By Ines McNeil, CPDT-KA
Originally Published on The Modern Dog Trainer Blog on July 10, 2017.
Part of having a successful business means you need a website that works for you. Ideally, you want a website that attracts clients to your business, even when you’re sleeping. Many dog trainers are missing out on the benefits of SEO and what it could do for their businesses—whether they know that SEO exists or not. Thankfully, it’s not as scary as you might think, and a lot of SEO can be done in “DIY” fashion on a $0 budget. Today, I’m going to dive into some of the myths I’ve seen other dog trainers believe over the years. Here are some common SEO problems that I’ve encountered:
1) You don’t know what it stands for.
The acronym is much easier to type and say, so “SEO” is used infinitely more often than “Search Engine Optimization.” This means that the term scares people away and is general “marketing speak” amongst many small business owners and dog trainers. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. SEO is an umbrella term used to describe any way in which you change your website to improve the way it shows up in search engines. Changes as small as editing a page’s title or changing the description of an image is considered SEO. Don’t let scammers fool you into thinking it is too much more complicated than that.
2) You think you can pay someone else to do it.
Unfortunately, as small business owners, we’re constantly bombarded by ads and promotions on how someone can magically snap their fingers and get our website to rank on the first page of Google. All for only $300 per month! Just think of all the new clients you could bring in with that kind of exposure. Too good to be true? Unfortunately, yes. . .
Due to the relatively unbiased way that most search engines operate, you’re probably not going to get your site to rank higher in search results by paying anyone. There are loads of scams out there preying on unsuspecting business owners that are promised mysterious rankings for a small monthly fee. To get on the first page of Google results, you have to earn it. You can do achieve this by:
- Providing helpful, relevant information to the people that are searching
- Optimizing the technical aspects of your website to help it function better for visitors.
3) You don’t understand the point of it.
SEO has remained this mysterious, unclear marketing term that many new business owners shy away from. In reality, it’s easy and important for all businesses to understand. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a FREE way to gain new website visitors and clients. Simply put, there are ways to improve your website so that it will be more easily found in Google and other search engines. You can improve your website by providing the right content, getting listed in (appropriate) online directories, writing relevant blogs, making it appear faster to visitors, and many more ways.
I agree – it can be overwhelming to learn about all the different ways you can improve your website, but you want to keep chipping away at it over time. Every little bit helps your website and your business get found online when people are looking for help. Best of all, when you have a small starting up budget, you can make most improvements for FREE!
Don’t know what improvements to make? Check out the course, “DIY SEO for Dog Trainers.”
4) You didn’t do the research (and made the wrong assumptions)
After spending hours in forums online discussing dog training with other professionals, it’s easy to forget how the average dog owner would search for common issues, such as resource guarding or leash reactivity. When optimizing for search engines, you should think about the kind of people you want to attract to your website and understand the terms they’re likely to use to find help for their problems.
Here is a comparison of how the terminology might differ between a professional dog trainer and an average dog owner.
Terms Dog Trainers Might Use
- Resource guarding
- On-leash reactivity
- Dog manners group class
- Crate training
- Positive reinforcement based training
Terms Dog Owners Might Use
- Snapping and growling with toys
- Barking at other dogs on walks
- Dog obedience training
- Puppy potty training/house breaking
- Positive dog training
With this understanding, you want to make sure your website is written with the vocabulary that is familiar and natural to your target audience. They’re using the search engine to find YOU!
5) You don’t even realize your website is hurting you.
Living in a smaller town means that many small businesses have not invested in websites that perform well and many don’t even have websites to begin with! I come across horrific websites all the time that a) don’t make me want to go to their business and b) that I can’t even find the business hours or location even if I did want to visit them. Don’t be that business.
With most people turning to mobile searches instead of to their neighbors to find help these days, you cannot afford to miss out on potential customers looking for trainers just like you in your area. A bad website could:
- Load so slowly that the visitor hits the back button before they even get to see your site.
- Be so complicated that the visitor just goes back to search for another business to help them.
- Make the location of the business so vague or unapparent that the visitor can’t tell what state, let alone what city, the business is in.
- Rank so poorly in search engines that you can’t find the business’s website even if you were to type in the exact name of the business.
“Nearly 60 percent of searches now from mobile devices.” – Search Engine Land
Outside of not being able to be found online or a super slow load time, your website could be hurting your reputation, too. An outdated or 90’s looking website could look unprofessional and could even lead people to believe that you’re out of business! A website is your virtual storefront. Take care to make it visually appealing and helpful so potential customers give you a chance to earn their business.
Have questions about SEO or your website? Please feel free to reach out to Ines McNeil at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the course, “DIY SEO for Dog Trainers.”
Ines McNeil, BS Biology, is the founder of The Modern Dog Trainer blog and her own local dog training business, All Positive Dog Training LLC in New York. She is a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) and is also a professional digital marketing strategist. She is able to mix her expertise in each field to provide the most relevant and actionable tips for dog trainers and their businesses. She has been studying and working with dogs for over 10 years and enjoys helping people regain tranquility in their lives with modern dog training techniques. She concluded that she can have the biggest positive impact by helping modern dog trainers succeed so that they in-turn can help more dog owners and dogs live happy, enriched lives together.