(This article is a 6.5 minute read)
THREE THINGS YOU’LL GET FROM THIS ARTICLE
1. The pattern of when people search for pet-related terms
2. The keywords your clients are using
3. Proof that guinea pigs are bigger than dogs in at least one way
Do you know when your customers are looking for information from you? I thought I did. But I’ve just been doing some research into veterinary marketing ideas, and found out I was wrong.
I made a lot of assumptions based on the advertising I saw cropping up in Vet Practice magazine. Certain products are advertised more heavily at certain times of the year. Flea, tick and heartworm medications around summer time, for example. That makes sense.
The whole idea of advertising is to get the right message to the right people at the right time. So if flea and tick season peaks in summer, you would assume that summer is when people are searching for that information.
Similarly, you would think that anything around breeding would be popular around Spring. That Winter would be a good time to talk about illnesses and osteo problems in older animals.
But then I started looking at Google Trends to work out when people were searching for this information online. And I found out something quite surprising.
For those who don’t know, Google Trends is a free online tool that looks at relative search volume for keywords over time. So you type a keyword into the search box on the page, and it will show you a graph which should look a bit like a mountain range. If the graph looks like a downward slope, it means fewer and fewer people are searching using those keywords. If it’s flat, no-one is. But if there are peaks and troughs, you can start to discern patterns, and come up with theories as to why they are happening.
It also lets lets you test different keywords against each other to see which is more popular. It doesn’t give you absolute numbers, but in the world of digital marketing, that’s less important. You only want to reach the people who are going to be clients.
So I started typing keywords into the search box, looking for patterns. There was a pattern, virtually every time.
But it wasn’t what I expected.
The first and most obvious pattern is that everything happens in summer. Of all the keywords I tested, most had peaks around December and January. Virtually any pet-related subject you write about, people will be searching for it in December and January.
I found that surprising. With most businesses (including healthcare and medical practices), there are seasonal peaks and troughs to everything. Not so with pet-related searches.
The second pattern that surprised me was some of the regional variations. For example, searches related to small animals and companion animals follow a pretty regular pattern, but if you break out searches related to guinea pigs in Queensland, and compare it to dogs in New South Wales, the results are weird. The relative search volume for guinea pig-related information is much, much larger than that for dogs.
Queensland guinea pig owners are hungry for knowledge. And their guinea pigs are just hungry. Full stop.
What does this mean for your marketing? It’s good news, in a nutshell. It means that you have twice as many opportunities to communicate with potential clients—once through search engine results, and once through social media promotion.
In other industries, it’s sound advice to get your content out to people around the time they are looking for it. But when it comes to veterinary services, you effectively get two bites of the cherry. You can publish content at regular times throughout the year when there is some interest, which will give you an SEO benefit. Search engines will see you are publishing regularly, and reward you for it. Long-tail searches will find your content.
Then, come summer, you can promote a wide variety of content through your social media channels. Remember, Google isn’t the only place people search for content. Social media, YouTube and Amazon are all significant search engines. All of them present you with opportunities to repackage and promote your existing content at a time people are searching for it.
One of the most common types of veterinary content posted by vets online is information around illnesses. Articles like “what to do if your dog is vomiting”, or something similar. But the keywords in those articles don’t register at all on Google Trends.
That means very few people are searching for content with those keywords in it. It doesn’t mean those articles are a waste of time. They are great for ‘long-tail’ searches, which are terms which aren’t popular. But to get an SEO benefit, you would need to have a lot of those long-tail-style articles on your site.
If you’re curious about the keywords that are getting used—along with suggestions of when and where to use them—you can find out in our free e-book called 100 + Keywords for Vets. You can download it by clicking on the link at the end of this article.