This is just a baby thought I had about SEO.
I overheard some folks at the gym I go to talking about SEO. It was a part-owner of the gym, talking about an SEO firm they were in contact with to help them with the gym website and reaching more people. A concern all businesses share: how do we sell to more people.
In the context of a gym, sales will be limited to a pretty narrow geographic region. With rare exception, people don’t drive clear across town to go to the gym, because gyms are largely a commodity and dotted all over cities. So the available market is humans in this narrow geographic region who want to join a gym.
Two more facts:
- This gym is named: [name of neighborhood] fitness.
- It comes up very easily in all manner of web and map searches.
I can’t imagine what an SEO company can do for this gym, aside from a general lookover of the site for best practices and light advice.
SEO is all about search, and this gym already comes up in the relevant searches. There is no magic to work here. Search engines want to help you find what you are looking for, and they are doing their jobs well here already. Some other kinds of marketing and advertising might help get more folks in the door, but search is fine.
If search wasn’t fine, then sure, it seems warranted to try and figure out why and get the business showing up for the relevant searches.
I also overheard what the SEO company wanted: $2,500/month.
It’s not surprising to me why so many web folks roll their eyes and sneer at SEO consultants and agencies. That seems highly predatory.
$2,500 could go a long way in local advertising, actually reaching people in different ways.
Well said, Chris. The SEO company could assist in offering additional content strategies, targeting new services that the gym is offering, which would pull customers from a wider range.
In my area, we have a Lifetime Fitness which pulls customers from beyond the typical 5-mile radius. If gym targets specific offerings such as tanning services, which their competition does not offer, they will be able to hit a specific segment and can draw customers from their competition.
A sad-but-true tale. It’s unfortunate when a company knows they’re not the right fit, but takes what they can get anyway to improve their own bottom in lieu of actually helping the client reach their goal.
re: “SEO is all about search, and this gym already comes up in the relevant searches.”
Um. Well. Yes and no.
In many / most cases I believe SEO is used more universally. For example, page speed effects SEO. As does social presence and social sharing. Etc. Etc. Etc. That is, there’s more to optimizing for search than only search.
Put another way, at the end of the day the Google algorithm just wants to be human. That is, what a Google (or Bing) SERP recommends should be what a real human would recommend – if real human recommendations could scale – given all the various signals. In that context, SEO is NOT “all about search.” In order to get to search a lot of ground has to be covered (i.e., “optimized”).
In short, I would imagine there is plenty a “SEO” outfit could do for that client.
I wasn’t also at the same gym to overhear the conversation, but to play devil’s advocate for a few minutes:
In the town that I live in, there are about 6 gyms. The gym that I live closest to, about a mile from my home, I’ve never set foot in. The next closest gym, about 3 miles away, I’ve never been in. I occasionally get a membership to the next furthest one (It’s only $10 month). The next furthest one is too small and full of meatheads. Finally, sometimes I’ll get a day/week pass to go to one even further away, because they have an indoor pool.
In other words- there are a lot of reasons to choose a gym, and “this is the closest” isn’t the tiebreaker, for me.
At first glance, $2500 a month seems steep, I can’t disagree there. But at the same time, what is the gym receiving in return for that? If the SEO company is not a scam (in my experience, most SEO companies that are willing to set foot in your business are pretty legit), I’m sure they will insist on setting up the proper goals in analytics. If they can show a clear path that their work has moved the “New Member Signup” needle 300-400% in a positive direction, isn’t that a good investment for the gym owner?
In my opinion, SEO these days SHOULD cost well over $1000 a month. This isn’t 2005 where we could build some links or get some guest blog posts and suddenly we’d have a high page rank. In 2017, SEO probably includes writing a 10x blog post every week, maintaining citations on dozens of websites, publishing daily content to social media websites, and maintaining relationships on review sites like Yelp or whatever is important to your industry. If the business owner can justify the ROI, why wouldn’t they pay someone $2500 a month? It’s still less expensive than bringing in a full time SEO employee for upwards of $50k.
For a more direct comparison to “our” industry (web design), a few months ago, I built a site for a lawn maintenance company (not landscaping, all they do is treat lawns). Their previous Squarespace site generated 0 leads on an average month. I charged them $5k for a new website, and now they are receiving 10 leads on average each month now. We determined that each lead is worth $200 to them. In less than half a year, that site has paid for itself. We have the numbers to back it up. The business owner sees the additional signups and income, and knows that they got a decent return on their investment. Isn’t that all they care about? Whether it’s web design or SEO? (Disclaimer: I sell SEO services with every website I build.)
Again, I wasn’t there, maybe it was a scam, no idea. But if you want to get results for your SEO, it’s like anything else- you get what you pay for. You will always get better results from someone spending 20 hours a week working on your SEO than someone spending 5 hours a week…
$2,500 sounds very steep just for SEO services. I’d advise the Gym owner to invest part of that budget into content marketing as well as Social Media Marketing. It’s just sad to see business owners investing so much into something that wont make much of an impact.
I know its a bit off topic from SEO, however, I find Facebook ads perfect for targeting a specific location and theres many tutorials on how to do this, such as Udemy.
Is there a college football stadium nearby? For $5 a game or $35 for a season they could buy a SnapChat geofilter for within a couple of miles of the stadium on game days.
This might even work for high school football. I think it is a screaming bargain for certain kinds of businesses that can be tied to sports.