visit your website with a purpose in mind and limited time. Do not use an over-the-top navigation bar with too many options. You don’t want to overwhelm pet owners trying to decide if yours is their next go-to veterinary clinic. Stick to standard menu-style navigation with less than 10 items.
4. Posting Confusing Calls to Action
You must understand the difference between a powerful call to action (CTA) on your website and a weak one. You can have great content and a clean design, but if website visitors aren’t finding the CTA, all your work loses its value. Keep in mind that a CTA cannot get lost in the content and become hard to find. Make it visible by using white space, contrasting colors and strategic placement in the footer or upper right-hand corner of the webpage.
5. Ignoring Testimonials
A veterinary practice can say as much as it wants about its advanced technology and pet care, but such content can lose its impact over time. What matters a lot is what your clients say about you and your practice time and time again, building trust without you having to do much of the work. Ask for client reviews through emails and at follow-up visits, and highlight the comments on your website.
All in all, your website should reflect who your team is and the character of your practice. Understanding the content you want to deliver and the website design you want to achieve will get you to where you need to be.