Local SEO Checklist for Fitness Studios and Businesses

Tuesday, March 15, 2022
Attract & Retain Customers

Local SEO (search engine optimization) can be really overwhelming. Heck, SEO, in general, is one of those technical specialties that baffles most small fitness business owners. 

The tendency is to ignore it. 

But as we demonstrated in our post Why local SEO is Important for Fitness Studios, the power of local internet search to bring you customers who are actively looking for exactly what you offer - and are highly likely to buy – is so strong, the impact on your business could be substantial, whether you create a local SEO plan or not. 

Plus, since you’re not the only fitness studio owner who’s a bit baffled by SEO, your competition is likely scratching their heads, or hiding them in the sand too.

This means you may have a golden opportunity to connect with a huge audience of people nearby who have already decided they are ready to work out and are actively on their mobile devices mapping the closest and best place to point themselves towards. They might even be in their car with the gym bag and water bottled packed!

So how do you make sure they find your fitness business? 

That’s right, with a focused, effective local SEO checklist to maximize your fitness studio’s exposure and boost your local search results. 

We’ve put together a handy-dandy checklist of the key steps you can take to get in the local SEO game. You might also find our post Why local SEO is Important for Fitness Studios helpful for a bit of background on why local SEO is so important for fitness studios and how much local search has grown – and is boosting local, brick and mortar small businesses – in the past few years. 

Is local SEO for my fitness studio? 

If you operate a fitness business that primarily delivers classes, workouts, and training sessions in-person, then yes, local SEO is for you. If you are an online-only fitness trainer, then there are other SEO tactics you’ll want to deploy, local is not the way to go. 

What is SERP and what do I do about it? 

A SERP or search engine results page is the webpage with links,  descriptions, and additional features (more on that later) that search engines like Google and Bing return when a user types in a query. 

The area at the top of page one of search results includes both paid (pay-per-click ads) and organic results. The page that a search engine returns after a user submits a search query. Getting ranked in the top few results on a SERP can be super competitive. Users are far more likely to click on the first two or three headlines they see.

More than 90% of consumer search traffic goes to the sites that rank on the first page of Google search results. 

Plus, with the launch of schema markup, SERPs are becoming much more complex to try to anticipate user needs.

There are not only ways for your webpage title and description to appear, but other SERP features like maps, image carousels, knowledge panels, lists, dropdowns, and Google’s “people also ask” Q&A area. 

Maps and the Map Pack

Google maps is used heavily by consumers searching for local businesses. It’s part of the total local SEO pack a brick-and-mortar business like a fitness studio should hyper-target. Often on a SERP Google will show a map with a list of relevant businesses, their location, peak operating hours, customer reviews, and links to their Google Business listings. 

When a potential customer is using maps to search it can mean that they are ready to head for a local business and walk through the door – that same day. 

One of the most important ways your fitness business can rank on a SERP map is to make sure that your address is consistent across your digital properties – website, Google Business listing, social media, and that you are actively participating (responding to reviews and update photos and other content) across all your internet sites. 

Image Carousels

If visual content like images and videos are relevant to a user’s search, Google’s algorithm will include a row of photos on the SERP along with a link to click through to a Google image search. Getting your images to rank means you can attract traffic to the web pages on which those images live – i.e. your fitness business’s website. 

Here’s a local SEO checklist for getting your images to rank on a SERP:

  • Give your photos titles that describe exactly what’s in the picture
  • Create accurate alt text and captions
  • Relevant surrounding text
  • Appropriately size your images (not too big or small)

Knowledge panels

These are the paragraph or two that appear at the top of a page above all the other links and provide a concise, relevant answer to the user’s search query. Think of knowledge panels as mini-Wikipedia listings. A great way to appear in a knowledge panel on a SERP is to have a blog on your fitness business’s website that answers highly-targeted questions your audience is asking, and that you know rank in search. Things like “What is HIIT?” “Does building muscle help weight loss?” “What is power yoga?”

Google uses a knowledge panel to provide a quick overview of people, places, or things and often includes significant dates, a brief overview of the topic, and some images. The panel appears at the top right corner of SERPs in desktop results and the top in mobile devices.

“People also ask”

The “people also ask” SERP feature is prominent on Google and gets a lot of clicks. Obviously, Google’s algorithm is looking for content that answers questions related to the main search query. For example, for a SERP related to the user query “What is HIIT?” There might be a half dozen related questions with a link to the website with the best answer (according to Google). It might be questions like:

  • What is a HIIT workout?
  • What are 3 examples of HIIT training?
  • Is HIIT good for weight loss?
Frequently asked questions are perfect topics for a fitness business to be writing about on its website – on a blog or an FAQ page. 

Lists

Content in list form is a great way for fitness businesses to rank on a SERP. A list is exactly what it sounds like – a bulleted list of items that match a user’s query that Google puts at the top of the page, often before any other listings. 

