15 Questions to Diagnose Why Your Website Isn’t Generating Many Leads

Does your martial arts school’s website suffer from a lack of referrals?

Do prospects visit your website, read your content, and then do nothing?

Does it turn away prospects instead of persuading them to take your trial program?

If your website isn’t generating a healthy amount of leads each week, it may be suffering from a severe case of brochureware.

To help you overcome this common website ailment, here are 15 questions you can ask yourself to help uncover why you’re not getting the most out of your website.

1. What problem does your service solve?

If you haven’t yet articulated this on your website, it’s time to add it.

We buy things that solve our problems… is it weight loss? … Self-confidence? … Ability to defend yourself?… What?

Once you determine what problems your prospects encounter, it will be easier to speak to them directly.

A simple way to get this information to survey existing students why they joined in the first place.

This can help you discover what problems you are already unknowingly solving.

2. What’s in it for them?

Tell your prospects what your martial arts program is going to do for them.

“ACME Martial Arts will help you become more confident, get into better shape all the while learning practical and effective self defense skills.”

By clearly identifying what’s in it for them can have a huge impact on getting prospects to engage.

This is also a good time to remind them of your offer.

Target your home page so your prospects immediately know what’s in it for them when they join your martial arts school.

Don’t be vague.

Be specific and clear.

3. Do you tell a compelling story?

People love stories.

We all grew up on them.

Marketing is based on telling stories.

What story are you telling and does it resonate with your prospects?

This could be your start in the martial arts, why you started your martial arts school, etc.

This could be done in the form a post, flyer, video, audio or using all the above.

4. Are you marketing with “black belt eyes”?

Your website copy might make sense to you, but does it make sense to your prospect?

I can’t believe how many martial arts school owners still market with “black belt eyes;” as John Graden calls them.

These are black belts who market using what’s important to them (your style, your instructor, martial arts associations you belong to, etc.) after 20 years after being in the martial arts.

Remember: What you care about isn’t the same things as what your prospect cares about.

5. Is there enough detail?

You need to include enough of the right details to help spark interest from your prospects.

Be specific on the details:

  • What people will get if they sign up?
  • What they will learn in class?
  • How is each class is structured?
  • How will you improve their lives?
  • What can they expect?
  • Why should they use you?
  • What makes your different?
  • Etc.

You’ll be amazed at what a little detail will do to get a prospect to engage.

6. Is your photo on your website?

Is you website appear to be from a business rather than a person?

Remember, people buy from people they know, like and trust.

And, having your photo on your website is a simple — yet effective — way to begin building that trust.

Your photo starts to build that trust and build you as authority.

If you’re reading this article on my website, you’ll see my photo on the righthand column.

This helps my readers — like you — make a connection with me so you can see who’s running the show.

7. Have you made an emotional appeal?

All that above said, you can’t just put out factual information.

Sure, that is important on some level but can’t be the only thing you’re putting out there.

You really need to make an emotional appeal and stress the benefits.

Headlines are a great place to make an emotional appeal like:

Learn how to stand up for yourself and finally take control of your life with the martial arts.

Compare that to “Improve your self-confidence.

See how much stronger the first statement is at making an emotional appeal?

8. Have you justified your service with logic?

While people buy emotionally, as noted above, they justify it with logic.

Are you supporting their reasons with logical reasons and features?

9. Have you asked for the sale?

This seems obvious but many websites never ask for the sale.

The owners leaves it up to the prospect to decide to contact them.

What a mistake!

This can be as simple as a link at the bottom of every page that says: “Are you ready to sign up for our next trial program?  Call us at 555-1212 today to enroll!

By adding this one element, you’ll likely increase the number of leads you get each week.

Now go add it!

10. Have you addressed the most obvious objections?

Imagine not having to have to work as hard to overcome your prospects objections.

How many more prospects could you turn into paying students?

While you can’t eliminate them entirely, you can go a long way of tackling the big objections by addressing them in advance on your website.

By removing obstacles, you’re clearing a pathway to the sign up process.

11. Have you addressed the most common questions you receive?

I can’t tell you how many questions I cut down on in person just by making many of these available on my website.

It allows me to spend less time getting people to sign up as they already have that info before they walk into my martial arts school.

