How to design a website for a dog business in 2020: A free detailed guide to get you online

Starting a dog business has never been easier. The pet industry is huge whether you’re a dog walker, dog groomer, pet sitter or dog trainer you have a massive client base ready and waiting. 

But how do you reach them? Usually, your first step regarding marketing is social media. It’s free, convenient and you can start marketing instantly. Another factor is that social media seems less complicated than designing a website. 

But what if I said that designing a website can be achieved in a few steps and has the added benefit of giving you a professional online presence that reaches beyond your page followers. 

If you are setting up your dog business in 2020 and don’t know where to begin with your website, I’ve got you covered. 

Ready to jump right in? Follow my free detailed step by step guide on how to design a website for a dog business. 

  1. Buy a domain name and website hosting
  2. Install WordPress
  3. Add SSL
  4. First steps in WordPress
  5. Install theme 
  6. Install Elementor 
  7. Customise your theme
  8. Add pages
  9. Essential plugins 

Note: This post contains affiliate links, if you purchase using an affiliate link I receive a small commission (you are not charge anything extra). I only link to products I have used and recommend.

1 // Buy a domain name and website hosting

The first step to getting your dog business website online is to purchase a domain name and website hosting. 

What’s a domain name?

A domain name is the website address e.g. mutleysmarketing.co.uk. Typically you want the domain name to be your business name. It makes it easier for people to find you and builds brand recognition if everything is consistent. Popular extensions for domains are .co.uk, .com and .co but there are so many variations available.

Domains are approx £15 and are renewed every year or every two years.

When choosing a domain name:

  • Keep it short and simple
  • Make sure it’s easy to spell
  • Don’t make it too similar to other domains

Top tip: When brainstorming your business name check if the domain name is available. There is nothing worse than thinking of an amazing name to find out that you can’t get the domain name and you end up having to use something weird or change it completely. 

What is website hosting?

Website hosting is where all the files, pages and images are stored online and accessed when someone visits the site. Think of the hosting like a house where all of your belongings are and the domain name is your house address that you direct people too.  

Best hosting for your dog business

You’ll need a domain and hosting to get your business online, I recommend you get these from Bluehost. With Bluehost, you’ll receive a free domain name and a free SSL certificate (we’ll discuss this later) included in the package. Click here to get started on Bluehost

Hosting packages vary in price depending on the package chosen. Bluehost starts at £3.25 per month and if you opt for a 3 year package you get a significant discount.

Click here to get started on Bluehost. 

How to design a website for a dog business in 2020:  A free detailed guide to get you online 1

Choose a hosting plan 

Bluehost has three plans available. The ‘Plus’ or ‘Choice Plus’ package is perfect for most dog businesses and has everything you need. The ‘Choice Plus’ has the bonus of domain privacy and site backups which I’d recommend. 

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Click here to get started on Bluehost. 

Setup your domain

The next step is to create a new domain or use one you already have. For those creating a new domain, type your preferred choice and search to check if it’s available. Paws crossed it’s available and you can click “Next” to move through to account setup.

If you are using an existing domain, enter the domain and click “Next”.

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Create your account

Happy days, your domain is available. You can now complete your account creation by filling in your information. 

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Double-check the account plan selection is correct. And choose any “extras” you would like to add. Honestly, you can skip those options as they are not essential at this stage.

Lastly, enter your payment information and confirm the terms and conditions and “submit”.

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Click here to get started on Bluehost. 

Create a password 

You’ll now create a secure password for your account so you can access the control panel and start designing your website.

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That’s it you’ve officially finished step one. 

2 // Install WordPress

Login in to your Bluehost account and work through the final steps to create your website. 

Enter the name of your site, most likely your business name and tagline. You can leave the tagline blank for now. Select whether you would like a blog and online store. I’d recommend choosing to have a blog on your website and we’ll discuss the benefits of this a bit later. 

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Continue to the next step and choose your goals and skill level. Now we are ready to pick a theme. You can choose one from the examples shown or skip this step and we can pick later.

Bluehost will complete the install of WordPress onto your website ready for you to add content and design flair.

