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Understanding Search Engine Optimization


One of the most common SEO questions iVET360 receives concerns hospital rankings for search results for a given keyword(s). Monthly SEO reports do a very accurate job of giving you the monthly average a keyword will rank for you. However, we periodically will hear that a trial search didn’t produce the results stated in the report. We’d like to discuss some variables that affect search engine rankings.

Choosing Effective Keywords

iVET360 pulls a list of search terms that are searched for most in the veterinary industry per month in a geographic area. We then make sure our client’s website has plenty of mentions of these keywords and also that the “backend” of the site is loaded with these as well. These popular search terms almost always include veterinary, veterinarian, vet, pet grooming and animal hospital. While we take requests for other keywords to come up, the fact is the top five keywords are searched several thousand times more often than all other veterinary-based keywords, so we opt to focus the limited space allowed for keywords on the most used.

Google Local “3 Pack”

In Google Local Results, the search results that show the business’ name, address, phone number, and map is referred to as a 3 Pack. It is called a 3 Pack because it lists 3 locations. This area used to be called the 7 Pack. However, with Google’s recent update in August, the local pack is not just showing fewer business listings, it is also redesigned to fit more with the mobile user interface.

Location, Location, Location

Another issue we hear is not ranking for “(city) vet”. It is important to note that this is an extremely rare search. Google has subconsciously trained users to utilize local search, meaning we no longer search by city name. Searching “vet”, “veterinary” or “veterinarian” will bring up local hospitals in your city. Simply put, “(city) vet” is no longer a viable test of your hospital’s SEO. Additionally, without specific online tools, you will not be able to test local searches from a different city or part of the city you are in. Searching on your mobile device will also pull different results depending on your actual location, thus pulling results that are closest where the user is currently standing.

Paid Ads: Are They Worth It?

You may note some hospitals ranking well due to the fact they are paying for Google Ad Words. This is effective for getting put on the top before the results (ads do not count as a ranking), but it’s quite expensive and is not always correctly targeted to location. It’s important to note that many users are used to ads and immediately skip down to the rankings because they know those will be more related to their actual search.

A Dynamic Process

As you can see, search results are very fluid with many variables. Each user has a unique search history that will also affect their rankings for any given search. We take all the tools available to make sure your website ranks the best for the top keywords in your area. While it’s easy to get caught up in rankings per each individual search, we find it best to focus on two graphs from your SEO report, your visibility, and total web visits.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact iVET360 directly at 503.765.6360 or [email protected]. We are happy to personally walk you through the SEO process, explaining its benefits and drawbacks, completely obligation free.