In this blog, I will try to shed some light on a topic that generates lots of confusion among martial arts clients that I speak to: SEO! Everybody wants it, nobody knows what it is or how much it actually does help them.
As the name implies, it is the practice of optimizing a website for search engines, so that it will rank for the appropriate keywords, and easily be found when someone searches for it. Easy concept right? Why all the confusion then?
In my experience, the mixed messages with SEO come when it is used as a marketing term, by companies promising more leads if you hire them to provide SEO services for your business. This is actually something that used to be talked about years ago, and if you have someone trying to sell your martial arts school business “SEO services”. In my opinion this is usually a red flag unless you truly have a ranking problem, but usually a well coded website will resolve this issue on a small business. Let’s get familar with some terms:
On-page SEO describes the manipulations you make directly to a web page to facilitate higher ranking. It involves optimizing the HTML code, content quality, and content structure. This is the part a Website Designer or Website Design Company will take care of for you. It is the part of the Search Engine Optimization equation that the website owner has some control over, meaning that if you hire a competent company to design your website, they will take care of this for you. It is a given that any web designer worth their name realizes that this is an essential step of the process, although it is not a given your designer may know what he’s doing, so do some research.
Examples of On Page SEO factors that impact your website:
Off-page SEO refers to all of the SEO practices that take place outside of your website such as backlinks, social signals, and others. One of the biggest techniques with Off-page SEO that determine a website rankings is BACKLINKS. Any time another website links back to your content, depending on the website online reputation and authority, this can send Google and search engines signals that your website is relevant and improve your rankings.
A brief history of SEO as a marketing strategy: Until about 10 years ago, Google did not discriminate about what KIND OF backlinks pointed back to your website. It was up until this time that SEO was a very common practice, as there were entire websites dedicated to strictly linking back to sites (link farms as they were known), and just about anyone could rank any website. That ended YEARS AGO, and now Google punishes websites that may have backlinks it considers spammy or from non related websites. It punishes bad SEO practices by banning websites.
Very simply, in my opinion SEO in 2019 is much the same as in 2018 and that is CONTENT MARKETING. Watch out for SEO agencies that propose to create content on your website, and then promote it by doing outreach campaigns to relevant websites asking to link back. This is an expensive practice, that I have yet to see any martial arts school invest in because it’s quite simply a waste of money and out of reach for most school owners (expect to pay at least $1,000/mo for a proper SEO campaign). There a few other factors like Local Citations that definitely play a role, and these are obtainable without having to hire an agency.
You'll be better off creating your own content and sharing it among your social media audiences and using the best content images as photos on your Google Business listings.
Why SEO might be useless for your martial arts school
Don’t get me wrong, you definitely want your website to be on page one of Google. However it is my experience that just about every one of our clients, except the ones that live in really densely populated / high competition areas, find their sites by Website Dojo crawl their way to the top on thier own. We provide an awesome keyword ranking tool that allows you to track the exact positon of your keywords on Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
That being said, for local businesses search engine traffic may be scarce. Google has something called a keyword planner that allows a user to see how many searches are being performed for a particular keyword. These numbers are oftend disappointing, and while Off Page SEO for a nationally searched keyword makes sense, for a local business it’s almost always more practical to invest in a Pay Per Click campaign and make up for any lacks of rankings by running Google AdWords campaigns that will allow your ads to show up on top of Google search results when someone searches a related keyword.
While at Website Dojo and Dojo Digital Marketing we do not provide Off Page SEO services, we regularly recommend all our clients that they invest in some sort of local citations service such as Moz Local. I wrote extensively about this in the following article that I would invite you to read: click here.
You can improve your local rankings by building CITATIONS: This is the process of entering your business in directories that will make your local search engine visibility JUMP, and most importantly this is what gets your business listed in the top 3 Map Results!!! We have also had great success building local citations by using a company called WHITE SPARK which will do manual citations for you, and provide you a full report with access to all listings within a month. We have seen our clients local map listings improve greatly and we can vouche for it being an effective way to improve your rankings. , it’s important to know that you must be very careful who you purchase Citations from as they can actually hurt your Google listings, so stay off Fiverr and companies you don’t know or trust.
I hope this helps shed some light on the subject of SEO! Let me know if you found this article helpful