The goal of Local SEO is simple: increase awareness of a business to drive more revenue. That’s it. Any other article that says otherwise is trying too hard to complicate matters. This blog post will provide a specific tactic that gyms can implement to increase local visibility, foot traffic, and most importantly, gym memberships.
How to Improve Visibility on Google as a Gym or Fitness Brand
This may seem counterintuitive, but to increase online awareness for a gym on Google, owners should double down on offline marketing strategies. The same old-school tactics that businesses used before digital marketing. Get involved in the community and make meaningful relationships with local businesses and residents. Roll up your sleeves, turn off the computer, and go get involved in your local community.
Why Should I Get Involved In the Community? I Thought We Were Talking About Digital Marketing…?
I’m a believer in giving back to the community and helping people. However, I understand it’s hard to quantify the ROI of being nice and lending a helping hand. The good news is that we’re not trying to report on the brightness of your smile. Instead, we’re reporting on the quality of links that point back to your site as a result of your involvement in the community.
Links are a bonus. A very important cherry on top that sends positive signals to search engines that your business is trustworthy. Trust is everything. Think of your own personal shopping habits. I’d wager most of your purchases are influenced by word-of-mouth or reviews. Links are like reviews, but instead of helping consumers, they help Google. The more often sites link to your business, the better your chances are for ranking on Google when a prospective customer searches something like “gyms near me.”
Tactical Strategy to Earn Local Links for Your Gym
To rank well organically in a competitive local landscape, gyms must earn links. And one of the easiest ways to earn links is to become a sponsor for a local event in your community.
Here’s how to identify local opportunities in your area:
- In your Google search bar, type intitle:sponsors “(insert your city here)” and hit enter.
- Google will return a list of organic results that use the word “sponsors” in the Title. Now you have a refined list of potential opportunities for your gym to sponsor in your city.
- Append &num=100 to the end of the URL that Google now shows and then use the MozBar Chrome extension to export all 100 results into a csv file.
For more opportunities, repeat those three steps using intitle keywords like “events” or “festivals” – they typically accept sponsors, too.
Ideally, you want to identify events and links that are relevant to your business, but that doesn’t mean they have to be directly related to gyms or fitness. Again, links build trust. So, if local businesses link to your site, Google views this positively, even if they operate in a completely different vertical.
For gyms, the opportunities are nearly endless. Look for local little league associations, sports organizations, 5Ks, half marathons, yoga in the park, golf fundraisers, food festivals, and beer festivals (well maybe light beer festivals).
Ranking Local Businesses in Google’s Local Pack and Maps Is Difficult
All that to say, there’s no guarantee that earning a local link will spring your gym to the top of Google Maps… Consider the image below of Minneapolis’ west metro:
Scattered across the map you can see more than 20 local gyms competing for Google’s approval. Not to mention, Google’s growing propensity to monetize more and more of the result pages, maps included, makes this even more challenging. (That’s a topic for another blog post…)
But just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Pull-ups are difficult for someone inexperienced with working out, but over time they become easy—and worth it. Local SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Consistent effort pays in the long run. Get involved in your community and make meaningful relationships and the links will follow.
One last piece of advice: many of the businesses you approach won’t know what SEO is, or even what digital marketing is. So be careful about how you go about asking for a link; don’t mention links or SEO right off the bat. At some point, however, you’ll want to make sure that the sponsor page contains a link back to your site.