Before you start, make you’ve read our Foundational Guide to Martial Arts Marketing which covers the all the essential marketing strategies and the different ad platforms you need to be aware of.
Martial Arts Marketing: Why Even Do SEO?
In a way, SEO is kind of the holy grail of marketing. Many a brave marketer has ventured into the dark words of SEO, only to get lost and be completely slaughtered. The top of Google is a highly coveted location.
Dreams of riches, endless traffic and passive income float delightfully through our heads. In truth, Google is a goldmine of potential traffic, leads and future clients. And better still, it’s all ‘free’.
I say free in quotes because nothing in life comes free. And while Google traffic for being in the #1 spot comes free (you don’t have to pay for each click, unlike Google Ads), you do of course have to pay for it with your blood, sweat and tears.
Everyone wants to be at the top of Google, and they likely aren’t going to give it up without much of a fight. So the question is why even do SEO to promote your Martial Arts Gym anyway?
We’ll dive deeper into the strategy in a bit, but we see SEO has fitting into a larger marketing gameplan. Facebook Ads and Google Ads are there to get you up and running quickly, and SEO provides the long tail on your Marketing Strategy.
SEO is a long game. Please remember that. Many a business owner or Martial Arts Gym owner has gotten excited by the prospect of free riches from an endless stream of free Google Traffic, only to get frustrated and ultimately give up based on the insane amount of work required to accomplish it.
I’ll leave you with one last thought before we get into it: We see SEO as similar to buying a real estate investment. Yes it takes a hell of a lot of work, resources and money to make it happen, but once you’ve staked your claim, you then own that piece of real estate, and as time goes on, it appreciates in value, and you might even see some rental income coming in.
That is the power of strong SEO, that is the power of staking your claim on Google. Let’s get digging and find that gold.
What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Anyway?
This is a great question that I can already see you asking – what the heck is Search Engine Optimization anyway? In a nutshell, SEO is just about getting your website to rank higher in Google. That’s about it.
But I’m sure you’ve already guessed that it’s actually much (much!) more complicated than that. Or rather, it can be. I’m a big believer in KISS (keep it simple stupid). So let me put this in simpler terms:
SEO is simply a process of writing content on your website that both Google Search Engines, and real humans actually enjoy reading. This is predominantly in the form of writing a blog, however all pages on your site contribute to your Martial Arts SEO rankings.
In general, you want to be writing content relevant for your niche, and we’ll be getting into keyword research in a bit.
This video by Brian Dean at Backlinko, breaks down SEO for beginners, and lays out a framework for ranking #1 in Google:
And this video by ahrefs gives an even further break down into what exactly SEO is and how to optimize your work for ranking higher on Google:
The Best SEO Advice That No One Will Tell You
There are a lot of ‘SEO gurus’ out there who tell you all sorts of crazy stuff. It might be real, or it might be snakeoil, and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
There is an entire SEO rabbit hole you can tumble down, but if you’re a busy business owner running your Martial Arts Gym, then likely you won’t have the time (or the interest, let’s be honest) in getting into all the nitty gritty of SEO.
Then my best advice to you is just write. Ignore all of the other advice on SEO, and just focus on producing (at minimum) 3 blogs per week, that are at least 1500 words, and sharing to your social media followers and newsletter subscribers. That’s it.
If you don’t yet have a following, no sweat, just focus on writing the content, and in 6-12 months if you’ve been working at it, you should start to have a following to share your posts with.
Remember, keep it simple, when you’re not sure what to do, just write.
But for those who do want to tumble down the SEO Rabbit Hole, let’s dive in…
Martial Arts SEO Strategy
As I mentioned above, the basic SEO strategy is to write (at minimum) 3 blog posts per week, that are at least 1500 words each, and to share to your social media.
We can think of the full strategy as having 5 Pillars of SEO Creation:
- Create Content
- Optimize Content For Keywords
- Optimize Your Site For Performance
- Share Content
- Track Conversions
Again that is the slightly simplified version, and we’re going to dive deeper into all the nitty gritty stuff (SEO Nerd Alert!).
