Most martial arts school owners are (at least vaguely) familiar with SEO, or search engine optimization; the point of which is to get your school’s website higher in Google’s Rankings. Within the broader concept of SEO you have various sub-disciplines for lack of a better term. One of the most important for martial arts schools is something called “Local SEO”. Local SEO is important because it focuses on improving your rankings for your specific location within a geographic region.
So instead of going after rankings on popular keywords like “Best BJJ School”, Local SEO focuses more on specific keywords like “Best BJJ School in Denver”. Or Austin, or Portland…
Zen Planner works mostly with small/medium sized martial arts schools with one or a few locations, which makes local SEO super important for these businesses. Just a shameless plug, our Zen Planner website packages come with SEM services with an emphasis on Local SEO, so if you want to take your website to the next level, get in touch with our Websites Team.
As Google’s search algorithms get more advanced, the way it determines local vs general SEO results gets more and more differentiated, with heavier importance given to different ranking signals. In this blog we’re going to talk about one of the most important ranking factors, your Google My Business listing.
Google My Business
We’re not going to bury the lede here. The most important consideration for Local SEO (on Google’s search engine where the majority of searches occur) is your Google My Business listing. Your Google My Business Listing is going to improve your chances of showing up in the local pack, local finder, Google maps, organic rankings, pretty much everywhere you want to show up on the web.
Claiming Your Listing
The first thing you need to do, if you haven’t done so already, is to claim your Google My Business listing. It’s free and all you have to do is follow the steps outlined below:
- Log into the Google account associated with your business, or create one if you don’t have one set up already.
- Go to google.com/business and choose “Start now”
- Enter Your business name
- Step 4: Enter your business address
- Step 5: Choose your business category
- Step 6: Add your business phone number or website
- Step 7: Choose a verification option (postcard, phone, email, instant verification)
Once you’ve claimed your listing, you’re ready to optimize!
Complete ALL of your Information
It’s important to be sure that you complete all of your information. All of it, as accurately and completely as possible. Primarily because you want to provide as much information to potential and current students as possible. But also, because Google allows other people to fill in information if you don’t do it yourself.
- Update Every Detail
- Be Consistent, Very Consistent
- List Multiple Locations Separately
- Use a Local Phone Number
Add Photos and Videos
You’re going to want to add photos and videos to your listings. This helps make a good first impression for potential new students and can show your school in a good light. Getting professional photos isn’t necessary, but it’s highly encouraged, and that little investment upfront can pay dividends down the road. Also, when naming your pictures, it helps to include one of your local SEO keywords to add another ranking signal.
- This is your first impression to many prospects
- Use images and videos that will appeal to your market
- Splurge on professional photos if possible
- Don’t forget image tags and names
Pick the Right Category
Make sure you choose the most accurate category. Google has roughly 2500 different business categories and that list is growing all the time.
- Choose the most accurate category for your business
Write a Great Business Description
Within the last few months, Google My Business began allowing owners to add a business description. The business description is just a brief, 750-character max description of your business. What you offer, what sets you apart, your school’s history, things like that. Google will flag your listing if you include things like promotions, pricing, sales, links and such, so keep it as much as possible to business details.
- 750-character max
- No promotional or sales language
- No links
- Just the details and what sets you apart
Questions and Answers
Questions and Answers. This was a feature released late last year and has become pretty popular, with close to half of all local listings featuring at least one question. Generally, these questions are going to be posed, and potentially answered by, people outside of your business, which is why it is extremely important to monitor them.
Think of this like an extension of your FAQ. One strategy to employ would be to pose the questions you think your students will ask yourself and then to answer them yourself. This way you can provide the most accurate information to your potential students.
- Anyone can answer questions, so try to answer them yourself
- Post and Respond to what you think will be the most popular questions
- Monitor for accuracy
Google my business also allows customers and others to review your business. While you can’t hide or get rid of negative reviews, you can use this reviews section as a way to interact with your potential customers in a transparent trust building way. Some tips for review management.
- Be positive
- Keep it succinct
- Don’t cut and paste
- Respond to both positive and negative reviews
- Flag inappropriate reviews
Monitor Your Listing
Your Google My Business listing is not a ‘set it and forget it’ kind of thing. It is important to monitor your listing to keep up with questions, respond to reviewers, and keep information up to date. Google’s monitoring tools aren’t great, so it is best to schedule checking in on your listing either weekly or monthly.
So that wraps up our main considerations for optimizing your Google My Business listing. These tips apply to any martial arts school from Kenpo to Mixed Martial Arts.
Like we mentioned before, our Zen Planner Website packages all include Search Engine Marketing services with a focus on local SEO so if you want to get a demo and see how these websites can help drive new prospects and grow your business, click here.
Looking for more ways to boost your SEO, read our Free SEO Guide for Fitness Businesses.