Online search activity rose thirty-nine percent last year to hit an all-time high of 5.7 billion searches, according to Nielsen Netratings, the global leader in Internet market research. Studies have also discovered that searchers are using the Internet as their global and local “yellow pages”. Whether they are searching for the latest movie times, a good Moroccan restaurant, a nearby health spa or a fitness center in their city, fewer and fewer people are picking up the big yellow book and spending fifteen minutes trying to find your listing.
Instead, they have a permanently-connected broadband link to Google, Yahoo, MSN or their favorite local search portal, and within seconds they have typed in something like “Denver health spa” or “North Seattle chiropractor,” received thousands or millions of results, and scanned the first few until one catches their eye.
Many business owners in the health and fitness industry think it is good enough to put up a web site and print the URL on their business card. They have no idea that thousands or millions of other web sites are competing for the same terms (usually product/service+location) or that, without being properly optimized, their web site is destined to sit in the darkest corners of cyberspace. If the purpose of the site is to act as an online brochure, sort of a convenience for those who already know about your business, then it doesn’t need to rank high on the search engines.
However, if your web site is meant to bring in sales, leads, news clients, members… what good is it doing way back on page 55 of Google for your best search terms? If you run a fitness center, shouldn’t you be on the first page (or at least the first few pages) for “Your City Fitness Center” or “Your City Gym”? The same goes for all local businesses, from chiropractors to martial arts schools and health spas.
But it doesn’t have to be local either. What if you manufacture fitness equipment, or produce a health supplement and want to market your products nationwide or globally? The same principal applies – either you compete for those key terms or you sit back in the corner and throw money away on hosting and web site design, never to obtain a positive return on investment.
Now that you know “something” needs to be done, let’s discuss what that “something” is. It goes by the name Search Engine Optimization – SEO, for short. Search engine optimization is a mixture of Internet marketing, web site design, copywriting, PR, coding and other factors with the solitary goal of getting your web site to show up better on search engines for a certain group of keywords and phrases.
Professional search engine optimizers study the algorithms patented by major search engines to determine how each determines how to rank a web site. Google alone looks at over 200 factors when choosing where to place a web site on its result page for a search! Lucky for you there are firms out there dedicated to staying on top of the latest SEO strategies. Just be sure to choose the right one, because not all search engine optimizers are created equal.
Everett Sizemore is the Director of Internet Marketing at First Page Fitness, LLC. After years of providing search engine optimization services to a range of clients, Mr. Sizemore decided to combine his love of fitness training and search engine optimization and offer a highly specialized service to the health and fitness industry. The result is