SEO Strategies for Pet Businesses

The result is a highly competitive market with many companies vying to take a piece of the pie. Unsurprisingly, many of these businesses have aspirations of generating higher profit margins to further benefit their owners and their pet clientele. One way to achieve this is by using an online website to promote the business and any related products and services. The goal is to create consumer awareness and drive customer traffic to ultimately increase revenue. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play.

The way people think about their pets in today’s society has greatly evolved from the past. Many people consider their pet to be a member of the family, and there are those who go to great lengths to ensure their pet has a full and happy life. As such, the pet industry has grown to accommodate these needs with the development of new products and services. This encompasses a wide array of facilities such as pet hospitals, grooming salons, training programs, pet-specific retail stores, and a diverse selection of pet foods.

Importance of SEO in the Animal Industry

SEO, or search engine optimization, drives traffic to a company’s website. Using the right keywords and tools, a business can be shown at the top of search engines, bringing in more prospective clientele. This tool is highly important in animal care and services. Many people these days constantly use the internet for finding information, looking for resources, and for social networking. Everything from health questions, breed information, and locating pet businesses is searched for online. A large portion of pet owners are of the younger generation and they use the internet for most of their needs. Pet businesses who do not have a website with good search engine ranking are missing out on a lot of potential clientele. A great example of the effectiveness of search engine ranking is the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association. Before having SEO service done on their site, they were getting 20-30 hits a month referred from search engines. In their first month after SEO, they received 702 search engine hits. This is a huge increase in potential clientele who are informed on veterinary related issues and are looking for resources. An increase in traffic to a website does not necessarily mean an increase in clients. For instance, a pet owner may be looking for information on a specific pet health issue and find a great article on the vet’s website. This could potentially lead to the owner contacting the vet for services. With the proper use of SEO, this article could have been on the front page of search results and received many more hits.

Benefits of SEO for Pet Businesses

Development of brand identity: Higher rankings on the search engine results pages mean more exposure for your website. It has been proven that better exposure can lead to an enhanced brand identity. People have a tendency to believe that if a company is listed on the first page of the search engine results, they are a major company in that industry. Pet owners who believe in their pet’s well-being will stray away from no-name companies, and this brand of pet owner will be the best customer for a pet business. With the right amount of traffic, increased brand identity can help promote your company to the first page of the search engine results.

Increased website traffic: Search engine optimization on a website will result in a better search engine ranking, which in turn means more traffic. Obviously, more traffic means more potential customers.

What follows are five major benefits of search engine optimization for pet businesses.

Keyword Research and Optimization

The first step of owning a search engine optimization strategy is keyword research. At a high level, the strategy is to identify the words and phrases people use to seek out information about the products and services that you offer through search engines. After you identify these keywords, you can then target those terms with your website in hopes to gain traffic through optimization. This leads to an increase in consumer traffic as you are ranking for the highest traffic generating keywords. With pets being a broad category of products and services, it is important that you identify the specific products and services that you are offering. In relation to pet rescue, you would want to target keywords like “Pet rescue”. Then in any cases, it is important that certain products or services get targeted as well. For example, the owner of a pet grooming company that focuses specifically on dog grooming would want to target the keyword “dog grooming”. The next step is finding the right keywords for your website given what was identified in the first steps. The Google AdWords keyword tool has become the de facto standard in keyword research tools. It’s a good tool for you because it was created to help AdWords customers, but works just fine for what we want to accomplish. The basic use of the tool is to start by entering a keyword and the tool will return a list of related keywords along with the search volume and competition. The competition refers to the ad competition but we can assume it as difficulty to rank for the keyword. Using this tool, you will want to try to compile a list of keywords that you will want to target your site for based on the search volume and competition.

Identifying Relevant Keywords for Pet Businesses

The next step is to expand this list using keyword research tools. There are many different methods and tools for this, but the general idea is to start with a broad keyword and then find words and phrases that are similar to it. This can usually be done using a keyword suggestion tool. For example, Google AdWords has an excellent keyword suggestion tool called Keyword Tool. This can be used by again starting with the list of primary keywords and then generating a list of more keywords. For each keyword, try to compile a short list of closely related keywords.

When initializing, there are many types of keywords that may be relevant to a pet business. A dog training school might want to identify phrases that a pet owner is likely to use to search for his services, such as “dog obedience”. A veterinary clinic might want to identify words and phrases relating to the different types of services it provides. Step one in keyword identification is to try to put yourself in the shoes of your customers and generate a list of initial keywords. Being the business owner, you are far more knowledgeable about your business than any outsider could be – use this knowledge to your advantage. Try to come up with a list of primary keywords that you think a potential customer is likely to use. You might be surprised at the words that people actually use. You could employ a survey and give a list of your brainstormed keywords to current and potential customers, asking them to choose the words that they would most likely use when searching for your type of product or service.

