Organic search engine traffic is the stream of (not paid search) relevant traffic to your website from Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines, resulting from people's search queries. When someone opens their web browser, goes to Google.com and types in the phrase, “Gym in Dublin”, for example, Google will process the search and provide results based on what it thinks is the most relevant answer to the query. If I type “Health and Fitness Dublin” into Google what I am really doing is asking a question. Google interprets the search query as “Where can I find a Health and Fitness centre that provides me with the best options based on my location and requirements?”.
You might find it creepy that Google knows where you are, and even more unnerving tgymhat it understands who you are and what you are most interested in. That is exactly how the future of ‘search’ will evolve. Google uses data from your previous search history (especially true if you have a Gmail account or other Google service), your location, and many other factors to determine what results to show.
Why SEO is good for business
Organic search engine traffic isn’t the only source of visitor traffic that your business can avail of. Paid traffic is a great option if you have the budget to buy Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Bing Ads, and more besides. Visitors might arrive after clicking through on your forum posts or other users’ forum posts about
Visits to your site can also come from forum posts, email signatures, bookmarks, links from industry websites, and social media. Backlinks from local SEO directories can be very effective for getting targeted customers.
However, if your business website ranks high in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) it’s like opening the tap on an unlimited supply of free traffic. You don’t need to pay for the visitors that come from search engines. And as long as you maintain a good standing you will always have this traffic. The number of potential customers is dependent on the number of people searching. The more niche or specific your business the fewer the people searching for related terms on the internet. However, businesses with very specific services that rank high on Google will usually receive highly-targeted visitors from search.
Let's look at an example. Imagine a London-based health and fitness business that wants to get organic traffic from Google and Bing. The business might expect that search terms like “London Health and Fitness” are what their potential customers type into Google. But this is a very broad term. Google.com's SERPs show hundreds of gyms, hotel fitness suites, swimming pools, Groupon offers, and health and fitness jobs relating to this search query.
So it's clear that the business needs to concentrate on attracting a narrower slice of the market (to begin with, at least). Let’s look at how the business might offer some specific service to a sector of the public. Let’s presume that this business is a gym, based in West London, and offers personal training services to the over fifties age group. Now we have cut a smaller slice of the pie and should be able to target search terms related to this specific business.
This is where SEO comes into play. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is the process of effectively influencing the SERPs so that your business ranks higher in Google for your target search terms. OK, What does that mean?
Let's go back to the London gym example. The business owners want people in their fifties based in West London to find their gym. So they should optimise their website for higher ranking in Google's search results for keywords relating to this criteria. Optimising the website for topics based on search terms such as “over 50s fitness London” or “west London gym personal trainer overs 50s” is a good start. These are just examples but it helps to illustrate a point.
A good digital marketer and SEO expert will have exact search volume numbers based on these queries. The process of analysing the competitiveness of each query is time-consuming but can be helped along with the aid of some tools. I recommend the following keyword research tools:
I use the first two tools on a daily basis.
Of course, there are free keyword tools such as Google Keyword Planner (GLP) but you won’t be able to see the competitiveness of each keyword using this tool. And just recently Google changed how the results are displayed. Now you must have a minimum (fairly high) spend on Google Adwords to get access to exact search volumes. For now, it’s a great tool for starting a search but it’s quite limited.
Once you've decided on keywords for health and fitness and topics that will help boost your ranking, what's the next step?
Content. Yes, writing blog posts about your specialist topic is the best way to move the needle in terms of obtaining high-quality long-term traffic.
Many SEO professionals will tell you that getting links from other sites is the number one way to grow your website and I won’t deny that it’s very, very effective. However, all links are not created equal. Many businesses have created extremely successful websites that are low on links but high on quality content. And finally, there are some signs that Google might be giving backlinks less of a priority moving forward.
Figure out what your time is worth. Will it take you a day to write a 1500 word article? You might think that this is a waste of time and that paying for Google Ads is a better use of limited resources. But remember that you’ve probably already put in the hours to make the (taxed) revenue which pays for this type of advertising. And once the ads have run their course and Google or Facebook takes your money the traffic dries up. Is it worth spending on ads now?
Content marketing will serve your business better in the long-term. And the more time that the piece of content has been on your website the better. It must be said here that this content should be updated if anything changes and it must have value to your potential customers.
Content marketing works.
Blogging connects you to your customers.
SEO pays off in the long term.
That’s not to say that all other forms of traffic generation have no impact. They certainly do. Facebook ads, in particular, can be extremely targeted and very cheap. But you still need to pay for each click and once you stop paying, well, the traffic is gone.
So what should you write about?
- First of all, decide on the types of clients that you want.
- Next, decide on what you’d like to write about.
- Finally, perform keyword research based on search volumes and competitiveness, and evaluate potential topics.
At the intersection of all three, you should find topics to put down on paper (or blog posts).
An Example Case – SEO for Gyms
The manager of a gym in New York wants to attract young professionals with high disposable income to start training at his facility. The first thing he does is find out what gym-going young professionals are looking for. What kind if fitness trends are they interested in? The gym manager researches the market using keyword tools, forums, articles, email marketing, and analytics tools.
He discovers that this section of the public is looking for personal trainers in New York. There are plenty of people searching on Google for “personal trainer NYC” and the competition is not too high. (Competition factors relate to how well other companies are marketing to people searching for this keyword). Fortunately, his gym offers personal training sessions and has several qualified Fitness Instructors who provide PT sessions to clients.
The manager then sets about writing about the Personal Training sessions at his New York Gym. He details the benefits of working with a PT. He gives examples of clients that have paid for the service and experienced great results. To finish off the gym manager adds a video of a typical session at the gym and maybe an infographic explaining how personal training benefits young busy professionals.
The example above is one way the owner of a business in the health and fitness niche could/should market their business online. Of course, not everyone wants to do the research and writing but that’s where a digital agency can help.
For an extra weapon of marketing research, I would also take a look at Google Analytics reports for ideas about the types of people that are currently visiting your website. Google Analytics is a gold mine but it's also the topic of another long post so I'll just mention here that, for this particular example, the most important sections are:
Audience > Interests > Overview
Audience > Interests > Affinity Categories
Audience > Interests > In-Market Segments
You will need to have some regular traffic to your website already for this information to be useful but look at Affinity Categories for information on users' interests and overall lifestyle. In-Market Segments refers to what people are looking for. This category gives you an idea of what your potential customers are actively involved in researching, with the aim of purchasing.
Optimised Websites and SEO
Finally, have a killer website that is fast! I’ll emphasise that last bit. Have a fast-loading website! This is crucial. Sliders, fancy images, and embedded videos are all well and good but can slow down your site. Badly built themes can also look amazing but perform poorly. The only way to know this is to run some analytics software.
Go to any site like TemplateMonster and you will find hundreds of themes that cost very little. But I do not recommend these templates or themes for any serious commercial website. The downsides far outweigh the upsides. Unfortunately, most people will never realise this and simply blame the poor search engine results on another factor.
A good website is a crucial part of SEO.
For gyms, health and Fitness centres and Yoga studios planning on purchasing an off-the-shelf WordPress template I would suggest one of two website theme providers for this purpose:
You will need at least a full day to properly build the theme and to make sure it’s optimised and suitable for submission to Google. For inexperienced website builders, I would suggest a couple of days of rechecking and seeking advice.
Alternatively, you can hire someone to build a customised and fully-optimised website theme based on the suggestions above. This will save you time and a lot of headaches.
Find someone who knows how to write for the web, understands marketing, and has a good understanding of your niche. A fitness copywriter or health blogger would be ideal. Or hire a professional digital marketing agency with fitness marketing skills.