Google is always evolving and, if you haven’t noticed, the amount of information you can obtain from a basic search is getting more and more straight to the point. If you ask Google a question, most of the time you’re going to get an answer right at the very top. The reason for this is that Google is getting more and more specific to your search query. Information, content and ads are guiding consumers more and more every day and, before we know it, the results are going to get more and more exact. Imagine if someone in your fitness club’s area searches “What is the best fitness club to join in [city],[state]? What if Google popped up your competitor up at the very top in a spotlighted box? What would you do if you knew that, what looks like preferential treatment, is going to a competing club?
At first, you’re probably going to be pissed, but after some considerate, realistic thought into why your competitor received the Google spotlight, you’re going to realize it’s because you didn’t take care of your online presence like they did and now you have to sit and look up.
Google’s fundamental purpose is to provide people with the most relevant results based on their search query. Those results are based on technical algorithms that no one ever will fully know but Google has released gobs of information about how you can optimize your website, and elements off your website, to receive better placement in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). The bottom line is that this is a game of survival of the fittest. If your website sucks and Google doesn’t feel, based on their algorithms, that you haven’t done the work to be placed at the top of their SERPs, then your clubs are going to take a back seat to your competitors online. Is this something you’re content with?
As Google evolves and gets more honed in on providing “answers” as opposed to just results listings, you’re going to have to start running costly ads to make sure you stay on top. But running ads with a a poorly optimized, outdated website (a.k.a. shitty website) that doesn’t have content and clear conversion paths is pretty much a waste of time and money.
The reason your competitor is going to show up at the top is that Google has evaluated all fitness clubs in the area whose websites are optimized for a particular keyword search. Each of those sites receives a score on their value to the consumer based on that search. The website that gives the most information and is most helpful is deemed the expert gets top SERP placement. I know, this sucks, but it comes down to the fact that your competitor is better than you for that specific search.
Focus on Being Inboundy and Google Will Give You Props
Most of your traffic is going to come from Google through search queries. Starting today, your focus should be on putting yourself in your prospects minds and developing content based on what they are going to be searching for to find your club. This is a daunting task but if you never make it a priority you will never top your competitors.
Being the authority involves taking a more “inboundy” approach to bringing more traffic to your website. Google wants to provide results to search queries that are going to be of the most helpful to the person doing the searching. A person searching “How to lose ten pounds quickly” is not necessarily looking to take advantage of your “No Enrollment” offer, so Google is not going to send them to your offer page. On the other hand, if you provide the BEST answer through a blog article or content download for that specific search, Google will put you first in line. This leads to the prospect finding your website and reading your article, which develops trust between your club and the prospect. Remember, you are competing against other clubs in your area for that search term. If you focus on helping the person, not selling the person, you win, and your competitors take a back seat to you. Sales will follow shortly after at a much more frequent rate. When you’re helpful, people talk about your club and word spreads much more quickly than jamming a “Buy it Now” offer down their throat.
Being inboundy means that you take a more helpful approach to being found as opposed to an outboundy, hard-selling approach. Yes, you need members now and taking the time to be more helpful is not conducive to getting more end-of-the-month memberships. But if you JUST DO IT, you’ll create a much larger referral base, your sales teams will get much busier, conversations will kick up on social media, and you’ll find your club in front of your competitors on Google’s SERPs.
Start focusing on being an inboundy fitness club today so you don’t get smacked by your competitors tomorrow.