Hey everyone, welcome back to the Niche Pursuits podcast.
Today, I’ve got another guest interview. His name is Ben Doyle, and he’s from the UK.
Typically, when I do guest interviews, I bring somebody on that has been very, very successful, they come back on to share how they have become so successful in those sorts of things. I'm trying something a little bit different, I’m trying to bring somebody in that’s really on the ground floor in terms of their niche site that still has questions they’ve been trying and struggling, they’re right in the middle of it.
They’re not making a lot of money yet and they have questions for me. I’m going to look at their website and provide some advice.
Today, that’s exactly what we do with Ben and his website. To add a little bit of a wrinkle to that, his website, which you can go and look at, it’s Petcheckers.co.uk, it’s actually a local services company. They do dog grooming, they do dog walking and dog care.
That side of the business is doing alright, it’s enough to support him and his wife and a few other people. But, he really wants to build out the content side of the website which he really is just getting started on and wants to make a little bit of affiliate revenue. He has a lot of questions.
During this interview, you’re going to hear me look at the website, do a quick walk through, and share some of the tips that I feel will be able to take his website to the next level.
Hopefully, you guys enjoy this type of interview. Somebody that hasn’t had a lot of success, at least in terms of a niche site yet, that has a lot of questions that I feel like perhaps you as a listener would find interesting because you might be in a similar situation. Hopefully you enjoy the interview, it was a lot of fun doing it with Ben.
Read the Full Transcript
Spencer:Hey everyone, welcome back to the Niche Pursuits podcast. I’m your host Spencer Haws from nichepursuits.com. Today, I’ve got another guest interview. His name is Ben Doyle, He’s from the UK. It’s kind of a unique angle for this interview. Typically, when I do guest interviews, I bring somebody on that has been very, very successful, they come back on to share how they have become so successful in those sorts of things. Trying something a little bit different, I’m trying to bring somebody in that’s really on the ground floor in terms of their niche site that still has questions they’ve been trying and struggling, they’re right in the middle of it. They’re not making a lot of money yet and they have questions for me. I’m going to look at their website and provide some advice.
Today, that’s exactly what we do with Ben and his website. To add a little bit of a wrinkle to that, his website, which you can go and look at, it’s petcheckers.co.uk, it’s actually a local services company. They do dog grooming, they do dog walking and dog care. They’re in the UK. That side of the business is doing alright, it’s enough to support him and his wife and a few other people. But, he really wants to build out the content side of the website which he really is just getting started on and wants to make a little bit of affiliate revenue. He has a lot of questions.
During this interview, you’re going to hear me look at the website, do a quick walk through, and share some of the tips that I feel will be able to take his website to the next level. Hopefully, you guys enjoy this type of interview. It’s a little bit different, like I said. Somebody that hasn’t had a lot of success, at least in terms of a niche site yet, that has a lot of questions that I feel like perhaps you as a listener would find interesting because you might be in a similar situation. Hopefully you enjoy the interview, it was a lot of fun doing it with Ben. Enjoy the interview.
Spencer:Hey Ben! Welcome to the Niche Pursuits Podcast.
Ben:Hi Spencer! Thanks for having me.
Spencer:Yeah, absolutely. I’m excited to have you on. I’m doing something a little bit different with these podcast interviews where typically in the past I’ve always brought on people that are doing really well with their niche sites or have built a large business and want to talk about some of the success that they’ve had. I’m bringing you on to see if we can dive into your business and maybe see if we can take it to the next level which is a little bit of a different approach than I’ve done in the past, so we’ll venture through this together and see how it goes.
Ben:Okay, no problem.
Spencer:Can you give us a brief background of your business or work experience previous to building out websites?
Ben:Yeah. Previously, I was in retail sales. I used to sell high end furniture to a lot of the football players or you call them soccer players, quite a lot of actors. I think you’ve heard of David Beckham.
Ben:Sold furniture to him.
Spencer:That’s very high end stuff.
Ben:Yeah. It’s really high end stuff. And then I went into sort of high end visual audio equipment and stuff like that. My background is mainly in sales.
Spencer:That’s awesome. Having done that as your background, how did you eventually get into building out a website and what was your first venture online?
Ben:Well, I’ve always been one of those people that hated working for someone else. I was always looking for a way to ditch the job.
