Why local SEO is Important for Fitness Studios -- Frequently Asked Questions

Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Run Your Fitness Business

Your local fitness business has a huge advantage when it comes to online search. 

And here’s why:

  1. Your target audience wants to work out, 
  2. and, they’re going to do that within a few miles of their home. 

That means you don’t have to worry about spending tons of money to outrank the world’s top fitness studios. 

So, whew! That’s awesome, right?

BUT you do need to focus with laser-like precision on your local market. 

And you’re in luck!  We’re here to help you figure out how to do that, one step at a time.

In this post we will cover:

  • Why local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is important for fitness studios.
  • The basics of local SEO.
  • How to get your fitness studio on the first page of search results.
  • How to connect with thousands of potential new customers who are actively looking for fabulous fitness classes in your area (or maybe millions, depending on your market size).

Why is local SEO important for fitness studios?

Did you know that 80% of a household’s disposable income is spent within 20 miles of home?


According to this Access Development report, 80% of a household’s disposable income is spent within 20 miles of the home. In fact, 88% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone visit or call a store within a day (Source: Hubspot) and local searches result in purchases 28% of the time (Source: Joel House Search Media).

Here’s one more number that underscore’s local SEO importance: 

“Near me” or "close by" type searches grew by more than 900% over two years! (Source: Chat Meter) And, 92% of searchers will pick businesses on the first page of local search results. (Source: SEO Expert). 

Ok, so that was a bunch of facts and figures. But why should you care?

Fitness businesses and studios that are not in front of customers (online) when they are ready to take action (join a class) are going to have a more challenging time finding new customers. 

To put it plainly, you can no longer ignore the importance of local SEO. 

The good news is that local SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. 

And you don’t have to spend a ton of money on expensive keywords trying to outrank big-box fitness brands. It’s way easier to rank for local search queries such as, “Crossfit Springfield,” than it is to rank on page one for “Crossfit.” 

All you have to do is take a little time to understand the best practices for helping people in your area find you when they type, “gyms near me,” into their phone. 

How is local SEO different from website SEO?

In some ways, local SEO is simpler than ranking an entire website. This is because Google (and other search engines focus on specific factors for local search queries. These factors include information consumers are searching for such as your business type, name, address, and phone number. In the SEO world, this is called a NAP profile. 

The first step in getting your fitness studio ranked for local SEO is to make sure that your website, social media profiles, Google Business listing (more on this in a minute), and any other business listing sites, all consistently display your business type, name, address and phone number, website, hours of operation, and any other contact information. 

Why?

It’s a search engine’s job to deliver accurate, useful, and relevant information. Otherwise, why would you use it? 

Think about it this way… If you ask people you know, “what is the best local pizza place?” And they respond the following way:

  • Gino’s Pizza Parlor on Main St. and they’re open today from 3p to 10p,
  • Gino's Pizza Parlor on 2nd St. and they’re open today from 10a to 10p,
  • and Gino’s Pizza Parlor on Main St. their hours are not listed. 

You still might not have enough information to make a decision. 

First, is Gino’s Pizza Parlor on 2nd St. or Main St. AND you don’t even know if they are open when you want to visit. Even if Gino’s Pizza Parlor is the best in town, you, the customer, still need to do more work. 

We kept example responses simple with only two variables when, in reality, search algorithms look at hundreds of signals before returning search results. 

Our point is, this is not an ideal result to show people who are searching for the best pizza place in the area. If you continually ask a search engine questions, and it cannot return consistent business information, that’s not a good user experience. 

So, search engines give more priority to businesses that have consistent NAP information across the web because it provides a better experience for searchers. They do this by ranking those businesses higher in search results. 

If there are any variations in the spelling or formatting, this can hurt your local SEO ranking. 

This is different than website content, where you’re building descriptions and page text to include multiple keywords. Of course, it will help you to put keywords like {business type} {city} in the headlines and subheads of your website wherever possible. The key is to stay focused. You don’t need to go after keywords like “top fitness trends” or “best yoga pants.”

How do you know if your fitness business needs local SEO?