Some martial arts marketing experts would argue that leaving these out will make it so people will have a reason to call.

In my experience, that’s a load of crap.

I still get calls and the questions have changed to more educated questions that get me closer to them signing up.

Test it to see if you experience the same thing.

For starters, this can be done on your frequently asked questions page.

12. Is your message difficult to understand?

Choose your words carefully.

Read your content out loud.

Does it sound right?

Does it roll off the tongue?

Ask others to read it and give you that feedback.

They will also help you catch any typos that can erode your professionalism.

13. Have you talked more about yourself than what you can do for your prospect?

This is a HUGE mistake on many martial arts websites.

Don’t make this mistake of talking more about yourself than your prospect.

Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them.

14. Have you made it easy for people to sign up?

While asking for the sale is important, you also needs to make it easy to find.

Make this as prominent as possible.

Some find it helps to have a call to action in several places on each page.

Decide the easiest way how people will can respond to redeem your offer then tell them:

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Text
  • Mail
  • Contact form
  • Coming in
  • Etc.

15. How much social proof do you use?

Social proof is when you can show real customers who have experienced results from your service.

Testimonials, photos, audios or videos of your current students are a gold mine for your martial arts business to help validate it as credible.

But, it doesn’t stop there.

Do you have awards, magazine articles, news clipping, etc. that you can use to help establish yourself as an expert?

If so, get them on your website. It will help to establish you as an authority.

By tackling these questions head on and addressing them on your website, you’ll go a long way towards increasing your response rates from your website.

The 3 Questions Your Martial Arts School Web site Must Immediately Answer

Satisfy Your Visitors Goals so they Remain On Your Web Site and Away from Your Competitors

According to many Web site usability experts like Steve Krug, there are three simple questions every single page on your Web site must answer in order to remove any questions in their mind that they’re at the right Web site and that you can indeed help them satisfy their goals.

Usability, in a nutshell, is how well a Web site helps a visitor reach and satisfy their goals. It’s important because it helps them stick to your Web site and find what they’re looking for. And, if you’ve done your job right, you are one step closer to getting them as a student.

The 3 Questions of Web site Usability

  1. Where am I?
  2. What can I find here?
  3. Where can I go next?

1. Where Am I?

This is usually answered by the logo and USP in the header of each Web site. There should also be clues in the page name, file structure in the URL, navigation, and, if available, in the bread crumb navigation. You don’t want to confuse people when they land on your any given page on your martial arts school’s Web site.

Considering a person may find one of your sub pages in the search engines, rather than start at your home page, you need to make sure that people know where they are in relation to the rest of the site and how far away from the home page they are on each and every page.

2. What Can I Find Here?

The second question has to do with content. If someone searched for “mixed martial arts ann arbor michigan” in Google and lands on your page, are you relevant to what they are looking for? If not, or if it’s not readily apparent you are relevant, then they will like click the back button and go to another site that is.

3. Where Can I Go Next?

This has to do with the links on your page – primarily your navigation. Is your navigation intuitive or does your labeling confuse visitors? Does it give insight into what will be found on the other side of the click? Navigation needs to be inviting and intuitive. Anything less will decrease the user experience.

Like every store you enter, every Web site is different. You need to make it easy for people to know where they are, fulfill their need for information, and where they can go if they want to continue to snoop around.

Well, how did you do? Did your martial arts school Web site clearly answer these questions?

Top 5 Questions to Develop a Rock Solid Unique Selling Proposition for your Martial Art School

Ask These 5 Questions to Create a USP that Cuts Through the Clutter!

With so much competition out there, you need to have a targeted statement that helps you stand out and helps prospects understand who you are, what you do and what’s in it for them. It’s called a Unique Selling Proposition.

Here is a list of questions to ask yourself to help make sure you’re going the right direction.

  1. What are your biggest benefits? List out everything that can be a perceived benefit to your target.
  2. What do your competitors offer? List out everything that could be perceived a benefit. Then compare against your list.
  3. What do you offer that no one else is promoting? Is there gap you can fill?
  4. Is it unique? Does anyone else claim the same thing (or similar)?
  5. Does it solve your target markets problems?

