SEO for Health Clubs: 6 Things Gym Operators Need to Know

For Gym Operators

SEO for Health Clubs: 6 Things Gym Operators Need to Know

Understanding Google can be intimidating (and often impossible) for even the most seasoned internet marketer.

And yet, dealing with Google (and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo) is unavoidable – a well-optimized, clear, and discoverable online presence is essential for any business on the web. Consequently, to help you wade through the choppy waters of search engine optimization (SEO for short), these six lessons are key for gym operators marketing online.

Whether you're an independent operator or managing a large syndicate of gyms, the tips below will help you maximize your digital efforts.

First, an overall tip: treat Google and other search engines like they are your first readers. Their algorithms become consistently more sophisticated, and it is their mission to find and rank pages and sites like an actual human would. Therefore the shady, so-called “black hat” techniques (keyword stuffing, badges, link trading) will only hurt you in the long-run.

1. Optimize for local

If you don’t remember anything else about this post, remember this: because gyms are “brick and mortar” (i.e. actual storefronts), optimizing your health club's website for local search is incredibly important.

How do you do this? Start with making sure your address is in your website's footer. Then – since Google is far and away the most important search engine – make sure you have a presence on Google+, Google Maps and Google My Business.

For a quick overview, check out this SlideShare presentation.

2. Write descriptive headlines

Headlines are one of the strongest indicators of relevancy for search engines.

They figure if you’re using your prime online real estate (the headline or “H1” tag) to say something, it must be 1) important and 2) what the rest of the page is about. Search engines cannot read sarcasm, however, so while you may think a pun is clever, they’ll have no appreciation. Therefore, keep your headlines direct and descriptive for the best possible rankings.

3. Get reviews

Remember that search engines take reviews into account for their rankings. In addition, reviews count (though user-generated) as “fresh content,” which is prized. This brings us to…

4. Create fresh content

While you likely can't have a giant content farm pumping out thousands of words and hundreds of blog posts, fresh content can improve your rankings markedly. Even if you only manage to blog once a week, it gives search engines new pages to crawl – and will position you as a thought leader, increasing your likability and brand equity to boot!

A note: In the “olden days” (like four years ago...), when a site wanted to rank for the phrase “best tennis shoes,” it would just repeat “best tennis shoes” on the page many times over. But guess what? Search engines do NOT like being gamed. In fact, they'll penalize your website for poor strategies. If you write about topics of interest to your patrons, you will inevitably include the various keywords and phrases you want to rank for. The lesson here? Don’t load the dice.

5. Fill in the alt text when posting photos

Alt-what? Alt text is what search engines “read” when you post a photo to your site. Unsurprisingly, lacking eyes, search engines cannot see images. Therefore, they rely on the text that tells them what the photo looks like. Make your alt text descriptions fully descriptive. “Ball” is not a good alt text description. “Boy throwing red ball in gym” is.

6. Curate social content

Not only does an active social media presence keep you in front of potential customers AND demonstrate expertise in your industry, but social activity is another consideration in search algorithms. So do your very best to build your social profiles (such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter) and audiences.