Why WordPress? 

WordPress is a content management system that gives you the ability to design and manage a website with no technical knowledge. Currently, it powers over 35% of websites on the internet. Let’s think about that for a second – there 1.94 billion websites (at the end of 2019) so that’s a significant number using WordPress. 

Due to its popularity, there are thousands of themes and plugins to expand functionality for free.

Click here to get started on Bluehost. 

3 // Add SSL

As I mentioned earlier Bluehost comes with a free SSL Certificate. SSL creates a secure connection between the website and server by adding an extra layer of encryption. Websites with an SSL Certificate have a padlock in the address bar.

To activate your SSL certificate:

Go to the Bluehost dashboard and then ‘SSL Certificate’ page. If the Free SSL is disabled, select your domain and click ‘install SSL on’.

Now click the ‘Security’ tab. Beside the ‘Security Certificate’ box, click to toggle it ‘on.

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4 // First steps in WordPress

OK, you should now be on your WordPress dashboard. Now the fun begins.

There are a couple of things I do straight away after starting a new website so let’s do those now.

Settings 

Head to the ‘Settings’ tab. Under the ‘General’ section, choose your ‘timezone’ and ‘site language’ for UK websites it’s ‘English (UK)’ and GMT timezone. Save changes.

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Permalinks

Next, go to the ‘Permalinks’ tab and check the ‘Post name’ option and save changes.  

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5 // Install Theme 

Now let’s choose a theme for your website. Go to ‘Appearance’ > ‘Themes’ > ‘Add New

You can search through the WordPress directory of over 4000 free themes and choose the one that appeals to you. My recommendation is the ‘Astra’ theme, you can find that under the popular tab or type it in the search box. 

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Astra is the theme that I use on all my websites. Built to be fast and easily customisable. The free version has various settings for customising the theme with your colours and fonts. If you’d like the full range of features, the Pro version ($59) is fantastic. 

Click here to get ‘Astra Pro Theme’

Why go pro?

There are a few reasons for going for pro including:

  • Access to all theme features – fully customise your website colours and styles to match your dog business branding.
  • 20+ site layouts – choose from pre-designed website layouts so you can easily edit with your own text and images.
  • One-to-one support – if you run into problems, you can ask support for help using the online ticket system.
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6 // Install Elementor

Theme installed, it’s time to add another of my favourite tools – Elementor. 

What is Elementor?

Elementor is a page builder to help you create a professional website with no design skills required. Even things like pop-ups and image sliders can be added to your website in just a few simple steps. 

The free version of Elementor has 30 basic widgets to help you design your pages. This includes image galleries, videos, buttons, testimonials, social media icons and google maps. 

If you would like to expand your website and have an additional 50+ widgets, popup builder and access to over 300 templates you can upgrade to the pro version. It’s a reasonable $49/per year and worth it.

Click here to get ‘Elementor Pro’. 

How to install?

Go to ‘Plugins’ then ‘Add new’. Select the popular tab and you’ll see Elementor near the top of the page, click ‘Install Now’. It will take a few seconds and you can then click ‘Activate’.  You will be redirected to watch an intro video for Elementor so you can see how it works and what to expect.

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Click here to get ‘Elementor Pro’. 

7 // Customise your theme

With the theme and page builder installed you can start to customise the design.

Head to ‘Appearance’ > ‘Customise’. 

Go through the options of your chosen theme and change the colours, add your logo, set the fonts you would like. 

The number of options will depend on the theme you have selected and if you have the free or upgrade version. 

Play around with the settings and get the website consistent with the rest of your branding.

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8// Add your pages

OK, we’ve got the setup done. It’s time to work on the pages.  

What pages do you need for your dog business website?

You can have as many pages as you like, there are no limits. But I find that most dog businesses need 3 to 5 pages and a blog.

Homepage 

The homepage is the most important on your entire website. It is the welcome page, and usually, the first one people come to when they visit your website. 

Your homepage should include a brief overview of what you do, where you are located and who you serve. Additionally, I would have a list of your services, a few images, and a testimonial on there too. 