You can also listen to your students and see what they tell you over and over as to why they chose you. If there is one thing that keeps coming up, start there first. If you don’t know why, just ask them (a topic of another post coming soon). Then step through questions 4 and 5 above to see if it’s a good candidate.

Follow that process and find the one thing that makes your stand out. Then put that key statement into your website, business card, sign, windows, brochure, or anywhere you market your martial arts school. Use it on everything.

Remember, a good USP makes all the difference in communicating the how you’re different and makes it easy for people to get an idea of who you are an what you do.

What additional questions would you add to this list? Can it be improved upon?

How to Get Testimonials that Influence Prospective New Martial Arts Students to Join

One the most common marketing recommendations you’ll read about is how you should add testimonials to everything you do to establish credibility. I couldn’t agree more. However, getting testimonials has always been a challenge for many martial arts school owners.

You can either wait for them to come to you or you can ask for them. That said, many people think they have to wait to for people to send them and that if they ask for them that it somehow cheapens things.

On this, I couldn’t disagree more.

Read on to learn about six questions you can ask to get higher quality testimonials.

If you don’t ask, the reality is that you will likely wait a long time before they come in. And, what’s more, is that you don’t always great testimonials that help influence prospective new students when you leave it up to your students to write them on their own accord.

Sure I appreciate and use testimonials I get from those who send them without me asking, but I don’t sit around and wait for them to come to me. I like to be a little more proactive.

Here is how I structure my request for testimonials. I simply ask them six very targeted open ended questions in the form of a questionnaire.

Six Questions To Get Better Testimonials

  1. What are your reasons for taking the martial art?
  2. What convinced you that this was the right place for you?
  3. In what ways has training in the martial arts affected your life?
  4. What do you like most about training here?
  5. How would you describe your training at our studio to your friends?
  6. Is there anything else you would like to add?

As you can see from my questions, I am asking questions that get them to open up about why why they joined, what they like about my martial arts school, how training with me has helped them in their every day life, and more. They are all open ended questions and get people to give you great insight into things you wouldn’t have likely gotten any other way.

Don’t be afraid to ask, oftentimes, you get a better testimonial because you guide things by asking the right questions. Ask for them. It works.

How do you go about getting testimonials for your martial arts school? Share your ideas in the form of a comment below!

Is Your Martial Arts Style Getting in the Way of Your Success?

I can’t tell you how often I drive by a martial arts school and all I see on their sign is “Insert Style Here.”

I’ve been in the martial arts nearly 20 years and I have no idea what some of the names mean or what kind of style it is.

If someone who reads Black Belt magazine basically every month, researches martial arts online every week, and has been in the arts for nearly 20 years doesn’t know what your style is or what it means, how confused do you think your prospects are?

Think about it this way…

If you drove by a sign that was written in Japanese, and assuming you didn’t know that language, would you be able to read it? That’s basically what you sign looks like if you’re placing too much emphasis on your style with your businesses identity.

Consider your audience before coming up with a name for your business. If your target audience doesn’t know how to pronounce it or what it means, it could mean it’s getting in the way of growing your studio.

Remember, just because your style means a lot to you, doesn’t mean it means anything to your prospective new student at the point they are evaluating what martial arts school to join. In time, that may change, but first, you have to get them in the door.

Are you guilty of letting your style get in the way of your success?

9 Reasons Why Your Martial Arts School Still Needs a Website

Some martial arts school owners have said there is little reason anymore to have a website with free services available like Google Places and Facebook Fan Pages.

And, I couldn’t disagree more.

My answer?

Every single professional martial arts school should have its own website. Yes. Absolutely. With out a doubt. Period.

Some would argue that because those tools are free, there is no reason to pay to have a website.

There are many things wrong with that line of thinking.

Primarily, social media sites aren’t for selling.

They are about creating, maintaining and nurturing relationships.

(Read that again… one more time…)

They aren’t for selling!

That’s where you website comes in.

Its purpose is to sell.

Its not an after thought…

It doesn’t support your social media efforts…

It drives your online marketing and should be your online destination of choice.

Your website is the hub and the free sites like Facebook are the spokes. It’s not the other way around.