And then, there was a guy in the U.K. I don’t want to mention his name in case he comes after me. He’s a massive name in the U.K. He’s all about selling information products and that sort of thing. That was back in 2008, I went to one of his seminars and I get sucked into that.
I basically bought the resale rights of a hypnotherapy CD. I went into the sort of ins and outs of building the website. I couldn’t do it myself and I outsourced the website like he recommended. I got stung for about $2,000. It was literally just a single page, sales page. I spent another $400 in getting these CDs duplicated. And then, nothing happened. Literally, I got to that point but I couldn’t figure out what to do next. And then, to make matters worse, I was on the Warrior Forum a lot looking at how to sell all these CDs I’ve just made.
Ben:I got sucked into all the get rich quick schemes. I sunk another load of money into these WSOs.
Spencer:Right, all the special offers that are always coming up all the time.
Ben:I literally lost my shit. That was sort of my first foray into making money online, didn’t go very well.
Spencer:Yeah. It’s kind of a bumpy start there. But your story maybe is not too dissimilar to a lot of other people. Not that that is comforting, really in any other way perhaps. I think a lot of us have tried different things that just were a complete failure. We lost money, that sort of thing. You’re still at it here, obviously. Something has changed a little bit. Can you tell us about your online business right now, what you’re focusing on?
Ben:Our business right now, we’re not just an online business. We’re actually a local business providing services to our local area. We are for pet care services. We do dog walking, pet sitting, we’ve literally just opened a dog grooming salon as well. That part of the business we did last year, we’ve been going about 4 years, so last year we did about 80,000 pounds which I think is about $100,000.
Spencer:Yup. I think, that’s about right.
Ben:I’ve never forgotten the online side of things. I’ve figured that we’re in the pet space. It’s something that I know about, something I enjoy. I figured why not create a niche site around what we were already doing.
I also figured that we’ve got a website that’s ranking well in Google locally. We’re at the top of Google for all the search terms you’re going after locally. I’ve figured that the site already has some authority. I build the niche site on top of our existing local business site.
Spencer:Perfect! Yes. Can you give us an idea because I’ve been to your site, and you’re obviously like you said offering those local services. Do you have any idea of how much of your business is coming from your website, coming from Google versus how much is just you know sort of word of mouth?
Ben:Yeah. About 90% of the new business comes through Google.
Spencer:It does, 90%.
Ben:It’s a massive percentage. The 10% is generally word of mouth. We don’t do any offline advertising at all.
Spencer:Okay. Pretty much all of your advertising is online then. I do want to focus just a little bit on the service side of the business and then we’ll talk about sort of the niche site if you will. You’re ranking naturally in Google for a lot of local search terms, are you doing any paid traffic as well or is it all just natural SEO traffic that gets most of your leads?
Ben:All natural search traffic. That being said, we’re looking into Facebook pay per click for the dog grooming because we literally opened the salon last month. We’re trying to fill our books up as quickly as we can because we want to open another dog grooming salon, really just take over our local area really in terms of the services we offer. We’re going to be going to Facebook Ads and we’re actually going to settle the first one tomorrow as a matter of fact.
Spencer:Awesome! That’s good. Obviously, you can target people quite well using Facebook. I’m sure there’s a lot you can do.
Ben:We tend to be looking at the higher end of the market. I’m aware that Facebook, you can sort of filter by income and all that stuff so we can target the more affluent people in our area, hopefully.
Spencer:Before we get too far down the road, is it okay if we share the URL with people for your business?
Ben:Yeah, that’s fine.
Spencer:It looks like its petcheckers.co.uk.
Spencer:I encourage people to go and check that out so they can see exactly what we’re talking about. I think you’ve done a great job with the landing page and sort of the sales pages that you have for the different services that you have. I think it looks great.
Ben:Thanks! It took forever to build this site, to have it as I wanted it.
Spencer:Yeah, I know. Like I said, I think it looks fantastic so good job there. As far as the services, are you yourself walking dogs, pet sitting, or do you have staff doing that now?
Ben:Me and my wife, I walk dogs but I generally take on the more, I don’t like saying aggressive dogs, but the more problem dogs. I’m quite good with dogs to be fair so I take on the problem dogs and my wife's doing the grooming. We've got six staff in the business as well that are walking dogs and grooming and petsitting.
