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Choosing the Right Domain Name for your Veterinary Hospital’s Website

0 Comments Posted by Mark Feltz in Domain Names, Marketing, Search Engine Optimization - SEO, Websites on Tuesday, December 7th, 2010.

One of the most important veterinary marketing decisions you’ll make for your veterinary practice is the selection of a domain name for your hospital’s website.

At its most basic level, a veterinary domain name is the address people use on the Internet to find your hospital’s website. And yet, domain names and the strategies behind how they are deployed play a key role in marketing your practice.

A veterinarian domain name establishes your hospital’s presence on the Web; plays an important role in your branding efforts; and helps determine if your veterinary practice’s website will rank high on Google or be lost in the vastness of the Web.

Ownership of two or more domain names, in fact, is a powerful and cost-effective strategy for staking out and taking ownership of a broad swath of Internet real estate. That’s because multiple domain names intuitively related to your veterinary practice drive traffic to your website, and ultimately clients to your door.

The following points are designed to help you understand why a domain name is more than just a name for your website and how you can better leverage yours.

If One Domain Name Is Good, Two Are Better
When you type a domain name into your Web browser, the routers and servers that pass information along from point A to B do not read that actual name. Instead, they read the unique set of numbers known as an IP address associated with that name. This means it’s easy to purchase and own several domain names that guide a Web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.) to your veterinary practice website.

Domain names should be relevant and incorporate terms that pet owners would likely use to find a local veterinarian. If your domain names include your town or city, areas of professional interest, a few generic terms like “vet,” “veterinary” or “animal,” then your domain name most likely will be at or near the top of the list of search results on Google. Using several relevant domain names creates a broader net.

One of the most important factors for high Google rankings is the relationship between search terms and domain name. If someone searches for “NY veterinary hospital,” the website with the domain name “nyveterinaryhospital.com” is almost always the first listing to return.

Domain names are very, very important for Google rankings.

How to Select a Primary Veterinary Hospital Domain Name
Though you can have a number of domain names that bring visitors to your veterinary practice website, you need a primary one that represents your practice. This is the name that appears in the address bar of a visitor’s browser and is the official name of your website. It’s this name that needs to appear on your marketing collateral, too, such as brochures, business cards, direct mail pieces and email newsletters.

The name of your veterinary hospital should be your primary domain name. Since this is the actual name of your business and a big part of your brand, you need to own this very important piece of Web real estate.

There may, however, be other veterinary hospitals in North America with the same name as yours. In this instance, you need a domain name that is as close as possible to your hospital’s name. Abbreviating one or two of the words in your domain name is an excellent alternative. So, for instance, if the name of your hospital is Main Street Veterinary Hospital and this domain name already is taken, you might want to use MainStreetVetHospital.com or MainStreetVetHosp.com.

Domain Names Should Be Memorable
Memorability is where owning two or more domain names becomes particularly important.

Names that are simple and infer a quality or qualities associated with your practice are memorable. Also, if you have a practice name that is long or difficult to remember, using additional domains can help people remember through veterinary branding your practice’s website.
Domain names can drive branding, as well as enhance your website’s search rankings. The URL for a cat-only practice could be CatsOnlyVeterinary.com, FelineVeterinary.com or CatVetHosp.com. If you are trying to brand your practice as being affordable, you could try AffordableVet.com and related names. The idea is to distill the most salient characteristics of your veterinary practice and include them individually in each domain name you create.

Remember that these branding and search-friendly names should not replace your hospital’s actual name as your website’s primary URL. Instead, they forward your marketing efforts and increase the chances that pet owners will find your practice on the Internet.

You Should Own Your Unique Veterinary Practice Domain Name
Quite a few web-hosting companies incorporate your website’s domain name into their own URL. For example, Google embeds your site’s name within the search engine’s corporate URL when you use the free website templates they offer. This means that if you want to name your website MainStreetAnimalHospital.com, the actual address would be: https://sites.google.com/site/MainStreetAnimalHospital — not exactly a powerful domain name.

Ironically, your free Google website will receive a poor ranking from Google, because it has an unfavorable subdomain URL and clogs their directories. Also, Google frowns on the use of template-based websites and considers them spam.

Last, but Not Least … Don’t Wait
Buy your domain names now! Other veterinary practices most likely are trying to increase their Web presence and are buying relevant domain names that you should have. Waiting only sets your marketing efforts back.

It’s More Than Just a Name
Selecting a domain name is a very important piece of your veterinary hospital’s marketing plan. A domain name uniquely identifies your practice on the Web, establishes who you are, supports — or undermines –your hospital’s branding efforts, and can determine your ranking in search engines such as Google.

With this much at stake, it’s worth seeking advice on how to strategize, select, register, and market your veterinary hospital’s domain names.

Copyright © VetNetwork, LLC / Mark Feltz, DVM
VetNetwork – Marketing Solutions for Veterinarians and Veterinary Hospitals
www.vetnetwork.com
603-743-4321

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