(Read that again… one more time…)

Here’s are 9 reasons why it’s important to have your own dedicated martial arts website:

  1. You own the site. Your martial arts schools website is an asset. Treat it as something valuable as it is your flagship property in the digital world.
  2. You can sell. A website is the place to sell, not on social media. Social media is about relationships, not selling.
  3. Email capture. Remember: Having your email listed on a page isn’t the same as a form that captures their email. While possible to add onto Facebook Fan Pages, it’s not something you can do on most social media websites.
  4. It projects professionalism. With a professionally designed website, your small karate dojo can project the image and professionalism of a much larger martial arts chain. Beware: The inverse is also true. With most free social media sites, you don’t have a choice on what it looks like.
  5. Makes you easier to compare. Your prospects expect a website. If you don’t have one, it makes you hard to find and compare.
  6. You have a branded domain. I get hit up by “SEO experts” spam all the time (funny, I know) and they use a free email account like hotmail, yahoo or gmail. I don’t trust them because without a domain name at the end of their email, they aren’t a real business. Having your own branded domain name (www.yourmartialartsschool.com) and email (yourname@yourmartialartschool.com) not only helps brand your business it also helps establish your credibility as a business. When it reads “yourmartialartschool.freesite.com” it’s not very easy to share and it makes you look cheap. Not only that, it’s harder to remember.
  7. Better Analytics. With your own website, you gain deeper insight into your traffic with tools like Google Analytics. Most social media websites provide little-to-no analytics. Even when they do, they are pretty shallow in comparison.
  8. Search Engine Optimization options. Back links are cold hard digital cash when it comes to ranking higher. Having your website that sells at the top of the search engine results is paramount to your businesses success. When you own your own site, you have full control over how the site is set up for search engine optimization. You don’t on a free site.
  9. Distraction free landing pages. When something’s free, there is always some kind of interference. Whether it’s a pop up ad, banner ads, text link ads, Adsense or whatever there is always a cost and it always gets in the way of getting a lead.

Sure, those free online tools are great but they shouldn’t replace your own branded website.

Do you agree that you should have your own website? Share you thoughts in the form of a comment!

How to Present Your Martial Arts Schedule

One of the most important pages every martial arts school’s website should have is a page posting your class schedule.

If you offer a robust schedule, I recommend that you create a single page that has a simple grid that spells out your schedule by day, time, and program. Make this so easy an 5th grader could understand it. If you you only teach one or two days, you might just want to include your schedule on the frequently asked questions page.

If you have  have decided to post your class schedule you’ll want to make sure it’s something that doesn’t lead to confusion. Keep your calendar simple and informative. Don’t try and clutter it with tons of details.

Remember, the purpose of your calendar is so your prospects can see the variety of options you offer should they decide to join you martial arts school. By making it easy to follow and read, you are displaying a sense of professionalism and order about your business. If someone can’t follow your schedule and creates confusion, it could just as easily turn them away.

If you don’t have many class options available because you only teach certain days and times, it may be wiser not to publish it.

Here are some samples to help get your creative juices flowing:

  1. Inosanto Academy
  2. One World Self-Defense
  3. Lynxx Academy
  4. Tristar Martial Arts
  5. Gracie Academy
  6. Kovar’s Satori Academy of Martial Arts
  7. Combat Systems
  8. All Star Martial Arts and Fitness

Do you have a killer martial arts class schedule on your website? Share a link in the comments below!

Should your Martial Arts School be using Social Media?

You’ve probably heard all the buzz about social media.

But should your martial arts school even use it?

For starters, lets look at what social media is so we’re all on the same page.

What is Social Media?

Social media is word of mouth on digital steroids.

Social media describes content that is posted by users on various online platforms. Examples of social media include forums, blogs, microblogs, wikis, podcasts, videos, photo sharing sites and more. Social media applications include Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Flickr.

Social Media Statistics

Watch this video to get an idea of the importance of social media and why you should pay attention to it:

So, um….yeeeaah… you need to pay attention to it.

