Online Marketing Basics

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Over the past few days I’ve had the pleasure of attending the American Animal Hospital Association’s annual conference in Phoenix, AZ. Besides soaking in lots of new information about the practice of veterinary medicine, I was also part of a group of bloggers affiliated with BlogPaws that presented a social media track at the conference. You can see our panel pictured above.

The track kicked off with Bill Schroeder, a founding owner of InTouch Practice Communications, and Jessica Vogelsang, better known as Dr. V from the blog Pawcurious, presenting a ton of great information on social media and how it can be used to market your practice.

I’ll be writing several more posts about the information offered and some of it will be much more advanced. But I’d like to start off by offering some very basic information that is relevant to almost any business.

Online marketing is best accomplished with a mix of techniques. Search engine optimization (SEO) and social media work well together as they go hand-in-hand in creating a web presence for your business.

I already have a website, you say. Fine, that’s a good start. But the old practice of a static website that provides only one-way communication is rapidly giving way to venues where there is two-way back and forth communication. “Community” is the buzzword now and social media is the best way to accomplish that. Why? Because many, maybe even most, of your clients are already using some form of social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, or some other site. Social media can be used to make these same clients into your very own private sales force. Who better to sell your practice than the people that use you and love you?

Social media can be compared to a giant cocktail party. But instead of one giant room filled with lots of people all talking at once about lots of different things, when used correctly social media actually separates these people into groups with similar interests. The example Bill gave went something like this: Imagine you’re at a cocktail party but instead of one giant room there are lots of smaller rooms with different labels on the doors. One label might say “people who like football” while another might read “people who like fashion”. Still another might read “people who like cooking” or “people who like shopping”.

You can wander back and forth through these different rooms depending on what you feel like talking about at any given time. You can avoid the rooms that don’t interest you. And the labels can be drilled down even further to very specific groups of people. For example, let’s say one label might be “people who own a cat, provide great health care for that cat, and like to talk about their wonderful veterinarian.” (This wasn’t exactly the example Bill gave but the concept is the same.)

In contrast, search engine optimization (SEO) is the art of creating content that will attract attention and get high rankings from the various search engines, with Google being the search engine that most people worry about the most. SEO involves, in part, producing content that uses particular keywords that the average person is likely to be searching for when they use these search engines. It also involves encouraging other sites to link to your content. It is a somewhat complex field but getting your website to rank well through the use of SEO is still an achievable goal.

For many people, occupying the first or second spot in Google’s search engine results is the goal. However, by pairing social media and SEO together you can actually dominate the entire first page of Google’s results rather than just one spot on that page. Imagine what it could do for your business if when a potential client googles “veterinarians in Somewhere, Some State”, all they see are results for you and/or your practice. It would blow your competition out of the water, right?

Occupying the first page of Google for a search term such as “best veterinarian in Somewhere, Some State” or “best animal hospital in Somewhere, Some State” should be the goal you seek to accomplish. Why? Because it sets you up as the expert in your field, the best in the business and the place everyone wants to go.

How do you accomplish this goal? We’re going to talk more about that in the next post and the posts to follow. So make sure you come back. Sign up for our email subscription and we will bring all this information directly to your mailbox.

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About Lorie Huston, DVM

Lorie Huston is an accomplished veterinarian, an award winning blogger, a talented author and a certified veterinary journalist. She is available for writing assignments, blogging and social media consultation, and SEO strategy.

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  • Luke Douglas March 18, 2013, 8:07 pm

    I would recommend that you redesign your website to be responsive for mobile devices. It was difficult to read on my phone and most people are communicating via social networks on their mobile devices.

    • Lorie Huston, DVM March 19, 2013, 1:57 pm

      Thank you, Luke. The site is designed to be responsive for mobile but the code wasn’t working properly. It should be working now. Thank you for the heads up!

  • jeremy March 24, 2013, 6:12 pm

    “By pairing social media and SEO together you can actually dominate the entire first page of Google’s results.” I work in this sphere and I know the combination is one of the best ways to promote any kind of website and make it successful. What immediately came to my mind was a story I’ve recently read about a man called Lorne Marr who set up his business here in Canada and then decided to penetrate the online insurance market. He found a little company called Foliovision and entrusted its team with that task and after a few years the guy runs a multimillion-dollar business. And I just want to highlight that this happened when social media marketing as we know it today was only a future vision.


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