Hopefully, we’ve convinced you why local SEO is important for every fitness business, whether you have one or multiple locations or operate in a big city or small town. But if you’re still not sure, here’s a simple test (remember, 92% of searchers will click on a result on page one of search results, and local searches result in purchases 28% of the time.)

Take out your phone, open up your favorite search engine and type in “yoga near me,” “best gyms in {name of your town}, “boxing Cincinnati.” Does your business come up on the first page of results? How far down the list are you? Is your business displayed on a map with ratings and reviews? 

If you’re not in the search results, you’re missing out on a ton of potential new business – and revenue. If your business does appear, congratulations! That’s great, now let’s maximize your presence and build on that brand recognition!


Why Google is your fitness business’s best friend for local SEO?

Google’s entire mission is to be the industry’s best at matching high-quality, highly-relevant content to the people who use its site to search for information. Think about it. If you asked Google, “How do I create a business plan?” and it returned results from knitting websites, you might be a little peeved and also be less inclined to use Google the next time you need information. Remember this in the context of local search.

When someone in your town finally overcomes procrastination, get’s motivated to finally get fit, picks up their phone, and types into Google, “HIIT workouts near me,” you want your fitness business profile to pop right up at the top of their search results. And, even better, you want your fitness business to be shown on a map so that it’s clear to your new potential customer how to get to your front door, and you want a long list of 5-star reviews from your loyal, raving fans. This way, it’s a no-brainer that their search is going to result in a visit to your business. 


What does Google look for when ranking local businesses? 

Some of the primary signals it looks for are relevance, distance, and prominence

So what do each of these signals mean?

Prominence: This is all about legitimacy. Google is looking to see if you’re business has a strong pulse online. Not just, do you have social media accounts, but do you post regularly, and do you answer customers’ questions quickly and consistently. Do you have a Google Business profile and is the information accurate and up-to-date? Are there new reviews flowing in and are you responding to them? Again, Google wants to offer its users the best experience to match their desires. 

Relevance: Does your business relate to the search query? If someone in your town types in “yoga classes,” a Google user will be frustrated if the search results returned are all spin studios or boxing gyms, or worse, bowling alleys. Likewise, if your fitness studio offers yoga classes, even if it’s not your primary offering, make sure that’s listed in your Google Business profile and on your website.  If it is your primary offering, of course, be sure to use those keywords all over!

Distance: How close is your business compared to the person who performed the search query? To be ranked accurately, and to appear in Google local search results, be sure that your address is listed on your website, your social media accounts, your Google Business listing, and any other sites where your business has a citation. Make sure that it’s listed consistently and accurately across all sites. If a site that lists your business has an error in your business’s name or address, it’s worth reaching out to ask them to correct it. 


How can a Google My Business listing help your fitness business with local SEO? 

Google Business listings are one of the golden keys to success with local SEO. This is because Google uses the information provided in these listings to return search results to consumers who ask for specific types of businesses in their local area, or use “near me” or “close to me” search queries. The location you provide in Google Business listings is used to display your business on a map, and, lastly, GMB listings give you a way to quickly and easily display to consumers searching for local fitness businesses, mobile-optimized photos, reviews, and business operating hours. 

Any business that provides in-person services or travels to customers’ homes to provide services can have a Google My Business listing. If you’re a 100% online business you don’t qualify for a listing. 

Google My Business (GMB) is a free platform provided by Google where local businesses can create a profile that is displayed across a variety of Google products.

A GMB profile can display a variety of information about your business such as:

  • Business name
  • Business description
  • Reviews
  • Phone number
  • Address
  • Website
  • Business category or industry
  • Locations that you serve
  • Business hours
  • Products and services
  • Photos

If your fitness business has multiple locations, you can add them to your main Google My Business profile so that they are all aggregated. For upping your overall local SEO quotient, list each of your locations separately on your fitness studio’s website and consider building a separate page for each location, making sure to include the fitness business name, address, and phone number for each location. 

Google Maps Pack and why is it important to local SEO?

The reason every local business should care about ranking in Google Maps is simple: getting your brand in front of the hordes of online users who search through Google Maps. 

According to online marketing guru, Neil Patel, Google Maps Pack grabs as much as 44% of the total clicks on search engine results pages.

