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VETERINARY MARKETING BENCHMARK REPORT

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Oct

23

State of the Industry, Digital Marketing Part One: Veterinary Websites

A veterinary hospital’s success, particularly its ability to find and keep pet owner clients, relies heavily on the practice’s digital presence. Though there are many facets of digital marketing, the two most important in the veterinary industry are websites and social media like Facebook, Google and Yelp. Clients are more likely to trust veterinary hospitals with professional, responsive websites and by making the hospital available on social media, you lend more personality to your practice and get your practice in front of pet owners more often.

Unfortunately, not all veterinary hospitals have figured out the dos and don’ts of online marketing, and many hospitals pay a lot of money for monthly digital marketing services but receive little to no ROI in return. To benchmark the industry and its use of best practices, we analyzed the digital presences of 1,000 accredited veterinary hospitals around the country, compiling 25,000 data points. We also analyzed iVET360’s accredited clients separately. We chose to look at accredited hospitals due to their diversity in size and their dedication to practicing excellence in veterinary medicine. All hospitals reviewed serve companion animals; we did not include equine, emergency or specialty hospitals.

Our study is the largest, most comprehensive and most in-depth digital marketing study ever completed in the veterinary field. All checkpoints were based on yes or no questions. We used only facts to build this study—no judgments. We also broke this data down by marketing provider, so we could see how veterinary service companies score when it comes to getting their veterinary hospitals up to speed in the digital space.

We produced this bias-free report to help practice owners and managers understand what to look for when selecting a marketing company. We’re presenting it here to show all veterinary hospitals where they can look to improve their digital footprint.

Veterinary Websites

First, we looked at these hospitals’ websites to see if they followed common online marketing best practices. Your website is your veterinary hospital’s face. It’s often the first place customers find you, whether they find you from search engine results (SERPs) or by going to your site directly. It’s the backbone of everything else your hospital does online, so it’s an absolutely crucial aspect of digital veterinary marketing. But it’s not enough just to have a website. It needs to be functional and trustworthy.

70.9%

709/1000

Had Their Website Domain Set Up Correctly

100% of iVET360’s tested clients met this requirement.

Domain Set Up Correctly

Your veterinary hospital’s domain is the address where your practice can be found online. For example, iVET360’s domain is iVET360.com. Notice the “www.” is left out—that’s because we’ve standardized our domain name so as not to confuse search engines like Google and Bing. While www.YourHospitalName.com and YourHospitalName.com will go to the same website—your homepage—search engines classify those as separate links. And when they do that, they split your SEO value in half, as both will show up in search engine results for your practice. Domains should be set up so search engines only point users to one URL, with or without the “www.”

How to check your site: Type your domain name into your browser’s address bar, including the “www.” (example: www.YourHospitalName.com). Once the page loads completely, remove the “www.” from the address bar and hit return. If your domain reloads and displays without the “www.” (as “YourHospitalName.com”), your website is duplicated. If it reloads with the “www.” automatically, you’re setup correctly.

85.2%

852/1000

Had A Mobile-Friendly Website

100% of iVET360’s tested clients met this requirement.

Mobile-Friendly Website

A mobile-friendly website is one that is as functional on a mobile device as it is on a desktop device. But making it easier for your clients to navigate your website on their smartphones isn’t the only reason these dynamic sites are so important. In 2015, in a move recognizing the growth of mobile devices, Google started considering websites’ mobile usability in its ranking algorithm. That means mobile-friendly sites now rank higher in Google searches than sites that aren’t mobile-friendly. Plus, according to Google, 90% of smartphone users are not absolutely certain of the specific brand they want to buy when they begin looking for information online. Being available on mobile devices gives you a chance to be one of those options. We have seen a large shift in compliance since Google considered usability in its rankings. However, 165 of the 852 mobile-friendly sites we tested opted for a separate mobile website instead of optimizing their standard website to be fully responsive.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]How to check your site: Visit search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly and enter your veterinary hospital’s website address. Google will do the rest.

