Search Engine Optimization or SEO can be a complex and technical topic. It’s a topic that fitness business owners we’ve worked with typically feel is over their head and they’d rather just pass it off to a professional to handle. Now, while there is nothing wrong with this, there are a few common mistakes we see to give you a place to start if you’re the DIY type. Once you’ve got the basics addressed you’ll be able to let your website work harder for you without lifting a finger.

#1 – Not Optimizing for Local Search

People typically workout within 5 miles or 15 minutes of their place of work or home. Target this group of people by focusing more on local search. Things like geo-targeted terms/phrases in meta descriptions and title tags, adding address and phone number to your website footer, setting up directory listings on Yelp, Google Places, FourSquare, and other local search directories can all help! SWETI can list you on all 65+ directories if you want to streamline things!

#2 – Not Setting Up Unique Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

It’s amazing how many businesses use their business name as the title tag for every single page of their website. Each page of your website should have a separate title tag and meta description. The title tag should specify what the subject of the page is, while the meta description is your elevator pitch for said page.

#3 – Over-Investing in SEO

We’ve found that it doesn’t take much for gyms or studios to move up to the top 3 places on local search. Monthly retainers for a marketing agency to manage your search engine optimization will cost $750-$5,000 per month. We’d recommend not spending more than $250 monthly on SEO-related marketing. Simply having a listing in the top 50 directories will drastically boost SEO at only $100 or less per month. Don’t feel like you need to be investing thousands of dollars in this area.

#4 – Poorly Written Copy

If you don’t feel like you are great at writing, hire a copywriter or marketing agency to create the content for your website. Be careful with “keyword stuffing”. This is where you overdo it by listing keywords in an unnatural way on your web pages and it can be detrimental to your search rank. Google’s algorithm can tell when you are overdoing the keywords for SEO purposes. Don’t do it! Another red flag the Google Algorithm looks out for is duplicate or stale content. Don’t have any content repeated word-for-word on your website. Make sure to keep your website up-to-date with weekly or monthly updates. The more current your site is, the more relevant Google will deem it.

#5 – Out-of-Date and Inconsistent Information Across Directories and Websites

Another place to watch out for stale content is in search directory sites. Make sure to check and update your content regularly. Run a directory scan (link below) and create a spreadsheet of each listing, then check them monthly to make sure there weren’t changes and that they contain the most up-to-date info. Don’t want to spend the time or effort doing this manually? SWETI can do it for you! We can also lock down your listings so that other people can’t change them and only you control the content.

#6 – Not Using Free SEO Resources

There are so many free and cheap resources available out there to help you with your SEO! Google Webmaster Tools is a free resource to help you keep tabs on your website and any errors that Google comes across. Directory Listing Scan is a free way to see where your business is currently listed and see any errors or data inconsistencies. We’re also doing a free SEO webinar this next Tuesday and Thursday. Sign up here!

Want to improve your organic search, but unsure where to begin? Start with getting listed in 65+ directories for just $85/month by contacting us. Rather do it yourself? Register for a free upcoming webinar that reviews how to optimize search for your gym or studio.

 

Tia Stone, Director of Marketing

 

Are you receiving emails with vendors trying to sell you search engine optimization services? Wondering exactly what Google Panda is? Did Google open a zoo? What we are about to share with you is what most SEO vendors do not want you to know about SEO for fitness businesses. One recent change to Google’s algorithms communicated by Google has given priority to sites that are mobile friendly, sometimes called “responsive”. We tell you what you need to focus on to show up at the top of Google search results.

Google’s algorithms are based upon trust. Links from sites that are the most trustworthy will result in better search results. Think of it as a popularity contest for websites. Attempts to game Google’s algorithms will result in your site possibly being blacklisted by Google, so it is best to avoid buying services from companies who attempt to circumvent these algorithms such as those that sell links.

So as a fitness business owner, how exactly to you improve where you show up in Google search results? Here are the top 6 things you can do to improve SEO for fitness businesses so that your site ranks well:

1. Keywords. Keywords are the search terms people are searching for to find a fitness business. For example, search for “fitness 78701” to get a list of fitness businesses in Austin Texas. Your home page and to a lesser extent your other pages need to contain the most commonly used search terms. We often run into fitness business whose homepage is an image with almost no text. This creates a home page that has almost nothing for the search engines to index. Not sure what people are searching for? Our team has used Google Adwords keyword planner to find the most commonly searched for terms in a particular city. A pay per click campaign can also provide useful insight into what people are clicking on.

2. Site Content. Relevant content, indexed by Google and other search engines, will help your site wind up at the top of search results. One of the best ways to provide content is to create a blog on your site. The articles on the blog should contain as many keywords as possible. Even better, include some blog summary entries on your homepage.

3. Meta Page Title. Now this is a little more difficult, but the person who built your website had to fill in a section on a page called the meta page title. If your web designer knew anything about SEO they put a good description of each page that included some of those keywords we mentioned. To fix this, you will need to work with whoever maintains your site. When Sweti builds a site, we use a plug-in called SEO Yoast that helps us do this correctly.

4. Links. Your site needs links from trusted sources. Google the name of your business and the top keywords. The sites that show up at the top of the results are who you want links from. Some of them are competitors so it is unlikely you will get links from them, but others are not- so focus on them. How do you get links? You contact them and built relationships with them. This takes time but is worth the effort if you want to improve your SEO. Sometimes a PR effort can help as newspapers and news agencies are trusted sources. So are blogs, so don’t discount those fitness bloggers in your area.

5. URL Structure. Both your URL and the name of the page matter. If you want to show up when someone searches for Piloxing and all your business has are Piloxing classes, then consider having this term in your URL. Minimally, you should have a page dedicated to it with the name http://{your URL}/Piloxing. Create a dedicated page for every keyword you wish to highlight.

6. Responsive site. With a recent change to Google’s algorithms, it has become important to update your site so that it is responsive. What is responsive? In simple terms, this means your site is mobile device friendly.

Part of measuring how often your site is being searched is to monitor the traffic on your site. The best way to do this is to implement Google Analytics on your site. Getting to the top of the search results also takes time. Google imposes a ranking delay on new sites. This is to prevent spam sites from taking over their index. A typical timeframe needed to get into the first page of search results is 6-12 months. Oh yeah, and what is Panda? It is one of the many algorithms Google has to prevent low-quality sites from ranking well. This is just one of many algorithms and the reality is that now one really knows exactly how Google works so anyone claiming to have the secret to SEO or is guaranteeing results should be avoided.