If you’re thinking of starting a veterinary blog and feel paralyzed, cheating could be a fast start to joining the great conversation on the web. (Don’t plagiarize, however, as Copyscape busts any plagiarized sentence 7 words or longer. Be afraid. Be very . . . original.)
Here’s the formula:
- Suck up veterinary blogging examples through eyeballs.
- Rumble-tumble them in the clothes-dryer that is the brain.
- Use FREE tools like Informed Web Content’s Business Blog Start Up Kit as well as the Veterinary Topic Brainstormer workbooks. Both lead you through step by step so you don’t have to THINK too much.
- Send your own version out through your fingertips to the computer keys.
Before you start scanning the three blogs listed here, however, how about a refresher on blogging “best practices” (Lord of the Rings villain Golum calls them “tricksies.”)
- Location: if your goal is to get more calls and business, your blog must be on your website. Marty Becker and Patty Khuly don’t blog on their own veterinary practice websites because they’re paid to work for publishing entity, VetStreet. Unlike those two, your goal is to lead people to your website where they see your offers and advertisements. When they click on your offers or call you, you’ve gained a new client. The blog gets more traffic to your veterinary website, and more traffic means higher rankings on the search engine results pages. The higher you are the more clicks you get.
- Veterinary blog post titles: Your best bet is to use 2 kinds of keywords regularaly: terms that pet owners search on often and the neighborhoods your practice serves. You’ll have to use Google Keyword Tool, your own analytics, WordTracker or an SEO service to get your best keywords (or an SEO Copywriter of course). Look at my title: I used both “Veterinary Blog” (singular) and “Veterinary Blogs.” Isn’t that piggish of me? Tough: not many are searching either term so I thought I’d cast a net with both. More, unlike you, I can work via internet and so I don't need to specify my city or neighborhood. Veterinary clients tend to want their pets' doctors close by.
- Format: tone – The veterinary blog should have an informal tone. A personable, down to earth tone works best online where people are looking for short, snappy or entertaining answers to their questions. Personalize by using lots of “me” & “you”.
People read differently in online than they do in print. Sitting upright at a computer and often at work anyway, they feel rushed and save long form reading for novels and magazine articles where they’re relaxed enough to go on the long journey the writer lays out for them. Further, computer screens cause more eyestrain than print on paper.
In other words, online readers are scanners who need heads and sub-heads, bulleted lists and even images to move them quickly through the piece. Keeping a reader on your page for even 2 minutes is considered a success in Google’s eyes. Often, people “bounce” off in seconds. I’m writing in long-form here because I’ve evaluated my audience and decided you vets can take it.
4. Veterinary Blog Content: helpful information about pet health and management that readers can use. DO NOT focus on your new products, accomplishments or services. Commercial messages can be mentioned in one out of five posts only. At the same time, use clinic news if it relates to a larger issue that may impact pet owners. The blog’s purpose is to cast a big net of keywords that pull in people who typed similar keywords into the search bar of search engines.
It may help jumpstart your creative engine by creating an Excel spread sheet with the following column heads: “Commenting on Current Events/Trends”, “Questions,” How-tos,” “Definition” (e.g. What is Sarcoma?), “Anecdote about Clinic experience (refrain from using names unless you get permission), “Commenting on Client Comments/Experiences.”
Now, for the examples.
Despite the fact that Becker and Khuly don’t have their blogs on their practice websites, these two veterinary blogging celebrities follow blogging best practices guidelines, most likely because VetStreet, (and others like them: PetConnection, PetMed) have solid SEO teams guiding their steps. Copy formats and content from these first two but make sure to put the blog on your own site!
Marty Becker of Vet Street
- Location: Vet Street.
- Blog Post Titles: Keywords like “coughing cat” in title “Does Your Coughing Cat Have Asthma” tells me that Dr Becker may be writing on at least some on topics the SEO team at VetStreet hands him. Here’s how it works: the SEO people comb Google Adwords (free) and more pricey tools. If teen heartthrob Justin Bieber buys a gecko, much of America may suddenly become interested in geckos and, while bored at work, perform searches about them. Waiting to pounce, Google Adwords and the other tools keep track of how many people in a month’s time searched “gecko,” “gecko care,” “buying a gecko,” etc. If say 1,000 people in one month (“exact” match rather than “broad” or “phrase”) typed in “gecko care,” Marty Decker gets an email directing him to write something along the lines of “Top Gecko Care Tips.” While that would be a “trending” topic, there are also more “evergreen” topics like “dog aggression,” “coughing cat,” “cat spaying,” etc. that Decker would write about as well.
- Format: Nicely broken up. Posts can be short or long, but the long ones are broken up with “subheads” that readers can take action on: “check your calendar” or “steps to take.”
- Blog Content: Dr. Becker sticks with the usual blogging categories, writing from 200 – 700 words on each. He comments on pet topics from the news, posts questions, starts blog titles with “how to . . . “, defines terms and more. His tone is pretty flat and informational, and some readers will respond to that better than a blog with more personality like Patty Khuly’s. Your tone should really depend on your personality. There are just as many who appreciate dry and informative as those who appreciate spice, opinion and humor. It takes all kinds!