This video by Brian Dean of Backlinko breaks down the 8-Step SEO Strategy For Higher Rankings In Google:
And this video by MOZ outlines all the fundamentals about SEO you need to learn (in less than an hour!):
Managing Expectations Around SEO
Now before I go any further – this is an extremely important point about SEO – managing SEO expectations.
The wonderful thing about platforms like Google Ads or Facebook Ads, is that literally within a few hours you can be at the top of page and driving insane amounts of traffic to your site. Literally within 24 hours. When you pay to play, Google is more than happy to take your money and give you traffic.
When you play the SEO game, the ‘cost’ of free traffic is time. It takes time (a lot of time) to start seeing significant rankings and the resulting free organic traffic coming from Google. I don’t say this to discourage you, but rather to steel you against the reality of what you’re up against.
You don’t slay a dragon with one swing, it takes a journey to even find the dragon in the first place. As long as you go into SEO with the expectation that you’ll likely put 6-12 months of work into you before you see tangible results, then you’ll be prepared for the inevitable setbacks and frustrations that come your way (and as someone who works professionally in the industry, trust me, there will be many).
Now I will qualify everything I just said against the fact that competition matters. If you live in a big town like Toronto or New York, your competition is going to be through the roof, and trying to rank will feel near impossible.
If by contrast you’re in a small town (say, less than 100,000), your immediate competition may be next to none. In fact if you’re in a real small town, you might be about the only game in town, and ranking on Google for your [Primary Keyword] + [City] will be much (much!) easier.
SEO is not a one-size fits all, if you find a pocket of low competition, you can actually rank surprisingly quickly.
This video by MOZ outlines the best strategies for Surviving the SEO Slog:
And this video by Honest Careers breaks down the expectations vs realities of SEO:
White Hat SEO
There’s another technical detail we need to cover here. The difference between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO – and what the heck do those even mean anyway?
Google has put out its Webmaster Guidelines, which outlines all its best practices around SEO. Or more specifically, it outlines all the things not to do, that could get you into trouble.
Anything that is considered ‘good’ or ‘acceptable’ by Google, falls under White Hat SEO. These essentially refer to writing good content, setting up your page for performance and optimizing your on-page SEO. Essentially, all the basic stuff.
This video by Brian Dean at Backlinko, outlines the best White Hat SEO techniques to use when creating your blog:
Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO by contrast refers to all the bad things or ‘Black Hat’ methods that SEO’s use to artificially inflate their site rankings. These could refer buying backlinks, participate in link schemes, scraping content, directly copying content from other websites, and a whole plethora of other ‘bad activities’ that Google has flagged.
Now to keep everything above board, this comprehensive Martial Arts SEO guide you’re reading, will focus on White Hat SEO techniques to keep your website in Google’s good books.
Black Hat SEO techniques can be used to rank your site faster, however every few months Google’s Algorithm goes through some pretty substantial updates, and if they catch you doing some naughty stuff, they could immediately demote your site. Not good, especially when we’re in this for the long haul.
This video by Neil Patel breaks down 3 Black Hat SEO techniques that will ultimately lead to your site getting banned:
Setting Up Google Search Console
Google Search What?
Exactly, the Google Search Console (GSC), is a free tool provided by Google to help you on your SEO journey. Think of this as your SEO HQ – the SEO Headquarters. The GSC allows you to communicate to Google and submit your sites and your pages for indexing, see your organic site performance as well as crawl your site for errors that could possibly be harming your performance.
I know sometimes it feels like we’re fighting against Google, trying to get our sites ranking highly, but Google is actually on our side – they are our allies in this.
Think about it from Google’s point of view: Google’s job is to provide the best possible experience to its users, and by helping their content creators make better and more informed decisions about how their site is build and functioning (ie fixing errors), the better the users experience will be.
Google wants you to have a great site, the the Google Search Console will be one of your main tools in making it happen.
This video by the Surfside PPC breaks down exactly how to get your Google Search Console setup and running:
Understanding The Dashboard
Let’s take a quick tour of the Google Search Console. From the dashboard we can see the sites performance. This breaks down the impressions, clicks, click-through-rate (CTR), ranking position and ranking keywords, for up to the last 16 months.
Side note: I do recommend periodically taking screenshots of your data in here, as the GSC only maintains up to 16 months of data. I know when you’re starting out that 16 months feels like forever, but trust me in 2 or 3 years from now, you’ll wish you could look back and see how far you’ve come. I recommend grabbing a screenshot at least monthly.