Thoughts on Social Media for Your Martial Arts Business

  • It’s public. You’re not the only one who can find the good, bad and the ugly about your business online. Potential students are looking for reviews and info on what’s being said about your martial arts school. I check my Google Analytics account regularly for what keywords are being used to find my site. Increasingly, people are adding “reviews” on the end of my schools name so I know people are doing this (at least to me).
  • Get ahead of it. Social media might not be your thing, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Dip your toes in now and at least see what’s being said. By having an established and active presence, if something does hit the fan, you will have history for spectators to better compare against to make a more informed opinion. If you have a student or instructor who’s particularly savvy with it, have them train you on how to get involved.
  • Be responsive. At some point someone will say something online that may do damage to your businesses reputation. Hopefully you don’t experience what is happening to these martial arts schools on RipOffReport.com. Monitor your martial arts schools name by using tools like Google Alerts and respond as soon as it hits your radar. DO NOT WAIT. Whether it is positive or negative, it’s still good to respond.
  • Listen. Really listen. If people are making criticisms, are they valid? If they offer suggestions, can you incorporate them into your business? One way or the other, address these by responding to them wherever they may appear. I can’t tell you how many good suggestions have come my way since starting my Facebook Fan Page for my martial arts school.
  • It gets easier the more you do it. It takes time to get used to updating and monitoring social media. However, if you build it into your routine and schedule it you will be more on top of it as the days go on.
  • Everyone is a marketer. Using social networks, everyone at your school is a potential marketer. Your students and instructors might already be posting information and helping to you grow your martial arts school. This should be encouraged and even rewarded at times.

With social media you can publicly resolve unsolved issues… address bad customer experiences… thank people for praise and ideas… promote a special offer… run a contest… and more.

Taking your first step into social media will also help you to connect with existing students and potential students in a way your competitors might not be; which can help you build a competitive advantage.

How do you use social media at your martial arts school?

Top 10 Search Engine Optimization Tips for Higher Search Engine Rankings in 2020

It’s a dog-eat-dog world in the competitive realm of search engine rankings Every business is trying to get to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) under those search terms that people type in that best reflect what they sell. It’s a neverending competition of refining numerous elements on your website and elsewhere to constantly jockey for a better position on a search giant like Google and smaller ones like Bing.

This fierce competition is not without good reason. The top three listings on the first page of search results get about 75 percent of all clicks. Also, most users won’t scroll past the fifth result. So, if you really want results from your search engine optimization efforts, you not only need to be on the first page of results but you have to be at or very near the top. Depending on your industry and the level of competition within it, this can be extremely challenging. It’s one reason any business should have a diversified marketing approach. That being said, there are tips and strategies that should increase your chances of getting high rankings.

Target Long-Tail Keywords

One primary way to get high rankings on the SERPs under keywords that bring you targeted prospects that are likely to buy is to be selective and specific about what keywords you focus on. For example, if you sell computer components, every other seller of components will be trying to get a high ranking under the keyword “hard drives” or “solid state drive.” You need to get more specific, and you accomplish this by using long-tail keywords.

If you know you have a page selling a “Seagate 3.5-inch internal hard drive” then try using that as the focus keyword for the page on your site for that product. You might at least have a chance of getting near the top of organic search results in this type of longer, more specific keyword, whereas it will be virtually impossible under something as generic as “hard drives.”


Having a website that is mobile-friendly has not been optional for years now if you want any hope of scoring good search engine rankings. Google has about 86 percent of the search engine market share with Bing coming in at around 6.5 percent. In April of 2015, Google came out with a major algorithm update that gave a boost to mobile-friendly webpages when it comes to search rankings. Currently, if you type “how to test website mobile-friendly” into Google, the first result is a box where you can paste the URL of your website and then click the “run test” button. The following page on this simple test will show you details on any page loading issues.

Technical SEO

This primarily refers to ensuring your website has its coding, framework and navigation optimized for the search engines to be able to quickly and efficiently crawl and index your site. The goal is to see to it that the infrastructure of your site offers no impediment to Google or Bing doing their job in getting your site evaluated for a search ranking.

Have a Secure Site

You need a secure website if you want a shot at a high search ranking. Many search engines will show a warning indicating a website is unsecured if it uses HTTP protocol instead of the secure HTTPS. You need to buy, activate and install an SSL certificate as part of the process to upgrade to HTTPS. Aside from search ranking considerations, potential e-commerce shoppers will have peace of mind knowing that data passing through your website’s server is encrypted.

