An Introduction to SEO for Life Coaches and Fitness Pros
You’ve got your website. Your email campaigns are lined up. Your social media is kicking major you-know-what.
But, you’re finding your competitors are getting more of your leads and you suspect it’s because they are higher in the search engine rankings.
The answer, my friends, is search engine optimization (SEO).
Although SEO has developed into its own field of expertise with hundreds of different areas to optimize and tweak, you can still make significant improvements to your blog or website’s Google ranking ability with a core set of basic tips and strategies.
Here’s your essential, basic beginner’s guide to optimize your website.
What Exactly is SEO and Why is it So Important?
In simple terms, SEO is the collection of activities and tactics you utilize to show Google-bots that your website serves a big consumer need in a meaningful way and should be ranked higher in web searches.
Websites that don’t help consumers, are annoying, or have too many commercials and pop-ups, are ranked lower.
But how do search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo know whether your website is providing value?
The answer is long and complex because over the years they have developed a significant list of consideration points and advanced algorithms to help them measure value.
That being said, let’s jump right into some of the major points you need to have in place and can easily implement yourself.
Google is really the behemoth SEO trendsetter when it comes to understanding SEO best practices, so I’ll refer to Google, but just know that I’m talking about all search engines.
Keywords are the crux of SEO. There are a lot of activities and best practices to have in place, but ultimately, keywords are, well … key.
What Are Keywords?
The short, easy definition of keywords as they relate to SEO is, any word or phrase that your ideal customer or client would type into a search engine to find, explore and ultimately buy your product or service.
The more complex answer is that you need to have a keyword family that represents your brand, is broad enough to help you compete among others with the same products and services, and specific enough to lead people to you before your competition. It takes a surprising amount of research.
Specific and Long-tail Keywords
SEO is a bit circular. The more traffic headed to your site (and staying on your site) the higher your search engine ranking.
The better your ranking the more traffic will be driven to your site. It makes sense, but for newer sites, it can be a headache. This is why keyword strategy is key.
It used to be the case that site owners had to choose one word that they wanted to rank for.
Many sights got huge volumes of traffic and made tons of money back in the day, before Google started seriously evolving its algorithms.
Also, as organizations became increasingly aware of and implemented SEO tactics, keywords became more and more competitive.
Trying to rank for a word like “shoes” for example, would be impossible for a small business because you would never draw enough traffic to your site to show Google and other search engines that you are a major supplier of shoes.
There are so many large corporations like Nike and Adidas that can sink huge amounts of money into paid traffic and steal away any prospects that do a Google search on shoes.
Instead, we had to use more specific keywords like, “women’s shoes” and “kid’s dress shoes.” Then, as those became more competitive, we had to get more specific and use, “best stylish athletic women’s shoes. (a long tail keyword phrase)” And with this specificity, the long-tail keyword was born.
Long-tail keywords are nice and broad, so you still attract search traffic, but specific so Google knows exactly what your site is all about.
Now we see long-tail keywords like, “best inexpensive high-quality athletic women’s shoes for marathoners and triathletes in all sizes, full, half, narrow, and wide.” Phew! Now that is one long tail!
SEO Keyword Search Tools:
There are tons of tools to help you research the best keywords to use. Ultimately, I recommend Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool. It’s free. It’s accurate.
Most companies that make you pay for similar service, claiming to be better, are actually just talented web designers who have created a branded skin for the AdWords Keyword Tool and are charging you to use it.
Although you can use free Keyword search tool like UberSuggest to get some basic keyword ideas.
Websites & Web Pages
The first thing to know about optimizing your site is the important distinction that search engines rank each individual page on your site. This has a few implications:
You need specific keywords for each web page. You want to have a strong keyword family, five or so keywords that represent your overall brand and from which you’ll develop all other keyword listings.
However, most people have more than 5 web pages. This means you need to think carefully, research, and strategize on many keywords that will work for your brand and can be divided across each page.
And yes, this means each page needs its own keyword, to include the about page, the often forgotten FAQ page, and any additional landing pages you create, such as your Twitter landing page or online class registration page.
Luckily, Google’s update this year took some of the pressure off when they declared they will rank based on overall brand rather than exclusively on specific keywords. This is the “semantic search” people like Ashley are talking about when they say keywords are dead.
Semantic searches are one example of Google’s move to “machine learning” and “cognitive computing” processes in its algorithms.
Put simply Google also looks for other words and phrases that have a similar meaning to your keywords. It also attempts to general conceptual overview of the overall meaning, quality and search value of your of the ridiculously good content you need to be creating and posting as frequently as possible.
This development is a double-edged sword. The good side is that Google will rank our web pages within the context of our entire site, so if several pages are performing well, it will elevate other pages on our site.
It also means that while keywords are really important to young site, they’ll become less important as you grow your following and site traffic. The downside is that very large organizations with established brands and a strong web presence will outrank the little guy, ongoing.
The pursuit of SEO gave birth to article content. Blogs were originally just personal online journals individuals kept.
When organizations began to realize they needed more web pages with their related keywords on them to rank higher in search engine results, suddenly everyone had to be a content machine.