Services 

The services page is where you will expand on what you offer and list any packages you provide.

Adding prices on your website is a hotly debated topic online with people arguing ‘yes’ and ‘no’. I am in the ‘yes’ category as I think people want to know the price of something straight away. No one wants to invest lots of time back and forth with enquiries when the price is out of their budget. Seeing the price upfront will ensure you get enquiries from people who are aware and happy with your pricing.

Top tip: If you don’t want to include full pricing then a starting price is a good alternative. E.g dog walks start at £10 or dog grooms start at £30 for small dogs.  

About 

People looking for a service to take care of their beloved pet want to know the person doing the caregiving. The about page is your opportunity to let potential clients know more about you. 

  • Do you have any qualifications in the field?
  • What is your experience?
  • Why did you start your dog business?
  • What makes you different?
  • Add a photo of you and your own pets
  • Include links to your social media

Use this page as an opportunity to connect with your audience.

Gallery/testimonials 

A gallery or testimonials page is one I would consider adding to your website. It gives you more credibility if people can see you with clients and read from happy dog families.

Contact 

Your contact page should be clutter-free and provide clear details on how people can get in touch with you. I recommend including your area of service on this page as well to make it super clear which locations you operate within. 

Blog 

A blog is a convenient way to post updates, write articles and share useful information with your clients new and old. You can give tips and tricks on the latest grooming gadget, share your favourite dog treats, or show some behind the scenes stories, videos and photos. 

Writing and sharing regular blog posts can help grow your audience on social media, assist with search engine optimisation and show you are an expert in your field. Read ‘Why your pet business needs a blog‘.

Add a page

Head to the ‘Pages’ tab and click ‘Add New’. 

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Add your page title.  Keep it short and simple as it will be the name shown on the menu. 

Under ‘Page Attributes‘ on the right choose ‘Elementor Full Width’ and click the ‘Edit with Elementor’ button to get started. Use the page builder to design your page with the widget elements and design templates.

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Set the ‘home’ page

After adding all your pages we need to change the default homepage and set your menu. 

Go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Reading’ choose ‘A static page’ and select the homepage. Click to save changes. Doing this will ensure the first page that appears when you visit your domain name is the homepage.

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Add your menu

Go to ‘Appearance’ > ‘Menus’.

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From here ‘Create menu’ (call it main menu or top menu) and then choose the pages you would like to display on your menu. Keep the menu simple and if you have lots of pages don’t add everyone to the menu. It will overwhelm visitors and make your website look untidy.

9// Essential plugins

WordPress runs just fine with minimal plugins and straight out the box has all you need to design your website. But there are a few plugins that I always install to expand functionality.

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Being found on search engines like Google is essential for your website’s success. Without a decent ranking on the search for your top keywords (dog walking + your area, or dog grooming near me) you are going to struggle to get eyes on your newly designed website.

There is no quick fix to get you to the top of Google – it takes quite a bit of work. But one thing you can do right now is install an SEO plugin. The plugin helps you add titles and descriptions to your pages, add sitemaps and a few tools to assist with your SEO. 

My recommendations are SEOPress or Rank Math. Both have free versions with all the tools you will need.

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How to design a website for a dog business in 2020:  A free detailed guide to get you online 20

Backups 

Having an up-to-date backup of your website is essential. ‘UpdraftPlus’  backs up your website automatically on a schedule and to a location, you choose e.g. Dropbox or Google Drive.

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Cookie notice

UK and EU legislation states that websites serving European customers must inform visitors of any data you collect and what you do with it. ‘Cookie notice for GDPR’  plugin adds the notice and helps you with compliance.  

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Bonus step // Celebrate 

Success! If you’ve followed the steps you’ll now have a website for your dog business. Time to celebrate and start promoting your website and marketing your services. 

Roundup of the services and tools discussed in this post:

Note: This post contains affiliate links, if you purchase using an affiliate link I receive a small commission (you are not charge anything extra). I only link to products I have used and recommend.

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Claire Cheyne

Claire Cheyne

Welcome to the Mutley's blog. I share advice, tips and resources to help pet business grow and thrive.

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