Local Landing Pages and Listings

The importance of local SEO will depend on what type of business you are in. If you are an e-commerce retailer selling goods nationally, then it may not be too important to you. If, however, you are a service business in a given locality that depends on regular foot traffic from people in that locality for your survival, then it becomes critical.

To help with local search optimization, you can add geo-targeted keywords that give the locations you serve to those keywords that tell searchers what you are offering. For instance, a divorce attorney in the Atlanta area might be under keywords such as “divorce attorney Dunwoody” or “divorce attorney Sandy Springs.” It will be smart to have a separate landing page on your website that is focused on each of these geographic keywords. You also want to ensure you are listed in any local directories relevant to your type of business.

Optimize for Voice Search

When coming up with keywords to focus on, you should consider how people might speak a search as opposed to how they may type it. With smartphones so prevalent, voice search is here to stay and will only be growing in the foreseeable future. In addition, even people making a computer search from home might be speaking their search phrase into an Amazon Echo or a Google Home smart speaker.

For starters, someone on their phone will be out who knows where and will want to find a business near them. A popular part of any search phrase, therefore, would be the words “near me.” Because they are out, they’ll also be more interested in finding a place “open now.” Think about how you would change the wording of searches depending on whether you are typing one in at home on a laptop or desktop versus doing so when you’re out and about.


Many aspects of search engine optimization have to do with things you do on your website. The content, navigation, coding, overall design plus ensuring it has an XML sitemap and other things that help search engines find their way around on it. Google and other search engines also want to see how the rest of the internet is interacting with your website. This is where backlinks come into the picture.

When you place a listing in a local internet directory for your business, it will include a link back to your website. This is an example of a backlink. The more quality websites that have links back to your site, the more authoritative your website will look in the eyes of Google and Bing, which only enhances your search rank position.

Website Speed

It almost doesn’t matter how good your website is if it doesn’t load quickly. It has been found that 53 percent of sites visited from mobile devices are abandoned if they take longer than three seconds to load. There are enough ways to speed up your website that this could be a separate article unto itself. Fast-loading pages are important for search ranking as well as not losing sales to potential customers.

Don’t Neglect YouTube Optimization

Aside from Google, YouTube should be a focus of your SEO efforts. Beyond being the most popular video site on the internet, it’s also the second biggest search engine. Under innumerable topics that you type into Google, there will be video results, and most of these videos will be on YouTube. This is in addition to people searching on YouTube itself for videos about products or services that cover your company’s field or industry. Try to pick titles for your videos that are focused around a targeted keyword and that will make someone want to click it to watch the video. Video is great for engaging visitors, so you can put them on your website to enhance its search engine optimization as well as on your YouTube channel.

Provide a Positive User Experience

Many of the individual changes you can make to a website to enhance its position in search rankings all add up to providing a superior user experience. Fast-loading and mobile-friendly pages, a secure website and a technically optimized site with content that gives people the information they need to make a decision about your good or service. This all adds up to a website that people will consider valuable and want to hang around on, which also helps your search ranking position.

Search Engine Optimization for Martial Arts School Websites

Even though you may be just a humble karate dojo or other martial art school instructor you’ll still need to master search engine optimization (SEO) if you want your martial arts school website to compete against other schools in your area.

In this short guide we’ll cover the basics of what you’ll need to know to SEO your martial art school website.

Your martial art school must load as fast as your kicks, and be secure, too

SEO has changed substantially over the past decade, and especially within the last five years. Website security and page speed are now very important factors in how Google indexes and displays websites.

The faster your site loads, the better it will rank on Google. It also must pass Google’s mobile compatibility test, too.

Likewise your website will be penalized if it does not have an SSL security certificate. Google made this controversial update several years ago, likely in a desire to force everyone to use SSL certificates for their websites (which Google as a domain registrar and web hosting company sells). The vast majority of websites really don’t need SSL certificates for any key thing, and it is really something only e-commerce based sites should need to have, but Google’s update has made SSL something every website wishing to be competitive in the rankings must now possess. In many instances simply adding an SSL certificate to a website will cause it to shoot up in search engine rankings, especially if it already has legacy authority to it.

Backlinks are one of the most important aspects of SEO

While Google still uses a primarily citation based model where backlinks count as votes for a website’s popularity and importance, simply spamming the internet with backlinks to your site will not work anymore as it once did years ago, and can actually have a negative impact. The negative values of websites can transfer to your site if they link to it, which is why Google Search Console has disavow link tools for verified site owners.

