In this guide, we will cover all aspects of internal SEO, external SEO, and local SEO specifically for your gym. We will break down every part of these processes into easy-to-implement steps and take out the guesswork that comes along with Search Engine Optimization.
What is SEO?
Before we can do anything to start working on SEO we will need to understand what it is and how it can be used to help your gym. SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” and it is a continual process of improving your business’s ranking in search engine results. This way if someone looks up “gymnastics” they will find your business rather than your competitors.
Since its creation, SEO has grown from a simple idea to a complex network of techniques and best practices. In this guide, we will work through the most important elements of SEO that will give the greatest results for your gym. After all, gym owners don’t have much time to waste over-optimizing their websites.
In total there are 200 known factors that affect your search ranking and many more that are not disclosed to the public. Using these important indicators we can communicate to Google that your website is a trustworthy and reliable place to send search traffic. After all, Google is a business as well. The better that you can serve their customers the more traffic they will send to you.
Local SEO Is the practice of ranking in search terms with local intent rather than a more general search term. For example, if someone searches “Gymnastics Mats” they will most likely be shown online retailers like Amazon and some other popular online businesses.
Since this search term did not have any location specified it sends us to the most likely answer, online shopping for gymnastics mats. Now if you search “gymnastics in my city” or even just “gymnastics” google will display the local results. This is shown through the Google Map Pack shown below
This map pack is the holy grail of local search and it is what the whole approach is built around. Best of all it is completely free. A map pack is an amazing tool for local businesses because it drastically shrinks the pool of competitors. This way you are only competing against the gyms located in your area rather than against massive gymnastics websites like usagym.org.
Check it out yourself to see where your gym ranks. Search for gymnastics in your city to see how well you shape up against your competitors. This will let you know how much work you need to put in to get on the top of the list. If you are not at the top of the results don’t worry, the rest of this section will be a step-by-step guide to earning your place in the map pack.
1) Finding/Creating Your Gyms Google Listing
Your listing is the information that Google displays to show your business in the Map Pack. If you have not made a listing yet customers might not be able to see your business. The best way to check is to go to google maps and search for your business.
If you cannot find your listing then you can create a listing here. We will cover how to create the perfect listing in the next step.
If you found your listing, but have never claimed it click on “Claim This Business” at the bottom of the listing. Google uses many online resources to create your listing so it is often just an approximate guess with incorrect or outdated information. By claiming your business you can be in charge and control all parts of your gym’s listing.
Lastly, if you see a listing that you have already claimed then you are good to move on to the next step.
2) Optimizing Your Listing for Better Results
Just creating a listing is not enough it is important to fill out every piece of information as completely as possible. Google will use this information to judge the trustworthiness of your business. So the more information that you have filled out the better as these are good indicators to Google that your business is a trustworthy place to send customers. Make sure to fill out all of the items in the checklist below:
Important Note – When filling in your business name be careful of keyword stuffing. This is a process of adding too many unnecessary search terms into your title. This can result in a penalty from Google. A quick example of a great name would be “Little Tots Gymnastics Center”. In contrast, a keyword-stuffed name would be “Little Tots Preschool Gym Gymnastics Program and Summer Camp”.
- Business Name
- Phone Number
- Photos (minimum 3 interior and 3 exterior)
- Services / Products
- Business Description
- Special Dates
- Opening Date
- Short Name
- Health and Safety
- Service Options
By filling out this information you most likely putting yourself one step ahead of your competitors who have not taken the time to complete their Google My Business Information. This will already help to start boosting your business’s local ranking.
3) Improve Your Other Citations
Google scans other citation websites to make sure that your business information matches across all sources. The more websites that you have matching citations on them the better. You can do this by creating an account or signing in to various citation websites and adding in your business information. It is important that the citations are as similar as possible down to the periods and parentheses. An incorrect citation could hurt your Local Seach Ranking. Follow this general checklist to make sure that you have all of the most important citations for your Gym.
- Apple Maps
- Chamber of Commerce
Setting up business citations for each of these websites can be very tedious, but all of the work will be worth it. Next will be to repeat the process on some more specific citation websites. These hold a great amount of weight in comparison to the general citation websites because they help to show industry-specific authority.
4) Improve Onsite SEO Signals
Google analyzes the quality and trustworthiness of your website to judge how well your business listing should rank. A poorly made website that is out of date will hurt your citation because it will prove to Google that your gym might not be the best place to send customers. At the end of the day, Google has no way of knowing how nice your actual gym is, instead they operate off of your digital presence.
