One of the most important ingredients to building a strong web presence is know how the sites that present your content to your target audience work. What criteria works on your site to get search engines like Google and Bing to want to show you off. This article will introduce you to the simply complex (yes, it’s simple but often time made way too complex) world of search engine optimization (SEO).
Understanding SEO is necessary. Before I say anything else, just know that you must have the key elements in place in order for your online presence to have any value. So, let’s get started.
More than likely you’ve heard that acronym, SEO before. If you haven’t here’s the Wikipedia definition; SEO is “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's unpaid results.”
OK, makes sense. But that leaves us with a number of questions to follow such as,
The questions I’ve heard about this can go on and on …
The simple answer to these questions can be simply found in staying focussed on your own personal points of interest and those discussion points between yourself and your students and customers.
By using simple strategies, versus all the complex crap that will scare the heck out of you online, you will be able to properly optimize your content and generate more relevant traffic to your pages, convert a higher quality lead and engage with prospects and current students at a much higher place of value.
Ultimately, sticking to a conservative, logical and consistent diet of your own content development best practice - will bring you the best results.
It’s up to you to own that diet (or system) and continually test your results, looking for new opportunities to better your results. Too often studio owners will ignore this and never optimize. Bad move.
As you know people search for stuff. Alot of stuff. Search volume is massive for the most simple items or services. As well, people are search with intent. Intent to purchase, intent to inquire, intent to consider … whatever stage of the buyer’s journey they are in, there will be a “next step” that will be taken once a link appears that they can associate to their desired outcome.
Therefore, it’s critical that your content speak as accurately as possible to the exact persona and their desired outcome or pain point as possible. Too often, studio owners will create content in their blog about relative topics, thinking it can apply to both men and women, young and old, fit and unfit, mom and dad … you get the point.
The intention is good, trying to get their message out there to serve the largest audience. The problem with this method is that it lessens the reach potential of the content as it lacks content relevancy. In other words, it’s not relevant to an individual’s search.
Instead of creating a content piece for a large audience, rip it down to exactly who needs the message. What is there exact pain point or the transformation they’re looking for. How old are they, are they a man or woman. By using this strategy, speaking directly to the persona, you’ll build a content piece that is more attractive to both search querie and the needs of your prospective student.
This just makes sense, right? Let me offer another perspective.
Let’s imagine you sell tap dance shoes for girls. Does it make sense to put a billboard up so every passing car in your area sees “Tap Dance Shoes, Go Here!” Or, would you rather showing up when anyone types the word “Tap Dance Shoes” into a search engine. The difference is that the latter has purchase intent. The first might have the best intention, but passers by have next to zero intention or interest in children’s tap dance shoes, even if they are all super interested in dancing.
So you understand the importance of keeping your content highly relevant…
Your site may have the right message, optimized at site launch to speak to a specific audience group, well done. The problem is that it may lack timeliness and consistent syndication to your audience. You gotta be at the head of the table where the best discussion is happening, questions are being answered and people are being served by the best. Period. This is why your blog is a vital component to your business site.
For a number of reasons…
First, ask yourself … would you sign up to learn something from someone who says they teach on a website, or from someone who teaches the exact craft but offers micro courses for you to experience, videos that bring you into their school and articles that speak to your fear, needs or desires. The answer is obvious.
Second, indexing. Which of those two sites in the previous example do you appreciate more, the one that doesn’t seem to get updated, or the one that’s promoting the new article posted yesterday by the head teacher?
Again, simple answer - but what’s important to understand is that search engines feel the same way, and for good reason. Sites that are regularly updated with relevant, optimized content are more valuable for search engines to direct their users to, as the accuracy of their search results are greater.
Hitting the right target audience member at the precise time in their buyer’s journey with content relevant to their needs is absolutely necessary.
As well, when you’re delivering value based content on a consistent schedule that is directed to your existing students you’ll be exceeding their expectations. Remember, these students are still within the buyer’s journey, just further up the funnel; possibly eligible for an instructor program, an advanced membership, private training for recital preparation, personal training… the model is limited to your creativity. Just don’t ignore this.
So we’e covered the why optimizing content is so important and the important role that being relevant and timely plays when considering who you want to consume your message.
The first thing to understand is to realize that Google is responsible for most search engine traffic on the planet. Yes, this can vary from market to market, but for movement arts such as yoga, martial arts, fitness and dance - Google dominates.
The good news is that following best practices laid out by Google will also rank your within the other search engines. There are a few that can argue this, but for the needs of a studio owner who’s SEO needs aren’t over the top, Google rules.
In the past there were simple tricks and hacks to bypass Google’s requirements and you could rank for specific search queries with little to no investment. But their algorithms are constantlychanging and becoming more intelligent. The rules are always changing to how and why sites are ranked. Alot of that old black-hat advice is still out there, so beware of what you’re reading in terms of how to get your studio and site ranked. Don’t try to pull any tricks that you may read on some blog post from 2006.
My best advice is to simply focus on the dialogue and interest of your audience, and always engage with your audience, then test and review your results.
There are books written about this topic. Alot of them. As well, Google’s training pages are an abyss of information that can very easily swallow the most savvy internet marketer depending on how deep they want to research. It’s complex, and I’ll share some links at the end of this post for those who are bold enough to dive in…
But for now, let me offer an eight hundred foot view that will help you make more sense …
As I said earlier in this article, Google is seeking pages that contain content that is quality in terms of it’s native structure, relevancy to the search query and recent.
They determine relevance by “crawling” your website’s content at light speed and evaluating (algorithmically) whether that content is relevant to the actual search query entered, mostly based on the keywords it contains.
Quality is determined by a number of criteria, but primarily consists of the number of sites that link you and how many sites with some authority you link to. So, if the only sites that link to your karate studio’s site are blogs that no one else on the Web has linked to, and my karate studio gets links from trusted places that are linked to frequently, like blackbeltmagazine.com, my site will be be viewed with higher authority and value, thus making it more visible than yours.
As the algorithms and technology in whole becomes more aligned to our behaviors and interests, more and more criteria weigh in to the search results such as,
This list goes on and on, but the above are some priorities (as of writing this article) that you should be paying close attention to.
In the end, just realize that you don’t need to be a search engine wizard to have a well optimized site. As long as you pay attention to the details above, consistently delivering valuable and relevant content to your target audience then you’re off to a good start. When you use such tools as Google Analytics to monitor and analyze your pages, you’ll be able to continually optimize your site, increasing your traffic and message reach. This is what really separates good from great results.