Search Engine Optimisation and the gym have a lot in common.
I know, right off the bat you’re probably thinking – ‘WTF George’. That’s a terrible analogy. SEO has about as much in common with the gym as hedge funds and hedgehogs.‘
To that I say – ‘Have you ever seen a hedgehog? They’re adorable.
Stop giving me and the hedgehog grief. Just sit there and listen. I’m going somewhere with this.
Okay. Just like the gym, getting the most out of your SEO requires commitment, perseverance, and above all, a plan that you’re absolutely committed to. There’s no slacking off. You need to be married to your SEO goals in the same way you need to be married to your fitness goals.
Look at me. I didn’t get these perfectly sculpted biceps or these trouser shattering calves overnight. No. I set out with a goal in mind and worked on achieving these results EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
So, get ready to drop to one knee, put a ring on it, buy the house in the suburbs and pop out a couple of kids. You’re committed to growing your business’s web presence till the day do you part. It’s the only way that you’re going to start seeing real return on your efforts.
Settle in, brah. We’re about to turn your business’s wimpy website into a jacked up monstrosity that will be the envy of all the web.
You want to turn heads.
Let’s imagine this. Someone is on Google and they’re looking for what you’re selling. Your site has come up on the front page and it’s you against 10 other businesses who can all offer the same service. What are you going to do to edge them out?
If you’re looking to get people clicking through to your site you need to do something that demands a double take.
People should be snapping their necks from the speed that you’re turning heads.
Think of it like this. The first page of a Google search is a lot like the window at the front of the gym. Everyone’s on show for whoever’s passing by. For better or worse, it’s a meat market and and people are looking for the best cut.
Sure, rump is going to fill you up but at the end of the day eye fillet is going to get your mouth watering.
You want to be the eye fillet of the gym, that guy or girl who just has something about them. From the moment you catch them out of the corner of your eye you’re mesmerised. No matter how hard you try you can’t seem to pull yourself out from their gravity and for all intents and purposes everyone else might as well not exist.
With SEO, this kind of animal magnetism doesn’t come from having the shapeliest glutes or triceps that look like biceps. It comes from the way you talk to the viewer. Be quick, be witty, be charming, be informative. Be any number of things but make sure that you’re saying something that speaks to the human experience.
Take this search above as an example. All this talk of steak fired up my appetite, so I went hunting on Google for the best cut of eye fillet in Sydney. On the first page I was greeted by 10 pages vying for my click.
You know which page I chose to invest my time in finding out what they had to say? It wasn’t the first result and it certainly wasn’t the one was closest to my exact search term, *snore.*
It was the page that had the guts to show a little personality and gave me a point of difference. Instantly I knew that it would meat (i had to) my needs.
Your Google Search Listing is the first impression of your business when potential customers go searching for something on Google.
You want to be investing as much energy in making this small smattering of text as compelling as possible for every page of your site. If you can say something that will make you stand out from all that clutter than that’s 90 percent of the battle won.
High Steaks. That’s brilliant. The Best Steaks in Sydney. Also Brilliant.
Have a click.
Keep it short. Keep it sweet. Keep it compelling.
Google will display around 60 words before it starts to cut the Title short so aim to keep your message within this ballpark. Throw your brand name in the mix and you’re good to go.
Next is your meta-description. Think of this as potatoes that accompany the steak.
Quick side note – I know we’ve pulled away from the gym metaphors pretty hard here, but the whole steak paradigm is really working for me. Just bear with it for a second.
Now, the meta-description is the strap of copy that sits below the URL on your Google listing. It’s a good place to throw a few supporting keyworks to make your page more relevant for Google’s page ranking algorithms while giving your viewers a chance to glean a little more about what your page has to offer.
Again, you want to be as compelling as possible. Sell your page’s content and pique your reader’s interest. This is often your last chance to convert a reader who is on the fence to one who is diving deep into your site and eating up everything that you have to say.
But never forget. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.
So let’s say you’ve gotten past this first massive barrier and people were inexplicably drawn to your Google listing. You’re all oiled up, you’ve thrown on your finest muscle tee and you’ve talked a big game. The hangers-on are clambering to hear everything you have to say – What’s your routine? Got any secrets? Tell us everything!
See. I told you we’d get back to the gym allegory.
But oh. What’s this?
You’re not ready for this level of scrutiny. You’re flustered, rambling and incoherent, unable to explain the difference between a bench-press and a park bench. It all looked so promising but now people are slowly backing away to find someone who doesn’t have the verbal dexterity of Rocky Balboa after going 10 rounds with Apollo Creed.
The same applies to your website. Even if you have the most magnetic Google listing on the planet, one that has you drowning in organic clicks, it won’t matter. If people are baulking the moment they’re past the gates, they’re going to be hitting that back button faster than you can scream out “ADRIAN!”
Poor site content is an immediate turn off for viewers. It clears the room like the guy with B.O. in spin class and in the end that’s going to cost you clients.
You should be making it an absolute focus to have a beautifully presented site with a wealth of relevant, readable content. You want to grip your audience and demand their attention from the very moment that your homepage loads.
You can get an idea of how your website is tracking by assessing its average session duration. You can find this using Google Analytics.
Simply put, this number is calculated by dividing up the total duration of all sessions on your site by the total number of sessions across a set amount of time. Basically, it measures how long users browsed your site, scroll through your copy and engage with your content.
You want that DEEP burn
The importance of maximising this average session time is pretty obvious.
