By Karon Thackston © 2010, All Rights Reserved
After working for several years for a prominent, local veterinary practice that had multiple branches, Dr. Wendi Lily-Bare decided it was time to go out on her own. She arranged to purchase one of the smaller clinics which would allow her to keep the existing business name and equipment. However, the current website was not included in the bargain.
With an understanding of how important a high-ranking website is to a local, small business, Dr. Lily-Bare quickly began making plans for the creation of her online presence. Those plans included the use of copy (text) that connected emotionally with her site visitors and clearly showed them why they should choose Pet Friends over all the other available veterinary clinics in town.
Researching the Best Options for Keyphrases
As is the case with all search engine optimization (SEO) copywriting, the first step in the process of creating the Pet Friends site was to research the best keyphrases for use in the copy and tags.
These same keyphrases would also be used in developing the clinic’s local Google listing. This would allow Dr. Lily-Bare’s site to potentially come up in the “Local Business Results” section of Google whenever someone typed in a keyphrase related to one of her pages.
Being a local business in a relatively small town, we decided to work with general veterinary-related terms and attach what’s referred to as a “geo-modifier” to them. (Local businesses must include their specific location in order to weed out prospects that are outside their service area.)
Basically, we looked for keyphrases such as “veterinarian” or “veterinary clinic” and added the exact locale which, in this case, was Northeast Columbia, South Carolina. After compiling a list of good phrase candidates, we divided them up among the site pages.
Hook Prospects Right from the Start
While many people believe writing copy only applies to the individual web pages, there is actually another step that is just as important. Writing the title and description tags for each page is vital in securing that initial click.
What happens when you go to Google or another engine and conduct a search? You’re provided with a whole page full of possible websites that might meet your needs. How do you decide which ones to click? By reading the title and description of each site on the page.
Vets that have title tags which are bland (such as Veterinary Services, Vet in Baltimore, Pet Urgent Care) don’t do themselves any favors. There are ways to include keyphrases and still make a connection with your prospects. For instance, Pet Friends’ Home page title tag reads:
Because They’re Family | Veterinary Clinic | Northeast Columbia, South Carolina (SC)
A keyphrase is there. The location is there. And there was still room for an emotional tweak at the beginning which helps to capture the attention of searchers. After all, if you can’t get them to click your title tag, it won’t matter much what you say on your Home page, will it?
Writing the Copy
If you’ve ever shopped at Walmart for toothpaste, you’re sure to understand the frustration of most online searchers. On the toothpaste aisle, you see dozens of choices. All clean your teeth. All freshen your breath. If you rule out the specialty toothpaste products (such as those for sensitive teeth or with extra whitening power that cost .00 a tube), then that leaves many left over. How do you choose?
The same dilemma applies when searching for a local vet. Go to most vet websites and you’ll find they talk about themselves instead of to the site visitors, they don’t give a clear reason to choose them over all the other vets, and they have no special features/services. Remove all the specialists and you’ve got a whole list of “just vets” to select from. How are you supposed to make an intelligent choice?
When it comes to toothpaste, most people default to a mindset of “they are all the same.” Unfortunately, most pet owners do likewise when searching for a new vet. We set out to make sure Pet Friends’ site visitors knew they were different.
The Home page headline set the tone: “Because They’re More Than Pets. They’re Family.” Rather than babbling on with company-focused copy, we shot an arrow into the heart of every pet-owning site visitor that landed on the Home page. Rather than displaying the same old list of standard services that every other vet had on their Home page, we played on the fact that pets are family members in every sense of the word. The copy clearly relayed a message that Pet Friends’ staff members were all pet owners and pet lovers who saw your cat or dog in a very “human” light.
Because this was a brand-new site, there was no benchmark for comparison. Nonetheless, measuring results wasn’t hard since they came so quickly and were so obvious.
Within days of launching the new copy, Pet Friends’ site had worked its way up to top 20 rankings for many search terms. Within a couple of weeks, at least half of the terms ranked in the top 10.
Now, several months after launch, Pet Friends’ site has page-one rankings for all but two of their 18 preferred keyphrases.
According to Dr. Lily-Bare, “We write on every new patient’s chart how they found out about us. I always check when I’m looking over their chart. We’ve gotten a lot of new patients from people who have found us through Google and other search engines. It’s an excellent way to advertise that continues to pay off month after month.”
Karon Thackston gives more exceptional insights into web & search engine copywriting in her book “Effective Websites for Small Businesses.” Find out the importance of copywriting when you need to build a small business website. Check it out today at http://www.EffectiveWebsitesForSmallBusinesses.com
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