#007: How to Boost Your Gym’s Local SEO
This week on Gymwright LIVE, we interview our soon-to-be in-house marketing expert Jessica Webster. She’ll take you through simple steps to boost your gym SEO (search engine optimization) so more people can find you online. We particularly cover how you can get your box featured in Google’s coveted “3-pack” and become your area’s top ranking for local search rankings.
Jessica Webster is the co-founder of Fitness Break Room, an online fitness community that specializes in telling the stories and strategies of some of the industry’s most successful players. She’s a professional fitness marketer at JessicaWebster.fit and she’s dedicated her career to helping fitness entrepreneurs. She’s one of our favorite people to work with in the whole industry, and she’s a bad ass marketer.
Today, she takes us through an SEO hack that will help get your gym featured on the Google Local 3-Pack.
Today we’ll cover SEO for businesses constrained by geography. Jessica says this episode is for people with local, brick-and-mortar businesses, and that it won’t be as helpful for people who run online or national brands.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Use the links below to skip to the info you want to know:
- 1:34 Google’s Local 3-Pack (a.k.a. “The Snack Pack”)
- 3:22 Why You Probably Don’t Need to Hire an SEO Expert
- 5:23 Set Up a Verified “My Business” Page on Google
- 9:45 Have Consistent NAPs (Name, Address, and Phone Number)
- 11:31 List Yourself In a LOT of Business Directories
- 14:40 Get Other Websites to Link to Your Website
- 26:05 Q&A
- 41:54 Check Out Her Podcast: Fitness Break Room
1:34 Google’s Local 3-Pack (a.k.a The Snack Pack)
You might remember that it used to be you’d search for a local company, say, “best gym in Torrance,” and Google would present you with a really extensive list of options. A couple years ago, it switched to just showing three places, with the option to click on “more places.”
Try searching for the best gyms in your neighborhood right now. But then try to resist going down the rabbit hole of also finding the best bars, breakfast places, shops, hair salons, and tax accountants. Come on back here when you’re done.
That top three spot is highly coveted, because then, without having to pay for ads, you can be the first place someone sees.
Since this new upgrade to Google’s algorithm, the top three listings will vary depending on the location of the person searching, even if they’re searching for the exact same thing. It’s set up so that your business might be one of the three in the Snack Pack based on proximity alone.
3:22 You probably don’t need to hire an SEO expert
There are a lot of professional marketers who make a living off the notion that SEO is too fancy and complicated for you to handle. Be aware that a lot of this is smoke and mirrors. You could end up paying thousands of unnecessary dollars per month for some complicated strategy that’s ultimately not that much more useful than what you could have figured out on your own.
When you put time and money into SEO, put it into the places where it matters. For a local gym, landing in that top-three spot is one of those places to put the effort because not too many gyms are doing the steps we’ll cover below. Getting in that 3-pack gives you a 20% higher chance of being clicked on in the search results.
5:23 Set Up a Verified “My Business” Page on Google
If you haven’t already set up a business page on Google, you can do that now by going to https://www.google.com/business/.
Make sure you have great images
- Your facility when it’s empty, clean, and beautiful
- Pictures of happy people smiling
- NO pictures of people lying on the ground sweating. Think about what people will want to see BEFORE they join, rather than what a seasoned member might enjoy.
- Aim for mostly pictures with 2-3 people in them. This allows people to see faces and subconsciously think, “I’m going to make friends.”
- Incorporate some big group shots.
Set Your Location:
Make sure your location settings are not too broad. You only want to be highlighted to the people who would realistically want to commute to your gym from where they are. This distance will vary from city to city. For example, in our part of Southern California, traveling even five miles to the gym can take a really, really long time. When we go to settings, we’ll target people who are basically in our neighborhood already.
Your Business Description:
In the blurb about your business, think first about what reads the best to humans. Don’t worry so much about what’s good “optimization,” because Google’s algorithms change all the time. Make sure that your copy looks good to the people you’d want to have come to your gym first, and hopefully the SEO will eventually catch up.
Your Business Name:
It’s a good idea to put your business category next to your business name listing, even if it’s not officially part of your business’s name. For example, if we were listing Markus’ old box right now, we’d want to put “CrossFit Active Performance” (which, in this case, is the full business name) rather than just “Active Performance.” But let’s say you’re an unaffiliated functional fitness gym called “Swole Survivor.” No problem; just make sure you list those as something along the lines of “Swole Survivor Gym.”
IMAGE CREDIT: FITNESS BREAK ROOM
9:45 Consistent NAPs (Name, Address, and Phone Number)
Your NAP (name, address, and phone number) need to be the same across your website and any other online listings. Google doesn’t want to see any inconsistencies in your copy or marketing, because that tells its algorithm that you don’t really know what you’re doing. This can include a discrepancy as minor as listing yourself as being in “Suite 600” in one place, “Ste. 600” in another, and “#600” in another.To find out if your business address is consistent, go to moz.com/local and type in your business name and address. It will tell you everywhere you’re listed and what you’re listed as. This website is super helpful.
