Do you have a business? Then you want to be found online. This is no different for a vet practice. The days that people looked up services in a phone book are long behind us. These days, a quick Google search points us in the right direction. And that’s where you want to be.
Showing up in the search results is an important first step. You want your vet practice to appear when people are looking for vets in the area. But it’s also important to think about how your business shows up and what information can be found. And finally, there are the reviews. There are a lot of places to leave a review about a business (think of Facebook or Yelp), but the Google Reviews are the ones that show up first in the search results.
Let’s have a closer look at your vet practice as a Google My Business, how to set it up, and the features you have to introduce your business.
Claim your vet practice as a Google My Business (GMB) listing
The first thing you have to do is claim your business as a Google My Business (GMB) listing. This means you will increase your chance of showing up in the local search results, Google Maps and Google’s Local Pack.
Additionally, you can add some information about your business such as your address, website, contact details, opening hours or the types of payments you accept. But there are even more features available, which we will explain throughout this article.
First, log in with the Google Account you want to be associated with your business. Visit https://www.google.com/business and click the button in the right top corner that says ‘Start Now’.
Complete all the information about your business
Now Google will ask you to fill out all the information about your business. This includes the name, address, opening hours, phone number, website etc. Google will now send you a verification (via phone, mail or email) to finalise the setup. To optimise your GMB listing you want to add as much information as possible.
What’s important to know here is that anyone can fill out this information, so make sure you add as many details as possible to begin with, to avoid false information on your listing. Once you have everything set, it’s important to check into your account once in a while to make sure nobody has made some edits. These ‘suggested edits’ can actually go live without you even noticing, so you want to verify every once in a while if your practice’s details are still up-to-date.
Here you get the change to introduce your practice to the public. What do you offer, what do you do differently than your competitors, and what should people know about you. Keep it short and sweet and avoid any URLs or HTML code in the description.
A picture says more than a thousand words. We all know how important visuals are online and there’s no doubt that professionally looking and clean photos of your practice will help your business’s reputation.
The cover photo is the most important one, as it shows up in the front of your listing. Your profile picture is what is used when you answer questions or respond to reviews. Aside from those two images, Google also gives you the opportunity to add a photo of the exterior, interior or employees that work at your practice.
Alternatively to Google Photos, you can also add videos to your GMB listing. This gives you the opportunity to show the behind-the-scenes of your practice or just to show the happy faces of your pets ( – the internet loves animals, remember!).
Another feature available on GMB are Google Posts. These show up like mini-ads in the search results underneath you vet practice’s business details. It’s free ad space, where you can showcase your skills, expertise or other news updates of your clinic – so you want to make the best use out of them. Not sure how to use them? Here are some ideas for you:
- Share your latest blog posts with a success story of the dog you rescued
- Get in the holiday mood with a holiday message posts
- Do you have a new staff member on board? Introduce them with a picture and link to their bio on your website
- It’s getting summer and you want to share precautions people can take with their pets? Link to your website for more info
- Did you invite a speaker to talk about animal care? Set up an event post with a date and time and a link to the page where they can register
When you log into your GMB dashboard, you can select the post option in the left side column. You can add an image, a call-to-action and a link to a website. Posts stay live for 7 days or disappear after an event has happened.
If you give pet-owners the opportunity of booking appointments online, and you work with an online scheduling software – you can now let customers book appointments directly from your Google My Business listing.
Google works together with a number of third-party scheduling apps and website, so if you have an account with one of them, it allows you to add a booking button on your GMB account.
Your Google My Business Listing is also a great way for your clients to reach out to you. On the dashboard, you can activate the messaging services in the left side column. You can set up an automated message and leave your phone number so messages will be sent to your phone (alternatively, you can download Google’s Allo App).
Questions and answers
This feature gives your customers the option to ask questions directly so you can openly respond to them. This feature hasn’t been used that much yet, so it might be an idea to go ahead and ask some important questions yourself (that you provide with an answer of course). This way, you set up some kind of short FAQ underneath your GMB listing – that will help customers with getting to know your practice.
Last but not least are the Google Reviews. It’s said that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and especially for a business that handles a sensitive and emotional topic such as the health of beloved pets, this is extremely important in making the decision whether to come to your practice or your competitors. Having excellent Google Reviews will help you build up a reputation online, and will make consumers trust your business more.
When your customers leave you a review, it’s important to respond to them – whether they’re good or bad reviews. Address the problem or negative feedback you got in the low-star reviews, but also thank people when they give you some online appreciation. Responding to reviews doesn’t only support a great customer service, but it will also encourage other customers to leave their review.
A good way to stay on top of reviews is to manage them closely. But we know this can get hectic, especially because you’re not only getting reviews on Google but also on Facebook, Yelp or Tripadvisor. That’s why we created a free review tracker, which can help you manage all online reviews and to respond to them in an accordingly way.
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