That is why it is so important to create a high-quality website that is easy to use and valued by your customers. It is incredibly important to have a website that is optimized for mobile traffic as well as those with visual impairments. By creating a great website you will be able to boost your listing.
Make sure that you mention your business’s address, phone number, and name across your site. A great way to do this is to place your business information in your website footer so that it is automatically displayed on every page. This will help to confirm your business information is correct.
Lastly, the more website authority you can build up for your gym the better. You can create a more authoritative website by generating high-quality content earning valuable backlinks. This and much more will be covered in the onsite SEO section below.
5) Business Reviews
Now that we have perfected citations and optimized websites the next step will be to improve your review score. Reviews play a big part in how much customers trust your business as well as search engines. It is important to ask happy customers for reviews in order to increase your rating.
Unfortunately, the few upset customers are much more likely to leave bad reviews than happy customers leaving good reviews. That is why it is important to get positive reviews whenever you can. It helps to remind happy customers through a simple email or just at the end of a helpful phone call.
Respond to Google Reviews
Be sure to always respond to both positive and negative reviews. This shows that your business cares about what your customers are saying. Think about how strange it would be if someone complimented you in real life and you said nothing back to them. It would be rude, and it is the same with google reviews.
When it comes to responding to negative reviews try to avoid starting a fight. Sympathize with your customers and what they are feeling even if they are in the wrong. Reach out to them and ask for them to contact a personal email so that you can look into the matter further. Even if they never do respond (which they rarely do) it will show that you are making the effort to help and that will go a long way.
Local SEO Conclusion
These are the most influential factors that decide whether your business will be shown in the map pack instead of your competitor. All 5 of these are incredibly important in boosting local SEO and setting up your gym for success. Optimizing these 5 factors is not all aspects of your business’s SEO. The other two categories of onsite SEO and offsite SEO also do a great amount to affect your local ranking. All three different types of SEO are linked together. It is not really possible to talk about one without mentioning the other two.
Internal SEO is all about ranking higher in organic search results, shown below. This can be done by communicating to Google that your site is the best answer to what people are searching for.
This is where internal SEO gets a little more complex. Google has thousands of indicators that communicate the quality of a website. These indicators can range from the content you create to the way users interact with the website, and so much more.
All of these indicators measure how convenient and helpful the website is to its users. All of these little things build up to decide your gym’s overall ranking and position.
Here are some of the most important things to include to increase SEO performance:
1) Mobile Optimization
As mentioned in the local SEO section, mobile optimization is one of the most important factors to your website’s performance. Nearly 50% percent of traffic comes from mobile devices, and that number has been rapidly increasing every year.
Right now you might be wondering how to tell if your website is optimized for mobile. Good thing there are some great tools out there. Our favorite is through this online tool Google Mobile-Friendly Test. Simply open up this link and put your URL into the line available. Then it will scan your website to see if there are any issues.
If you do come across any of these issues you can edit your site and solve them. Many website builders have an option to edit the mobile version of your site, this can be a great way to fix these problems. If your website builder does not have this option then try to mix up the sizing on your site, so that your elements stack properly on eachother in mobile.
Always remember that mobile screens thrive off of a vertical design. Horizontal web elements will often be shrunk too much or warped to fit on mobile. In order to optimize your site for mobile, you might need to convert these horizontal parts of your website to a more vertical format.
2) Decrease Load Speed
Google knows that nobody likes a slow-loading website. If your website is taking more than 3 – 5 seconds to fully load you could be scaring away potential customers. Luckily there are many ways to improve your website speed.
The first thing that we need to do is to find if your gym’s website has any speed issues. The best way to do this is to plug it into this content into GTmetrix and scan to see what the results are.
The great thing about this tool is that it will show you exactly what you need to do to improve your load speed. Some of these terms might be fairly complicated but here is a quick breakdown of some of the most common issues.
This error occurs when there is an image that is far too large on your website. For example, if there is a 400px x 400px place to display an image and you put in an 1800px x 1800px image it will cause your website to load slower. It is always best to have images sized correctly and compressed to load as fast as possible.
Implement a Caching Solution
Caching is the process of storing your website information on a user’s local computer. This helps to decrease load times by minimizing loading the same things multiple times. If you made your website through WordPress there are many helpful plugins that you can download to solve this problem such as W3 Total Cache.
A Sneaky Trick to Improve Load Speed
A great way to easily improve website load speed is to add lazy load to your website. Lazy load works by focusing on loading only what is displayed on the user’s screen first. This can create the effect that your website is loading much faster than it really is. By loading only what is displayed your site can render much faster.
There are many more ways that you can improve your gymnastics website’s load times, but these are the major issues that websites run into. You can learn more about complex issues from GTMetrix by clicking next to the drop-down arrow next to the error.
