March 15, 2023
Blogging for Engagement: How to Use SEO

You sit down to write your monthly blog post. You stare at the blank page and flashing cursor. Nothing happens. You head over to Facebook… and kill time, looking for inspiration.  

Again. Nothing happens. No lightning strikes. No ideas. Finally, you ask yourself the question: “Why am I doing this?”

What’s the point of blogging, anyway? As a dog trainer you probably aren’t aiming to monetize your blog. You keep hearing that you need to blog but… wow, it’s hard to find the motivation!

Why Blog for SEO?

Here’s one of the biggest reasons why blogging is good for your business. If you have a website that includes your blog, it seriously increases the chances of clients finding out about you.  

Yep. The more pages you have that include content about what you do and the problems you solve, the more likely it is that your website will appear in a relevant search result.

And who doesn’t want more eyes on their website?

Although this isn’t the only reason to blog, it’s a good idea to aim about 1/3 of your posts at improving your website’s SEO ranking.  We’ll discuss what to do with the other 2/3 in later posts but, for now, let’s just stick with improving SEO.

Write for Humans and Machines

When you write a post with SEO as the main goal — that is, to be found in Google searches — you’re writing to please both humans and machines. Luckily, with Google being so sophisticated these days, that’s not as hard as it sounds.

The key is in understanding how Google “thinks” and how it uses keywords and phrases. If you’re not sure what that means, read more in the Basics of SEO post here.

Now, let’s take a look at how to choose those all-important keywords and search terms as a dog trainer.

What Questions Do Your Clients Typically Ask?

As a dog trainer you probably have a good idea of the problems your average client struggles with. However, do you know the way they word those problems when asking Google for help? 

For your post to come up, you need to write the post in a way that aligns with the questions they’re going to ask. 

Calling your potty training post “6 ways to achieve bladder and bowel control in infant Canis familiaris isn’t going to be helpful. Obviously this is an extreme example — but you get the idea!

A good way to find out the search terms people actually use is Google’s autocomplete feature. Let’s say you want some ideas for topics around puppy training. Go to Google and type in ‘how to teach my puppy’ and take a look at what Google suggests:

Do a few of those and you’ll have some great ideas for popular blog post topics AND you’ll know the phrases people are using in their queries.

Don’t compete with yourself

Although Google is incredibly sophisticated in some ways, it sometimes lacks in others. One thing that will confuse it, and hurt your SEO ranking, is if you have multiple posts that target the same keywords. Google won’t know which is your best, most comprehensive, post on the topic and therefore won’t know which to return to the user in a search.  

To avoid confusing Google, and inadvertently competing with yourself, ensure each of your posts only targets one unique keyword or phrase. If you want to do a series of posts around a bigger issue — for example, “why dogs fail to perform well in a trial situation” — break that into multiple posts with each one targeting a specific aspect — and a different keyword or phrase. 

Local SEO

If your business model is reliant on a brick-and-mortar setting as opposed to online, you’ll want to maximize your local SEO. This means your site will appear in searches that specify a particular location — yours!

To do that, Google needs to know where you’re located. Although you might have your address on your home page or contact page, the more times Google can find it, the higher your local SEO ranking will be.  

A couple of easy ways to achieve this is to mention your local area in your writing. You can drop local place names, landmarks, or businesses into your posts. Talk about things that have happened to you:

  • When we were walking in Woodhaugh Gardens the other day…
  • I took my puppy to Dunedin’s busy beach front for a social outing last week…
  • I love Mudpuppy! It’s so great to be able to take my dog into a store to meet and greet dog-savvy people!

Can you see how using anecdotes as examples, or a short intro story, can help Google place you without you having to awkwardly repeat it all over your site?

Create an SEO-Friendly Post

Once you know what you’re going to write about, and you’ve decided which keywords you want to target for your post, it’s time to get started!

Formatting Isn’t Just About Looks

Google uses some very specific information to decide which bits of your text are more important than others. It then uses that info to decide what your post is about. The biggest clues it uses are your title and heading text tags. Not sure what they are? You’re not alone!

If you’re one of the many people who format their posts by increasing the size and bolding their headers and titles, rather than using the proper formatting styles, you’re missing out on a huge part of the SEO puzzle!

Google ranks text depending on how the post is formatted. Always use the dropdown menu to select the correct tag for your text.

In WordPress, it looks like this:

By using the appropriate formatting, you add some invisible html code that tells Google how relevant that bit of text is in comparison to the rest. It’s important that you use the H1 format only once per post! So, your post title would be in H1, your sub headings in H2, and so on down the list. 

Include Key Phrases (and Their Synonyms) Naturally

Years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and Google was young, writers would try to increase their SEO rankings by stuffing their posts with keywords. Google got wise to this and considered it cheating, and punished them by dropping their websites and pages from searches.

It’s definitely best practice to avoid that all together and include keywords in your posts by dropping them in naturally. Do your best to use synonyms and close variations — for example, potty training, house training, and toilet training all mean the same thing.   And Google is smart enough to know that.

For maximum effect, include your keywords in heading and subheadings so Google really understands what your post is about.

Use a Free SEO Plugin Tool to Help You

Because you’re not an SEO specialist, getting it right can be confusing and a bit overwhelming at times. It pays to use an SEO plugin — and if you’re using WordPress there are plenty to choose from. 

Two of the most popular are Rankmath and Yoast. We used to always recommend Yoast at Click and Repeat, but it was recently acquired by a bigger company. This might mean that the plugin changes dramatically so for now we’re recommending Rankmath instead. 

Both these plugins critique your post from an SEO perspective and make suggestions about how you can improve it. When working your way through the suggestions, keep in mind that in most cases, your priority is to produce posts for humans to enjoy.  Don’t make changes at the expense of good, clear, engaging writing!

The bottom line

Although blogging is not just about getting more eyes on your site, done well it can make a huge difference to your visibility. When you’re struggling to find inspiration and wondering “what’s the point of blogging?” Remember blogging is part of an overall business strategy.  

Posts don’t have to always be epic. Just thinking about the questions your clients ask, the things they struggle with, and how to give them easy, quick wins can break your writer’s block AND increase your visibility on Google. Win-win!


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