Spencer:Okay, very nice. Do you have a physical storefront right now or what's that like?
Ben:We've got the grooming salon. It’s not open to the public where people can just come in, because we've got dogs on the table that might wanna try escape if the doors are open. We have got a physical location in a good part of the town where we are visible.
Spencer:Perfect. That gives me a good idea and also people listening kind of the operation that you're running here. How very cool it is that 90% of your business comes from online even though you've got a physical location, there's word of mouth that your local business is really, the business is generated by Google, searching engine traffic, online marketing. I think that’s awesome.
After this point, you built a good a service business. What in particular has worked well for you to grow the business to where it’s at right now?
Ben:I think just genuinely trying to be the best at what we do. There’s quite a lot of businesses that are in our industry in the local area that it’s obvious that they try and make the money while the going is good. There’s been a couple of businesses that actually went bankrupt because of that. We concentrate on being absolutely the best at what we do. I think relationships with our customers is top of our priority.
A lot of our customers have become good friends and that’s testament to what we’re doing. I think that ultimately, we’re just trying to add value to people’s lives and we’re doing it in the best that way we can. I think that’s sort of been the secret to our success, really.
Spencer:I think that’s probably critical in your business obviously because these customers are all repeat. Hopefully, you're walking their dogs on a regular basis, you’re grooming their dogs on a regular basis so you have to treat your customers right, in particular in your business because hopefully it is a repeat type customer over the long term.
Ben:We have customers that have been with us that pays week in week out and have been with us for the past three years. Losing one customer could be like losing 3,000 pounds a year, that’s literally how much a customer could be worth to us. It’s an emotional sort of business because we deal with people’s animals, you know, animals that people care about. It’s not a piece of software or a piece of hardware that is a product that we’re dealing with, it’s people’s family members. We've gotta get that right.
Spencer:Yup, absolutely. Moving on to maybe parts of your business that you have questions about or struggling with. Prior to this interview, we talked a little bit about your wanting to build out the content side of the website to bring in more traffic and even more income. In that regard, what are some things that you're struggling with right now that maybe we can discuss?
Ben:One of the things that’s been racking my brain for a few weeks now, there’s not that much content on the site yet because I've got a million other things to do in a day. One of the things that I've been looking out lately is silos, website sculpture. It’s been quite confusing because as it is, the content on my site is literally just blog posts and it’s categorized but there’s not that much sculpture and I don’t really like the way my blog posts look anyway.
I've been reading about silos and how to categorize the content and. I’ve just been confused with it. Some people say that you need a root directory, some people say that silos are just built for internal links. I’ve been struggling to know which way to go. I’ve actually started it today where I've been changing all my blog posts to pages and actually creating a page sculpture with the parent child feature within WordPress. I know that Google says that they prefer the keywords to be as close to the root URL as possible and not through so many subdirectories.
I think in the niche that I'm in, the websites that tend to rank have got lots of subdirectories so my thought processes is if it's working for them, it will work for me so I'm still not entirely sure.
Spencer:Let’s talk about this so I can give you my thoughts. To be honest, at the end of the day, it maybe doesn’t matter too much whether you're using pages or posts. In terms of how Google looks at them, Google just sees everything as an individual URL, if you will. They're not too concerned whether you published it on a page in WordPress or a post on WordPress.
You can go the route that you're going of doing the parent child type relationship. I personally don't do that because it seems like more work because you can still get the very silos structure just using WordPress categories. Think of your categories as your silo, right?
I don't know what categories you currently have. Let’s say you have a dog grooming category, or a dog training category. Anything that's related to dog grooming, you're gonna tag in that category. And then ideally, you're gonna go one step further and all of your articles within the dog grooming category you're going to be interlinking with each other, just where it makes sense. It’s less about a physical structure a lot of times and just more about linking structure, that’s a big part of it.
And then it sounded like another question you had was more about the directories that you're using in your header, or your sidebar. Is that kind of what you were referring to when you say a lot of other websites have subdirectories and that sort of thing?
Ben:Yeah, just to make it, at the end of the day, more user friendly.
Spencer:Right. Yup. Easier to navigate, sure.
