Do you find yourself completely lost and frustrated when it comes to improving your pet sitting website?
Are you confused about what to do next?
No worries, I get it.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a wildly popular subject. There is plenty of good information out there and much, much more not so good information out there.
If you find yourself trying various techniques and still waiting for decent results, worry no more.
In the Pet Sitter Website 14-Day Challenge below, I reveal the comprehensive, easy to follow game plan that will radically increase the success of your marketing efforts.
The goal of the challenge is to give you a specific task to complete each day that will create a search engine-friendly and user-friendly website.
By following the exact method I use for my own pet sitting website, you’ll be able to:
- Show up in the search engines for the most appropriate keywords for your website.
- Convert more of your website visitors into happy clients.
What do you say? Ready to begin…?
Day 1: Go Back To The Basics
A panicked friend of mine recently asked me to take a look at his website since he heard nothing more than a white blank screen was appearing when somebody viewed his site using a Mac.
The solution was simple. His code was missing a <!doctype>! tag, which should be the very first line of your html code. (Some web builders omit this necessary tag.)
Go back to the basics and make sure your html code has the bare necessities for optimal performance. This is a standard html template. View your source code and compare:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Day 2: Examine Spider View
Is your website crawlable and search engine-friendly?
A search engine spider, such as Googlebot, automatically crawls the web looking for new and updated content to add to its search database.
Since some popular web page creator tools do more harm than good by adding unnecessary additions to your html code, make sure your content is spider-friendly by viewing it through a search engine spider simulator.
The simulator strips away all the html tags and reveals exactly how a search engine spider sees your site.
The more relevant content the spider sees, the more likely you’ll rank well in the search engine for your chosen keywords.
Search Engine Spider Simulator: http://www.webmaster-toolkit.com/search-engine-simulator.shtml
Day 3: Begin Keyword Research
Using the same pet sitting keywords as someone else will do you little to no good. Why?
Because each pet sitter is in a different market, for one thing. You can’t expect the same results using the same keywords. You must do research specific to your market and location, and specific to your business goals.
For example, if they keyword phrase ‘pet sitter in New York’ works for me, the phrase ‘pet sitter in [your area]’ may not work for you. Only proper keyword research will dictate which primary keyword phrases you should target.
Plus, once you discover the best keywords, it’s even more important to know exactly how to use those keyword phrases for your website (see Day 4).
Your goal here is to find one primary keyword phrase to target per page.
Reminder: it’s absolutely pointless to target the broad keywords such as ‘pet sitter, pet sitting or dog walker.’ They are extremely competitive and your ideal client is not using those broad, general terms to find your service.
Google Keyword Tool: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
Day 4: Add Keywords To Page
Once you discover the primary (best) keyword phrase for your web page, the big question is “How do I properly use it on my website?”
Here’s a little secret I learned that will do the trick. Using the example “pet sitter in New York,’ place your keyword in the following 5 places:
In your title tag
This is the most important location and placing your keyword toward the beginning of your title will do the most good. Keep the title around 70 characters.
<title>Pet Sitter in New York | Providing professional pet sitting since 2002</title>
Page file name
www.example.com/pet-sitter-in-new-york.html. Google gives weight to page file names, so take advantage of the opportunity and place your keywords there.
Avoid file names like Page1.html, home.html or 1278539.html.
Instead of your opening headline reading something along the lines of “Welcome To My Website” or even “Welcome To ABC Pet Sitting,” try a catchy, yet appropriate headline with your keyword:
<h1>Looking For A Pet Sitter in New York Who Is Fluent in Dog?</h1>
Most importantly, this headline needs to be coded around the <h1> headline tag.
Use in first paragraph
Try and place your primary keywords in the first sentence or paragraph on your page.
For example, “Did you know that not every pet sitter in New York can speak ‘Dog?’ …
Bold keyword once
SEO experts have a variety of opinions on this one, but it can’t hurt when used in conjunction with the other techniques.
Find one place within your content to bold your keyword:
Praesent eu orci nunc. Donec ante urna, tempor id lacinia ac, consectetur nec justo. Morbi tempor, velit nec interdum aliquet, <strong>pet sitter in New York</strong> justo risus ultricies sem, sit amet egestas justo tortor vel metus.
Wrap up: Target one primary keyword phrase per page and implement these 5 techniques and you’ll start to see results. There is no reason to unnecessarily repeat your keyword dozens of times throughout your page. This will only hurt your chances.