The primary performance dashboard shows you all of your key stats. Let’s break down the big ones: clicks and impressions.
Clicks is pretty self-explanatory – this is the number of people who clicked on your site from Google (remember, the stats we’re seeing are specifically analytics from the Google Search Results Page (also known as the SERPs)).
But what are impressions? Well, you know how every time you do a Google Search that there are like 10 pages of Google Results that you never actually look at? Right, all of those listings technical got an ‘impression’. An Impression simply means that they showed up when someone searchd (even if they were buried on page 10).
So before you roll your eyes, yes understanding impressions is still important. Think about it this way: impressions are a good indicator of future successes. Think of it like the canary in the coalmine (but in a good way) – it tells you that your site is starting to rank for certain keywords.
As you see that you start to rank for certain keywords, a) it boosts your enthusiasm as you’re starting to actually see some tangible results, b) it shows what Google is actually ranking you for, and this can help give you more focus when producing future content.
I’ll just say it, even as someone who works in SEO professionally, sometimes it still feels like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. After after writing a few blog posts, and starting to see those keywords starting to show up in your Google Search Console, is a nice little reinforcement that you’re on the right path.
Crawling For Errors
Crawling your site for errors. This is one of the nice bonuses that Google includes – they automatically crawl your site for any errors. These errors could be slowing down your site or causing a bad user experience.
Most errors that occur, aren’t even big things that we would be aware of by simply looking at our site, but they are subtle things on the backend that could be causing problems.
If you’re not a website pro, don’t worry, pass these errors to your developer and they should be able to handle them for you.
But for they DIYers this video by Piotr Olesson takes you through exactly how to fix and resolve all your site crawl errors:
Yep, I told you this would be a Nerd SEO Rabbit Hole. The XML Sitemap is basically like a map that tells Google exactly where everything on your site is.
Essentially the XML Sitemap crawls your entire site, and gets a sense of how exactly it is laid out. What pages you have, what blogs you’ve posted, your ‘about us’ page and your ‘contact us’ page.
The Sitemap then creates a map and shows Google where to find everything, which makes Google much more efficient at crawling your site.
This helps Google to avoid missing key pieces of content on your site, and ensuring that your site is always properly indexed.
Yoast (which we’ll cover further below), automatically creates your XML Sitemap, and you just need to import into Google Search Console.
This video by Yoast explains exactly how to get and set up your XML Sitemap:
Submitting Your Pages For Indexing
This is just a last simple step, where you submit your new pages, blogs etc to Google for indexing. Technically this step is not necessary as Google will regularly be crawling your site and should find all your pages anyway (especially if you setup the XML sitemap as mentioned above).
However it does give me peace of mind knowing that that blog post I just spent 7 hours writing, will officially get picked up by Google (and fast). Google will usually crawl your pages within 4-7 days. You can check which pages have already been picked up under the ‘Coverage’ report.
This video by Neil Patel gives 3 easy steps to get your site submitted and indexed by Google:
Martial Arts SEO Keyword Research
SEO Keyword Research is arguably one of the most important parts of SEO. Or at least that is what many SEO gurus push. Now I’m not trying to say that it’s not important, I’m just saying that in my opinion just starting and writing content is more important that fussing over the specific words.
In fact, below, I’ll give you a list of starter keywords that you can use to get started (then just get writing).
This video by ahrefs details how to get started with your research step-by-step:
Your Basic Martial Arts SEO Starter Keywords
Yes I do recommend doing your own keyword research (keyword research tools are listed below), however, more importantly I believe you should just get writing. So with that said, I wanted to offer you some starter SEO keywords to use (adapt as necessary to your particular type of Martial Arts – I’ll be using Karate as an example):
- Karate In [Your City]
- Karate Classes In [Your City]
- Karate Classes In [Your Neighbourhood]
- Karate Classes Free Trial
- Karate Classes
- Karate Studio
- Karate Gym
- Karate Dojo
- Karate Classes For Kids
- Karate Classes For Teens
- Karate Classes For Adults
- Karate Classes For Women
- Karate Competitions
- Introduction To Karate
- White Belt Karate Classes
- How To Get Your Blackbelt
- Beginner Karate Classes
Bam! There’s about 20 keywords to get you started. I recommend keeping it as contextual as possible, so including your City and your Neighbourhood is always a big plus. Use these and just get writing.
