Since starting my pet services business back in February, I’ve received lots of positive comments about this dog walking website. Some have been from new customers who decided to book me on the strength of my website. Others have been other dog walkers who are looking at dog walking websites. Often they find website design and promotion to be the hardest part of their business.
I have many years experience of building websites and getting them to rank on page 1 of Google. In this blog post I’ll share some of my experience. Hopefully the tips shared will help point you in the right direction. It may also help you to avoid some common pitfalls.
Dog Walking Website – Where to start?
Hopefully we can all agree on what defines a successful dog walking website. Firstly it needs to make you and your business look professional. Secondly and even more importantly it needs to rank on page 1 of Google for the main search terms your customers use.
Very few customers will even bother to visit page 2 or lower to get the answer they want. I’d actually go further and say that you ideally want to appear in the top 4 results of the organic search. Studies on click through rate bear this out. In an effort to avoid confusion I will at this point explain click through rate (CTR). CTR is expressed as a percentage and represents the amount of people who click on a result within the search. So if 100 people search for the term ‘Dog Walkers near me’ and 30 people click the first organic result, it would represent a click through ratio of 30%.
Adwords, Local Snack Pack and Organic Results Explained
In the last paragraph I talked about organic results and organic search. You may be asking, what does this mean? The following article from respected company MOZ is worth a read. The article explains the difference between Adwords, local snack pack and organic results. It clearly shows that despite often appearing at the top of the page, adwords (or Google Ads as they are now known) are clicked less often. There have been other, more recent articles that show an even lower click through rate for ads! Why this might be is up for debate. In my opinion Google does such a good job of giving users the best results organically that few users bother clicking the Ads. Also companies often turn to Ads in desperation when they can’t rank organically. If the Ad points to their website which loads slowly the user is unlikely to wait for the website and use that company.
As you can probably imagine I don’t recommend buying Ads. Adwords are not only clicked less often but you pay per click, not per sale. As more and more dog walkers set up in business the competition for those Ads grows which in turn increases the cost per click. The last thing you want to be involved with is a bidding war for search terms. Especially when most people ignore the Ads anyway! Your dog walking website needs to be in the 3 results that are shown in the local snack pack and on page 1 of the organic results.
The Usual Pitfalls
It’s probably fair to say that the average dog walker starting their business has little to no experience of web design or SEO (search engine optimisation). Also since they are typically sole traders we can assume that most will not have a large budget for building their website.
This results in them looking for a web design platform that sells based on ease of use so they can build it themselves. Usually that means their first website gets built using something like Wix, Vistaprint, Squarespace or Weebly. These tools are certainly easy to use but may not be the best long term option. In the past these types of platform were weak in terms of SEO but they have now improved greatly. One issue with platforms like Wix or Vistaprint is that they are also hosting your website. In speed tests I’ve done Wix hosting servers seem to be pretty fast. What happens if they get bought out or performance dips? Essentially you are stuck. What I recommend is a platform where you can switch your web host if needed and have your website up and running again within a matter of hours. You want to be able to pick from a wide selection of hosts that meet your needs and budget.
What I use & recommend
I build all my websites using a content management system called WordPress. Some of the reasons I use WordPress include:
- It’s the most popular CMS (content management system) by a huge margin. It has 58.8% market share. The 2nd largest Joomla has 6.5% market share. Of all websites that exist, 28.4% are built with WordPress. Being the most popular means it’s well supported and here to stay.
- WordPress itself is free. To get the website ‘look’ you want means using a free or premium theme or page builder. The market for WordPress themes is huge.
- WordPress started out as a blog platform. Google loves fresh content on websites and blogging is one of the best ways to provide this.
- It’s great for SEO. Many of the world’s top SEO professionals use and recommend WordPress for good reason.
- Every website hosting company of note supports WordPress websites.
Naturally not all WordPress themes are well coded or supported. In the past I’ve used themes from Genesis and MyThemeShop with success.
The issue with themes is they have limited flexibility design wise. If you find a theme that has the exact look you want, great! Don’t expect drastic changes to be easy though. For a more custom look you should consider using a WordPress page builder like Elementor which is what this website is built with. The best WordPress themes and page builders can be just as easy to use as tools such as Wix.
Want me to design your Dog Walking Website?
I realise many people don’t have an eye for design. Others don’t have the time to both build their website and learn the detailed rules of search engine optimisation. If this sounds like you why not get in touch. Let me build you a dog walking website you can be proud of that ranks for all your keywords. I can also come up with a brand / logo for your dog walking business. I have a huge collection of quality dog photographs that can be used to illustrate your website. You can find out more about my web design business by clicking the following link:
Here are some other dog walking or pet related websites I have designed:
It can take over a year for most dog walkers to become established. Some never get busy enough to make a living and give up. Can you wait that long? The quicker your dog walking website is top of Google the quicker the phone starts to ring.