5.5%

55/1000

Had A Secure Website With A SSL Certificate

100% of iVET360’s tested clients met this requirement

SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate is a protocol that establishes an encrypted link between your computer’s browser and the website you are viewing. When a website has an SSL certificate installed, it means all data inputted by the user will be sent under an extra layer of protection. There are two easy ways to tell if a website has an SSL certificate installed: 1) by a lock symbol and the word “secure” in front of the URL in your address bar and 2) by the “https” in front of the web address. These tell you that your communications with the website are secure. Last year, Google began marking sites without SSL certificates as “not secure,” so when a user tries to go to a site with just “http” in front of its domain, Google will alert the user that they’re about to travel to an unprotected site, which may make the user question the legitimacy and safety of the site altogether. Google also now places sites with SSL certificates higher in search rankings. Of the 55 that had SSL installed, however, only 39 sites had done so properly. So, 96.1% of the websites we tested were not secure and were vulnerable to hacking.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]How to check your site: Pull up your veterinary hospital’s website. Check the address bar of your browser to see if there is a lock symbol in front of your domain name. This will be present on all major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge. On Google Chrome, this lock will be green and it will have the word “Secure” next to it. If the lock symbol does not show, you do not have an SSL certificate. You can purchase an SSL certificate from any major domain registrar, including GoDaddy and Network Solutions.

36.7%

367/1000

Had The Basic SEO Components Installed

96.4% of iVET360’s tested clients met this requirement.

SEO Completed

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a way to boost your website’s organic (non-paid) search engine results. There are many facets of successful SEO, and for this study, we looked at whether or not a website had title tags and meta descriptions for every single page. Title tags are elements of your website’s code that tell the browser the name of the page it’s displaying. These title tags appear as page titles on search engines. Meta descriptions are short explanations of what you’d find on the page, and they appear under each page title on search engines. Measuring success of a site’s SEO goes far beyond this, but for this study, we simply answered “yes” or “no” to whether title tags and meta descriptions were filled out. This is the easiest place to add value and meet Google’s minimum SEO requirements, but most websites we visited did not pass.

How to check your site: This one is a bit more challenging, as you have to download a program to review these stats. Screaming Frog is a free tool you can use to review the backend of your website, including SEO. It’s our go-to for running tests like this. You can download it here: screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider.

69.7%

697/1000

Had Google Analytics Tracking Installed

100% of iVET360’s tested clients met this requirement.

Google Analytics Installed

Google Analytics gives you important insight into who is looking at your website. It tells you where site visitors live (not addresses, of course, but general locations) and what websites send visitors to your site. Installing Google Analytics is crucial for understanding the success of your marketing initiatives. For example, it can tell you how many people were directed to your website from a Facebook ad you placed, and then how many of those site visitors scheduled appointments online. If you’re not tracking your data, you can’t improve it.

How to check your site: You’ll need to view the source of your website files to check this component. You can do so by first visiting your website in your browser. In Chrome, go to the top menu. Select View > Developer > View Source, or hold Option, Command and U all at once on your keyboard. This will open a new tab in your browser. Once on this tab, search for “UA-” to locate your Google Analytics code. The code will look something like this: “UA-45947023-1.” You might also find a line of code that contains “UA-Compatible.” That line of code is not affiliated with Google Analytics, and you don’t need it for this. If you do not find a Google Analytics code, go to analytics.google.com to get one for free.

6.65 Secs

Was The Average Website Page Speed Load Time

iVET360’s websites tested at 5.89 seconds.

Page Speed

Your site’s page speed is the length of time it takes for a page on your website to load fully. Google considers page speed in their search engine rankings, so when pages load slower than their recommended 3 seconds, that page is likely to end up lower in their rankings. Plus, the slower the page speed, the more likely visitors are to “bounce,” or leave the site altogether. Across the 1,000 sites we studied, the average page speed was 6.65 seconds. At this page speed, the likelihood of bounces increases 106%, which results in a 24% estimated visitor loss. For comparison, Google considers top performers in the “Pets and Animals” industry to have page speeds starting around 3.8 seconds.

]How to check your site: You can test your site here: testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-us.

To receive your veterinary hospital’s score, contact iVET360 utilizing the form below and tell us your hospital name, website, and email address, and we’ll provide an all-inclusive digital report for your hospital for free within 24 hours.

Click here for Part Two, where we look at the usage of Facebook.

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