It is very hard to believe that 2013 is drawing to a close. This year brought several changes to the world of digital marketing, both in the technology available to market to your clients and in the mindsets of many veterinarians shifting to a more brand-savvy mentality. Join us as we look back at a few of our favorite articles from the past year.
YouTube: Yes, YouTube is a social media destination. It also is the second largest search engine on the Internet after Google. Plus Google, owns YouTube. YouTube needs to be integrated into a website’s content as well as developing a YouTube channel for the business. For an example please visit http://www.youtube.com/AnimalMedicalHosp to see a hospitals YouTube page in action. Or click go here http://www.animalmedical.net/veterinary-services/acupuncture.html to view how an YouTube channel is embedded into a website. Some key facts about YouTube to know are:
Founded: February 2005
- 3rd Most Viewed Website
- Every day 4 billion videos are viewed
- 800 million active users a month
- 700 YouTube videos shared on Twitter per minute
When a person goes on a Journey we think of a trip that has multiple stops and extends over a period of time. Other times we use the word “Journey” to mean a process that is an every changing that allows us to grow and develop. It is time to think of your marketing program as a “Journey”. A process that involves more than one “stop” and is every changing and every growing. Why? Because frame of mind is everything to embracing a process. If you are still in the mentality that you check the box once a year on your marketing and then go back to medicine, then your business has a higher chance of not maintaining and gaining new relationships. Lack of maintaining relationships could mean less customers and that would be suboptimal.
For your marketing Journey there are a few essentials to sneak into your travel back pack that will be your roadmap and guide along the way. Every aspect of your marketing should fall into these guidelines.
Just as we were enjoying our Memorial Day weekend, Google went quietly about making some significant changes to its algorithm that heavily impacts local businesses. If you want to understand how to keep being “seen” in Google, these new changes must be adapted in your practice’s online marketing program.
First Change: Google Search Results Went Hybrid
This past year, when we used Google for an online search, the results would show paid advertising at the top or far right (which only 25% of people click on), with local search results shown next — listed in packs of 7 or 10 and accompanied by corresponding map markers starting with the letter “A,”, followed by organic (non-local) results. Google has now integrated organic and local search results together, which currently display on the search results page in varying ways — in packs of 3, 5 or 7 for example, depending on the search query. Search results are still formatted with paid advertising at the top or right under the map on the results page, but you’ll now see organic results listed BEFORE, and blended with, local search results. How does a business become listed in this new hybrid format and at the top of local search results? What we have learned is to focus on the following:
- It is crucial to have a custom-designed website that can be optimized (coded) down to the page with local search terms, specific relevant industry keywords (veterinarian, pet cancer, etc.), and appropriate geographic regional terms.
- When choosing location keywords, check how close your business is to the center of the city. To do this, go to Google Maps (maps.google.com) and type in your city and state; e.g., Minneapolis MN. Google will then display a marker on the map with the letter “A” — where it considers the center of the city to be located. This letter “A” is what Google calls the “centroid.” The closer your business is to the this centroid, the more “votes” your local business listing receives toward being near the top of local search results for that city. With this approach, Google is attempting to make the search experience most relevant to the searcher’s query.
- Plentiful (five or more) positive online reviews help maintain good positioning in Google Local Search. Google purchased the Zagat review site and is now incorporating these reviews into Google local listings. Reviews are becoming increasingly important. Having reviews associated with your business listing is yet another key ranking factor and one of the many signals Google looks for.
To read the rest of this article in a PDF format please click here: Fasten Your Seat Belt – Google Made Changes Again
More so then ever a business has to watch it’s brand on the Internet. People can interact and define your brand without your input. As I have stated in many speaking venues even though most veterinarians are face to face and on the phone type of people doesn’t mean your pet owners are! Here are some tips to get you started with your brand management.
Where People Can Interact With Your Brand
People perceived your brand and your business differently 10 years ago than they do today. Now, people have choices and the ability to research information themselves before making a purchasing decision. In the past, we used to have to rely on the vendors to give us information about their businesses. Now, with a few quick taps of our fingers, a wealth of knowledge is available for us to consume. What people find about your business and where they find it determines how they see your brand. Does your business seem trendy? Up to date? Resourceful and helpful? Can a viewer find the information he or she needs quickly on any device, 24/7? These are questions to ask when reviewing how your business is perceived online. Where are people making these decisions?
Today, people are using multiple touchpoints when making a purchasing decision. A touchpoint is a place people start at or go to when researching. A pet owner could start at Google, read reviews, leap over to a business website, click through to Facebook, follow on Twitter, read a blog piece, and so forth. These touchpoints, when joined together, turn into a marketing circle. The goal is to keep an interested pet owner in your marketing circle. If there is a disconnect, a person might leap to another business’s marketing circle and you have potentially lost that sale. Each of these touchpoints (or platforms) defines your brand in the eye of the viewer. Here are some key points to keep in mind.
- Google now focuses on local search for a business. This local search feature focuses on online reviews, Google+, Twitter “tweets,” and blog comments. Google’s goal appears to be to give us as much information about a business in one “snapshot.” For example, take a look at Animal Medical Hospital in Charlotte, NC. You will see my picture listed under the search result because I +1 this brand or “liked” it, in other words. Google is providing social media information now mixed in with search engine optimization results. Why? To keep a person using Google and not Facebook.