Spencer:You can still do the exact same menus, submenus with pages or posts. You can go within WordPress, you can go to the menu category and you can create custom menus that include posts from certain categories or however you want. You can build that menu any way you want whether it’s pages or posts.
I don't know if that really clarifies your question other than I always use posts and just use categories to create my silo structure and then I try to interlink as much as possible everything within the same category.
Ben:Okay, that makes sense.
Spencer:Honestly, you can go either way, I would just do what makes the most sense just with the overall strategy of okay, I wanna keep everything that's in a similar category or silo. I want to try and interlink those really, at the end of the day, to make it as user friendly as possible for users so that when they are reading an article about dog grooming, they can go to another article that's maybe more nuanced on a certain part of dog grooming or something like that.
Any other questions or issues that are going to your head right now?
Ben:Not questions so much. There’s a particular that I’ve written that I really want to rank on the first page and it’s just not happening. It’s with pet insurance which is wildly competitive anyway. I’ve thrown so many links at that compared to any of the pages on the website and it’s stuck on page two for two key terms I’m going after. It’s been on page one but it drops back and I don't know if it’s because the page seems to be more ranking and more leaning towards insurance or finance type sites, and whether I need to build a more topical relevance about that subject. That confuses me slightly in terms of whether I should just give it up or whether I should keep a shoe in it.
Spencer:Well, if you're already on the second page, it does mean obviously that Google is willing to rank your content. It seems like, based on what you've told me that you're close, there's a couple of thing that I would potentially doing. I can maybe guess which article it is, I’m just looking. You have a few different articles on pet insurance.
Ben:The review ones already ranke.
Ben:If that helps.
Spencer:Yeah. Just knowing it’s about pet insurance in general. What you can do is, I can't see that your article, one of the articles I'm looking at, again I don't know if this is the exact one you're talking about. It does look in depth but you could go and beef up that content even more. Google does rank longer, more in depth articles better in general. What I would recommend doing is going back into this article and thinking, how can I add another 1,000 or 2,000 words of content that would make it even better? Or is there an infographic I could create related to this that would make this article even better?
For somebody’s more competitive terms, it can make sense to create a 5,000 to 7,000 word long article, a really in depth piece of content that is just super valuable. Google sees that and they can reward that.
Beefing up the content length is one thing that I would look at doing, and then the other thing of course is looking at links. I know you said that you already have built a lot of links to this, of course you can look at doing some interlinking from your other articles on your site. You don’t have a lot of articles, so maybe there's not a lot of links to go around there, but then doing a lot of outreach.
If you did let’s say an infographic that’s interesting, that would be a great excuse to reach out to a hundred different websites and see if they’ would be willing to use your infographic and of course put a link back to your article or something like that.
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Ben:I must admit, I have struggled with infographics before in terms of trying to get someone to do them. I’ve hired people to do it and they come back really bad. They’ve not been cheap, it seems to, often where I’ve been looking anyway, in order to get something that looks really nice, people are charging outwards of $1,000. I have struggled with infographics.
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Spencer:Yeah. That is tough because I think a lot of it comes down to getting the right information on the infographic, right? Figuring out the strategic plan which is really what you're gonna have to do. What are we covering in the infographic, and what's gonna make it easier to reach out to people and make them want to share it? And then the design itself is perhaps secondary.
As long as the infographic itself has really quality, unique, content, or it’s coming from an interesting angle and again this is really hard to just give a blanket sort of strategy. For pet insurance, you have to think of specific sort of angles that you could use with that. Finding somebody to design an infographic, like you said, it can be a hurdle. It’s not easy but certainly you can go to Upwork, there’s lots of other services that provide infographic design but that’s not the only thing.
I don't want to say that you have to do infographics, that’s just one idea. The key is beefing up content, and then having something that you can use to outreach to other people that are gonna make them more likely to respond. Whether that's an infographic or if you're just confident that your article is so in depth in quality that that in it of itself is worthy of reaching out to people and saying hey, I’ve provided this great piece of content. I just wanted to share it with you and start a conversation with them to see if eventually down the road they're willing to mention it or build some sort of relationship that will be mutually beneficial to both of you down the road.
Ben:Yeah, that makes sense.
