Searching for Strength

All too often I meet fitness business owners who are disappointed with the results their website is generating. I get it. The time of building and managing a website can be costly – in both time and money. However, the best website in the world is useless if clients and potential clients can’t find it.

If your website isn’t showing up on the first page of the search engine results on Google, Bing or Yahoo then you may have some more work to do. And, it takes a thought-out marketing plan. Not just wishful thinking!

How Search Engines Work

Search engines use algorithms that essentially send out millions of little spiders to crawl every website, collect data and return that data to the user. To get a better understanding of this lets try a little “what if”.

What if…

It’s New Years day and my first resolution is to get in shape. Actually, it’s been one of my resolutions for the past 20 years. And for the past 20 years I’ve failed. But this year is going to be different. I realize I can’t do it on my own. This year I’m going to get some help. So, I hop on my computer, go to Google and type, “I need to lose weight.”

After a couple of irrelevant websites, a cheesy YouTube video and a rather disturbing blog, I realize I may need to be a bit more specific. So I type into Google, “personal trainers.”

Immediately Google spiders scour the Web, find websites with the keywords “personal trainer”, sort them to fit my location, and deliver the results back to me with the websites they deem to be most relevant and credible at the top of the list.

Since I live in a world of instant gratification, I click on the first link that seems relevant (skipping the ads of course), give that gym a call and set up an appointment.

Here’s the problem, that link I clicked on didn’t take me to your website. Your website wasn’t on the first page so I never even saw it. In reality you may be a better fit for me, but Google didn’t see it that way so neither did I.

Become More Attractive to Spiders

First figure out what terms people in your area use to find a fitness facility. Google offers a free keyword tool that will help you figure this out. Make sure those keywords are used in prime locations on your site while adding value to the visitor.

Be Where Your Clients Are

Unless you are trying to attract international clientele, make sure your business is synonymous with your city in the eyes of search engines. Google, Bing and Yahoo all offer local business listings. For example, Google has Google Places (which is now tied into Google+).

Link Up

Links are very important. They are like flies to a spider. The best links for you will come from other fitness (a.k.a. relevant) websites.

One way to accomplish this is by getting a blog post published on a reputable fitness website. Another, and very valuable, solution is to get listed on as many directories as you can.

Find directories that allow you to add content. These directories are highly optimized and are often featured at the top of search results. Use directories that will help the spiders draw a connection between your location and your industry (fitness). Provide as much information as they allow. Before you start, create a Business Listing Profile document.

You didn’t build your fitness business in the middle of a field without any roads leading to it. So don’t leave your website out to pasture. Put it where people can find it.These three steps will move you in the right direction.

About

Angie Pattengale is co-owner and chief executive officer of the National Federation of Professional Trainers, where she works behind the scenes on relationship-building, advertising, policies and procedures, test development and delivery, and growing the business. She joined her father, NFPT founder Ron Clark, at the company in 1994.