How Do You Use Keywords?
This is a great question – okay, you’ve got your Keyword List, now what? Now start including those keywords in your writing. Include them in your headlines (hint: use H1 and H2 tags – more on that in a bit), include them in your body copy, include them in your title tag and your meta tag – essentially use them everywhere that you can, without making it look like you’re overdoing it and keyword stuff.
Now, for those of you who are more serious, let’s get into some keyword research tools.
Free SEO Tools
We are huge fans of bootstrapping it (gotta do what you gotta do). There are plenty of free keyword tools that are more than enough to get you started and help you brainstorm some new ideas:
Ubersuggest: Provided by Neil Patel himself, Ubersuggest let’s you start with a seed word (ie ‘karate classes’), and offers thoughts and recommendations in terms of additional keywords you could go after.
Google Keyword Planner: This is a free tool, however it does require you to have an active Google Ads campaign – but that could literally be running at a penny a day, and you pause it as soon as you finish your research. To take this tool even further, input your competitors domains and see what keywords they’re ranking for – then start going after them.
Answer The Public: This is a fun/creepy site – where this dude kinda just watches you. But aesthetics aside, this is a great brainstorming tool. Enter a seed keyword and it will provide you with all sorts of variations and questions that you’ve probably never thought of before.
Google Search Console: this is for more advanced users that already have a fair amount of data in their accounts. But your own Google data can provide a whole wealth of knowledge in terms of the keywords you’re already ranking for (if you’ve been writing content for 6+ months, you’ll probably be pretty shocked and impressed at some of the strange keywords you’re already ranking for – Google is pretty cool that way).
Paid SEO Tools
No we’re bringing out the big guns. These are for the people who are serious about their SEO. Or more importantly, knowing about these tools may help you have more informed discussions with the SEO team you work with:
KW Finder: This is the cheapest of the 3 at about $50/mo. It is also the most lightweight – this is purely a keyword research tool (the others, esp SEMrush are quite bloated in terms of all the features they offer). KW Finder is great if you just want a cheap, simple, keyword research tool, that not only gives you recommended suggested keywords, but also shows you the keyword difficulty, and your top competition. Overall, love this tool.
Ahrefs (pronounced ‘h-refs’): ahrefs is pretty cool in terms of all that it offers. The keyword research tool and recommended keywords is quite extensive in what it offers. Ahrefs is also the best I’ve see so far in terms of being able to find low competition keyword ideas (hey when you’re just starting out, you gotta go for that low-hanging fruit).
SEMrush (pronounced ‘S-E-M-rush’): I have a love/hate relationship with SEMrush. It has some pretty good features, but I also find it to be bloated. There are SO many tools in this software. Which on one hand is a good thing, but on the other hand, sometimes I find it overly complicated to use. And anything that is overly complicated, isn’t helpful.
Martial Arts SEO Blog Writing
Blog writing time! When it really comes down to it, SEO is primarily about writing blog content (I sure hope you like writing). SEO is all about producing high volumes of content that search engines can use to judge the content quality, and worthiness of your site to rank.
When many people think of SEO, they think of ‘trying to get on Google to get free traffic’, but not so much. Google doesn’t exist to give you free traffic, Google exists to make its users happy. It’s better to think of yourself as a publishing partner.
By taking this mindset, a) you depersonalize it when you don’t immediately rank, and b) you understand better why it takes time. Any partnership takes time to establish trust, credibility and authority. Google needs to learn to trust that your website is the best possible thing it could show its users. Simple as that.
You are now officially a Google Media Partner, and it’s your job to regularly produce content that Google’s users will love.
So…what the hell do you write about anyway? This is probably the #1 stumbling point of all business owners and Martial Arts Gym owners – what do you even write about?
Start with what you know. You know karate, you know mma, you know BJJ, you know Judo – start with that. Maybe start a “beginner series to [insert your martial art]”. It could be say a 10 part series that shows beginners what that beginners journey looks like. Help them visualize what it would be like being in the gym with you.