Spencer:For outreach, one thing that I've done that works very well is compiling of course a list of all the websites that might make sense to mention pet insurance on their website, using a tool like Ninja Outreach or some other outreach tool that will go and essentially scrape all the contact information from all these websites and makes it really fast to contact a hundred different websites so you're not spending a whole week contacting a hundred websites trying to do outreach, it’s something that you can do in an hour or two.
Ben:In terms of the link building I’ve done at the moment, I’ve actually hired someone to do it because I hate it with a passion just because it takes so much time. I don't know if it’s just the fact that I'm not very good at it but my hit rate has been pretty poor.
Spencer:Yes, it does take time and the overall response rate is going to be low. I mean if you contact 100 websites, you might only get 3 or 4 that eventually or actually are going to link to you. It all depends. It is tedious work, and you still may want to consider having a VA. Use some tools that do that outreach for you, but that comes down to if you have the time. But there are tools that can make it a lot faster.
Ben:What’s that called?
Spencer:One is called Ninja Outreach and if people do want to check that out, I do have a special URL they can go to. It’s nichepursuits.com/ninja. There's other outreach tools out there but that’s one that we’re using right now in our business and we like a lot.
Ben:I might give it a try.
Spencer:Do you have any other questions? If not, I’ve got a few things that I would just recommend as I review the site.
Ben:No, I don’t think so. The only other concern that we may have is sort of the exit strategy of the whole business. We were approached this week by a private equity company that are looking to buy us out.
Ben:We're not currently in the position, we don’t want to sell as of yet. I suppose the unique problem that having the niche site attached to the business presents is that when we spoke to the company, they said well, we’re just looking to buy out pet care companies, we’re not interested in running a website, that’s not our forte.
I think our exit needs some thinking about because if anyone does want to buy us out as a pet care company, they probably won’t be interested in running a website, I don't know how much value that would take off the whole business from an exit strategy point of view. That’s I suppose a unique problem that we may face.
Spencer:Right. At the same time, if 90% of your business is coming from your website, new leads, that's obviously something that I would think they would want as a part of the deal, wouldn't they?
Ben:I’m more talking about the niche side of it because obviously we’re doing some affiliate marketing through the articles, it’s not just coming through local search if that makes sense. We are making money, not a lot of money but we're making affiliate income as well which I suppose a dog walker, somewhat who's looking to buy this business will be interested in.
Spencer:I guess that’s something that you would have to figure out with each individual buyer. I guess I look at it and I don't see a separation, per se. You have your contents sides and then you've got your services side but really it’s just one website and the people reading your articles, hopefully some of them are people from your town in the U.K. and maybe are going to be interested in your pet services anyway.
The articles are really I would say a lead generation tool for your services business as well. Yes, you're gonna make some affiliate revenue and this is one of my recommendations, I would have some in content ads, certainly sidebar stuff, maybe pop ups to get people on an email list to eventually drive everybody over to the service side of your business. I think that actually would make your business much more valuable to an outside buyer.
Maybe there's some buyers, people that you talked to, that have no interest in running a website but I would think the more savvy buyers would value your business much higher if you have a larger content site of your business that's driving fresh leads all day long to the service side of your business. That’s maybe a case by case scenario with the individual buyers.
I would say from a strategic standpoint, it makes a lot of sense to build out a niche site content, to focus on just bringing as much traffic to your site as possible. Yeah, some of that is just going to be affiliate revenue but if you've got thousands of people coming to your website, certainly some percentage of that is going to be a pushover to your email list and to your services as well.
You’ve really got a good start to the content side of the business. What I would focus on is building out some really long, in depth articles. I call them pillar articles, maybe find five or six keywords that you wanna target. If you can find anything local, that would be cool too, that you're not already ranking for. Build out these pillar articles, 5,000 to 7,000 words long and then do some link building to those individual pillar articles as needed and also do some interlinking.
Another thing that you could do is, I don't know how much of this you've done, but local citations because you are a local business and have a local phone number, you can get listed in lots of local business directories and get lots of links that just a regular niche site builder wouldn’t be able to get. Have you guys done much of that?
Ben:Yeah, we have. When we first started the business, we did another round of that when we opened the grooming salon so we have got quite a lot citation links pointing to us already.
