10 ways to boost your practice website just using words
Remember how you were taught to write a scientific paper at vet school? Well, it’s time to forget all that stuff (unless of course you are planning on writing a scientific paper). There’s a new kid in town who has thrown out the rule book, starts sentences with ‘And’ and is your new best friend. We’d like to say his name is Compelling Copy. But that would be a step too far.
The fact is that many vets that set out to write articles for their practice website are still stuck in that scientific mind set. Ever included a heading such as ‘Diagnosis of x’ or ‘Clinical signs of y’? If that’s a yes, then it’s time to recognise that it’s likely to be a big, fat NO-NO as far as your clients are concerned.
Why do vets need to write using a different style online?
The Internet has changed everything – content is available in abundance, you can flit from place to place with the only limitation the speed of your broadband connection; read a few lines and if that doesn’t grab you there’s sure to be something better a few clicks away.
If you are a writer of content it’s time to make sure your big biros are fully loaded because there are some new challengers ready to take you on and nab your space – probably somewhere in the region of 7 billion of them in all honesty, as these days anyone can be a content creator.
What’s the secret when it comes to writing content for the ‘net?
When it’s hard to get yourself heard you can shout louder (aka paying for advertising) OR you can talk in such an interesting way that people really want to hear what you have to say.
As a vet, you’ve got all the best ingredients at your fingertips – drama, excitement and small fluffy animals – now you just need to package it all up like a delicious strawberry sundae with a big swoosh of cream and a cherry on top. It needs to be so luscious that everyone wants a few spoonfuls of what you have to offer. Here are our tasty top tips to help you make it happen.
- Vets need whales to write ground breaking headlines!
Whales – you know what they are about from the word go. They are big. They are bold. They grab attention. SEO spiders love headlines and online readers need something big enough and bold enough and interesting enough to stop them in their tracks. Like whales.
You want advice that’s a bit less esoteric? Okay, when writing headlines include your keywords (more on this later), encapsulate the whole story in your title but if you can, include a little something to lure in your reader. Make people go wow! And try to keep within an eight word limit.
- Chunk it up
It’s not War and Peace okay? While you want to have some sort of narrative thread, big blocks of text can be really difficult and boring to read online. Introduce bullets or numbers. Brighten it up with some attention grabbing subheadings. If you are really good, a reader could scan the whole article and just ‘get it’ from the subheadings (Smug smile – check this article out. You are welcome).
- Create a top 10!
Taking both these points a step further, it’s no big leap to understand why posts headed ‘5 reasons why’, ‘30 things you never knew about…’ , or ‘10 ways to..’ fare better online. They sound bite sized and interesting. ‘10 things you will love about our veterinary practice’ anyone? Or shall we just go with the usual worthy but boring list of equipment and services?
- Understand your audience
Reverse your perspective and imagine you are the reader. Liken it to your early days in practice when you couldn’t find the cat’s uterus: step back and then step in again pretending you are someone else. It always helped you with spays, so why not your content?
Put yourself in their shoes. What questions do your clients ask you? Write for a typical, mythical client.
- Embrace informality
You speak ‘vet’, they speak ‘pet’, so ditch the jargon and long winded sentences. If you are more Daily Telegraph than Daily Mail, that’s fine as long as the people you are talking to and the ones you want to attract, are also Daily Telegraph types. If not, you are going to have to get down with the kids and loosen up a little. It’s still important to spell properly and to use punctuation though.
- Write what THEY want, not what YOU want.
We’ll say it again. It’s not all about you. By identifying the right keywords you can write copy around topics that your clients find intrinsically interesting and are searching for online. Find out more about keyword planning here
- Think about how it makes you feel
Written words can be powerful – they have probably made you laugh or cry. How do you want someone to feel after reading your content – powerful and energised, or miserable and despairing?
You can alter the speed that a piece is read at by using shorter or longer sentences – a fast read will make people feel more energised. Choose words wisely, opting for positive words rather than
negative (a classic example is ‘no artificial additives’ compared to ‘naturally preserved’). When people are skim reading your content online they can fix on those less positive words and then you lose the ‘feel-good’ factor.
- Call to action
You have an end game in mind. Don’t you? Ultimately you want your reader to make an appointment, renew that booster, get their pet checked out for diabetes, ask you about parasite control.
So…. don’t forget to include a call to action. Whether that’s a ‘make an appointment now’ button, a link to an online symptom checker, or a click though to send an email for a tailored recommendation: INCLUDE IT IN THE ARTICLE. Yes, tell them what you want them to do. Revolutionary, I know.
Don’t forget to get a bit digital savvy by measuring the response and refining your content on an ongoing basis based on the results. Now we’re getting fancy.
- Embody your brand
As well as thinking about your audience you also need to think about your practice brand. The best way to do that is to ‘be’ your brand. Internalise what it means to be your brand. If it helps, think of your brand as a celebrity, or a make of car. If I’m a Landrover writing about kidney disease in cats (go with me on this), I’m going to sound different compared to if I was a Mercedes writing about kidney disease.
This approach can encompass different writing styles as long as the tone stays on brand, so any member of the practice team can write something and it will still fit. Now, at your next practice meeting all you have to do is decide if you are Frank Sinatra or Nicky Minaj. Good luck with that…
- Sleep on it
Word blindness is a terrible thing. After you have pretended to be your audience, internalised your brand, used your keywords, got down with the kids and included a call to action, your article is sure to be riddled with typos. Read it again fresh the day after you have written it and get someone else to read it before publication. All you have to lose are your semi colons.
Need help generating quality content? Ask us about content creation for veterinary companies and practices.