Your website should be the main “hub” of your online presence and activity; however, ads you put on directory sites, posts on Facebook, photos on Instagram, and all your other online activity all supplement your website. They are important too.
I know that for many reputable breeders, the idea of outright advertising may be somewhat uncomfortable for you. But if backyard breeders are the only ones advertising, how is a new person that does not know how to identify a reputable breeder supposed to know that there are better alternatives out there?
Please consider doing a bit of advertising. I promise you won’t feel “dirty” afterwards if you do it like this:
Your social media profiles are a great way to expose your “brand” to people new to you. Do not get put off by the idea that you are a “brand.” Like it or not, how you present yourself on social media will leave some sort of impression, and that impression is pretty much your brand.
Social Media Content
The type of content you share will help people understand what kind of breeder you are. For instance, do post your dog and puppy photos, but do not advertise “Puppies for sale!” on Facebook or Instagram (or Twitter, etc.). Imply or flat-out state that you are just sharing cute puppy photos, but that all the pups are spoken for. The purpose of social media is for branding, not selling. Most people link to their social media profiles from their websites. You also need to do the opposite, link to your website from your social media profiles. Let your website do the selling.
Social Media Photos
I recommend posting photos of you and your dogs enjoying whatever activities you participate in. Post obedience training photos along with funny stories and faux pas, the dog show that was also part road trip, the visit to the hospital with your therapy dogs that also resulted in some feel-good moments, etc. Don’t just post boring win photos and brags!
Speaking of photos, learn how to take good photos. Anyone with an iPhone can take great photos. A Google search will take you some excellent sites that explain how to take awesome photos of your dogs.
Your Social Media Profiles
Make sure your website is listed on your social media profiles. The purpose isn’t just for people to be able to be able to go to your site from social media, but it also helps with your Google rankings to have a link from a high domain authority site like Facebook or Instagram. It’s even better if you have a Facebook page for your kennel that has a lot of activity because Google can see that. (As an aside, there is a lot of debate whether Google actually considers “social signals” in ranking. Google is silent on this, but a correlation has been shown. Debate and detailed technical information aside, if it doesn’t “count” now, it will soon.)
Google My Business
Consider using Google My Business so that Google has another citation to index. Your site will show up if someone looks for a breeder in your city both in the search results and in Google Maps. In order to list your site, go to https://business.google.com and follow the instructions there.
Participate in Facebook Groups
Another worth-while activity is to join Facebook groups where you can contribute to educating others on your breed by answering questions. You should not make too much mention that you are a breeder, if at all, but share your knowledge. Many people will click over to your profile page after getting help. This is about demonstrating your authority and not about advertising, but it will ultimately help you.
Breeder Directory Sites
Directory sites almost always come up on the first page of Google, two in particular, the AKC’s Online Marketplace and PuppyFind are very popular and get a lot of traffic.
AKC’s Online Marketplace
There were 9,330 puppy ads on AKC’s site when I wrote this article; 100 in my own breed (Weimaraners); and 510 a popular breed like the Golden Retriever. 30 listing show up per page. If you are an AKC Breeder of Merit, you get free breeder listings and priority placement. Priority placement means that you will show up on the first page of their listings. If you have “champion lines” you will also have some priority placement; however, your ad will be mixed in with backyard breeder ads.
To distinguish yourself here, enhance your ad. By default, AKC will use their stock photo of your breed. More than 30% of the ads do not bother to change this photo. If you decide to advertise in AKC’s Marketplace, make sure you use your own photo! Take the time to write a good, compelling ad, instead of relying on AKC’s stock verbiage. Remember that the most important things for buyers is health and temperament, so make sure that is emphasized over show and performance brags. Do not forget to include the URL to your website so that prospective owners can learn more about your breed and learn more about you and your breeding program.
These are basically puppy brokerages. Most reputable breeders just won’t list on PuppyFind and similar sites because of their bad reputation and the other types of breeders that frequently advertise here. I understand this, but there is an opportunity for education on these types of sites. By differentiating yourself, you will show buyers that there are alternatives out there. You will need to craft copy that will give the public reason to purchase from you based on quality, not price. People that shop on these kinds of sites generally do not care about showing or performance but many do care about health and temperament. Emphasize health and temperament testing in your ad.
While this type of advertising may not produce many (or any) good homes, you will be doing breed education and that will have some value in and of itself. You may convince some that a dog is not right for them, or that your breed is not right for them.
Other Directory Sites
Other specialized directory sites may also be worth advertising in, such those that are focused on the performance aspects of your breed (working, obedience, agility, etc.). The most important to think to remember if you advertise in any of these directory sites is that you should link to your own website – the place where you have full control your image!