Does it feel like you put hours and hours into your website and can't get found online? Do you type the name of your business in Google and nothing comes up? If you type in "yoga <<insert your type of service>>" and you're on the 95th page of Google? It all comes down to SEO.
SEO. The mythical acronym. SEO stand for search engine optimization which basically translates to having a website structured so people can find your yoga business online. If a potential client types in “yoga classes” we all aspire to be on the top of Google’s list. When I first opened my yoga studio, I had plenty of ideas to market my yoga studio but didn’t really pay much attention to SEO. I read a few articles and figured my website person would handle this for me. After several months of the yoga studio being open, I listened to a few podcasts from Pat Flynn on Smart Passive Income and checked out my yoga studio’s website code to see how it was working. I felt deflated, there was absolutely nothing working for the yoga studio to help us get found online. Every time I heard from a new client after 6 months of being open, “I never heard of you”; I knew I had to do something. Our studio needs new clients to survive. I smartened up and started to listen to more podcasts on my way to work and eventually I did the work myself.
As of today, more than half of our new yoga clients come from online searches. This is the most challenging aspect to get across when there’s resistance to wanting to learn SEO from business owners. Sometimes I hear other business owners (not just yoga peeps), say they don’t have the patience or skill set to learn SEO. This is my argument: if people can’t find your yoga business online you are missing out on valuable potential clients who have no idea where to go for yoga classes and your clients are missing out on your beautiful community. Searching Google or Bing may be the only way they’ll find you. Change your vibration if you feel resistance to it, embrace it how it can help not only your yoga business but getting more people practicing yoga.
I know this is daunting but don’t fret. If you’re not great with computer, that’s okay because you can hire a company to help market your yoga business and build your SEO for you. However, there are lots of bad SEO companies out there. When I say bad, I mean they use techniques to make clients think their SEO is working when it’s more of trick or illusion. Then they turn around and charge a client $200 a month for something that’s not working. It’s good to have a basic understanding of SEO even if you contract it out so you can find a good company and ask the right questions. If you don’t have a budget to hire someone, then embrace, learn, and practice.
SEO is huge, it’s daunting but here are some basic concepts and tips that will help give you a basic understanding of the process.
So your yoga business might not be open yet. You might not even understand your own brand yet. That’s okay because working on SEO should happen before your yoga business opens. Remember that people have busy lives and it may take them time to see your offerings before they come by. Start your website and SEO strategy early. Start reading articles on SEO, I highly recommend following Smart Passive Income by Patt Flynn. He makes it easy to understand and has been a huge part me learning SEO.
SEO takes time
SEO doesn’t happen overnight, although you should see some movement after a few weeks, which is why starting early helps. However, don’t expect to see changes the next day. SEO take time to work and it is also something that should be worked on a regular basis. Making SEO as a part of your promotional strategy on a regular basis should yield bigger results than yoga professionals that do it once and forget about it. For us, once I smartened up and working on SEO myself, it took me about two weeks to see our studio go from being nowhere to at least page 3 or 4. It took us about 6 months to get on front page of Google.
It changes all the time.
SEO changes all the time so it’s a good idea to stay up to speed on it. You don’t need to be an expert but you should know what works and what doesn’t work so you can change your tactics or at least find a reputable company that will do the work for you.
Understand what people are looking for
I once met an SEO company sales rep who was trying to promote our yoga studio. His strategy was to show me his other clients websites and how high they ranked on google after typing in a few words in Google. When I asked him how they came up with those search terms, he gave me the line “Our clients and us came up with the words”. Seems like that means SEO is working right? Not necessarily.
It’s easy to rank high on Google if the general population isn’t looking up the same search terms aka keywords. So for example, let’s say your yoga businesses name is something like: “Chakra and Pranayama Loving Yoga Studio”. Unless people are looking for those words specifically, they aren’t going to find your studio. Prospective clients are going to type in more basic terms like “yoga classes” or “Yoga” or “Beginner Yoga”. Your SEO strategy should reflect the terms people are looking for. So when meeting with a sales representative or doing it yourself, there needs to be an understanding of what the people want to type in not what you want to type in. In other words, take the ego out of your keyword planning and listen to the market.
SEO is a constant practice
Eeek! I know, I wish I could do it once and forget about it. However, even SEO can relate to yoga. Like yoga, it’s a practice and it’s not something we can do sporadically and expect to master or get the benefits from. SEO should be a part of your marketing strategy and practiced on a regular basis. I would suggest at least spending between 2 to 4 hours a week on it if you are still aching for new clients. If you are already somewhat established at about 1 hour per week.
However, like yoga, it doesn’t have to be perfect. After all, it’s the internet things can always be deleted and changed. Some days you’ll get right, other days not so much but as long as you keep working on it and trying to master it, the more fruitful your yoga studio and community will be.
Tips to increase your SEO
Hopefully you have basic understanding of SEO. Now it's time to learn how to work on it. While the rules change all the time and one can spend hours and hours on it, there are a few basic tactics that work really well. Some of it's fun. I've listed some ways to improve SEO below but if you want to learn more about it check out Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, available in our resources section at the bottom of the page.