Optimizing Website Content with Keywords

Internal Link Anchor Text: Using keywords in your internal links has always been a recommendation, and with the newer formula this can increase your page’s ranking. The science behind this is quite simple. Coming back to the theme of web pages as ‘communities’, your internal link is the method which you can direct to other pages on your site. This uses your keyword as the “directed target” to help that page’s authority, and also is considered a supporting content method.

Alt Tags: This is text which appears when you hover your mouse over an image, and it is the HTML attribute used to describe an image’s contents. Alt tags have a strong correlation to the surrounding content and to the specific image URL, so implementing keywords into the alt tag is still an effective method.

Header Tags: Implementing your keyword into a header tag has a lower weighted factor than it used to, but it is still a factor. Whether a H1, H2, or H3 tag, you should style it to make it larger than regular text and it should appear natural amongst your content.

CSS Hidden Text: For various reasons, you might have a section of text that you do not want to be visible to the user, but is used to help the search engines determine what the page is about. Normally this is done with a simple div tag and the CSS property display:none.

Keyword optimization should finally occur on your website or webpage. You may have many different keywords which you want to rank for. Then you need to have a focused page for each keyword. Keywords should be implemented in your title, at least one subheading on the page, and throughout your content. It’s generally best if you can make the text flow naturally and not force it. As for where to put your keywords, there are many possibilities, but some of the most popular methods include:

Incorporating Keywords in Meta Tags and URLs

As with all great achievements, a well-optimized URL begins in the preparation and research phases. SEO experts must aim to create a keyword-rich, direct and descriptive URL to allow for easier click-through and a better search engine ranking. We have already identified relevant keywords through our research, therefore in URL creation, we can start by using these same keywords. Always try to maintain focus on a set of keywords, rather than using them all. This will lead to URL directory structures and the creation of more pages encompassing a wider range of keywords, providing better results. An important point to note is that static URLs rank better than dynamic ones. This is due to the fact that search engines will notice the change in a dynamic URL and perceive it as a new page each time, thus affecting the site’s continuity in search engine indices. Static URLs containing the keywords are therefore preferable and should not exceed 2-3 folders deep. The final point to mention is the continued use of keyword research in URL maintenance. The nature of web content changes over time and different content will call for different keywords which may need to be incorporated into the URL. By staying up to date with keyword research and implementing any new keywords into existing URLs or new ones for new content, a site can maintain continuity in search engine indices and better click-through as this new content will also be easier to find.

On-Page SEO Techniques

URL structure is the next step in on-page optimization. We would want our URL to be [Link] This is better than having a URL like this: [Link] because the URL is more specific to the content on your page and your keyword phrase is also within the URL. The last step of on-page optimization is to place our keyword at least once in the content. This can be tricky because we do not want it to look like we are spamming, otherwise the search engines may rank us down for that. Try and place the keyword somewhere near the top of the content and then somewhere again towards the bottom.

The first thing you want to tackle is your title tag. An HTML title tag looks like this: <title>pageTitle</title>. It is what you see at the very top of your browser and it is what shows up on the search engine results. It is vital to have your keyword in your title tag. If your page also is focused on a specific location, it is a good idea to write that in as well. Always remember that a title tag should not be longer than 70 characters. A meta description tag is just a short paragraph of text which describes what the page is about. You should also try and work your keyword into the meta description.

The majority of your SEO efforts will be to create engaging content for your website. This does require a certain level of creativity, but there are some content writing guidelines you can follow to make the content more search engine friendly. Before beginning the content writing process, you need to determine what type of content is going to be on your page. This can be product pages, blog articles, location pages, or information pages. By doing this, you can ensure that your content is specific to your audience. Once you have decided what kind of content your page will have, you can now keyword optimize your page. For example, if the goal of your content is to get more people to your location, you may want to have a keyword phrase in your content that will get people to your site from search engines. Now that we know what we want to write, we can now begin on-page optimization. Step one is the title tag. Step two is the meta description. Step three is the H tags. Step four is the keyword placing. Step five is the content optimization step.