To read the rest of this article please download this PDF. YourBrandYourReputation
Did you know that Google’s robust website analysis tool, Google Analytics, now has a feature that pulls in data from another of their helpful website usability offerings: Webmaster Tools. These reports can be found in Analytics under “Traffic Sources” > “Search Engine Optimization.” You do have to first enable the data sharing between these two accounts, and Google prompts you in how to do this. Once you connect these accounts, you’ll start to see the Webmaster Tools data show up in the Search Engine Optimization section of your Analytics account. Data sets includes top queries, top landing pages and a geographical summary report. It’s free to set up these accounts, so don’t miss out on how this data can help you improve and expand your online presence…
When people want to find services in their area, from an oil change for their car to a dentist for their dog, they start with an online search. A very large majority and growing number of consumers now use online media when researching products or services in their local area, rather than using the phone book. If your business isn’t found, it doesn’t exist for them. Join us for our Wednesday webinar to learn about ways to make sure potential customers find your business online. We’ll be covering areas such as the basics of how search engines work, as well as various ways to help your business get found — including how organic search stacks up against Google’s paid search advertising options. And in addition to touching on how Google AdWords/Pay-Per-Click campaigns fit into the overall picture, we’ll take a peek at Google’s new “AdWords Express” option, and the buzz this is creating amongst location-based businesses.
If you’re thinking about starting a blog for your veterinary practice, you may be wondering, “What should I write about?” Well, your high school English teacher was right. Write what you know.
Almost anything that affects your practice can be turned into a blog post. Unlike an article or pamphlet, blogs are intended to be immediate and casual. Strive for an informal, newsy tone.
For starters, try these:
Information about pet health. How to brush a dog’s teeth, how to give a cat a pill. Any general pet health information you routinely give clients can make a great blog post.
Current events or issues affecting pets in your area. Has a pet food recall affected your area? A local tick infestation? A heat wave that could pose a danger to unprotected pets? Blogging timely issues like these help get information to your clients (and potential clients) quickly. Over time, they’ll think of your site as a place to look for answers to timely issues.
Questions from clients or readers. “Mailbag” blog posts are always popular. You probably get asked dozens of questions each day about common pet health issues. Select a few of general interest and answer them in a blog post. Better still, ask readers to submit their questions by email or give them to your receptionist. Of course, you’ll only answer those where you’re comfortable giving general information.
Changes in your practice – Get a new dental laser machine? Show it off. Just finished remodeling your boarding area? Pictures please. We all like to hear what’s new. It’s fine to be excited to let everyone know what’s happening at your practice. The key is to keep the tone light rather than like a press release.
Local events you’re sponsoring or participating in. Will you have a table at Homecoming Days? Helping with a food drive for a local shelter? Let people know about the event in your blog so they can participate. Don’t forget to do a follow-up post with photos of the event.
Write about what others are writing. One of the great things about blogs is that you aren’t limited to your own content, but can comment on news, articles, videos and other blog posts. Give your take on a local news story affecting pets, share a useful (or funny) pet video, bring an article you read to your client’s attention or even comment on another blog post. Just be sure to give credit and a link to the original work.
Bing recently launched major enhancements to their local business online search directory, allowing business owners to create and manage their online listings and making it easier for their customers to find them on Bing.
The new Bing Business Portal (BBP) has replaced the Bing Local Listing Center, and all existing listings have been migrated to the new service.
The BBP will allow you to:
• Claim, create, verify, and manage local business listings, adding such information as a description of your business, hours, payment types accepted, languages spoken, parking availability, and more
• Identify key search categories where you want your listing to appear
• Customize listings with enhanced details such as photos and logos
• Create a mobile website (and free QR code) so customers can learn about your business on their mobile devices
• Advertise discount coupons, promotions, or rebates that will show up with your Bing listing as well as on Facebook
• Add social media links to Facebook and Twitter
Visit Bing Business Portal for more information about Bing Business Portal and FAQs about claiming, creating, and enhancing your business listing.
Having a business listing on Bing (and other major search engines) is a quick and easy way to help businesses improve their online credibility and potentially increase the amount of traffic to their website.
Beyond Indigo has an online reputation management (ORM) service that can help your business create & manage local listings on Bing and other search engines as well as review sites/local directories. With hands-on assistance in optimizing and monitoring your business listings, Beyond Indigo Pets customers are well-equipped to boost both business reputation and rankings.
Google is taking their social search model a step further by incorporating a “+1″ button alongside every link in their search page. This feature gives you, the searcher, the ability to recommend something to your entire Google network* with a click of the mouse. It is similar, if not exactly, like Facebook’s “Like” icon. As a consumer, I think it will be helpful to know that a contact has +1’d a restaurant when deciding where to eat for dinner. As a marketer, I immediately want to know… how can this “+1″ feature pay off in terms of SEO, reach, and my bottom line.
Google hasn’t directly said if/how these recommendations will affect the overall search rating for the link; that may come later. Its goal (for round 1) is to make search results more relevant to individuals by showing them that someone they know has given it their thumb’s up. It’s an interesting development and for now, a “watch-this-space” moment for SEO and Google search results.
Tip: In order to use Google’s “+1″ feature, you need to have a Google Account. If you already have one, you’ll need to upgrade it. From your account, you’ll be able to see all the items you’ve “+1″, so you can delete your endorsements should choose to.
*Google may add other signals, like your Twitter connections, in the future.