Derek from infinite-mma.com asks:
Hey John how are you. I’m looking for some SEO tips. I’ve come to realize it’s the biggest hole in my game. I need help. I have no idea why I don’t rank higher on google. I make blogs and posts. Insta and fb. But I’m not sure what else to do.
My quick response is the site doesn’t need much work as I would have pointed out horrible problems if they existed but they don’t here. The simple answer is this site needs links and the good news is that a few hours invested will give the site a base of links. There might be additional work on a weekly or monthly basis but we are talking about maybe 1-2 hours a month and nothing more.
Here is a short video breaking down his local SEO issues on what he needs to do to start ranking:
About Infinite MMA
Infinite MMA is a muay thai and boxing gym located in Belleville, Ontario, Canada and they do strength and conditioning. Belleville is a small town east of Toronto with a population of 50,000 and surprisingly they have a lot of MMA schools here. Their school is only a few months old and they wanna know wtf is up with their lack of Google traffic.
Video Analysis: Website Coaching & Critique
This 10 minute video gives a basic overview of what these guys have to do to rank and luckily this isn’t a major challenge but after the video I will write more on some strategies for gaining more traffic and not having to be fully reliant on the big G.
Keyword Research and on-page SEO
The website has good content but I find the page titles need a little bit of tweaking.
Current page title (71 characters): Infinite Martial Arts & Fitness – Smart Training – Superior Results
Suggested page title (66 characters): Muay Thai, Boxing & Strength Training in Belleville – Infinite MMA
Overall you’ll want to keep your page titles around 60 characters or less. I tried to keep it short but I prioritized the keywords for the homepage. I took out the keywords of fitness, smart, training, superior, results as this might be a good slogan for people to reach, it just won’t be what they’ll be searching for and it is more important to rank for things like ‘boxing in Belleville’, ‘muay thai Belleville’, ‘MMA Belleville’.
Otherwise the website is good, has content, good selling points. I’d maybe consider finding a way to get your phone number as a clickable element especially for mobile users and build this into the menu as well. Since the site is using WordPress, you should be able to make this a direct link.
Off-Page SEO: You Need Links!!!
As you can see from the screenshot of Ahrefs.com report, we can see this site virtually has no links at all and that is no fun. Links should represent signals for search engines for rankings but also can be a source of traffic. Imagine if you did an interview with any local news website like the intelligencer.ca. That interview is going to bring in a steady stream of traffic and probably do this for years. Bigger established sites are considered as authority sites and they will always rank for anything they write about.
Try to ensure you get some anchor text links. Anchor text would look something like this as html code:
<a href=”https://infinite-mma.com”>Muay Thai Belleville</a>
So anyway you are able to get a few of these should help. Just don’t go overboard with this where if you get too many links, you could be at risk of some type of Google penalty.
There are many types of local directories you can get free listings in. You can always discover more by doing searches and just checking page after page in Google search results pages. Here are a few I found quickly:
Think Outside The Box
Cliche as it may be but this is where you can get creative. If you are out of ideas then look at what your competitors do or look at what other schools do in other towns in the same province like Peterborough or Kingston for example. Not everyone is just going to search directly for things like ‘MMA Belleville’ so you’ll want to try to be seen by as many people in your area so they know that you exist and maybe you might be able to score some new customers that otherwise had no intentions of doing martial arts in the first place.
Ask Your Customers for Help
You can ask your customers for ratings on various review sites whether it is Google, Facebook, Yelp or anything else but take it a step further. Ask them to share their pics and videos of them training on their social media accounts. Their friends might not see a 5 star rating done on Google but they will notice their social media pics showing up in their feed and thus increasing your outreach. You don’t get what you don’t ask for and most will be more than happy to do for you.
Host UFC Viewing Parties
You could host these at your gym or see about hosting the event at a local bar. You’ll possibly get a chance to connect with more people and it is another means of making a blog post like ‘where to watch UFC 248 in Belleville’. This type of post you can share on social media and other events focused sites whether Facebook, Kijiji or Eventbrite.
Create Your Own Directory
I’d call this strategy a little bit controversial because it is subject to be abused but you could create a website that is dedicated for Belleville and/or surrounding areas of all the fitness related companies around. You decide if this is just for MMA gyms, regular gyms or any type of health care professional related to fitness. The controversial aspect of this is you can be self-serving and over promote yourself or exclude competitors but I would advice against doing this where you would encourage your competitors to work against you rather than with you. Setting this up right, you would be networking with more people and building a better sense of community with everyone. A great example of this done right is this website houseboatcapital.com which is a collaboration between 3 houseboat rental companies in the Kawarthas. Of course all 3 are competitors but they collaborated and everyone gets equal promotion on this website to draw more attention to the area.
Research Competitors in other Cities
Obviously an MMA gym in another city isn’t really a competitor but the point is when you do research on another town, you might learn or another local directory you didn’t know that existed that might come in handy.
A quick example searching for ‘muay thai kingston’ shows us that Reddit and dojos.ca are 2 high ranking pages. dojos.ca is yet another free directory and Reddit of course can be a source of traffic as Belleville has a subreddit.
Word of caution on relying on Google
The reality is that the amount of monthly searches for all the target keywords are not going to be significant. Taking a look at Google keyword planner:
Simply put, the volume of keywords available is low. That said you’ll want to rank for all of these keywords but once this is achieved is when I think other marketing strategies could have a more profound impact. Most businesses I chat with in Belleville and in Prince Edward County often site social media, especially Instagram, as their main source of traffic and leads.
Personally I think you could get more conversions and traffic through Instagram over Google. Google is great for that direct search but I hear over and over again in Prince Edward county that Instagram is very influential in getting more visitors.
YouTube and SEO
YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine and if you look at other towns for similar keywords, YouTube videos often show up in the first page of the search results. For every keyword that you want to target, make a unique short video for it and be extremely mindful of the titles of the videos you give them. Some examples:
Poor video title: Muay Thai Training
Better video title: Muay Thai Training & MMA Gym Belleville, Ontario
Descriptions: Many people forget to include descriptions in their videos and the more keywords you have in these descriptions, the better this video has a chance of ranking. If you have dedicated pages for your categories then you can include a link in the description to that page. If you put your link in the first sentence of the description then it can appear before the “show more” button where most users won’t click on that button to actually read the video description. Be sure to include https:// before you type out the URL otherwise it won’t appear as a clickable link.
Summary and take-away points
As mentioned, it should take a few hours of work and research to find more link sources. This can go quickly and be done while watching TV. There are other types of posts and links that could be a recurring thing that take some time but as long as you can create stuff and keep sharing it, it should all pay off. At the end of the day, rankings should appear and most importantly is you’ll want to check Google Analytics to spot which efforts are giving you the best return on investment. So for example if Eventbrite is not driving any clicks to your site, then don’t keep posting with them.