Using the internet to grow your dog walking business can be rewarding, but it takes time and practice. To start, think of how you use the internet to find information. If you're like me and millions of other people, you use a search engine like Google or Bing and you type in what you're looking for. Extensive research shows, more likely than not, you will choose a result from the first page. This is because search engines are really good at knowing what the person searching is looking for. As a result, companies in every industry compete to appear on the first page for popular search terms called keywords.
How do you get on page one? There is a whole industry dedicated to figuring out the answer to this question. It's called Search Engine Optimization or SEO for short. Big corporations pay SEO firms a lot of money to help them appear higher in search. For some of these companies, appearing first can be worth tens of millions of dollars. For small business owners like me, hiring a big firm to help is not an option.
Luckily, your competitors are probably other local businesses in a similar position, but that doesn't mean you can just sit back. Part of being a business owner is learning new things. To help out, here are some tips you can use improve your online marketing and grow your business.
1. Produce Interesting Content
The best way to get people to your site is by providing content your future pet sitting customers want to see. Put yourself in their shoes. What are pet owners interested in? Training and pet health are just a couple of excellent topics that pet owners might find useful. Last year my company did a blog post with a summary of every dog park in our service area. Your content doesn't need to be about your business specifically. Just pick topics that you think are interesting and do some research. If you're apprehensive about writing content, I highly recommend a book called "Everybody Writes" by Ann Handley. It's an excellent guide to becoming an interesting writer.
2. Use Internal and External Links
You'll notice above I linked the book title to the author's website. Linking to your sources provides credibility. If you continue to provide useful and factual information, over time you'll develop a reputation as an expert. This practice is also helpful to get other sites to link to you. If you're providing content that's relevant to their readers, they may decide to link back to your content. This is especially helpful when you're trying to improve your search ranking. Links from a trusted site go a long way. In addition to external links, it's also helpful to link to related content on your own site. This keeps people engaged and on your site for as long as possible.
3. Use Keywords
Keywords are how people find you through a search engine. One thing to keep in mind is that search engines are very intelligent. You don't need to use the same exact phrase over and over. The search engines can recognize similar phrases, so you should write naturally. If your content is relevant to your topic, the keywords should work themselves into your post seamlessly. You will want to use the keywords in a number of places on your page including:
- The title of the page: 5 Tips for Grow your Dog Walking Online
- The post URL: https://scoutforpets.com/blog/5-tips-for-growing-your-dog-walking-business-online
- The meta description: Want to grow your dog walking business? Check out these 5 tips and learn how to effectively generate leads on your website.
- The anchor text on other pages: The text that appears highlighted in a hypertext link and that can be clicked to open the target web page
- Image Alt Tags: An alternative description can be added to each image on your site. Make sure to use the page's keyword in your image tag.
4. Get People to Engage
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be an excellent way to grow your dog walking business by attracting new customers and staying engaged with your current clients, but doing this effectively requires that you pay to play. I've found that Facebook is the most effective and cheapest option for getting people to see the content we produce. When you set up an ad, target the city or cities where you provide pet sitting. You should also choose some interests that your clients might also relate to such as dog training or travel. A good budget to start is $1 - $2 per day. To increase your audience, I also suggest inviting people to like your page. This will help with your organic, or free, reach.
Tip: On Facebook, if you click or tap the link that shows who has liked your post, you can invite them to like your page.
5. Generate Leads
Now that you've attracted people to your site, you'll want to give clients a way to stay in touch. For pet sitters, a meet and greet form on your site is the easiest way to generate high quality leads. Some important information to include in the form is Name, Pet Name(s), Email, Address, and Phone Number. This is a lot of information, so when someone takes the time to fill this out, they are expecting you to contact them. You already have your foot in the door! Some people may not be looking for your services yet, but enjoy your content and want to get updates. For this case, I recommend having a short form limited to the visitor's name and email address only. Using a short form is a great way to keep in touch. You never know when someone will need a pet sitter.
At Scout, we really love getting your feedback. If you have any tips of your own you want to share, or you have questions you want us to answer in a post, feel free to drop us a line in the comments.