Spotlight: Raise A Green Dog!

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Welcome to the new year!  Along with the new year I decided to start a new blog series spotlighting some of my favorite dog blogs across the internet.  My goals is to analyze these great doggy blogs so you have a better idea of what they have to offer and hopefully give you another great doggy blog resource that you can subscribe to for more great information.

If you recall, last year I complied a list of the top dog blogs across the internet.   This years series will be a more in-depth analysis of some of the blogs from our top dog blog list along with perhaps some new blogs we discover throughout 2012.

So lets get started with this years first dog blog Spotlight: Raise A Green Dog!

Raise A Green Dog!

Raise A Green Dog
Raise A Green Dog Logo

The Dog Blog: Raise A Green Dog!
The Dog(s): Johann and Gracie
The Human: Leslie
About This Blog: From the RAGD about page: “Our site brings you tips, tricks, products, and other information on how you can help your dog go green.”
Why We Love This Blog: I’ve been following Leslie, Johann, and Gracie since I first started blogging back in 2007 and it’s been one of my favorite blogs since the beginning.  Actually they produce 4 blogs that I know of including Raise A Green Dog!, The Days of Johann an Agility Dog, Pawsible Marketing, and Rescue Me.  Along with these 4 blogs these guys have produced 100’s of Squidoo Lenses…AMAZING!  The first thing you got to love about the Raise A Green Dog crew is the amount of time and effort they put into these amazing blogs, but I’ve singled out Raise A Green Dog because I and my dogs are huge fans of becoming more eco-friendly.

Dog Blog Analysis

I put together this dog blog analysis not only to help you find other great content, but to also help me understand and find ways to reach new readers, entertain, and hopefully improve the Puppy In Training blog as well.

My template for the dog blog analysis came straight from one of the top professional bloggers in the industry (in fact his blog is called Problogger).  Here’s the Problogger.com article I based my analysis on: Analyze a Top Blog in Your Niche.

Content

Raise A Green Dog is a great place to find some of the best tips, tricks, products, and other information on how you can help your dog go green.  One of the cool things about dog blogs is that many of the blog in our industry speak from the dog’s point of view and it’s no different at the Raise A Green Dog Blog.  Johann the dog is your host along with his human, Leslie and his sister Gracie.  Johann produces just under 1 post a week which is less than I’d like to see…of course who wouldn’t want more content from one of their favorite blogs.  Also, I give leniency because Johann, Leslie, and Gracie also contribute to 3 other blogs (that we know of) and the plethora of Squidoo Lenses they manage.  If you and your dog are interested in “going green” then the Raise A Green Dog Blog is the perfect place to start for a budding green dog.

Reader Engagement

Here are a few statistics to gage Reader Engagement on the Raise A Green Dog Blog:

Green Puppy Pic

RSS Subscribers: 737
Facebook Likes: 1,223
Twitter Followers: 4,692

The most popular reader engagement posts (number of comments) that I noticed after flipping through the archives were contests, dog product reviews, and eco-friendly dog tips.  I read through a number of the comments across the blog and the questions I most often came across were related to eco-friendly dog products being reviewed in posts.  Unfortunately, I read through many comments on the blog and could not find too many questions or complaints.  Most of the comments are the “at a boy” pats on the back like “Great Post…”

I feel like I receive a lot of the same (“at a boy” comments) on the Puppy In Training blog, but one thing I do notice on my own blog is that I receive a lot of questions through my contact form and not necessarily in the comment section of my posts.  A lot of times people like to keep things more personal and not expose their questions to the public.  I assume something similar probably happens at Raise A Green Dog!

Design

I’ve been following the Raise a Green Dog Blog pretty much since it’s inception and I believe the blog design has not really changed much if any at all.   I think this can be both good an bad.  First the good:

GOOD

  • Often times the most thought is put into the original design ideas.
  • Navigation – we get used to the original navigation.
  • What we think will work better in a new design may not be true.

BAD

  • Over the years your design may become stale.
  • New technologies may become popular and important (flash, javascript slide shows, video, etc.).
  • Web design norms may change.