3) Find the Best Keywords for Your Gymnastics Center
To begin this section let’s start by talking about what keywords are. Keywords are simple to understand but very difficult to master. They are the most relevant words that describe what your business does. For your gymnastics center, some of the most important keywords would probably include things like gymnastics, kids, toddler, elite, classes, tumbling, ninja, etc.
Search engines use these keywords to connect your website to people searching for your business. Choosing the wrong keywords could lead to the wrong people finding your site.
To find what keywords are best to use for your business you can either use software like SEMrush that will do a good chunk of the work for you.
How To Find Keywords For Free
If you would prefer to do the keyword research for free then list out everything that your business does and all of the classes that your business offers. Then plug those class names into google trends in different ways to find what is searched the most. This will give you a broad idea of keywords to use for your site.
After you have found these keywords keep them on an easily accessible list to use when creating content for your site. Be careful of overusing keywords or else you could be punished by Google. Instead, use them naturally throughout your text as you would if you are talking with someone.
4) Create Website Content
In the world of information content is king. Creating strong, well-written and consistent content will help to improve your website’s ranking and overall authority. This point wraps back to the previous step on keywords, as your content will be where you will use the keywords that you have found.
Creating content is a great way to pull customers to your website, but it is also a powerful way to show Google that you know what you are talking about. If you have 100 blogs and articles written on gymnastics, search engines will look at your website as being an authority rather than a 3-page website with very little content. This is another way that you can rise above your competitors.
In addition to the SEO benefits, creating consistent content synergizes well with email marketing and social media marketing. This way you have something of value to regularly send your fans and subscribers.
How To Come Up With High Quality Content?
Coming up with high-quality content ideas can be difficult. The best content to write about is what people are most interested in. Think about the 20 most asked questions that you get every week, or better yet have all of your employees send you their most frequently asked questions. Then write a blog on each one of those and push it out through your social media channels.
Once you run out of frequently asked questions check out answerthepublic.com, enter your keyword such as Gymnastics and see all of the related questions that are associated with that term. This is an amazing tool for helping you to find new content that people are interested in learning about.
A good amount of content to produce is around one to two 800 word blogs per week. From there you can always expand but that will help to fill up your website one page at a time.
Do not create content just to fill your website. Create enriching content that your customers would be interested in reading or consuming. If customers don’t like your website neither will search engines.
5) Website Security
Website security is a crucial component of making a successful website. If your websites put users in danger you will most likely be blacklisted by search engines.
It is very important to avoid the penalties for an unsafe website, but what is the best way to secure your website?
There are many different answers since there are so many different ways to build a website. Each website builder might be different but the underlying principles are almost always the same.
One of the greatest ways that you can protect yourself against viruses is to keep your website up to date. Every day viruses become more intelligent. Update your website regularly so that it will be able to fight off new attacks.
If you are working on WordPress be sure to download a security plugin that can help to protect your website. Some great examples would be Sucuri Security or WordFence. These will help to defend your gym’s website 24/7 so that they will be more resilient.
If you are using other website builders such as Wix or GoDaddy then security should already be incorporated. You can also usually pay for extended security if necessary.
You can check if your site has any security issues by using this free website security check.
6) Create An Internal Linking Structure
Internal links help to tie your website together so that every page improves based on the performance of your other pages. Internal linking can become very complicated, but in the simplest terms, it is a link from one page on your site to another page on your site.
This is very useful because of how Google and other search engines read your website. They use bots to scan websites and follow all of the available pages. If any pages are not internally linked to anything they might be missed and not shown to searchers.
SEO Benefits Of Internal Linking
All pages should tie into other pages on your site so that they can build eachother up. This also helps to improve the average time on your website because customers can easily shift from one page to another using in-text links.
Internal linking is a great way to show what pages are important on your website. Think of each internal link as a vote for a specific page on your website. If twenty pages are linking to one resource then Google will normally boost the page’s importance. This makes it very easy to prioritize larger pieces of content while promoting smaller blogs as well.
When creating an internal linking structure think of it as a pyramid for your content starting at your home page and breaking it down into smaller and smaller pieces of content as shown below. In this way, your main pages will have the most amount of links and authority.
7) Add Image Alt Tags and SEO Information
As smart as search engines are they have a difficult time understanding the images that we place on our website. If your site is 90 percent visual images Google will barely know what is happening. Luckily we can help search engines better understand what images are through alt tags, meta descriptions, and titles.
All three of these work in slightly different ways to inform Google what an image is showing. It is important to fill out these three lines as shown below on all images in use on your website.