Creating Engaging and Informative Content

95% of consumers are worried about their data on the internet, while 74% of them believe that complete privacy no longer exists. This means that most people are uncomfortable with the idea of their data being harvested, and yet it happens on a day-to-day basis. For this reason, if you can give people a clear picture of what the results will look like by clicking on the search result and what they can expect to discover on your page, this will greatly increase your CTR. In fact, just changing title tags and meta descriptions on a dozen pages could lead to dramatic results. One way you can do this is by using “power” words and emotional triggers within your title. We have found that things that evoke a positive or negative emotional response tend to get higher CTR. An example being a lot of banks and loan companies try to inform people of their services for dealing with debt problems, they are trying to provoke a response. This needs to be done in a tasteful manner and not seen as manipulating the consumer, but there will almost always be an effective way to use emotional triggers in your title. The use of questions and targeted calls to action can also be effective. A title tag should always be an accurate description of what a page is about. Creating curiosity in the title is good, but it is no good drawing people to the page based on something that isn’t relevant to what they are after. Using a targeted call to action can also be a great way to get people to visit your website. An example being, if the user wants to know how to build a deck, a title like “Start building your deck today!” will speak directly to the user and it is more likely that they will click here, than they would a more generic title. This can also relate to financial benefits for the consumer, if you are offering people something you should indicate that in the title. Often people search for things that are free, sure, you might not want to give away too much free stuff, but if you have free resources available, it is something the user would like to know about. High-quality title tags and meta descriptions can also increase the chance of the page ranking in the first place. This means that apart from brand name, if people can recognize that your page has what they are after, they are less likely to click on your competitors’ results. This principle applies to a lot of black hat vs white hat scenarios, if a black hat site has used a lot of techniques to push their search results to the top, but the title and meta description do not accurately reflect the content of the page, this will be far easier to displace said result and a lot black hat sites won’t put effort into creating quality content for that reason. A user might also assume a site is not credible if there is no meta description, or it is poorly written. This is why it’s also important to ensure that your snippet can clearly outline what the page is about even if the meta description is not displayed in the search result.

Optimizing Title Tags and Headings

Title tags are critical for search engine optimization. They are considered the most important on-page SEO element on your website. Title tags can make a significant difference in your traffic and the response you get from organic search. On every profile, there’s an ‘edit’ button. Clicking this will allow you to edit the specific feature you are currently on. This title, which is listed at the top of the browser window, labels the specific page. This title also displays as a link in search engine result pages (SERPs), so to users, the title can also affect whether or not they’ll click on your link. Because the title is the first thing users see, it can make or break how long a user will decide to spend looking at your page. If it’s not too much trouble, please note that the title tag has more weight than any other single factor, hence it should be considered carefully.

Improving Website Speed and Mobile Responsiveness

A 2017 study by Google and SOASTA found that when mobile load times increase from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases by 123%. Google has continued to increase the importance of mobile page speed as a ranking factor and as of January 2018, it only makes sense to take the necessary steps to improve website speed and mobile responsiveness. Fast forward to the middle of 2018 and Google’s “Speed Update” will use mobile page speed as a ranking in mobile search results. This only leads to the conclusion that website speed and mobile responsiveness are only going to become more important to maintaining and improving organic search traffic.

Improving your website speed and mobile responsiveness can seem like an exhaustive and daunting task, however it is essential to your SEO success. As of 2018, more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers. Google has used mobile page speed as a ranking factor in search results since July 2018 and we all are aware that the slow-loading website is a terrible user experience.

Utilizing Internal Linking Strategies

Utilizing internal link building services, we can ensure that we reinforce the theme of your site within the internal linking structure. The first step of an internal linking strategy is to make sure that there are plenty of crawlable, relevant links pointing to the most important keyword targeted pages on your website. This will ensure that with time these pages will become more and more powerful in terms of PageRank. An effective linking strategy can also enable you to have a secondary and even a primary set of keywords for a page. This, in turn, allows the site to take advantage of double ranking opportunities when the new set of keywords are as competitive as the original.

Search engines are able to decipher specific keyword content due to hyperlinks pointing to the page with keyword-based anchor text, the primary strategy for utilizing internal links. The anchor text to a web page is like a vote for that page. If the vote comes from another website, it adds credibility, but when the vote comes from within the website, it adds a great deal of relevancy. While external link building is great for boosting a page’s visibility, internal link building is great for ensuring a page is seen as important.

Off-Page SEO Strategies

Another method to attain quality backlinks is to submit your site to a relevant web directory. A good way to find such directories for the pet industry is to use keyword combinations in a search engine to find directories. An example of this for a pet sitter would be “pet sitting directories.” Although many directories are paid, the cost is often minimal and it could be a good investment for your off-site SEO.

For a pet business, you could write articles on what kinds of different dogs are suited for different living quarters. People who own purebred dogs often want to learn as much as they can about the breed before they obtain it. You can also write articles on the exotic pets that you cater to. Owners of less common pets, especially fish, often have difficulty finding information on the care for their pets. When writing the articles, it is important to provide valuable information. Instead of just providing basic information that can be found on hundreds of other sites, try to add to existing information and provide new insights. Avoid explicitly promoting your own pet/business as this can deter people looking to link resources.

Backlinks can greatly influence a site’s reputation. Search engines measure reputation by the number of quality backlinks into a site. One good way to attract backlinks is by offering great content that people will want to link to. What is considered “great content” can vary depending on the audience and type of site.

