This is part of the Dojo Launch Growth Plan - How to gain a minimum of 10-20 students every month… on autopilot.
If you have been following this series of articles on how to grow your dojo’s student base, you should already have completed your market research, have a website, and a content marketing plan. If not, check out these articles to get yourself up to speed before you take the next step and work on your website’s search engine optimization.
How to conduct marketing research for your martial arts dojo business
How to build a website that can grow with your business
How to write a content marketing plan for a martial arts gym (the backbone of a successful business in a digital world)
The first thing you need to remember when it comes to SEO is that it is an ongoing process that never ends, just likel earning a martial art.
At the entry level stage, which we are covering here, it can be split into three main parts:
● Keyword (key phrase) research
● On-page search engine optimization
● Link building
(this is a good place to add a CTA, for example: You can find links to more in-depth explanations on each of these topics in our free eBook - Dojo Launch Growth Plan - How to gain a minimum of 10-20 students every month… on auto pilot - click here to download it now.)
Keyword and Key phrase mean essentially the same thing. A keyword might be “dojo” a key phrase might be “how to perform the perfect front kick”. For the rest of this article we will simply use keyword to refer to them both.
Keyword research can be broken down into three main parts:
- Discover the keywords your potential new students might use when they search on Google - these are the new students you want to attract to your website and grow your business.
- Define how many visitors each keyword can send to your website every month - more visitors means more new students signing up to your dojo.
- Decide how difficult it would be to gain 1st position in Google for that keyword - choose your battles and reach for the low hanging fruit first.
The best place to do keyword research is Google’s own keyword research tool that is completely free to use.
Here is an example of the type of information it offers for free.
You can find Google’s Keyword Planner in their AdWords suite of tools. You don’t need to buy any AdWords to use it and there are plenty of videos and articles online where you can find detailed information on how to use it effectively.
On-page SEO means the optimization of a specific website page, and there’s a lot more to it than just stuffing keywords throughout the text.
The best way to think of SEO is to appreciate that the people visiting your website are also Google’s customers. Google wants to provide the best service and surfing experience for their customers, and your job is to help them by giving the visitor exactly what they searched for when they arrive on your site.
Make sure your content matches what the visitor searched for on Google
The last thing you want is for the visitor to click to your website from Google’s search results only to discover that they have been misled and it isn’t related to what they typed in the search box.
Google records that as a “bounce” and it creates a negative impact on your search ranking. Plus, when they click away to another page, it will probably be to one of your competitors' websites.
If someone asks for a video on how to improve their roundhouse kick, then you better have a really good video that teaches them how to do a roundhouse kick. If someone writes “is kickboxing better than Karate for a beginner”, your article needs to provide an in-depth answer to that exact question.
The best way to find out what type of content you need to deliver is to look at the web pages that Google ranks at the top of their search results for that keyword. This will give you an idea of what works and what doesn’t.
Write a descriptive URL
The URL tells Google’s search engine spiders that crawl your site what your web page is all about and therefore influences where your site is placed in the search results.
However, it’s also important because it makes up one of only four lines that appear in Google’s search results and influences whether someone clicks through to your website or not.
It’s important that you use every part of your listing to entice potential new students to your webpage.
Also, when a visitor is navigating your website, a good slug represents your page content, helps them understand where they are, and plays a key role in URL clickability.
Here are six tips on writing a URL:
- It needs to have the keyword in it (preferably at the beginning)
- Keep it short and descriptive
- Try to omit stop words (a, an, the, and, it, for, or, but)
- Use lowercase letters only
- Use Hyphens for Spaces
- Don’t repeat words
Remember that the categories of your website such as News, Events, Classes, and Training Tips, may also appear in your URL, so be sure not to repeat these in the URL slug.
Write an eye catching title
Your article title displayed in Google’s search results is the single most convincing factor that makes a person click on your link and not your competitors.
It’s also one of the most important aspects in on-page SEO and Google uses it to decide what your page is going to deliver to their customers and therefore where to position you in their search results.
However, and just as important as the two reasons above, the title of your article is what will make a visitor decide to read the article and hopefully go on to interact with your website.
“The difference between a good headline and a bad headline can be just massive… we see 20% difference, 50%difference, 500% difference. A really excellent headline can make something go viral.”
Peter Koechley, the Co-Founder of Upworthy, the fastest growing media company in the world
Optimize the meta description
This is the text that appears under the title of your website in Google’s search results. Although it may not contribute much to search position, it is still important to help entice someone who searches on Google to click on your link. If they see the same keyword they typed into the search window in your description they will believe your site/page has the answer or information they want.
Search engine optimise the content
The first and only rule is to make the content readable for your audience. That said, it is also important to peppery our content with relevant keywords. The rule of thumb is to add keywords and variations of your keywords (that’s where the keywords research comes into play) to the beginning and end sentences of your content. Add them to subheadings, add them to bullet lists, and try to include links to other pages on your website that include similar keywords.
If you have read our article “Dojo Blogging”, you should be hitting most of your content keyword objectives naturally, but it is always a good idea to keep your idea on it with a specialised tool that will score your pages and website for SEO.
Search engine optimize the images
Not many people optimize their images and so it is much easier to rank at the top of Google’s natural search results with your images and get thousands of free traffic to your site.
Luckily, owning a martial arts dojo and maybe a gym you will have plenty of stuff to photograph.
To optimize an image takes no time at all, just diligence:
● Give them a descriptive name -IMG_9433357.jpg doesn’t tell anybody, including Google what the image is about, so name them something like new-students-training-july-4th.jpg
● Describe the image in the alt text - Google, and so should everyone, wants to make surfing the internet a good experience for everyone. The alt text doesn’t show up on a page unless the image fails to load and is also used by a screen reader to describe the image to someone who might be sight impaired.
● Compress their size - Compress your images as small as possible to improve the speed a page loads in a browser, especially on mobile phones. Converting them to .webp format(developed by Google) is also advisable.
Link building, along with regularly publishing engaging content and of course sprinkling keywords in your meta title tags, is definitely one of the most important factors in getting your page listed high in the search engines in 2022.
Links to your website from another good website that is relevant to your niche are like votes from your peers telling Google that your content is worth sending their clients to visit.
However, whilst on-page SEO is something you are in complete control of, off page link building is something that is in the control of the webmaster of other websites, and therefore much more of a challenge.
The first step in link building is to reach out to other site owners, if you are lucky, friends and colleagues, and ask them to link to your content. You’ll appreciate a little more now why writing valuable content is always so important. It’s not just for Google, it’s not just for your visitors, it’s also to make it valuable and link-worthy in the eyes of other webmasters.
Another good technique to gain backlinks is to do some guest blogging.
Guest blogging is where you write a post about martial arts for another website. When you publish your article to another site as a guest blogger there is usually (and check for this first) the option to add your contact info, such as social media channels and a link to your website. Boom! You have a backlink to your website. The much coveted golden nugget in the world of SEO.
First, you need to find a site that talks about martial arts. Reach out to them via an email and ask if they accept guest posts. Then, before you start writing, read some of their content and get a feel for the type of content they are interested in and how they write. When you have a feel for their style of writing and what resonated with them, write your article on a subject related to your target keywords and send it to them.
SEO is the equivalent of a lead jab in martial arts and will be integral to increasing the number of students who signup at your dojo or gym. You need to practice it all the time. It’s a little and often game with SEO. Chip away with it to improve your position and then when visitors start to arrive at your website the rest of this series of articles will show you how to set your site up to deliver a right cross and get our visitor to take the next step. That might be to sign up for a newsletter, buy some merchandise, or contact you to ask you how to join your club.