How to edit your alt tags, meta descriptions and titles is different on every website builder. You should be able to access them by clicking on more information in your media library.
What Exactly Should You Put In These Fields?
In the alt text describe what is happening in the photo. Explain it as if you were describing it to someone who could not see. Keep it fairly brief, no more than 15 words.
Next, the title should usually be very similar to the alt text. You can mix around some of the Alt tags words and reuse them in your title. Just give detail on what the photo is about and include some keywords as appropriate.
For the description try to go into slightly more detail to describe what is happening. This does not need to be any longer than 30 words. Keep it fairly simple and to the point. If you have hundreds or thousands of images this process can be very tedious, but it is helpful in improving your SEO.
Internal SEO Conclusion
SEO is a fluid art that is constantly forming and adapting. It can do wonders for all businesses who are interested in investing in it. SEO is a great way to grow your business. Earning first place on Google will help to create a steady flow of new customers into your business. Many business owners who do not invest in SEO are unfortunately being left behind. Search Engine Optimization should be an important part of any business’s digital marketing strategy.
External SEO is comprised of many parts that all help to improve your website’s authority. The main way that you can build your external SEO is through backlinking. This is the process of getting other websites to link back to yours. This is rarely as simple as it sounds. However, earning high-quality backlinks can greatly increase your website’s ranking. There are 3 major ways to build backlinks for your gymnastics center.
Method #1: Use Citation Websites
This wraps back around to local SEO at the beginning of this guide. Citations help to increase the validity of your Google listing, but they also increase the authority of your website. By creating a listing that has a link to your website you can quickly build backlinks through many of the most popular citation websites.
This is a quick way to earn some citations, but they are not as valuable as getting a link from a leader in your industry. Sites like Foursquare link to countless websites so their link is worth much less than a website that has only linked to 100. Getting onto these more exclusive websites can be difficult, but there are still 2 different ways to get backlinks from them.
Method #2: Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is a very useful tool for building backlinks to your gym’s website. This process works as a give and take. You are giving away a piece of content in exchange for an external link.
The first step to guest blogging is to find some fellow website owners in your industry. The better their website ranking the more that it will help your site to earn their backlink.
Make a list of valuable guest blogging opportunities, and reach out to them. Let them know who you are and how you would like to help them in exchange for a backlink.
How to Get Businesses To Respond?
It is important to make your email to them sincere and specific. Don’t use a sloppy template that does not apply to them. People can tell when you have put in the extra effort so don’t be lazy. Prove that you are a real person who wants to work with them rather than some internet spam.
Keep reaching out to different websites until you can find one that accepts your offer. Don’t get too down on yourself if nobody gets back to you. Many times only 1 in every 10 businesses will respond to you.
Lastly, write your content piece on something that will help their website. Put in the effort to create great content even if you will be giving it away. You never know who could see your guest blog and come to your website because of it.
Important Final Steps
When you finish your guest blog make sure to embed your link at the bottom of your article to read more. This way when you send your blog to be posted all that the owner will have to do will be to copy and paste it into their website.
After you have completed one guest blog you can start to find more and create a schedule for reaching out and writing more guest blogs to increase overall backlinks.
Don’t ever reuse the content in a guest blog for your own personal website. Google will notice the exact text copied over and flag one of them. This can either cause a problem for your website or the website of the guest blog.
Method #3: Partnerships
Another great method to build backlinks is through simple partnerships with other local businesses. If you can get a business to link to you it can be a wonderful way to build quick links.
These mutually beneficial partnerships are helpful outside of just SEO as well. They can help to bring more business in more traditional ways.
Swapping backlinks can be beneficial, but only in minor doses. Google is very suspicious of swapped backlinks due to previous SEO schemes. Avoid having too many shared backlinks or else Google will suspect foul play. Exchanged links should not make up a large number of your overall backlinks.
Backlinking can be a tedious process, but it is a great way to show the trustworthiness of your website. If other websites link to your site then it is proof that your website is valuable and trusted. Backlinking is one of the fastest ways to grow your website authority and raise your rank.
SEO has become an art form and a science. It is essential to all businesses in the 21st century. All businesses can benefit from investing in SEO. Thank you for reading this far into this article. The fact that you have put this much time and effort into the SEO of your business shows that you are going to be more successful than your competitors in the years to come.
SEO is a gradual process, just like anything it takes time. Do not be disheartened if it takes 3 months to start seeing meaningful results. Your work will compound upon itself and create larger changes down the road in 6 months to a year out.
Keep up the great work and stay motivated. We would love to help if you ever need any. You can contact us here or reach out for further assistance marketing your Gymnastics center.