1. Get a blog
This is the fun part of SEO! Two factors that raise your ranking on Google is how often you post and what kind of content you have. Blogs are great (check out more about yoga blogs here) because they help with both factors and they can also help you spread some of you knowledge on yoga. Additionally, you can start it before your business is fully ready to go! The posts can be targeted to a wider audience than just your target market so you can get more clicks to your page. For example, I have a post on our studio website: “How to Choose a Yoga Teacher Training Program”. Obviously, we would love for everyone to choose ours. However, by having a post like this, people all over the world can read it and find value. The more the blog post is read and shared, the higher my studio page is going to climb since it is on our site. Additionally, since it’s about “yoga teacher trainings” the more people search for this locally, the higher we will rank on Google for our teacher trainings. After writing your post, you still need to promote it which is a whole separate process that I’ll write a separate post about.
Time though, who has time to write blogs? I wish I could blog more. One tactic we use is to ask others to guest blog for us. These are colleagues or friends who can provide valuable content to our reader. Full transparency: we don’t pay guest bloggers. However, we do include their bio and links back to their own businesses or teaching pages. We also use the blog posts on our social media to continue to promote our teachers and their individual classes or workshops at our yoga studio. This actually help the yoga teachers as much if not more than us. I’ll explain some of that in the backlinking portion of this article.
2. Post AMAZING content
In the earlier days of SEO, there were all sorts of "tricks" to get found online....like typing the same word over and over again on a page. Now not so much....Google has turned the Wizard of Oz for getting found online....he knows all. Google is looking for great content that people want to read and spend time reading. It wants the the user to have a great experience, not necessarily your yoga business.
A blog is crucial because it creates valuable content. However, even without a blog, there can be a ton of valuable content on your business site. For example, if you have class descriptions, create separate landing pages describing in full detail what the class entails. We did this for all of our specialty classes outlining: age appropriateness, what to expect, what are the benefits, what to wear, prices, cancellation policies, and a link to our schedule. Those pages ended up ranking super high on Google for people looking for those services.
The more amazing and helpful your content is for the end user the more likely Google will get your to the first page.
3. Post your offerings on your website
This should be fairly obvious but post all of your upcoming yoga events on your website. This helps your SEO in 2 ways. First, it keeps your page fresh. Search engines like pages that are updated frequently. It also includes words that are going to help people find your site. When posting offerings, make sure you're including words that people are actually looking for. So for example, if your workshop is entitled Yoga Nidra, the general population may not know what this is. So in your copy you may want to include words such as "meditation, yoga for stress, etc". Basic terms that people are looking for but maybe not necessarily the title of your workshop. Although not related to SEO, posting your website makes you site usable for new students. Check out our website post to find out more.
4. Get backlinks
Earlier in the post I mentioned that our yoga teachers volunteered to write free blogs for us. This actually helps them as much as it does our yoga studio. Review sites, guest blogging yourself, finding directories, posting your events on event listing sites are all ways to get your url (web address) posted on other sites. The more quality sites your site is linked to, the higher search engines rate your site. However, be weary of scams. Search engines are looking for your site to be linked to relevant sites such as other yoga sites, legitimate directories, and other businesses. There are companies that can get your site linked all over the place but on useless or scammy sites, this will hurt your SEO.
5. Rename your images
Renaming images can help increase your SEO. Cameras will create random image names usually with random numbers and letters. Before uploading your photos you will want to rename the photos into something relevant. For example, if your website is more geared for athletes, your images can be retitled to something like "Yoga for Runners", "Yoga for Cross-fit". This helps because it's essentially changing what search engines see when combing your sites, including more relevant words. A note about images: I would suggest watermarking your images if you know how. The more your images are titled appropriately, they more likely they come in Google images search with people likely to steal them.
6. Submit a Sitemap to Google
The Google gods suggest creating and submitting sitemaps to them. "Creating a sitemap helps search engines better crawl and categorize your site." I know this sounds tricky bit it's not as hard as it sounds.
- Create a sitemap for your site. There are free resources online to create one. Wordpress users can download this plugin. While there are other free sitemap generators like this one. If you have a web designer, ask them to create one for you.
- If not done by a plugin, your sitemap will need to be added to your page. It is not useful content to your readers so it can be placed somehwere discreet like in the footer of your website.
- Sign up for a Google Webmasters account. Once you verify your website, you will get an email with a button to submit a sitemap.
- Submit it! If you lost the email simply login to your account and it can be submitted under the Crawl --> Sitemaps section. There are all sorts of other great tools in Google Webmasters as well.
This is by no means a full list of what you can do to help you with SEO. If your yoga businesses does other things, please leave a comment below.
Google SEO Starter Guide: The best way to learn about SEO!
10 Questions to Ask Your Web Designer: Is this too much to do on your own? Get a free copy of 10 Questions to Ask Your Web Designer.
Introduction to Yoga Websites: Don't have a website yet? Check out our introduction to Yoga Websites!
Introduction to Yoga Blogs Podcast: We did a podcast episode on the basic of Yoga Blogs. Have a Listen!
Blogging 101 for Yoga Teachers: Check out our Blogging 101 post!