I help moderate a Weimaraner Facebook group, currently with about 25,000 members. We recently polled our members, asking them where they got their Weimaraner, and results showed that there are at least twice as many people that got their Weim from a backyard breeder than from a reputable breeder. We also asked how they found their breeders, and they said, “online search.” Reputable breeders are losing the war against puppy mills and backyard breeders by not being accessible and showing people that there is a choice!
Your website is the place to showcase your dogs and to show your visitors the conformation, ability, temperaments, health, and all the work that has gone into your dogs and into producing special puppies. Your website shows that you are your breed’s advocate, it demonstrates your integrity in your breed’s community as well as your reputation among your peers, and that you stand behind what you produce. This is why having a website is so important. And, going hand in hand with actually having the website is having it easily found.
A Google search for “X breed of puppies for sale” will yield the AKC Marketplace and pet brokerage sites like PuppyFind.com and NextDayPets.com as the top results. In Weims, first page Google results also show some high-volume breeder websites. Log out of Google (so that the results aren’t tailored to you) and do this search yourself. If you have a website, where is your website in the results? What about your local breed club or your parent club?
Google rewards “domain age.” In other words, among a lot of other factors, Google considers how long a site has been on the internet and ranks older sites higher. Breeders that have been on the internet longer also got better at internet marketing, which also explains why some sites are ranking so well. To make a generalization, puppy brokers, puppy mills and backyard breeders figured out this internet thing way before anyone else!
If you have a website, sometimes people stumble upon it, but more often than not, they were referred to it from a friend, a club, or maybe from Facebook. They’re not finding you from an organic Google search. This means that you are counting on your prospective puppy people to reach out to the right person or group first, and then to follow through on the recommendation to view your site or contact you. That’s a lot of steps, are they really going to do it or go the easier route and just Google for a breeder?
Sure some will follow through, but what about everyone else? They’re only (or mostly) finding broker sites, puppy mills and backyard breeders. And those breeders are getting all the business, even a large portion of the high-quality homes. Sure, some of the best homes understand that they need to look further and delve deeper, but many just don’t know how to find a reputable breeder (This was actually me when I was purchasing my first dog!). Passing up the people that Google for breeders can be a mistake – for you, and for your breed. Even if you don’t have a single problem selling puppies, you may have lost the opportunity to educate about the breed you love, and you may have also lost the possibility of putting a first class home on your list for a future litter.