If Google can find your website, then people can find you. The process of making your website easier for Google to find is called search engine optimization or SEO. SEO makes websites understandable to Google so that when someone searches, Google can bring back relevant results. Google will always try to put what it thinks are the most relevant results to your search query at the top of the page, or rank them higher. That means that if you do SEO properly, you should rank higher (than the neighboring backyard breeder!) when someone searches for a breeder in their area.
SEO can be complicated, but the basics cover a lot of ground. The fact is, most breeders aren’t even doing the basics. Google has published 32 page “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide” that gives you all the basics. I’d like to help you interpret this guide relative to how a breeder should set up her site, and also share with you a few things that will make a tremendous difference in SEO.
I’ll take a moment to plug self-hosted WordPress again. (See How to Set up a Breeder Website That Will Help Your Online Presence for more.) The nice thing about using WordPress and their free plugins, is that it makes basic SEO very easy, and you won’t have to do all the things in Google’s Guide manually. If you are using a website builder such as Wix, Breederoo, etc., some of them will have a way to implement the guidance below, and some won’t. You will have to consult with their support desk to get assistance in implementing these to-do’s in order to get yourself at the top of the Google rankings.
Google says…. “Improve the structure of your URLs”
(page 8) In WordPress, make sure you change the post format to post name in Settings – Permalinks. This is so your links look like this: http://yoursite.com/dogs-in-training/, rather than http://yoursite.com/?p123/.
Google says…. “Make your site easier to navigate”
(pages 10, 13, 20) After you install WordPress, find a quality WordPress theme that organizes your content in such a way that will mark up your site so that it is more readable for Google. I like and use the Genesis Framework and their child themes.
Google says…. “Create accurate page titles,” “Summarize content,” “Use page descriptions,” “Prepare a site map”
(pages 4-7, 11) Install the All in One SEO or the Yoast SEO plugin so that your title and meta tags are readable by Google, and so there is an XML Sitemap to help Google find you. You don’t really need to understand what these things mean, these two free plugins are the industry standard and will do it for you.
Google says…. “Offer quality content and services”
(pages 14-15) Write good and compelling content! You need to write about your dogs and puppies so that prospective owners know what you are about and understand that you have special, well-bred dogs and puppies. Your website is a place to showcase yourself as a reputable breeder and serves to educate.
Another reason to educate and excite your visitors is so that a potential pet home can turn into a show or performance home. Do not undersell pride of ownership!
Google says…. “Write better anchor text”
(pages 16-17) Link properly within your own site. Give your visitor a chance to take time on your site and point them in the direction they should go next. Make sure that words you use in your link (called anchor text) isn’t “click here” but describes where they will go if they click. This helps Google understand your page as well.
Google says…. “Optimize your use of images”
(pages 18-19) Everyone loves dog and puppy photos. Don’t just post them on Facebook and Instagram, put them on your website. Show your visitors what you and your dogs are about. Create the right kind of image (for the kinds of owners you want to attract) with your visuals.
Be sure to fill in the area that says “alt text” when you upload your photo to your site in WordPress. Think of what you kind of text you’d want to appear on your site if for some reason the photo is not viewable. (e.g., “Weimaraner puppy plays with ball” rather than “IMG2586.jpg.”)
It’s Not As Hard As You Think!
With the ease of using SEO plugins with WordPress, it’s a snap to get on top of the Google rankings! Take the time to do your SEO and your site will be found!