Who this is for and what it is about
Hey fellow local business owner! This blog post is for you. I’m writing to document my journey to bring in more online customers for my dog walking business in New York City. Through my time at Google and Boulevard Digital, I’ve picked up quite a bit of knowledge on how to grow an online business. I figured sharing the application of this knowledge would be a great way I can help others!
A little about my business
In addition to website design, I decided to start up a local business. I wanted to introduce a refreshingly hi-tech and well branded business to a traditionally low-tech and horribly branded industry. I decided to give it a try in my favorite city, NYC! And that is how BarkBud NYC Dog Walkers was born.
The good news:)
While there was a lot of competition for dog walking in New York City, I viewed it as validation of the business model. Taking a look at most of the sites, I felt I had a huge opportunity to improve the user experience at all touch points including marketing, site design, user experience, and ultimately the delivery of my service.
The bad news:(
Some of the bigger players seemed pretty well entrenched at the top for the more popular search terms (e.g. NYC Dog Walkers). My goal was to get around this by ranking for long-tail keywords such as (Upper West Side Dog Walkers) in the short-term and dethroning someone from the first page in the long-term.
Just do it already…
It took me about two weeks to build the website you see now. I built it on WordPress using the Avada theme. I decided to accomplish my lead generation goals with six main strategies:
For my on-site optimization, I used WordPress SEO from Yoast, Moz Pro, and Google Search Console. WordPress SEO is a free WordPress plugin that allowed me to easily add the meta title and description elements as well as publish my site map. I then signed up for a free Google Webmaster Tools account that allowed me to ensure my site was in good standing with Google. Finally, I signed up for a paid subscription to Moz Pro that allowed me to do many things including tracking my ranking for different keywords and getting advice on how to improve these rankings.
I decided to do my best to stand out among the competition. This means everything to using a great logo design, branded t-shirts, and even trying things like colorful dog leashes. I also allowed people to meet the team in advance so they have comfort in trusting their dogs with us.
Off-site link building
I started by signing up for Moz Local which allows you to submit your business to many different directories (e.g. Yellow Pages) with one click. It cost me around $90 for the year but was well worth it. I then started doing research on Moz Pro to see what types of links my top competitors were using to rank higher in the search results. This allowed me to design a link building plan for my site.
My social media strategy was to first build my network with those in the same industry. After establishing firm relationships, I planned to share valuable content in order to earn links to my page.
Google loves me right now. That’s because I’m spending almost all of my PPC budget on AdWords. While my cost per new customer is high, this has been coming down slowly as I continue to optimize my campaign and website.
I planned for most of my reviews to be posted on Yelp.
To track all of this, I’m using Google analytics. It takes a little while to get used to it but it’s free and you can grow into it.
Where I’m at right now
I’m now about two months in and things are humming along. I just hit my tenth customer and things are looking good. The easiest part so far has been optimizing AdWords. The hardest part has been link building. I’ll keep you all updated!