Search engine rankings and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is complicated and often confusing but there are a few basics you need to know so you can improve your search rankings for your coaching site. There are thousands upon thousands of articles online about search rankings which just adds to the confusion.
Search engine rankings is where your website shows up on the results of a search on a site like Google, Search Engine Optimization is the things you can do to improve these rankings.
Here are 6 things endurance coaches should know about search engine rankings that will help you take simple steps to improve the search rankings of your coaching website.
1. A brief history of search rankings and SEO
Here is a brief not particularly accurate history of search rankings and SEO to help understand how it works now in 2017.
Ages ago: There was no search rankings or any easy way to search the internet. You needed to know the site you wanted to go to before you could get there.
Not as long ago: Google created the ability to search the internet for stuff you wanted to find using key words.
Just after that: People started adding special key words to their "meta data" (information about information on a website) on their site so they could appear in search results.
Soon after: People wanted to get to the top of the rankings and it started to get competitive so they started to find ways to hack their way to the top. An industry was born called SEO and experts fine tuned the art of getting to the top of Googles search results using whatever techniques they could think of, some good (white hat) and some bad (black hat).
Slowly after that: People searching for stuff on the internet started to get annoyed because when they searched for something instead of finding the websites with the information they were looking for they were presented with the websites that were the best at hacking their way to the top of the search results.
From then on: Google and other search engines realized that if people didn't find the information they were looking for then they wouldn't use their search engines anymore. They changed everything and keep changing it regularly with one goal in mind which is to help people find exactly what they are looking for. If you type in a search into Google now you mostly likely find the information you are looking for on the first page of the search results.
2. There is no easy or fast way to the top of the rankings
There is a common misconception that there is some button you can press or product you can buy to make it to the top of the Google search rankings. Well there isn't, getting to the top of Google search results takes time and it takes consistent effort from the owner of a website. Google wants to provide the answers to the questions people are googling. More on this later. The important thing to remember is that you need to apply consistent effort to improve and maintain your rankings. It isn't something you do as a one off task, it's something you need to build into your ongoing business strategy. If it were easy to get to the top of the rankings then everyone would be at the top.
3. It's complicated, but you should keep it as simple as possible
I answer the same question all the time from endurance coaches who use our endurance coaching and website platform here at Training Tilt. How do I get to the top of the google search results? Normally I say "Well it's complicated" then launch into an explanation that no-one really understands and that's my fault. Every thing about SEO is complicated if you try to explain the technical detail of how it works. But it always comes down to the fact that Google wants to send people to websites that have the most relevant and up to date information that they are looking for.
If you think about these three questions you'll start to understand what's important when trying to improve your search rankings;
What are your customers looking for and what questions are they asking when they search on Google?
Does your website contain the current and relevant information or answers to those questions?
Is the information on your website more accessible, more up to date and more relevant than your competitors?
4. Most endurance coaches don't understand search rankings or aren't willing to do the work
This sounds like a negative thing, but in fact it's really an opportunity. Because most endurance coaches don't understand how search rankings work or aren't willing to put in the work and be patient about their rankings then there is a massive opportunity for others to get to the top of the results.
It's like competing in a race that most of the field haven't really trained for and the guy that won it last year thinks he's going to win it again this year even though he hasn't done the work. The new guy who's worked all year turns up and wins the race.
If you start now and be patient in a few months you'll start to see results. Are you willing to do the work? and do you have the patience to wait for the results?
5. Consistency is the most important thing
Improving your search engine rankings is like training for an Ironman, you have to work consistently over a long period of time. If you stop doing the work for too long you will start to lose fitness. It's the same with search rankings, you can't cram all the work into a short amount of time and expect to get immediate results and if you stop for sustained periods then your search rankings will suffer.
Just like training for an Ironman the work you do over weeks, months and even years all contributes to better results. With search engine results it's no different.
6. On site and off site optimization
There are two places Google looks when it's deciding where to rank your pages. Firstly it looks on your website and crawls through all your pages. Then it looks for references to any of those pages anywhere else on the internet. If it doesn't find links back to your website (back links) then those pages won't rank as highly as they would if lots of links were found to those pages. The quality of those back links is also important. Google takes into account the other website that it finds your links on, if the other website has good rankings or is of high authority (in Googles eyes) then the more valuable the link will be to your own rankings.
There is no fast and easy way to improve your search engine results and it takes consistent effort over time. Don't be disheartened though because most of your competitors either don't understand what's required or aren't willing to do the work consistenlty over time. Although it can seem complicated it's actually best to just keep it simple by creating useful valuable content that is highly relevant to your customers.
Review your website pages. Make sure you have key words on the content of your pages that your customers might enter into a google search.
Start blogging or writing articles on your website. Just having a blog is not enough, there's nothing worse than a coaches blog where the last post was 6 or even 18 months ago. Look around and you'll see that most coaches have some sort of blog but haven't kept it up to date. You need to be consistent. Write weekly if you can or fortnightly as a minimum. A good tip for content; You probably have a lot of written content you've used in your training plans or emailed to your athletes when they ask you questions. Save time by repurposing that as a blog or an article.
Everytime you write something on your site, share it on social media. Make sure you include a good image. It's still unclear how important social links is for your rankings but anything that brings traffic to your site is important. Ask your friends to share too (and make sure you return the favour).
Submit articles and blogs to relevant industry websites. Other websites are always looking for great content to include on their sites but don't always have their own resources to do so. Submit your work to websites that you think your customers might be visiting. You might even be able to secure a regular writing gig with a website. Don't worry about whether or not you get paid for the writing, just make sure they include a link back to your own website. These could be governing body websites, any product companies you are affiliated with, or industry news sites.
Get your website included on relevant business directory sites. A good example for endurance coaching is Slow Twitch's coach directory. This will act as both a backlink and a way for clients to find you. A local directory to your area is also good. This is a good one for New Zealand Coaches on the Sportzhub site. If you have any sort of accrediation make sure you are featured on the governing body's site and make sure you submit up to date and relevant business info and a good photo of yourself. An example from the TriNZ website of their accredited coaches (don't be the coach without a photo or a link to your website).
If you have any specific questions just use the speech bubble below and I'd be happy to answer as best I can.
At Training Tilt we have built in blogging and article writing tools so you can publish content quickly and easily to your coaching website and improve your search rankings.
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