Talk about your City, talk about your local neighbourhood, and local events. Talk about promotions and specials. Talk about your different classes, and who is best suited to attend which. Talk about upcoming competitions, or past competitions and how you have your students have performed.
Don’t overthink it, just start writing.
Martial Arts SEO: Content Journal
This is one of my secret hacks to content writing, and specifically with coming up with all my creative ideas: I started a content journal.
Personally I use a spreadsheet, but use whatever works for you, it could be a note on your phone, or even audio recordings, a to do list, or whatever. The point is just have a place (that is accessible!) where you can easily write down ideas.
As you start to put yourself in the headspace of a content creator, suddenly ideas will start coming to you. Random ideas, at all hours of the day and night and probably especially when you’re either in the shower or out for a walk (that’s usually when all the best ideas come).
Have a place handy where you can write ‘em down, then on your designated writing day, just whip out your list, pick something, and go for it. Never leave your home again without having a place to write down your ideas.
Getting Over The Fear
I feel like I shouldn’t need to mention this, but I will anyway: get over the fear of publishing content. I mean you’re the type of person who happily jumps in the ring, and isn’t afraid to take a fist to the face, so why be afraid of what others think of you?
This is one of those stumbling blocks that stops so many would-be-successful entrepreneurs in getting their start: they’re too afraid to publish. Well I’ve got some great news for you – nobody is going to see it anyway.
This is one of the fun things about starting a brand new blog or site or YouTube channel or whatever – is that the beauty of being obscure, is that no one will see it anyway.
Stop being afraid, hit that publish button, then write another post, and publish again. If you forever live in fear, you’ll forever stay small.
Martial Arts SEO: Content Pillars
The last piece I want to add here is the concept around content pillars. This is about having several interrelated posts that are all interlinking with each other.
For example, as I mentioned earlier, a content pillar could be “Beginner Intro 101 To Karate Classes: How To Go From Zero To Hero”. Within that content pillar, you might have 5-10 subposts that support the primary. Something:
- Intro to punches
- Intro to kicks
- Intro to stances
- Intro to kata’s
- Intro to kumite
- Intro to meditation
- Intro to discipline
- Etc etc
See how all of these pieces fall underneath the content pillar of “intro” information, yet each article has its own unique spin?
Once you’ve created each article, we then recommend interlinking each article using internal hyperlinks, so that Google sees that each of these pieces is directly connected.
This video by ahrefs breaks down the concept of content pillars even further, and how to use to optimize your Google rankings:
Martial Arts On-Page SEO
You’re not getting bored of SEO yet are you? Good, because we still have a long way to go!
Let’s talk about On-Page SEO. Essentially On-Page SEO is one of the few components of SEO that you have full control over. Backlinks (as will talk about in a bit), are one of those mysterious things, that seem near impossible to get.
The problem with backlinks of course, is that they rely heavily on other people and other websites to start linking to you, which makes things tricky at the best of times.
So what is On-Page SEO? In a nutshell, it is all the of the elements that you can control directly on your page. The words, the titles, the descriptions, the header tags, the internal linking – all the aspects that you have 100% control over. Let’s dive into the specifics.
This video by ahrefs takes you through a step-by-step on-page SEO checklist, to fully optimize your pages:
Yoast SEO Plugin
First let’s start with the Yoast SEO Plugin. Now, I am assuming that you’re using WordPress as the CMS (Content Management System) for your website. If not, I highly recommend that you do. While Wix, and SquareSpace and Weebly all work, our tried and true CMS (especially when it comes to SEO), is WordPress.
Rant aside, go ahead and ensure that you’ve got the Yoast SEO Plugin installed.
This video by Darrell Wilson gives you the step-by-step instructions on exactly how to setup your Yoast SEO Plugin and the optimal settings to use:
And why do you need the Yoast SEO Plugin? This plugin is designed especially to help you out with your SEO efforts. Specifically it allows you to specify a primary SEO keyword that your trying to target, set your title tags, meta tags, canonical tags, set your URL slug, and most importantly it gives you a report of how strong the SEO is on your page.
Yoast uses a handy traffic light system to grade your content, with Red indicating heavy problems, Yellow being decent, and Green showing that you’re good to go.