High average session duration means your audience is glued to their screen. They’re eating up everything you have to say, enjoying your user experience and eager to dive deeper into your site.
If your average session time is low then it’s a good indicator that people are frustrated or disinterested by what they see. If you want to keep these people from smashing the back button you need to do more to offer them the kind of content that they’re interested in.
This could mean doing any number of things to make your site more user friendly.
People want to get ripped quick. In a world of pre workouts, protein shakes and kale, people aren’t willing to part with their time the way they used to.
That’s how long you have between someone clicking on your site and having it loaded, ready for your viewer to use.
The days of dial-up are over. People aren’t willing to hang around while an unoptimised site chugs away trying to get itself sorted.
They’ll pull the plug and move onto the next link.
Make sure you site is snappy. Compress any large images and sort assets that might be bringing your site to a crawl so your audience can start reading about you sooner.
10% perspiration 90% inspiration
Just like a killer workout, a killer website is most effective when it’s been planned out in advanced.
Every page should be lean, targeted and serving a purpose. Information should be easily accessible and the flow of content from page to page should be logical.
You don’t want your viewer to have to go hunting to find what they need. Just lay it out in plain terms and give them what they need.
Useless information, unnecessary sections and illogical design. These will fatigue your audience faster than a stick-thin highschool kid hitting the rowing-machine the for the first time.
Plan ahead and make sure your website makes sense.
Know your lingo
Nothing screams unprofessional like a site that is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. You wouldn’t waste your time and energy trying to decipher a tangled mess of a website, so why expect that from your audience?
Dot your i’s and cross your t’s.
If you take these first steps your already doing more than most pages out there to ensure your content is is attention grabbing, easy to use and available.
Your average session duration will soar and should translate to more leads being generated from your online presence down the line.
Don’t ignore the machines in the room
We all how good it is to throw around the free weights. Nothing is more impressive than sliding plate after plate onto a bar and watching the onlookers gawk as you pump out a massive set with ease.
Veins bulging. Spotter roaring in your ear. YOU GOT THIS!
People love that.
Getting wrapped up in the theatre of the free weights, soaking up the adoration of the people in room, it’s all too easy to neglect the machines that litter the gym floors.
Don’t make this rookie mistake, guys. They’ve got their place and could be the difference between you reaching your goals and completely burning out.
Machines have never been more important in the world search engines. In fact they’re getting to the point that they’re learning. We’re not talking Terminator style machine learning here, though shouts out to my hero, Arnold.
Love you man.
Nah, the machines that I’m talking about are the algorithms that Google has put in place to constantly sort and optimise their user’s search engine experience.
They’re there to ensure that when people search they’re presented with the most relevant pages to answer their questions, connect them with services and generally meet their needs.
Your content should be appealing to the needs of these machines as much as it is for your users as ultimately they decide who gets to appear on the converted homepage for any given search.
Called Hummingbird, this program scans through page, after page, after page of content across the web, compiling it and sorting it so it can be readily accessed when you plug a search term into the search bar.
The rules of SEO are always changing as the parameters that Hummingbird is using to index and rank content continue to evolve. Just like SkyNet, it’s learning about us. How we search, how we think, so it can provide us with the most relevant search results every time.
It’s kind of scary. Like, nearly as scary as getting to the gym and discovering that you left your preworkout on the kitchen counter.
The flipside of all this is if you keep your ear close to the ground and become an early adopter of these trends you really maximise your chances of appearing on the first page of people’s search result.
It’s kind of like sourcing a cutting edge routine or a game changing supplement before it becomes common knowledge. You want to be working smarter, not harder.
The specifics of how to maximise your site’s content for SEO are an article in itself. Watch this space for PART 2 of my guide where I go into the gritty detail on how to calibrate your site to please a robot.
Coming soon! Judgement Day
The whole world is a gym!
This might be the most important thing you should be taking away today.
The pursuit of your fitness goals doesn’t end when you walk out those gym doors. You should be putting in the hard yards and maximise your gains wherever you find yourself!
See that low hanging tree branch? Shoo away the birds happily perched on it and smash a set of pull ups!
Taking a romantic stroll with your significant other? Throw them across your shoulders and feel that burn coursing through your thigh. Now you’re doing lunges!
The pump doesn’t stop. The gym is all around us and we take it wherever we go.
The same is true for the internet. The rise of smartphones has fundamentally changed how people access the internet and with it your website.
Up to 60 percent of searches are now being done on a mobile device so it’s absolutely vital to ensure that your website is compatible with mobile browsing. If users are confronted by a poorly optimised site that breaks when their phone is trying to display it, they’re going to jump ship in an instant.
Google knows this too. Their algorithm favours mobile optimised sites and boosts their standing for search result. Therefore it’s in the interest of both you and your users that you have a site that runs smooth on mobile. They’ll get a more enjoyable experience when trawling your content and you’ll score points with Google, bumping you up the ranks.
No more excuses
I’m going to finish this write-up with some motivational words for you to live by.
Do it! Stop talking about doing it and DO IT!
Both your 2020 fitness goals and your 2020 SEO goals are entirely within reach but you’ve got to start today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today.
Don’t let you competitors get ahead of you. It’s time to leave them in your dust.
Take my advice, follow the steps and remain absolutely committed to crushing your goals.There’s nothing to keep you from appearing on the front page of Google… or next month’s issue of Inside Fitness…
– George is Search It Local’s most handsome copywriter. No question.
When he’s not at the gym, he’s keeping you informed on all the latest news from the world of digital advertising and SEO.