SEO! What is it and do you need it?

So, what is SEO? Do you know what SEO stands for? Is it something you need to worry about? How can you tell if you have it? Is it a test you need to take? Is it a job position in a major company? What the freaking heck is SEO?

Let’s start with the basics: SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

Still with me?

Google, Yahoo, and Bing are called Search Engines. Even social media channels allow users to search within the channel. Each Search Engine has “bots” I like to think of them as virtual spiders. These spiders crawl the web and every website to find out what is out there. They read the site and then use algorithms to rank the sites based on what the spiders found. The algorithms are constantly updated so there is no way you or anyone you hire can know exactly how they work. When a user jumps on Google and searches for something, the Search Engine uses those algorithms to show the most optimal results (that is the O part of SEO).

So, do you need SEO? Well, whether you need it, want it, or don’t care about it, if you have a website these spiders have been to your site already and have determined what your optimization is. They use the current algorithm and base your standings on many, many factors. If you want people to find your website, then yes, you do want to be set up for optimal searching. But this is where you get to relax and take a few deep breaths. You don’t need to be found by every single person searching for Pilates. If you live in San Francisco, California, and someone is searching for Pilates in Kansas City, your site probably will not come up. Nor do you want or need it too. But, if someone is in San Francisco and searches Pilates in San Francisco and you do not come up in the top results that is something to think about.

Are you still with me? I know SEO gets into the part of the world wide web (WWW) that can make one put fingers in their ears, close their eyes and sing “La la la la la”. But I promise you as a Pilates instructor and studio owner that you do have control over some things that will make your SEO rock your business. These things do not require WWW knowledge. Set up what you can, and the rest is up to the spiders.

Before you avoid this area altogether or worse, hire someone to make your SEO better, answers these questions:

  • Who are you targeting? What is your ideal client? Whom do you want to find you?
  • What do you offer? What is the experience clients will have at your studio? What can clients expect when they take sessions at your studio?
  • Why should clients come to your studio? Why you?
  • How do clients connect with you? Schedule a session?

When you have those answers clearly articulated, then take a look at your website. Is it in line with your responses? I cannot tell you how many instructors and studio websites I look at that talk all about Pilates but not the instructors, the studio experience, or what to expect. Worse, there is no easy way for a client to schedule a session. Worse than that the site is either old and/or it is not mobile-friendly. If your site is not mobile-friendly, the spiders are not placing you at the top of someone’s search results. You might be the best instructor in the whole state, but if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it is not optimized for the Search Engine spiders.

Can you hurt your SEO? Well, technically you cannot hurt it. Unless you pay someone to help you and they are doing “bad” practices to get your site up in the rankings. More than likely you will just be doing things that don’t help your SEO.

How can you help your SEO? Make sure that Who you are, What you offer, and Whom you are offering service for is super clear. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Guest blog for online businesses that are in line with yours (“In line with yours” is the most important part of that suggestion). Be consistent with where you are showing up. Blogging on your site consistently and in line with your message is excellent for helping your SEO. Every time your blog goes up, it updates your site. However, if you write a blog, and then six months later you write another, and then three months later you write another this doesn’t help your SEO. It tells people who come to your site that you may or may not still be doing what you are doing. There is a saying “consistency breeds legitimacy.” Agree with it or not you don’t want to start something you cannot keep up.

SEO and Social Media

Along the lines of consistent posting is social media. Any channels you enjoy using you should use. If you don’t, you dread looking at it, you don’t have the time to engage or post consistently, don’t use it. People can search within a social media platform like they use Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Social media channels allow you to engage with your audience in a way that your website cannot. But, remember you do not need to be found by or talk to everyone. You just need the right people to find you. I recommend snagging your handles for the top platforms in case you ever want to use them. For the ones you are using, have your web designer link your social channels to your website. Be sure all your social channels refer to your website. Everything you put out in these channels should bring everyone back to your website.

I had a few questions on what measurements to pay attention to, how I decide what is working, and what is not working. Do I base it on metrics, time, return on investment (ROI)? These are all great questions that have more to do with analytics than with SEO. While the two go hand in hand, I have barely touched the surface of SEO, and I think we all have enough to work with as it is. I promise to go over metrics in future blogs. Keep in mind what your audience and goals are when it comes to metrics and SEO. Your metrics might say that 5,000 people visit your website. That number might sound incredible to you. 5,000 people are visiting you. But what if you had 5000 visitors and only five calls about setting up a session? Someone else might have metrics of 100 visitors and 30 requests. Remember, you are not trying to connect to every potential Pilates client. You are trying to reach your ideal Pilates client.

If you are wondering if you have all the tools in place for SEO, you can contact my favorite web designers from my recent blog on websites. We can also discuss what your messages say about you and make sure they are in line with your goals. Do not run away from SEO. They are not real spiders. They are not guards of the kingdom of clients either. Think of them as guides. Search Engines want to give users the best experience they can. They want to give the searchers exactly what they are looking for. They desperately want your site to be it. Make their job easier by giving them the information they need to send the right people your way.

There is infinitely more to say about SEO. Let me know what your questions are in the comments below. Let’s keep this conversation going.

xx~LL

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Lesley Logan

Pilates Instructor & Business Coach at Profitable Pilates
LL, the founder of Profitable Pilates, offers one-on-one business coaching, skype sessions, weekly classes and online Pilates business workshops – all designed to help you do more of what you love: teach Pilates! Tune in each week for a new Pilates business blog post, or get emails from her here.
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