Day 5: Insert Meta Tags
Even though Google officially announced that they no longer give weight to the meta keyword tag, it still helps to understand its best practices.
The two meta tags to focus on are the meta description tag and the meta keyword tag. FYI, Google frowns upon identical meta descriptions replicated across all your pages.
Since their job is produce relevant search results to their users, they reward websites that make it easier for them to understand what’s on the page so they can best help their search users.
A good meta description is about 140 characters (think Twitter) and describes what is on that page:
<meta name=”description” content=”Searching for a pet sitter in New York that really gets it? Services include top notch pet sitting and dog walking for all NYC pets.” />
The meta keyword tag should consist of about 15 keyword phrases. This is the actual tag from my pet sitting website:
<meta name="keywords" content="New York Dog Boarding, Cat Sitting New York, Cat Boarding NYC, Dog Daycare, Dog Walking NYC, Dog Boarding New York, Dog Walking in New York City, Pet Sitting New York, Pet Care Manhattan, Kennel New York" />
Day 6: Update Image Tags
Believe it or not, the way you name your images can have an impact on your SEO efforts. Again, since Google’s goal is to deliver the most appropriate search results to their users, it helps to name your image files something relevant to your page content.
You also want to utilize the image alt tag for the benefit of those with images turned off and to help Google index your photo in their Google Image search results.
If you check your source code, you may be surprised to see some of your image alt tags empty.
Let’s say you have a photo of you and your dog. Here’s an example of a good practice:
<img src=”pet-sitter-with-dog.jpg” alt=”pet sitter with dog” />
Avoid using generic file names that tell users or Google very little about what is contained in the image.
Bad file names include “image009.jpg, DCS087982.jpg and me.jpg”
Day 7: Install Stats Program
No matter what you do to help with search engine rankings, you’ll need a system in place to see exactly what’s currently working and what’s not working.
A free stats program, like Google Analytics, will give you more information than you could possibly want about how each visitor is interacting with your site.
This info will be so helpful in knowing what to keep and what to change. You’ll get comprehensive easy-to-read reports detailing your most popular pages, length of time each visitor stays on your site, what search terms they used to find you and plenty more.
Sign up takes a few short minutes and requires a small piece of code to be placed on your website for immediate tracking to begin.
Google Analytics: http://www.google.com/analytics/index.html
Day 8: Become A Google Webmaster
I personally love all things Google. As mysterious or intimidating as the search giant may seem, one thing’s for sure: They genuinely want the best for each site owner.
Case in point: Google Webmaster.
Google Webmaster is a host of free tools that provide detailed reports about your rankings on Google and how you can improve on things.
You’ll receive diagnostic reports specific to your site and Google will make suggestions and recommendations based on its findings.
In conjunction with Google Analytics, a Google Webmaster account will quickly make you a webmaster warrior.
Google Webmaster Tools: http://www.google.com/webmasters/index2.html
Day 9: Create a Sitemap
A sitemap is sort of like your website inventory list. It’s a standard way to catalogue all the pages within your website so the search engines have an easier time finding and including your content in their search results.
A search engine spider crawls the web looking for new pages by following links from other sites. If your site is relatively new and/or does not have many other sites linking to it, a sitemap will be helpful.
A sitemap needs to be in .xml format to be compatible with the search engines. A program like xml-sitemaps can quickly and easily crawl your website and produce the necessary file for you – all for free.
Once you download your sitemap.xml file, head back over to your Google Webmaster account and submit your new sitemap to keep Google happy.
xml Sitemap Generator: http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/
Day 10: Avoid Duplicate Content
“No need to worry, Joshua, all my content is 100% original.”
As true as that case may be, in this context I am referring to duplicate content most of us are guilty of.
Have you ever noticed that you can access websites either with the ‘www’ or without the ‘www’? Well, believe it or not, Google views the different web addresses as different web pages, and therefore as duplicate content.
Allow me to explain. If your homepage is www.example.com, you will find the exact same page content if you visit:
That is 4 separate pages of identical (duplicate) content. How do you get around this and fix things? Well, two ways…
First, you’ll see a setting in your Google Webmaster account that allows you to provide your preferred choice of web address (either with or without the ‘www’).
This is a completely personal preference, so there is no wrong answer.
Second, update your robots.txt file.
This may sound techy, but you may actually already have a robots.txt file in your main website directory and not even know it.
Either way, by adding a piece of code to your robots.txt file, you are telling the search engines to automatically redirect any traffic to the www. version of your site to the non-www version, or vice versa.