Patty Khuly of Vet Street
- Location: Vet Street.
- Blog Post Titles – Here’s the interesting thing and why I wanted to include this veterinarian: Dr. Khuly has managed to create such a following that she doesn’t need keywords in her titles. She doesn’t need to catch web surfers with problems like “dry skin on dog” or “coughing cat.” She can have crazy titles like, “What I’d design if I were a Pet Product Guru.” Believe me, people are not searching “Pet Product Guru” or anything from that sentence. Patty Khuly came to VetStreet with a hard-won and deserved audience.
- Format: I'm featuring Khuly because I hand it to her for having a distinct Voice. Her tone won her lots of readers when she started Dolittler years ago. Khuly is a lively, engaging writer because she’s willing to be opinionated. Sure, she’s going to get some push-back, but the negative comments she gets hasn’t interrupted her career trajectory any.
- Veterinary Blog Content: Khuly learned early on to break up her posts with sub-heads, lists and questions and to write in an approachable, non-academic tone. While Khuly has the practical, informational posts put into questions and how-to format, boy does she get a chance to state her opinions. How about these titles: “3 Things Pet Owners Do that Drive Me Crazy,” and “Why Women Love Men Who Love Cats” (Dr. Khuly is single now, guys). Most practice owners wouldn’t dare say anything negative about their clients on a pet owner blog and they certainly wouldn’t want to bring dating life into it. If you have an out-going personality and this a fun, opinionated tone may work for you, at least wait until your practice is well-established.
Just call your web developer and ask for blog functionality on your website and a little guidance on how to upload your short, broken up essays or how-tos. You passed Organic Chem! You can do this! (The FREE Business Blog Start Up Kit at www.informedwebcontent.com gives you the exact script with the words to say to get a blog set up whether you’re dealing with a developer, a software company or your techie brother-in-law who put up your site in the first place.)
Leo’s Pet Care
Greg Magnusson named his veterinary practice after his 3 year old son, Leo—points from this mom right off the bat. There are lots more things Dr. Magnusson is doing very well to win not only Google’s appreciation but that of his clients as well.
- Location: On the www.leospetcare.com website: Cue triumphant music! Cue confetti! You don’t know how many vet blogs I looked through that were either done through DVM 360 or Blogger.com, neither of which benefits the veterinarian’s website at all!
- Blog Post Titles: Not sure if he’s getting outside SEO keyphrases from an agency, but I doubt it. Sure there’s a “Traveling with Pets” post, and those three words have “search volume” (in other words, Google tells us people are typing them into the search bar regularly), but there are also other more specific titles like “Maybe having a slow veterinary practice is a good thing.” I can’t pick a solid keyphrase out of that sentence, can you? The bottom line: I don’t care. He has enough pet related and veterinary keywords in there that Google takes him seriously. More, he writes in such a human way, his patients know that he is dedicated to his practice and their pets’ well-being.
- Format: Points again for Dr. Magnusson. Here’s just one of the completely down-to-earth sentences that helps readers understand that Dr. M is relating to them in a casual way with a conversational tone. “So, there’s this issue about Diamond Pet Foods and multiple diet recalls. I’m going to point out some things you may not have considered before.”
Notice that the blog is also populated with GUEST WRITERS. While Dr. M may posts himself twice a week, new posts appear about four times each week. The slack is taken up by guest writers, who are easy to come by (subject of another blog post: but the bottom line: just ask your friends, staff, the techs, etc!)
4. Veterinary Blog Content: Lots of blog post titles in question format: “Do You Really Want to Only Use Positive Training Techniques?” and How-tos: “How to Clear WhipWorms from your Grass.” (the practice is in Indianapolis). Both tend to get good traffic. I’d also like to give him credit for expressing his opinions: “I’d like to point out that Novartis Animal Health started me on this mini-rant, by sending me an email today titled ‘Announcing a breakthrough in pain relief for cats.’ OK y’all, I wouldn’t go QUITE THAT FAR…”
The desire to share one’s own experiences and insights—to share one’s self!—will keep any danger of copying others' blogs too closely at bay. In fact, while veterinarians may start a blog for business purposes only, some find the secondary gains more rewarding than profits. Look for my upcoming blog post: “Veterinary Blogging: Gaining More than Page Rank and Profit.”( I have this crazy notion that most vets didn’t get into the field for the money.)
You’ve probably heard by now that adding a veterinary blog to your practice website improves traffic and raises your site in search engine rankings. A blog can mean more calls, more customers and more business.
What’s stopping you from blogging? Informed Web Content helps you get blog functionality on your website, navigate the “blogging tool” there and even helps you research your best keywords and write blog posts. While based in San Diego, the internet makes it possible to work all over the country. As I’ve mentioned before, even the most nervous of new writers eventually push us out of the way, at least on some posts. Good luck and happy veterinary blogging!