Building High-Quality Backlinks

A high-quality backlink from SEO’s perspective is a link coming from a high authority site in your industry or a related one. Also, the best backlinks to get are those that are contextually relevant to your site. This means that the links are built using your keyword, and the link is placed on that specific keyword. Another way to ensure that you are getting a high-quality backlink is to use your keyword as the anchor text. Google’s algorithm places a heavy emphasis on anchor text, and it has a strong influence on the keyword’s position in the SERPs. Finally, a good backlink will drive traffic to your site. Remember that the ultimate goal of link building is to gain more traffic to your site, so you want to position links on sites that are likely to send a relevant audience.

But all backlinks were not created equal. With Google’s algorithms becoming more refined, the quality of your backlinks is now more important than ever. It’s no longer about simply getting as many links as possible. It’s about getting good quality links from authoritative and relevant sources. But how can we define a high-quality backlink, and how can we ensure that we are getting the best links for our pet business?

When it comes to acquiring and maintaining a strong off-page SEO profile, it all boils down to building backlinks. As one of the oldest and most effective SEO strategies, it’s no wonder that link building is still a powerful force and heavily weighted factor in rankings for a variety of search queries.

Leveraging Social Media for SEO

A popular way to utilize social media is by creating entertaining or informative content that can attract attention and encourage sharing by users to their social networks. For example, a grooming company may create a funny video about pet grooming tips. The video could be less than 3 minutes, funny, and informative which makes it likely to be shared and viewed by many. The company could then take this video and post it on their site, blog, Facebook fan page, or tweet about it with a link. To take it a step further, the company could submit the video to popular video sites other than YouTube, thus creating more links to that page and increasing traffic. This can gain a mass amount of exposure for your site and company which can also have a snowball effect in terms of increasing traffic.

Social media sites have become essential aspects of our everyday lives. Facebook now has over 400 million active users, while YouTube boasts 24 hours of video uploaded every minute. Other popular sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace have millions of visitors as well. Utilizing the viral world of social media is a great way to increase awareness of your company and reach potential clients.

Engaging with Online Pet Communities

The goal here is not to aggressively promote your pet business, but to actually involve yourself as a member of the community. By involving yourself as a member of the community, other members will naturally become curious about you and what you do. Involving yourself as a member of the community is a very effective way of building your brand or personal identity, and there are few places where you can more easily target your key demographic for your product or service.

In order to find an online pet community related to your product or service, you can simply go to Google and type in a keyword that describes your product/service + “forum” and you will likely find several communities related to it. When you join an online pet community, it is very important to do so in an honest and sincere manner. You should clearly disclose your association with your pet business and avoid the use of promotional signatures or avatars unless the forum permits it.

There are hundreds of online pet communities that consist of pet-related forums, clubs, and societies. Many of these pet communities have large numbers of members who are extremely passionate about their pets. Regardless of what kind of product or service you offer through your pet business, you can be sure there is a pet-related community that has members interested in it.

Encouraging Online Reviews and Testimonials

Getting satisfied customers to post positive feedback about their experience is a valuable off-page SEO strategy. There are numerous pet industry-related review sites, and most of them would enable you to include a business profile for your pet, where you can inform prospective clients about the exclusive services that you offer. Some will also contain a hyperlink to your website. Include your website URL in the business profile and ask your customers to post their testimonials directly on the review site. If you receive a complaint, see it as an opportunity to publicly demonstrate your exemplary customer service to current and prospective clients by taking steps to resolve the issue. Often times, the client may choose to remove the complaint once they see that you are willing to go over and beyond to rectify the situation. Be sure to document all positive feedback provided and post it to your website. A simple way to display feedback on your site is to create a page containing customer emails lauding your services. Another effective method for generating online reviews and testimonials for your pet business is to network with complementary businesses. For example, pet sitters might request feedback from their local veterinarian, animal shelter, or pet store. Veterinarians could ask existing clients for statements regarding services provided and post them to their website. Prior to doing this, be sure to inquire about and comply with any review posting policies your clients’ place of employment may have. These businesses are often well received by their communities, and a testimonial from them would carry a lot of weight in procuring new clients for your own business. You might also consider applying for recognition or awards in your field. While the primary motivation behind this should always be to further enhance your quality of service, some awarding organizations require feedback from the community, and upon receiving such an award, you will likely have a wealth of testimonials that can be posted to your site. No matter what methods you use to acquire testimonials, always ensure they are real and never fabricated. Potential clients are quick to spot false reviews, and doing so can have a negative impact on your business. Always be mindful that client satisfaction is key, and no amount of positive feedback is truly beneficial if it’s not genuinely reflective of the services you provide.

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