Read more about this at http://www.seobook.com/archives/001714.shtml
Day 11: Assure Cross-Browser Functionality
Did you know that there are more than 50 versions of the 6 most popular browsers?
This means not everyone views your site the way that you do. (Scary, I know!)
And aside from the various web browsers, you have to consider the different operating systems, screen resolutions and personal settings.
The truth of the matter is that you must test your website’s functionality, layout and design in as many different browsers as possible.
Remember the story of my friend’s site displaying nothing more than a blank white screen on a Mac? Well, he only discovered this when another friend of his happen to visit his site and decided to tell him.
In other words, the site owner didn’t do the proper testing and had no idea how many potential clients he was missing out on since his site was not working correctly across all browsers.
So how do you assure good functionality? Well, it starts with good clean code. The website creator tool you use will have a direct impact on site usability.
Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of believing that the way you see your site is how everyone else sees your site.
Day 12: Define Your Goals?
When building a website, it helps to know what your website goals are. All too often, I deal with clients who don’t really know the purpose of their website.
And I’m not talking about the overall goal of your website like you want to gain more clients. I’m talking about small, specific and measurable goals that you have for each web visitor.
Start by asking yourself this question:
“What do you want each and every person who visits your website to do before leaving?”
Do you want them to fill out your contact form, pick up the phone and call, chat with you live, send an email, sign up for your newsletter, read your blog posts…?
Without a clear goal in mind you may be confusing your visitors.
Once you come up with a strong and specific goal for your users, go back to your website and see if everything on your site supports that goal.
For example, the biggest goal for my pet sitting business website is to have each visitor fill out the contact us form. So what did I do? I placed a contact form on the right side of every single page.
It’s prominent but not distracting. That way, the visitor can fill out our form whenever ready and from any page.
Really think about the goal of your website and adjust things as needed to support that goal.
Day 13: Why You and Not The Other Pet Sitter?
Are you a good pet sitter?
Of course you are!
We are all the best, the most loving, reliable, professional, experienced and qualified pet sitter in town.
But those words are not going to distinguish you from your closest competitor.
The advertising and marketing world use something called your USP – unique selling position. Whenever a new product or service is about to go to market, highly paid executives spend countless hours (and dollars) trying to come up with the item’s USP.
Why should consumers buy this new bath soap, for example, when they already have dozens of other well-known options to choose from? What will set this bath soap apart and attract buyers.
In other words, what is its unique selling position?
You must ask yourself the same questions.
Why should a potential client hire you and not the next name on their list? What sets you apart? What makes you different? What can you offer clients that others do not or can not?
Come up with an awesome USP and you’ll easily convert more of your website visitors into lifelong happy repeat clients.
Day 14: Challenge – Create Content
Content truly is king when it comes to website marketing and search engine optimization.
Since the rise in popularity of blogs, social media and high-speed connections, web users demand a little more than the brochure-style website. Web users today demand value in their web searches.
Increase the chances of your visitors becoming clients by providing useful, engaging and compelling content.
This simple act will establish your credibility, display your expertise and up the chances of visitors sharing your content with others.
Don’t be afraid to write. Anything short and sweet works too.
Write about your favorite client, a funny story about your dog, 7 reasons to hire you… you have plenty of thoughts swirling around your brain. Get some of them out!
Installing a blog such as WordPress is quick, easy and free. Most web hosts provide one-click installation through your admin control panel.
Add spark and personality into your writing and you’ll be that much further ahead in the game.
If you’ve worked each day to get this far, think of this as the icing on the cake.
Some of the daily challenges may seem insignificant. However, taken together, you will see impressive results if you’ve done the proper research and made the necessary adjustments to your pet sitting website.
My Free Offer To You:
I want to prove that these adjustments work and I need a real live pet sitting website to get my hands dirty with.
If you wouldn’t mind me taking a look through your current website and coming up with a plan that is sure to get it in tip-top shape, here’s what I ask:
Leave a comment below telling me your biggest frustration right now. Include a link to your website, and I’ll choose 5 pet sitters to work with.
Oh, did I mention this is absolutely free?
Together, we’ll focus on making your website search engine-friendly and user-friendly. You’ll receive a detailed action plan to implement based on the 14-days outlined here.
I’ll walk you through any portion you don’t know how to do or I’ll do it for you. Fair enough?
Our goal is to increase your search engine rankings so you can gain more clients, grow your pet sitting business, and make more money.
Leave your comment below with your biggest frustration now and I’ll contact the selected pet sitters by Friday, October 9.