What You Need to Know About Veterinary Websites (and Four Things You Should Be Checking Every Month)
You have a million things to think about as you operate your business: how do I handle all these clients, are my staff happy, what the heck did that dog swallow and how am I going to have to deal with this? Do you really have to think about a website, too? Well, the short answer is it’s 2021, so yes. However, to help separate what is worth your attention and what can wait, we have broken down a few key things you should know as well as four things you should be checking at least once every month.
Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?
Here’s a fun fact: roughly 70% of your website’s visitors are seeing your site on a mobile device while only 30% are using a desktop.
Here’s a not-so-fun fact: if your site isn’t optimized for mobile users, you are missing out twofold.
First, Google’s algorithm favors websites that are mobile-friendly. It will rank those websites higher in its search results, which means if your business’s website is old and clunky, it is showing up further down the page or even (yikes!) on the second page. The chances someone will click on your business roughly cuts in half for each listing as you go down the page – and virtually no one looks at the second page.
Second, if your website was built for big desktop screens but two-thirds of your visitors are using small handheld devices, it’s like feeding large breed adult dog food to a puppy Pomeranian. It doesn’t fit, it’s confusing, and it doesn’t end well.
Mobile visitors use your website differently than desktop users. Mobile visitors often seek a few pieces of information, such as your business hours, your address, or what services you perform. They are also getting a quick first impression of your business, making a snap judgment about your clinic, and if they feel comfortable bringing their pets to you. Desktop users usually dig deeper, spending more time on your website, gathering more information, reading more in-depth, and taking more time to form an opinion.
So, what does that mean for you? It means if your site is built right for the audience you have now is the time to modernize it. Talk to your current web designer or schedule a free consultation with VHA.
Is Your Website Safe & Secure?
You spent time and money building a website that serves your customers perfectly and looks great. What could possibly go wrong? I have no idea – and that’s what scares me. It’s the things you can’t foresee that are the worst. A computer glitch, an angry client, a malicious former employee, random hackers… Rebuilding an entire website from scratch can be an expensive and exhaustive problem, one which is entirely avoidable so long as you backup your site BEFORE things go wrong. Whether you use a paid security service or a free plug-in, just make sure you have a functional backup plan and check it monthly to ensure it’s working.
There are additional steps you can take to be proactive as well. Are your passwords secure? Do you have spam filters in place? Are your plug-ins are updated? Does your site have its SSL certificate – and is it current? Does this all sound like a huge headache? I know, it can be. But like any good preventative measure, if you wait until AFTER it’s a problem, it’s too late. Take a few minutes or spend a few dollars every month important to address these issues before they become much bigger, more expensive problems. (Pssst, VHA can help. Ask us about it!)
Is Your Website Up-to-Date?
Keeping your website up-to-date doesn’t just mean making sure your business hours are listed correctly. It means looking “under the hood” regularly to make sure everything is running correctly. Just like pets, a website can use a diagnostic from time to time. Checking your site once per month to make sure that plug-ins are updated, your software is current, and it’s backed up properly (see above) is a great way to catch little things before they become bigger problems.
Is it Fresh?
Beyond keeping your website current, it’s important to keep it fresh, too. What the pup does that mean? Freshness is a term that website managers (and Google!) use to refer to how recently content was added to your website. New information is good; a website that hasn’t added anything in a while is bad. A monthly blog post is a great way to provide value to your clients, to keep your site “fresh,” and to rank higher in Google. Not sure what to blog about? Share patient photos, provide helpful tips, tell a quick story about your staff or clients – these are all helpful or entertaining things that keep your site fresh and ranking happily in Google. Don’t have time for blogging? VHA can help with that, too!
Moral of the story: your website is not a crockpot. You should not just set it and forget it. Your website is the digital home of your business. Like any home, older ones may have a certain charm but new ones have more efficient technology, function better, and attract more clientele. Making small updates to your home from time to time keeps it modern, fresh, and functional – and is a wiser alternative than waiting years to make finally fix problems that have grown out of control.
Who Actually Sees My Website, How Did They Find Us, & What Are They Reading?
These are all great questions, and the answers to those (and more!) can all be found in Google Analytics. Analytics is a free service provided by Google that can tell you everything you want to know about your website’s traffic, and even things you didn’t know you wanted to know. Google automatically tracks each visitor’s journey through your website and Analytics will show you how they found you, what pages they read, their gender, their age range, their location, even their income level. It can tell you if you’re converting website visitors into clients of yours.
If you’re not checking Google Analytics every month, you’re missing out on really valuable information to help guide your business. If you discover your website is not converting customers or that visitors leave quickly, that may be a signal that you need to change or update parts of your site. You can review keywords and search terms that people use to find you, and you can target your clientele more effectively by using those keywords in your blog posts. Google Analytics is the secret sauce of a modern business website.
Keeping your website running functionally and effectively in 2021 can seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Set aside a few minutes at the end of every month to ask yourself these questions:
- Is my website backed up?
- Are my plug-ins and software up-to-date?
- Did I add any new content to the site?
- What did Google Analytics tell me about my clientele?
As a doctor, you know that spending a little time on good health every month is a much wiser path than waiting until problems get really bad. And if you're still overwhelmed, talk to us at VHA! You can schedule a free 30-minute consultation to talk websites with me!