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.