Blog By Megan Brame
Not only do you need to worry about running your business, caring for your dog guests, and staying on top of your bookkeeping, now in today’s world, you also need to juggle marketing your kennel online. It can feel incredibly overwhelming, especially if ads have burned you in the past. Many kennel owners shut off from things like SEO and social media because of their fear that they’ll do it wrong or are afraid it’s not worth the effort to learn.
Luckily for you, you’re in an industry that is especially loved by search engines. Google reported that cat and dog searches hit an all-time high worldwide in 2020, with dogs being the highest. Imagine what you could do with even a tiny piece of that search traffic pie!
All it takes is good marketing. But before you click away due to anxiety, marketing your kennel website doesn’t have to be scary! Even with a baseline understanding of how search engines work, you’ll be able to make small changes that win their favor and knock your competitors off Page 1.
Before you drop hundreds of dollars every month on a company that promises to optimize your site, check out our tips for how you can use organic marketing and SEO to help bring new kennel clients your way.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s what website owners and bloggers use to gain the favor of Google and other search engines like Bing or DuckDuckGo. SEO tactics often change to keep up with more intelligent search engines. You might remember when everyone had keywords as their website addresses like www.dogkennelbrooklynny.com. This has since fallen out of favor because search engines realized it was too easy to game the system and often wouldn’t help searchers find what they were looking for.
While it may seem complicated, SEO is more about showing search engines that your website is the solution for their searchers. It doesn’t benefit Google to send someone to a website that won’t match the reason for their search; they’ll end up using Bing instead. So, if you can make it easy for Google to stay #1 in search engines, they’ll return the favor by sending more people to your website.
Why Should I Care About SEO?
As a kennel owner, you’ve got a lot going on as-is. Why should you add something as cumbersome as SEO to your full plate?
The answer is the opportunity cost. Consider how much it costs to pay for ads on things like Facebook or Yelp. It can get really expensive really fast! What’s worse is that if you don’t target your ads just right, it could mean throwing money into a black hole that never brings customers your way.
Optimizing your site for search engines removes this risk. While it won’t completely replace advertising, having a search engine-friendly website can reduce your ad budget, bring potential new clients for free, and position you as an authority in your industry, which is excellent for getting press mentions!
Think of that hour a day you spend on your phone, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. What if, instead, you used that hour to improve your website little by little and bring qualified new leads to your door automatically?
A Few Tips for Driving Traffic to Your Website
So now you’re (hopefully) sold on why you or your team should pay attention to SEO. While the rules will change occasionally, the basic tactics have remained the same since the first person typed “what to do with my dog while on vacation” into a search bar.
- Use your website to answer questions - The main thing search engines are looking for is a positive experience for their users. That’s why it’s crucial that pages on your website answer questions potential clients might have. You can do this as blog posts or just sections on your landing pages if you don’t want a blog. Think about the top questions you hear from boarding clients; you can bet there are many more asking those very questions which haven’t heard of you yet. A little formatting tip: Type out the query ("what is a kennel?") as a title, then re-add the question in your answer ("...so if you’re wondering what is a kennel and why you should use one…") for a double-dip of making Google happy.
- Make it easy for people to get in touch with you - Make sure your contact information is prominently displayed. Search engine robots will pull this information if it’s not already listed (like on Google Business listings), making it easier for your potential clients to get in touch even when they’re not on your site. If you’ve got a little website-building knowledge, try to get this information in the footer of your site. If your site is built on WordPress, many free plugins can do this for you.
- Don’t use default image names - image names like 3we6fer4.jpg don’t tell search engines anything, so you must rename your images to be more descriptive. Things like "8x10dogkennel.jpg" give Google so much more information which can pull your images up higher in search results. It’s also a great way to keep your digital files organized.
- Showcase your kennel; it will make Google think you’re pretty great - Your website is a marketing tool, so use it to market! Don’t be afraid of talking about the benefits of working with you, what your clients have to say, and show off pics of your clean kennel spaces. Search engines pay attention to all of this!
- Invite your customers to help spread the word - Google pays attention to social signals like shares or mentions on Instagram and Facebook. The more places your business is mentioned, the higher your search rankings will be. Ask your boarding clients to review your kennel on Facebook or post pics of their pups at your facility to their social media accounts and add your location to their pic.
- Work on it a little at a time - Don’t feel like you need to overhaul your website to be search engine-friendly. Search engines prefer sites that are updated regularly to sites that get a facelift and aren’t touched again for years. Make minor tweaks here and there to improve your customers’ experience and keep search engines interested in what you have to say.
Remember that digital marketing is a long game that can have big pay-offs if done correctly. Use a few of these ideas the next time you want to expand your online footprint and bring new kennel clients your way.