Those are just a few things I thought of off the top of my head.  I’d love to see a new design at the Raise A Green Dog!.  However, I do know that many people become so used to a certain look and feel to a site that a drastic re-design often pisses people off.  So, I can see where Johann has elected to stick with the original design.  However, if it were up to me and I had the cash to spend I’d hire a developer and revamp the entire design with new images, headings, logos, navigation, etc and make the site look unique and standout from the crowd (I’d do the same with my site if I had the time and cash) maybe a more web 2.0 look and feel.  As far as I can tell Johann is using one of the standard Blogger templates for his website design.

Subscribing to the Raise a Green Dog Blog is easy as pie.  You can connect on Twitter or Facebook or subscribe to their feed via email or RSS.  I currently subscribe to the RSS feed, Twitter, and Facebook.  One thing that’s missing that we’re hoping we’ll see in the future is an email newsletter subscription.  As mentioned earlier we’d love to see more content from Johann and the crew.

Monetization

Without asking Johann directly we can never really know exactly what’s going on with monetization.  However, there are lots fo 125×125 banners in the sidebar which are usually standard advertising banners.  All the products and advertisers are promoting green and eco-friendly products.  I’ve also seen plenty of doggy products listed within posts with affiliate links.  After looking even deeper into the Raise A Green Dog Blog I found Johann’s disclosure page where he mentions that

“This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.  The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in the blog. All advertising is in the form of payments by companies for placements of logos and products on the website and blog side bar and are identified as partners. Any reference to these advertisers and advertisements on the blog will be identified as paid advertisements and/or blog/website partners.”

I run advertisements on the Puppy In Training blog as well and I also have our a disclosure page to let my readers know that I do receive advertisement revenue to help pay the cost of web hosting, development work, design work, and other expenses associated with my blog.  Disclosure pages are important and something all of us bloggers should consider adding to our blogs.

Traffic

It’s difficult to determine any exact traffic numbers without having direct access to someone’s analytics software.  However, as Darren mentions in his Analyze a Top Blog in Your Niche there are ways we can guesstimate.  Here’s a look at what Alexa and Compete have to say about Raise A Green Dog:

Alexa Stats
Traffic Rank: 1,280,379
US Traffic: 380,944

Green Dog Alexa Stats
Raise A Green Dog Alexa Stats

Compete Stats
Unique Visitors: 2,740
Rank: 457,232

Green Dog Compete Stats
Raise A Green Dog Compete Stats

Honestly I would not put too much stock into the stats on Compete and Alexa.  I’m not positive how they are measured, but they can be easily influenced. Some things I took away from these numbers are that it looks like according to the Compete graph that unique visitors are trending up which is definitely a good thing.  I can also see some of the top keywords in the Alexa image (raise a green dog, raise a safe dog, frosty paws…).

As far as the unique visitors and traffic rankings I can only tell you that the numbers are much different on compete compared to my own Google Analytics data and I can only assume that this is probably similar for a lot of the websites listed on Alexa and Compete.  The only way to truly know the numbers is to ask the owners of the site (maybe we should…).

SEO

Skip this section if you’re not into all of this technical mumbo jumbo and go directly to the conclusions section.

Finally, the last part of our analysis is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or how well is this blog optimized for search engine traffic.  I entered the Google command:

  • link: www.raiseagreendog.com and received 17,000 results (links).
  • link: blog.raiseagreendog.com and received 10,300 results (links).

Those look like pretty solid numbers to me.  I’m not sure if Johann and friends work on a back linking strategy, but even if they do not organic or natural back links through great content is a perfectly valid back linking strategy,  In fact we do this quite often and just let back links come naturally to our blog posts.