It’s no surprise that Google is by far the most popular search engine. Did you know that nearly 70% of smartphone users say they use Google Maps most frequently? On top of that, out of the 3.5 billion searches that happen on Google each day, more and more are considered to have local intent. According to Google, 83% of U.S. people who visited a store said they used online search before going in. Before you can rank in Google Maps, make sure you have first set up and optimized your Google My Business profile.

You can utilize a local search rank checker to track your local rankings and see whether or not any of your business locations are featured in the Google Maps Pack for relevant search queries. Google provides crucial information about each of the businesses organically featured in the Google Maps Pack: Google reviews and overall ratings, a short business summary, location address, business hours, price range, and a featured photo on the right side, just to name a few.

The Google local pack is also displayed above traditional text-only or links-based search results, making it one of the most valuable pieces of online real estate across any platform. 


What is Google Position Zero? 

Position Zero is the information Google offers at the very top of the search results. The Zero Position, also referred to as a featured snippet, is the information Google offers at the very top of the search results. This information most closely answers the question posed by the user. It’s content you can provide on your website or blog.

For businesses trying to land position zero for their website content, there’s good news: Your content doesn’t need to be the No. 1 search result. Rather, the featured snippet experience suggests that preference is awarded based on the content that makes the search experience faster, easier, and more relevant for the people using search engines to find information.

Landing content in Position Zero is about providing quick, easily digestible answers to users' most common search queries. It will take a little keyword research, but some industry insider knowledge of your target audience is key as well. Think about intent and the most common questions your customers have. Position Zero is about answering questions, and one common way to think about “how-to” or “what is?” questions in your industry, like “how to lose weight quickly” or “what is HIIT?” or “how long does it take to recover from a hamstring pull.” 

Is there a way to “game the system” with local SEO?

Trying to hack SEO with massive linking strategies or other not-so-legit content sites with backlinks is so a decade ago. All of the major search engines have had plenty of time to figure out all the tricks sites were using to artificially boost search ranking and to weed them out with more sophisticated algorithms. 

No longer can SEO specialists trick the system into boosting results by getting other websites to link back. Now, any sites that link to your site that don’t have any relevance to your content now detract from your organic search ranking. That’s right, it can hurt your ranking. 

The new rule is, you’ve got to earn every link back. The way to win is to have content and a loyal base of raving fans who are eager to share. The only links that support your organic search engine results are ones that you get organically through social sharing, guest blogging, and the like.

What is “black hat” SEO?

According to Wordstream, Black Hat SEO is most commonly defined as a disapproved practice that nevertheless could increase a page’s ranking in a search engine result page (SERP). These practices are against the search engine’s terms of service and can result in the site being banned from the search engine and affiliate sites. A list of tactics and strategies employed by black hat SEO practitioners has been openly denounced on Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines.

These SEO tactics are considered black hat and should not be exercised at all if you want to stay above board with Google and other search engines:

  • Content Automation
  • Doorway Pages
  • Hidden Text or Links
  • Keyword Stuffing
  • Reporting a Competitor 
  • Sneaky Redirects
  • Cloaking
  • Link Schemes
  • Guest Posting Networks
  • Link Manipulation (including buying links)
  • Article Spinning
  • Link Farms, Link Wheels, or Link Networks
  • Rich Snippet Markup Spam
  • Automated Queries to Google
  • Creating pages, subdomains, or domains with duplicate 
  • Pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing, viruses, trojans, and other malware

Can I do local SEO on my own?

By now, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. We get it. But with the critical importance of local SEO to your fitness business, SEO is something you cannot ignore. The good news is, you CAN do it yourself with just a little time and attention. 

Local SEO is not rocket science. 

With the tips we’ve given you today, you’ve got a focused action plan for where to start: 

  • Get that Google My Business listing up and running or optimized. 
  • Make sure all your businesses NAPs are accurate and consistent across all online sites. 
  • Provide great online customer service by responding to both positive and negative reviews and promptly and regularly engaging with customers on social media. 
  • And lastly, start to research additional business listing pages in your area where you might be able to request a citation. 

You can do it!  Just take your first step today and watch your client base grow as your online reach expands  :)


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