The Yoast plugin is updated regularly, is kept kept up to date with the latest announcements in the Google Algorithm. Yoast is excellent when you’re just getting started with SEO (oh! And did we mention it’s free?).
Let’s start by specifying our Primary Keyword. This could be “beginner karate classes”.
Each post needs a Primary Keyword. Now, it’s important to note that specifying the Primary Keyword, doesn’t automatically mean you’ll rank for it. But what it does do is it tells the Yoast Plugin what to look for when it’s reviewing your post.
For example, you’ll likely want to have your primary keyword included 3-5 times in your post (depending on your post length), and Yoast helps you to know whether you’ve hit your targets or not.
Alright, diving into more of the nitty gritty here. The Title Tag, is as the name implies the title of your post. More specifically, this is the title that will show up in Google Search Results.
Some key points to keep in mind: make sure you include your primary keyword (I mean, your primary keyword should be everywhere anyway). Keep your title short and concise, but also make it appealing and not too robotic. It helps if you add an incentive to click. For example:
“Beginner Karate Classes: A Step-By-Step Guide On Going From Zero To Hero”
When you look at Search results, below the Title, you’ll see the Meta Description. This is a short description, about 140 characters that summarizes the key points of the article, and why someone should click.
Again, ensure that you’ve got your primary keyword in there at least once (twice if it doesn’t look stuffed).
H1, H2, H3 Tags
Every post has an H1 Tag, which is essentially the title. Now this is important, every post should only have ONE H1 Tag. If you have two H1 Tags, Google will get confused, and if Google is confused, that is no good.
H2 Tags are like the chapter headings, they break up each of the major headings.
H3 Tags are the chapter subheadings, to break down concepts even further.
The purpose of the Heading Tags is 1) to help Google to understand your content, and 2) to help users to better skim and scroll through your content.
Use your heading tags wisely, and again, use them to insert your Primary Keyword.
Martial Arts SEO: Internal Linking
We love internal linking. Primarily because it’s one of those things that we have complete control over. We can choose exactly which posts link to which posts, and what the anchor text says (more on anchor text in a bit).
Internal linking is simply setting up URL hyperlinks from one of your pages to another. For example, this is an internal link to our post on Martial Arts Marketing: Core Foundations. See, we did that because we felt like it, and it only took 3 seconds, unlink backlinking (more on that in a bit).
Internal Links help Google to better understand your site structure, to see how content pillars link together, and to read the anchor text, to better understand what each post is about.
One strategy with internal linking is to take Page Authority from a highly ranked page (say your homepage, which hopefully by now is starting to have a few backlinks), and transfer that page rank (or SEO ‘juice’ as they say in the biz), and transfer it over to a new page. Think of it as a tool to concentrate power between different pages, as a way to get them to rank higher.
This video by ahrefs deep dives into how you can maximize the effectiveness of your sites internal linking:
Will keep this one short and sweet. Anchor Text is simply the text that is hyperlinked. In our example above, the anchor text would be “Martial Arts Marketing: Core Foundations”.
Now some people nerd out way too hard on Anchor Text. It’s not something that we are overly concerned with, but it is still something to be aware of. Apparently if all your anchor text looks too forced (ie: it’s all heavily filled with your Primary Keywords, then Google starts getting suspicious).
But let’s not worry too much about this right now, just be aware that it exists.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
In the good old days of Google, circa 2000 to 2010, the SEO strategy du jour was keyword stuffing. People realised that Google put a lot of emphasis on the keywords used, with little regard to how much someone was actually using them.
Webmasters would build sites where they would literally repeat the word over and over and over again (even hiding the words in the background, by setting the text colour to cloak in with the themes background colour) – not cool stuff.
Google has grown up and evolved over the years and has become much smarter. Remember, Google is looking for the best possible user experience, and a page stuffed with a single keyword, is not a great experience.
So here’s the lesson: make sure that when you write, it comes across as sounding at least somewhat human, and being something that another human might actually enjoy reading. Have your primary keyword in about 3-5 times, and have similar thematic keywords in an additional 1-2 times. That is enough to teach Google what your content is about, without keyword stuffing
This video by Elegant Themes breaks down keyword stuffing, and how to spot it, and how to avoid it.
