In just the last 10 years, marketing has changed substantially. Gone are the days of placing an advertisement in your local Yellow Pages and hoping for the best. Now, in order to remain competitive, you must be on top of your game, and that means understanding the many facets of online marketing.

We know how overwhelming online marketing can seem to a small-business owner, so we've teamed up with Beyond Indigo to create a program that will help you conquer your fears of the vast, intimidating world we call the Internet.

Below is just a taste of what you'll learn in this unique program.

Online review management
Online reviews and local search are a rather large concern for hospitals these days. Where do we start? How do we manage it? According to Beyond Indigo's Kelly Baltzell, monitoring and responding to reviews is more important now than ever. 

"Up to 90 percent of people these days are influenced by reviews. Quick response time to address both positive and negative reviews has a huge impact on your business. Approximately 95 percent of unhappy customers state they will return to a business if their concerns are addressed quickly," Baltzell explains. Beyond Indigo has a convenient, easy-to-use tracking system to help you manage your online reviews.

According to Baltzell, there are two basic types of websites on the market today: template-structured and custom-designed. Both have pros and cons, and Beyond Indigo has created an infographic to help explain the differences between the two types of websites. Regardless of which type of website you choose, there are important things to remember.

In a recent webinar, the Beyond Indigo team was asked, "Can we use pictures that we've copied from Google Images or other places on our website?" Kelly's answer: "No, no, no! You can only use pictures that you own, have permission to use, or that you have licensed through a stock photography company. Otherwise, you could be sued for infringement of copyright."

Search engine optimization
The Beyond Indigo team is well-versed in the complexities of search engine optimization (SEO). Baltzell says, "Google changed 665 times in 2012. In September 2013, Google rolled out the biggest modifications to its algorithm since 2001. This change was labeled 'Hummingbird.' What it means is that page rank is basically dead, keywords are no longer the main focus, and content is king."

One common question the team hears: "Can I use content that has been copied and pasted from other sites on the Internet?" Baltzell says, "No! Google is now focused on the user experience. They want to see unique content on websites. Each hospital, and each hospital website--if you have multiple locations, each with their own site--needs unique content if you want Google to recognize it, and your clients to find it."

Social media marketing
Social media is changing, and it's changing the way companies reach their clients and potential clients. No longer can you have your client service representative at the front desk post a cute photo once a week and call it good. According to Baltzell, "Today, there needs to be a plan, a way to connect to your pet owners. Posting is part of the plan, but it's not the entire plan. Think of a spider web and how all of the points of the web are connected to make a whole. It is the same thing with marketing. Social media is an integral part of your marketing plan and now influences positioning on Google, Yahoo, and Bing for your website."

Don't get lost in a sea of technology
Marketing online is constantly changing and evolving. The Online Marketing Specialist program will help you build a solid marketing foundation, so the inevitable future changes won't feel so overwhelming. This full-year certificate program begins at AAHA Nashville 2014, ends at AAHA Tampa 2015, and includes 15 online sessions between the two conferences.

Get on the right course and feel confident in marketing your practice online. Register today for this valuable program, but hurry, seating is limited!

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Red is your guide to everything AAHA. Whether you’re looking for association news, updates on our educational offerings, the latest books from AAHA Press, deals from our Preferred Providers, or fun reads from various AAHA staff and AAHA-member veterinary professionals, this is where you’ll find it.

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