I’m not much of a techy, but I did take a peek at the source code on their site just to see if Johann was doing for title tags,  h1 headings, etc.  In the blog post: Help Your Dog Be More Green And Healthy in 2012 I found:

  • Title Tag – The title tag included the blog title, Raise A Green Dog.  I used to do this at my blog, but found that this is not good for SEO.  Although it will help you rank better for your blog title it will dilute your blog post titles.  I have the SEO All In One plugin which allows me to change what falls in between my title tags on a per post basis.
  • h1 Tag – The h1 tag is very important for SEO as it identifies the main subject of the page.  There should only be one of these on a page.  I could not find any h1 tags on the page and in general my blog title is the only h1 tag I use on my page.  This is pretty much built into my blog theme.
  • h2 Tag – Another high ranking tag.  I use this tag more liberally, but it also signifies important keywords and phrases.  While I found lots of sidebar content with h2 tags (similar to our old theme) I did not notice any h2 tags in the content area of this post.
  • h3-h6 tags – I rarely use these tags (although I did use some h3 tags in this post), but again they signify importance of keywords and phrases and should be used when appropriate.  The title of the blog post is an h3 tag…I’ve normally reserved the title as our h1 tag as one of the most important elements of a post.  That was the only h3 tag we spotted.
  • blog  <b> and <strong> tags – I’ve read that for SEO purposes google treats both tags the same.  That being said you should use bold tags to highlight your keywords and phrases this shows the search engines that these words are more important.  I notice Johann uses bold tags to separate content similar to how I use the <h2> tag on my blog.  This is good because it emphasizes important words however, I did not notice that these particular bolded words were “key” to the content.
  • italics <em> and <i> tags – as far as I know search engine treat the 2 italics tags the same as well.  Again just a way to emphasize keywords.  The last paragraph in Johann’s post is italicized.  In this case it does not signify a keyword phrase, but a way to separate content.
  • Internal Links – Internal linking is important not only to let your readers know about articles in your archive, but to also send a little bit of link juice to some of your older posts.  Johann did a great job not only linking back to some of his older blog posts, but also using some great and very helpful anchor text.
  • External Links – I’ve read that external links can also help build your authority in search engines and help your SEO.  However, make sure you do not link to scraper or spam sites because this could hurt your SEO.  Not only can linking to high authority sites in your niche help your SEO effort, but you may catch the attention of the high authority blogger or website author and receive some links in return.  Who know perhaps you’ll some day build a relationship or partnership with said big time blogger!

These are some of the SEO strategies I’ve heard or learned along the way and there are many, many more important strategies when it comes to SEO (don’t forget keyword analysis).  However, these things may not all be true and Google is always changing their search engine algorithm so what’s true today may change tomorrow.

While I don’t think about these things all the time I do find that SEO is an important part of my blogging strategy and it does help bring in a tremendous amount of traffic to the Puppy In Training blog.

Conclusions For Raise A Green Dog Blog

That was a fairly long winded post and I’m sorry that it got a bit technical at the end.  Anyhow, as I’ve mentioned I love the Raise A Green Dog Blog and I think that Johann, Gracie, and Leslie do an excellent job.  What are the areas I’d like to see improvement?

  • Well I hate to be critical, but I’d like to see more content (seeing how we love their content)…perhaps a newsletter?
  • I’m indifferent on a new design as I think I might get lost after understanding and getting used to the current design over the years.  However, a fresh design may attract new readers.
  • Finally, I think an upgraded blog theme might help SEO.  I think the current theme is not making proper use of some of the important HTML tags.

So for everyone out there don’t forget to subscribe to the Raise A Green Dog Blog.  Here are all the places you can follow:

Oh and if you’re not following my blog at Puppy In Training then please subscribe, facebook, twitter, or youtube us!

What do you guys think?  Are you following the Raise A Green Dog Blog?  Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.

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2 Comments

  1. Wow, what a thorough analysis. I learned quite a bit by reading your comments.

    Of course you realize you’ve set an impossible task for yourself. All these blogs and their stats are rapidly moving targets. 🙂

    1. @Pamela, I agree the blogs and stats are rapidly moving targets. Just looking back at my top 50 dog blogs post I can see a huge change in the numbers. I’m glad you found the comments helpful. The post really ended up being much longer then I intended. I’m going to try my best to do one of these a month as I really did get a lot out of digging deep and analyzing one of my favorite dog blogs. I actually think I might do a self-analysis of my own blog at some point this year…or is that already one of the challenges in the 31DBBB? I’ve still only completed days 1-4, 20 and 21. Hopefully I’ll complete at least 1 more task this weekend. By the way, I love your train your dog month challenge and I wish I had the time to participate, but I just started a new job and I’m working on completing Apache’s guide dog training.

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