Blogs have since evolved into a way to communicate stories about your brand, explanations and links to your products, and lifestyle recommendations to encourage consumers to integrate your brand and services into their everyday life.
Rand Fishkin has a lot to say about developing your keyword lexicon and applying effectively to your site. Some best practices for how to use keywords in your site content are as follows:
- Choose a topic keyword for each web page and make sure you use it in your page copy. Don’t go crazy and put it in every paragraph. Google calls that keyword stuffing and suppresses your results rather than ranking you higher. Just use it in your page copy where it fits naturally.
- Most pages can be 300-500 words, but make sure the pages you want to rank the highest have closer to 2,000 words.
Part of the reason for this is if the copy is well-written, people will stay on your page for a longer period of time, lowering your bounce rate and helping Google to see that page is valuable to visitors.
- Use the keyword in the page title, page snippet and page description.
Google doesn’t use the page description for ranking purposes anymore, but if you did your research, you selected words and phrases that your prospects are searching for, not just words that will help Google understand your site.
Prospects will see your page description in search results and it will help them decide whether to visit you site.
- Use keywords in the images you feature on your site. When you first save images, be sure to save them with a labels that include your most important keywords.
Google can see the names of your images and it helps it understand what the content of that page is about.
It will also show that image when people do an image search on your topic, which is another way to more people visiting your site.
So many people ended up stuffing keywords all over their sites just to get traffic that consumers began to complain.
You would search baby diapers and end up at a celebrity gossip or automotive site with tons of spammy pop-ups just because they tried to beat the system and layered baby-related keywords into their copy to try and capture more traffic.
In response, Google had to find additional ways to determine the value your site brings to the web and how relevant it really is. Jayson Demers has some great thoughts on linking and social media syndication.
Part of building an online presence is building authority. We do it every day without even realizing it. When we put our bio out there, we are building credibility and asking people to see us as an authority. When we write blog articles, we are establishing ourselves as an authority.
Google decided that ranking a site based on its online authority would be a value add and keep sites honest.
A backlink occurs when a site links to your site. When a site with high authority, meaning a site with a strong presence and a large amount of traffic, links to your site it raises your authority.
Google looks at the fact that this big site linked to yours and assumes you must have valuable content.
Building a backlinks campaign is time-consuming and hard work, but it’s worth it if you can build backlinks over time. Many people do this by finding sites that are related to their own and asking them to link to their content.
Others wait for backlinks to happen organically as they are discovered. Either way, this is a major contributor to Google rankings.
Google also tries to understand your site and what it is you are providing.
When you link pages to each other, it helps Google to index your site, understand the layout and make better recommendations (higher search results) when someone searches on your topic.
Interlinks still take thought and time, but are not nearly as consuming as backlinks. If you are writing about nutrition and you have three related articles as well as an online course, interlink these resources.
Have all the articles point to the course and make sure each article has one to two links leading to one of the other articles. As long as the links fit within the content naturally and are not forced, Google will see that these pages are related and will rank them more closely.
With all this linking going on, it makes sense to include links to the outside world. It was once a best practice that you never link to someone else’s site because you want people to stay on your own site for as long as possible.
Then it rubber banded the other direction and people were adding links to external sites in every paragraph.
Now it helps to add 2-3 links to outside sites that have very high authority. It helps Google to understand your overall topic because these external links are assumed to be related resources you are directing your readers to.
It also boosts your own authority, just a little, because you are helping Google to understand what you are all about when you link to similar material.
There are many best practices that can help your cause, but social media is a tool that can help your online brand presence as well as your SEO ranking.
Here are a few Social Media For Google Ranking Best Practices:
- Practice influencer marketing. Find people in your industry to share your content. That will lead to more people seeing your content and linking to it as well as more traffic, both of which boost your ranking.
- Add links to your YouTube videos directly to your website or blog:
This is a powerful link building secret that most people don’t know. Why?
Because YouTube is owned by Google and it has very high site authority ranking. When you add a link to your content in your video description you’re actually creating a high authority backlink to your website. And you can do this every time you post a new, high-value video to your YouTube channel.
- Use Google+ as part of your social media plan. Many people don’t realize it, but because Google is the primary search engine people are concerned with and because they own Google + as well, you actually get SEO points for using their preferred social network.
- Return traffic gives you a boost so aim for evergreen material. People talk about recycling old content as a way to keep up with social content demand, but if it drives traffic to your site, you’re continuing the SEO circle.
Focus on creating evergreen content on your site – content that can be used regardless of time of year and several months/years down the road.
Example of great evergreen content might include a high-value tips and tricks blog post on how to engage business owners and industry thought leaders on Facebook Live or the most powerful Twitter engagement tips.
SEO is complex. It’s hard work, And it takes ongoing diligence. It’s is an industry with professionals who have built their entire career around providing their SEO expertise. But now that you have this guide you are prepared to lead the way with the best of them using these best practices and tips.
Super Bonus Tip: Implementing and maintaining the hundreds of SEO factors you need for your website or blog can take several hours a week not to mention the weeks and months you’ll need to spend learning about them. For many, it’s a full-time job.
Check out this amazingly affordable Full SEO service that does all that work for you. This will free up more of your time to focus on continuously developing and delivering your online coaching or fitness services: Rank Dominator
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