Here’s an example: A user types in “muscle building exercises” and Google returns a list called “The Best Exercises Targeting Each Muscle Group” and a list with a link to more items at the end. The list links to a fitness studio’s blog post entitled “How to Build Muscles Fast Through Diet and Exercise”:

  • Hamstrings: Squats. Deadlifts.
  • Calves: Jump rope. Dumbbell jump squat.
  • Chest: Bench press. Dips.
  • Back: Deadlifts. Pull-ups/ Chin-ups.
  • Shoulders: Overhead press.
  • Triceps: Reverse grip/close grip bench press. Dips.
  • Biceps: Close grip pull-up. Dumbbell curl.
  • Forearms: Wrist Curls.

How to Create a Local SEO Strategy

Approach local SEO strategy with a mindset of helping people in your community who are actively looking for you to find you! By spending some time and effort to set up a few key SEO tools, you’re doing a great service to anyone who’s serious about getting healthy and wants to find the best trainers and community to help them reach their goals. 

The best way to get started is to stay focused and keep it simple.

Plus, crafting a local SEO strategy doesn’t have to cost your fitness business any money. With a good local SEO checklist, you can do this yourself. Stay focused on the most impactful actions so that you don’t get overwhelmed. 

Here’s a good place to help you get started:

Check Out Your Moz Local Listing Score

SEO research company, Moz, offers a free tool for businesses called the Moz Local Listing Score. The tool gives you instant information on how your business is listed across top directories and how strong your online presence really is. 

You can use the Moz local listing score to identify new listing opportunities and audit existing location data to increase the strength of your fitness business’s online presence. This is a great place to start if you’re unsure about how you’re doing with local SEO.

Invest in Set Up Local SEO Content

So you’re set to tackle the basics of setting up a strong local SEO footprint. Here are the steps you can take to build a strong foundation that needs minimal ongoing maintenance. 

Add Meta-descriptions to Your Website

A meta description is an HTML element that provides a brief summary of a web page. Typically your webpage builder like WordPress or Wix will provide a box for each page where you can type in a brief one or two-paragraph summary of the content on the page. 

A page's meta description tag is displayed as part of the search snippet in a search engine results page (SERP) and is meant to give the user an idea of the content that exists within the page and how it relates to their search query.

Clean Up Your NAP (name address and phone number)

Search engines like Google look for consistency above all else when ranking local businesses. Make sure that your website, social media accounts, Google Business listing, and any other online directories where your business contact information is displayed contain exactly the same name, address, and phone number in exactly the same format. 

Create Location-specific Keyword Targets

Include the name of your town in website headlines, subhead, and text describing your fitness studio, as well as in any paid ads to maximize your business’s chances of appearing at the top of a local SERP. 

Create or Update Your Google My Business Profile

Google makes this very easy and you get started by logging on to Google maps. With Google Business Profile, you can:

  • Add your business information to Google Maps, Search, and other Google services
  • Create or get access to a Business Profile on Google
  • Manage how your business information shows up across Google
  • Add multiple locations to your primary Google My Business listing – here’s how.

To make sure your business is eligible to show up on Google, verify your Business Profile. If you want Google to give you one-on-one guidance and tailored recommendations on how to make the most out of your profile, consider booking an appointment with Small Business Advisors. It’s free!

Schedule Monthly Maintenance and Check-Ups

Keeping your local SEO in good shape doesn’t have to take too much effort. A monthly check-in is all you really need. 

Generate Customer Reviews

Each month make sure that you’re responding to customer messages and reviews on your Google My Business listing and on social media and any other directories like Yelp, for example. Don’t bother setting up a kiosk or mobile device for reviews in your studio, as search engines won’t rank reviews generated under the same IP address. 

Create Content for Google My Business

To keep your listing fresh, upload new photos from your fitness studio, make sure your operating hours reflect any seasonal changes. Check to make sure all names, addresses, and phone numbers are current. Respond professionally to all customer reviews. 

Post Regularly on Social Media

Search engine algorithms know if a business is “alive” online by how often it posts new content, including social media. So make sure to post regularly. Use an automated post scheduling service if you need to. And make sure to read and respond to questions and reviews on platforms like Facebook in a timely manner, generally 24 hours. 

Check & Update Your Fitness Business Directory Data

The algorithm for local SEO relies heavily on data culled from business listings such as Google My Business and other popular consumer ranking and rating sites like Yelp. It’s essential that your business keeps all name, address, and phone number information consistent across these sites – and that your business appears on these sites. 


Here are examples of directories and their “domain authority” ranking, which means how strongly having a listing on their site plays into Google’s local search results. 

Facebook = 100

Apple Maps = 100

Google My Business = 100

LinkedIn Company Directory DA = 98

Bing = 94

Better Business Bureau = 93

Tripadvisor = 93

Yellow Pages =91

Manta = 87


Want more tips and tricks on coming out on top with local SEO? 


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