“Backlink” spamming services such as seen on popular freelancer sites fiverr and such, will almost entirely be useless to you, as these “marketing experts” still do things that were designed to take advantage of old ways that Google operated but which were killed during the Panda update in 2011. This means for a decade these tactics have not worked and will actually harm your rankings. Even though these spammy services no longer are effective the freelancers will push them, because it is easy to spam the internet with backlinks on trash sites than it is to actually do professional SEO.

In the current digital landscape of how search engines like Google and Bing operate there is really only one way for a new website to earn its way to the front page of search engine results. You have to have articles regularly appearing that I call ‘search engine bait’ and these articles must be much better bait than any of your competitors have produced.

What is Search Engine Bait?

Search engine bait are articles that answer popular search engine queries, which are almost always a question. Search engines by design are built for people to ask a question and get an answer. That is the whole point. So if your title is not structured in the form of a question or an answer to a question you will almost never see that page rank on the first page of results when someone types that question into the search box.

For free means of discovering these queries you can just start typing a question into Google, and the related search queries will appear in a menu below the field — the auto suggestion options. All of these are popular search queries but they don’t show you how much search traffic can be obtained by ranking for these keywords, but still this is better than nothing.

There are several paid services which allow you to do more in-depth keyword research although their estimates of traffic are not accurate. There are many ways that traffic can be estimated, and sometimes it comes from Google APIs but other times it comes from a keyword services’ own browser spyware that has been injected into browser plugins and mobile apps, as well as featured in cookies. While these methods are not laser-focused accuracy on the precise amounts of traffic they do give a general range of what traffic can be had. In some cases traffic for specific keyword phrases can be ten times higher than what these services depict in their databases.

The biggest mistake in martial art school SEO is focusing exclusively on ranking for keywords specifically about martial arts. You do need to rank for those keywords, but this will only gain you the attention of people specifically seeking information about martial art schools. This is generally a very small amount of traffic. What is far more popular is for people to search for things like fitness classes and after school programs, which is what you should devote time to blogging about on your martial art school website. You should also consider what other kinds of interests apply to your martial art; for example if your martial art has appeared in popular media such as TV shows and movies, then you should write articles about that and how people can learn those fighting styles at your studio.

The best thing to do is make a list of every conceivable interest or activity that is related to martial arts and then produce dozens of 1,000+ word blog article about these topics to feature on your martial art studio website, and then make sure you make them relevant to the particular city that you are operating in. That will give you the best results for competing for local search engine traffic against your martial art school competitors.

Can you still lose rank positions to competitor sites with fewer backlinks?

Yes, absolutely. This frequently happens today because the competitor website has a better user experience (faster load times, less errors in code, has structured information to better solve user intention, etc) while also having far superior content on its articles that better answers questions within that field.

Simply put, search engines like Google know if your website has a poor layout and a bunch of issues that create a bad user experience and they also have algorithms to determine if your website is providing high quality information relevant to that niche (like, for example, Tae Kwon Do or Aikido). So if your website isn’t top-notch you won’t be able to compete against websites that are, even if you have far more domain authority than they do.

A lot of “SEO professional” work these days is just replacing someone’s severely outdated WordPress install with a better theme that is mobile compliant, or moving the site to a better server that allows it to load faster. Then the “pro” charges you hundreds of dollars per month as your site starts working up the rankings.

Look the reality is it can take 4-6 months to get high rankings for very competitive keywords but this is when we’re talking about international competition for keywords. Local competition is way, way easier. I can guarantee you that if I did SEO on a local karate club website I could get it to the first page of results within a couple of weeks for keywords like “learn karate [Your city]” and “karate school [Your city]”. Even in very large cities there often is only a handful of martial art academies that have the kind of SEO work done that is necessary to be competitive, and can be easily kicked down the charts by just writing a couple good articles, updating the website theme, add an SSL certificate and installing a few key plugins, such as for security and faster page loading.

It does not take a ton of money, or even a huge amount of hours, to do search engine optimization to improve a martial art school rankings in local search results. Anyone can do it if they just learn the basics, and that includes you.