Backlinks is a whooooole big can of worms. It’s one of those Martial Arts SEO topics we could talk for days about. Some SEO’s swear by backlinks (Brian Dean of Backlinko), and other SEO’s swear that you should never bother (Miles Beckler).
As always the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. Backlinks are in fact a strong ranking signal for Google. Think about this for a second, who are your best clients, your best friends, the best people that you know in your life? Chances are good that they were someone who was referred to you by another friend right?
We like meeting people who know other people we know. That warm connection helps to lubricate the social connection. The referral is strong and powerful. And it’s the same concept with Google. When one website links to another website, that is effectively a signal saying that “we trust this other website so much, that we’re going to link to it”.
An easy example is all of the videos and websites that we’ve linked to in this article. Those are backlinks to the recipients of those links (you’re welcome). Obviously, it is very easy to give backlinks, much harder to receive backlinks. And that’s what counts, receiving backlinks (however, it is also a sign of goodwill to give backlinks, so please give generously).
Now back to the debate about whether you should focus on backlinks or not. My personal opinion is that people waste way too much time chasing backlinks. Emailing webmasters, trying to chase people down, endless back and forth, pleading for backlink, possibly paying for it, and in the end, probably not actually getting that backlink that you worked so hard for.
The problem with backlinks is they involve other people, and other people’s decisions, which you don’t have control over.
On the flip side, you do have 100% control over all the content you post on your site. And if instead of wasting your time chasing down backlink deadends, you re-invest that time back into your own content, to make it the best, most useful, most sharable content ever, then chances are good that people will actually want to read it.
And here’s the beautiful part, if people actually want to read it, then there’s the chance they just might link to you. My personal preference is content trumps backlinks, and I’m a big fan of any system where I have 100% control.
I hate working in someone else’s turf, needing someone else to do something for me. It puts a bad taste in my mouth. So my advice to you is to focus exclusively on content, and let the backlinks come to you naturally.
However with all that said, this is a comprehensive guide for a reason, and I want you to be completely and utterly informed.
This video by Neil Patel details exactly how you can start getting backlinks without having to pay for them.
Martial Arts SEO: Write Epic Content
It all starts with writing epic content. Without trying to toot my own horn, these comprehensive blog posts I’m writing are thousands of words long, as of this word right now I’m at 6,197 words, and I’m not even finished yet. This post will likely be 7,500 by the time I’m done.
Now, word count is not a guarantee of epicness, but it sure is a good sign of comprehensiveness. And for anyone who is looking for information on Martial Arts SEO Marketing, this will be the most thorough and most comprehensive guide they find anywhere (if you find another one, please show me so I can copy them….(kidding!)).
But here’s the point: Write Epic Shit. Write the kind of content that makes people stop and take notice. Write the kind of stuff that really speaks to people’s heart and souls, and answers some of the problems and challenges they’re facing.
Share On Social Media / Your Newsletter
Once you’ve got your post done, share it up on Social Media and out to your Newsletter subscribers. Put it out there proudly. In fact, if you’re real serious about your content creation, you could make a backlog of 5-10 posts, then go on a spree of putting up a post every 2 days, so people start seeing you and become comfortable with you.
Post, post, post. Share, share, share.
And again, if your content is worth sharing, people will start linking to you (it will feel slow and painful to start – but the avalanche will come if you’re persistent!).
Martial Arts SEO: Use Google Ads
So this is one of those things that nobody really talks about, but I see it as the solution to consistently growing your online presence: buying Google Ads.
Now hear me out, as this is a slightly complicated strategy.
One of the hardest things of starting a new site, is that nobody knows you, nobody cares about you, and nobody is able to find you in Google. If you don’t get any traffic, then how can anyone link to your epic content?
It’s that classic Catch-22 – without backlinks, no one can find you and link to your epic shit, and if not one is linking to your epic shit, then no one can find you. So how do you break the cycle? Google Ads.
Google Ads is pay to play, and if you’re will to pay, you can be at the top of Google today (literally in a few hours). Once at the top of Google, people can start finding you. And once people start finding you, a percentage will start linking to you. And as a percentage start linking to you, your organic rankings on Google will steadily increase, and as your organic traffic steadily increases, you’ll get more backlinks, and can start turning off your paid Google Ads, as you start enjoying more ongoing free passive income from Google.