IMAGE CREDIT: FITNESS BREAK ROOM
11:31 List Yourself in a LOT of Business Directories
Make sure you’ve gotten yourself listed in as many online business directories, or “online citations” as you can. We don’t usually think of getting ourselves in the yellow pages as being that important, but spend a Saturday by the fireplace doing your romantic SEO work and get that job done.It’s where other directories pull their information. Sometimes places will charge to list you, and it’s worth the $9 to get your listing in there. It really makes a noticeable difference.Then head back to moz.com/local and check out your listings again. You’re on your way to snack-pack glory.
14:40 Get Other Websites to Link to Your Website
How amazing is your website? If it’s an island, and it’s not notable enough to talk about, Google’s going to assume that no one’s going to want to visit it. But if your island has good buzz, and people link to it from their website or facebook, Google sees that and moves you up towards the snack pack.
This is a great place that The Network can help. When we write articles, we should have each other share them. Let’s all just write about and post about how cool each other’s business endeavors are. It will be a huge benefit for all of us. We of course want our clients to give us five stars everywhere. (Google review, Yelp review, and Facebook review, are the big dogs, in that order.) But our clients don’t always know that’s important to us. It’s something that matters. So if we all like each other, we should just make sure we tell the internet how cool the other Network members are. As a bonus step, take some time to figure out what your essence and style is, which will go a long way towards having people read and share your blog.
For the most part, we’re all sharing the same fitness advice and adhere to the same basic fitness philosophies, so the way we stand out in an online space usually comes down more to style and audience preference than substance.
If you’re not the blog-writing type, that’s okay. A blog can be whatever your medium is. It can be a video or a Facebook Live Q&A, as long as you post it with a good description of what you talked about. You don’t have to be a “writer” to blog for your business.Member ReviewsIf your personality aligns with this impulse, you can directly ask your members to review you. You can put it in your newsletter, you can have coaches ask before class, or just ask people.
Usually, it just hasn’t occurred to them yet. Of course they love you; that’s why they show up every day.You could email a survey out to your members, too. If they respond positively, you can say thanks and email them the link to, say, Google+ (or whichever review site you’re working towards improving) and tell them they can rate you there. If they give you a not-so-good response to the survey, call that person directly to find out what went wrong and what you can do to make it right. And at this point, this is no longer about getting a review. It’s about good customer service.
Question: We’re about to relocate our gym to a new state. What should we do for SEO optimization during this transition?
Answer: Once again, head to moz.com/local and check where you’re showing up. You can manually change anything that’s incorrect. Then go through and do a full, full, full sweep of your website to make sure your old address isn’t listed anywhere anymore. If Google sees two different addresses, its robot-brain breaks.Moz also of all the directories you’ve signed up with, so that whenever you update your info, whether it’s your address, class offerings, branding, or photos, you can make the changes across the board.
Question: Any advice on using Google AdWords?
Answer: Yes, so much advice. So much that we’ll probably give it its own episode. We can’t even open this can of worms right now, except to say that most gyms aren’t taking advantage it.
Question: How can I see where I rank?
Answer: First, clear all your cookies and your history. For the most part, we’re all small businesses that won’t be in the worldwide rankings, so just try some different keywords.
When he ran a physical gym, every time Markus would find himself at an Apple Store, a library, or anywhere else with a rando computer, he’d search for the best gyms in his box’s neighborhood to see how far up the list CrossFit Active Performance was. It varied every time, depending on what neighborhood he searched from. It’s not a necessary activity for monitoring your SEO, but it’s a bit of fun.
Question: What about when we get reviews?
Answer: Always respond to every review that you get, good or bad. (The exception is the trolls. If you can’t get rid of it, don’t even address them.) People tend to respond better, in fact, to places and products that have at least a couple negative reviews. And when one of those does come up (from a non-troll), respond right away with something like, “I’m so sorry that happened to you; here’s my email/phone number/home address/whatever; please contact me right away so we can get this resolved for you.” More often than not, if they have a legitimate concern, you can fix it with a good-faith effort and they’ll take the negative review down on their own.
Question: Are blogs the best way to add content that increases SEO?
Answer: As of right this second, yes. Again, it doesn’t have to be articles. Videos and pictures are great, too. You can even make a blog post of your week’s best Instagram photos. Just put a quick description of what it is.
41:54 Jessica’s New Podcast: Fitness Break Room
On December 4th, Jessica and her business partner, Sam Pogue, launched Fitness Break Room, a podcast that provides biographies on some of the awesome people in fitness. She loves reading biographies and the way they can transport you, and give you a new perspective.
This podcast is a great way to spark creativity, as well as to give you mentors from a distance. Sam, who also geeks out on backstories of people with deep experience in the business. It includes physical therapists, trainers, and anyone else whose wisdom is helpful.
Want more Jessica Webster