Spencer:That’s good. That's a nice advantage that a local business can have that others might not. The other thing for monetization, like I did mention, try to have some sort of in content ad that drives people over to your business services would make a lot of sense. And then also putting people onto an email funnel. If you can get as many people as you can onto your email list to drive them over to your services, or if nothing else, if they're not within your area, to send them over to products that they might be interested in buying.
Ben:That is something, we have thought about an email list. It becomes one of those other things that you gotta do. I've gotta write the content, I've gotta walk the dogs, I've gotta photograph the dogs. It's just another thing that’s on the to do list I suppose.
Spencer:Yup. It’s not easy. Certainly, when you’re hands on, yeah, like you said actually running the business to also be doing all the content marketing, it’s not an easy task. You might wanna look at hiring certain pieces of your business whether that’s the content, or the dog walking, or whatever that is when you're able to. It potentially could be a way to grow the business.
Ben:Yeah. We could pass the dog walking onto the staff that we’ve already got. For me, that's a nice part of my life, I like being out during the day with them. That’s not something I potentially want to get rid of. But at the same time, I don’t trust anyone to write a content as well as I do. I'm not saying I'm the best writer but again, finding people to write the content, I’ve never much loved doing it.
Spencer:It could be tough. I’m also the same, I’ve had to go through several writers for some of my sites before I found one that I like and I'm willing to use on a regular basis. It’s not easy. Overall though, the potential is really there to build out a big site of the content of your business, the niche side of your business. If you take a look at other dog related websites, it’s a huge niche, there's other sites doing really well. That would be one thing that if you haven't done, I would recommend looking at all these other dog websites, dog affiliated websites even, that are doing really well and looking at the keywords that they're ranking for. Perhaps, you would consider targeting similar keywords, sort of learning from what they’re doing really well. There’s no reason that you couldn’t build out the content side extensively from what you've done already.
Ben:Yeah. Because we’re pets, we’re quite generic. I'm concentrating just on dogs at the moment because it’s such a big area. I’ve got 17,000 keywords, to be fair, that are competitive, that I can write through. Literally just going through competitive sites and analyzing the keywords that they are ranking for so I've got a lot of work to do just in terms of writing content for dogs. But, there’s obviously so many other types of pets that we could go after, the site could be huge.
Spencer:Absolutely. Some of these affiliate sites are six figures a year sites in their own right, just in affiliate sales. The potential is there. You have the unique struggle, you're not just working on the website, you're running the business and that's sort of a juggling act of an entrepreneur that you have to figure out how you can kind of work on your business and not always be working in the business. You have a little bit of time to think strategically and sort of be on the outside looking in so you can make those strategic moves and you're not always bogged down with the day to day. That’s a struggle but it’s something that if you're able to hire, if the business is able to afford to hire people to do certain tasks that give you the freedom to make more strategic decisions and make some of these bigger moves, that can pay off dividends down the road.
Ben:Yeah, absolutely. It’s just something that we’ve got to sit down and figure out.
Spencer:Yup, absolutely. I'm excited. Like I said, I love the website. People can check that out if they want, it’s over at petcheckers.co.uk. They can see what you had going on there and maybe a few months down the road, you can sort of let me know how it’s going and we can follow along with your progress.
Ben:Yeah, definitely. That would be fun.
Spencer:Sounds good. Is there any other final questions or anything else that you'd like to leave listeners with before you go?
Ben:I suppose a piece of advice more than anything. When I was struggling genuinely to make any money, it was because I was too busy chasing it. I think once you changed your mindset to actually helping people and actually providing value to someone else’s life, money is just a byproduct of that. Trying to chase money, you don’t need to, making money isn’t difficult then. That's something that we've learned not just through building the website but through building the business as a whole.
I think for the people that are struggling to make money, just reevaluate what they're doing in terms of are they trying to make money or are they trying to actually help people. I think quite a lot of people are just trying to make money and that’s where they’re going wrong.
Spencer:Yeah. I think that's great advice that people can perhaps make that slight mind shift, right? Stop chasing the money and focus on the quality product and helping people out, I think that’s a great tip that will never get old, I think that would always be applicable. Thanks for that.
Spencer:Overall, Ben, I just wanna thank you for coming on the Niche Pursuits Podcast, and thank you everybody for listening.
Ben:Thanks for having me, Spencer.