Ah so this is what heaven tastes like…
See how it works? Break that vicious SEO Catch-22.
Look For Backlink Opportunities
Alright I’ll touch on this quickly: opportunities to get backlinks.
Let’s say someone has a blog ‘the top 10 muay thai gyms in [your city]’, and lets say one of those gyms has either gone out of business or the link is broken, that post then is a ‘bad user experience’ (linking to broken sites is a no-no).
You could then politely reach out to that webmaster, and ask for your Muay Thai Gym to be featured instead. They may say no, but theres a chance they’ll say yes, as you’ve been able to help them out as well, improve the quality of their blog post. Win-Win.
Hire Someone On Fiverr
Now a word of caution: we could be entering into Black Hat territory here. Tread lightly.
Now I did test this with a client and it worked (their blog post quite quickly started ranking for their primary keyword), however keep in mind, this might be the kind of thing that Google eventually cracks down on.
There are people on sites like Fiverr you can buy backlinks from. The one I did posted a blog article on 10 different high Domain Authority sites. It cost me (or rather the client, $30). Not a bad investment.
If you’re just starting out and you’re hungry just to start getting some of those quick rankings, buy a few backlinks off Fiverr could be the way to jumpstart things. Just be cautious.
Website Page Speed
Back to user experience. A slow website, is a bad user experience. A slow website on mobile, is a war-crime (okay, slightly hyperbolic).
One more point here – Google has announced that May 2021 (OMG, tomorrow is May 1st!), they will be updating the Google Algorithm to take into account the Core Web Vitals.
That is a fancy way of saying that Google will be more concerned about page speed as a ranking factor, and sites that load lightning fast will see (possibly) dramatic increases in their rankings. For small blogs where every inch counts, this could be a big opportunity to jump ahead – it is far easier to update and improve a small site than a big one – this is your advantage.
Side note: Remind me to update this post in a month or two (in June/July 2021) with some results from the carnage. I’m expecting this to be a big Google update. Let the speedy be victorious!
Martial Arts SEO Google Analytics
Google Analytics doesn’t have anything directly to do with SEO, however it is an excellent tool for digging into your (ahem) analytics. You can also link up your Analytics Account to your Google Search Console Account, so you get more comprehensive data reports in Analytics.
Analytics can give you further insights into who exactly is actually visiting your content – how old, what gender, what country, what are their interests, what are they in-market for, what are they looking to buy, what device are they on – as well as what pages they visit – what is their flow across your site?
Analytics will give you a much richer understanding of who exactly your audience is – and you can update and contextualise your content accordingly.
Martial Arts SEO Conversion Tracking
Similarly, conversion tracking doesn’t have anything directly to do with improving your SEO, but it can give you greater insights into what actions your users are taking on your site.
Say for example you have an e-commerce store, or a newsletter signup, or a survey, or a specific blog post you want everyone to read – whatever that action is, you can track how many people actually complete.
Again, this just helps you to paint a deeper and richer picture into who exactly your audience is, and what they respond to. Maybe you could A/B split test different offers for your free newsletter – do people prefer a free gi, or a 30-Day Free Class Trial? The world is your oyster to experiment with.
This video by Loves Data gives you a break down of exactly how to setup your account to track and record important conversion events on your site:
Martial Arts SEO Conclusion
Annnnnnnd we made it!
You honestly deserve a round of applause, this has been quite the journey. Thank you for sticking with us all the way through to the end. We covered a lot, we laughed, we cried.
With any luck this information has been insightful and useful for you and you’re able to implement, if not all, at least the most important components.
Remember that Martial Arts SEO is a journey, not a destination. Don’t put up just one blog post and start crying because you’re not ranking #1 on Google.
If anything, you’ll start to develop a newfound respect for the people who do rank at the top of Google, because you’ll start to see just how much work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears it takes to get there.
It is not an easy journey to get there, but once you arrive at the coveted 1st position on Google, the world and all its riches will reveal themselves to you (okay, only slightly hyperbolic).
For further insights into Martial Arts Marketing Solutions, check out this next post in the series:
(that was an internal link, see what I did there)
To your success on your journey.