When is SEO not really SEO? Why a human led approach always wins.

When it comes to building success online and increasing your veterinary practice’s online visibility, a comprehensive search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy is required to boost appearances in relevant search engine results pages (SERPs), build credibility with your target audience of pet owners, drive traffic and secure new clients.


Now, you don’t need us to tell you how competitive the veterinary sector is right now, which is precisely why veterinary practice owners, must understand how to leverage every available strategy to drive success and build a sustainable future. However, as we’re noticing, on an increasingly concerning scale, what is being touted or presented as ‘SEO Optimisation’ isn’t really SEO at all.

But what exactly do we mean by this?

Let’s begin by running through what good SEO looks like.

What does true SEO involve?

The best SEO strategies utilise a selection of different tactics that each work towards achieving a shared outcome. Some of the most powerful SEO tactics include:

On-page SEO

A good on-page SEO strategy will ensure that every web page on your site is fully optimised to secure traffic and provide visitors with the information they are looking for. Specific on-page optimisation tactics include integrating relevant keywords and phrases, optimising title tags and meta descriptions, increasing page speed, and utilising internal links.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to tactics that optimise your online presence externally to your website, such as content marketing, link building, influencer marketing, guest posting, and social media.

Content creation

One of the best ways to build your reputation online is to consistently create and share relevant and informative content that showcases your expertise. To ensure that your expert content is seen by the right audience, SEO tactics can be employed to rank well for keywords and phrases.

Keyword research

Keyword research is the process of identifying which keywords and phrases will be beneficial to target, with a view to connecting with your ideal audience of local pet owners. Plus, when you know which search terms and queries pet owners are already using to find the information or services they require at that time, you can use this information to shape your content strategy and ensure that you are meeting the needs of the people you want to connect with.

Technical SEO

With a strong technical SEO strategy in place, you can be certain that your website is visible to search engines such as Google and Bing, making it simple for their bots to crawl, locate, interpret and categorise your content.

One of the most important aspects of this strategy is to develop a site architecture with SEO as well as customer journey in mind. This will ensure that your web pages are linked together in ways that make sense to humans and bots and minimise occurrences of ‘orphan pages’, which are pages that don’t have any internal links pointing their way.

(Have you seen our SEO Jargon Buster?)

The importance of local SEO for veterinary practices

As a local business, you need a local SEO strategy, which refers to the process of optimising your online presence with a view to boosting your visibility amongst local pet parents. With a strong local SEO strategy, you will appear in SERPs for search queries such as “veterinary practice near me” or “vets in (town/city/village)”, which will help you to build your practice’s reputation within your local community and ensure that your target audience knows you exist.

You can employ various tactics here, including optimising your Google My Business listing, targeting keywords already being used by a local audience, and creating content that is relevant to your local community of pet owners.

Now, with many different tactics and approaches to building a robust SEO strategy to consider, owners of veterinary practices often naturally look to external agencies for help, support and guidance. Which is completely acceptable, after all, you’re not SEO experts, you’re pet experts!

However, the problem is that there are, unfortunately, too many unscrupulous agencies out there who are putting in minimal effort and relying on automated tools to provide what is, ultimately, a sub-par SEO strategy.

What are some approaches that are often presented as SEO but aren’t?

Unfortunately, many so-called tactics are presented to businesses as valuable SEO strategies and tools. These include:

Auto-generated reports and “audits”

Data can provide us with a wealth of information, but only when it is analysed and interpreted by an experienced SEO professional can it help to drive key, actionable insights that will actively improve your online presence.

Plugins for SEO

SEO plugins (software that sits on your website) can be used to enhance the functionality of a website. However, they aren’t magical optimisation solutions and should never be used as a substitute or a replacement for a strong SEO strategy. There are a lot of plugins out there, but they are not all created equal.

So, while some may help, others may not do anything for your business at all. Is it really worth the risk when there are so many proven legitimate SEO tactics that you could be focusing on instead?

Using AI for SEO

Artificial intelligence can be a useful tool, however many agencies are relying on AI too much which is leading to poorer outcomes for their customers.

As a veterinary practice owner, you know the importance of ensuring that your audience can connect with your practice on a very personal and emotional level. You must also be aware that search engines actively penalise website content generated by AI.

There is a chance that AI technology will get there eventually, but as of right now, the human touch is still very necessary.

But does this all really matter that much?

The short answer is: yes! And for a variety of different reasons.

For a start, agencies that don’t demonstrate a desire to create a well-rounded, fully bespoke strategy to help your practice succeed will never drive the level of results that you deserve to see from your investment. Now, we aren’t saying that you won’t see any results, however they are extremely unlikely to stand the test of time and you will ultimately need to invest more.

It’s also worth noting that agencies who rely too heavily on AI and plugins are more likely to also use short cuts in the form of black hat techniques, which violate the guidelines set out by search engines and may ultimately cause long-term damage to your reputation online. This isn’t something you should have to worry about, and instead, you should feel confident that your chosen SEO agency is employing the human touch at every turn and working hard to help you make those all-important connections with pet owners in your local community.

Plus, using a generic agency with no expertise in the veterinary sector will result in missed opportunities, so working with a veterinary specific digital marketing agency will help you drive the best return on your investment.

How to identify a genuine SEO offering

As a practice owner, it is important for you to seek out expert SEO partners who understand the nuances of this demanding industry and can demonstrate a genuine desire to help you achieve long-term success for your veterinary practice.

Teams offering genuine SEO services that will help your veterinary business to grow and flourish over the long term will always be on hand to answer your questions and queries, seek to work with you in a true partnership to drive the best possible outcomes, provide full, frequent reporting to keep you informed and be transparent with you every step of the way.

To find out how our specialist SEO team could help you attract more local pet owners, please get in touch.