Getting to the top of Google search is never easy.
However, Raphael Bender from the Melbourne Pilate’s Studio – Breathe Wellbeing – and a long-time listener of the show, has built a $1.5 million dollar p.a. Pilates business almost 100% off the back of some very smart search engine optimisation – AKA, setting up your website so that it ranks on page 1 of Google for search results relevant to their business. So I asked Raphael if he’d share how he did it and he agreed. Read on …
It’s been a long journey to the top of page 1 of Google, and we’ve tried a bunch of things.
Our basic SEO tactics are as follows:
1. URL (page address) including keyword e.g. breathewellbeing.com.au/Education-pilates-instructor-training.html
2. Meta tags (no more than 5 per page)
3. Page title including the same keyword e.g. Breathe Education | Melbourne Australia | Pilates Instructor Training
4. Heading 1 and 2 tags using the same keyword
5. image “alt” tags (the text that your browser displays if the image doesn’t load) using the same keyword e.g. This is an image of Tamika learning to teach Pilates at Breathe Education Melbourne Australia Pilates instructor training
6. Lots of keywords embedded in the body copy
7. We update the website at least weekly so it stays fresh.
8. Whenever we send out information it’s never a pdf, always a link back to our website to increase traffic, and thus ranking
9. We don’t send a direct link to our secure booking website (which has a hidden url). Instead we direct clients via our main website through a link – so they have to visit our website every week to book their classes – thus increasing traffic and page rank.
At the start of the optimisation process we searched our search terms (Pilates Melbourne CBD/ Yoga Melbourne CBD and variants) and saw who came up in the top 3. We then did a google search on their web address (in this case Matrix Pilates and
Yoga, and saw all the back-links they had generated: Many of these were in paid, and even free directories. We followed them around and listed ourselves in all the exact same directories (including the Eastern Suburbs Soccer League listing!). We then
did the same for the second and third rank pages for our keywords. This seemed to work. Matrix subsequently went out of business, as have 2 of our other local competitors.
As we got a bit more savvy we’ve got some cool software programs that do some of the work for us – Market Samurai to check keywords and page rank, Zen Tester to split test our page layouts and content for conversion rates.
We’ve automated the sales process too. The prospect goes from their initial google search all the way through to purchase without requiring any human intervention on our part, just the auto-responders that are generated depending on their actions as they go through the funnel. Currently we’re converting at about 30%.
I came from a sales background in the Fitness industry. When we first opened the business in 2007 we had a very aggressive sales and marketing campaign, but very old school – flyers at the train station, accosting people outside the business, local paper ads, corporate outreach (aka cold calls) and hundreds of lead boxes. We employed 6 full time GUN sales people with massive track records in fitness direct sales. We didn’t tell the price over the phone, we got the prospect down and showed them the studio then we tried to close them at the end for a 12 month membership. We failed abysmally and almost went under.
Eventually we’ve realised that our market actually doesn’t want to be sold to. Of course everyone always says they don’t like being pressure sold to, but then most people buy stuff when they are pressure sold, so go figure. However in our case the people of Melbourne weren’t joking – they really don’t like being sold to. So one by one we got rid of our entire sales team, we published our prices online, and automated the sales funnel so prospects were encouraged to make up their own minds in their own time at home. Suddenly people were buying from us in droves.
We currently employ no sales people and do not ever try to ‘close’ a client face to face or on the phone. We just offer them the information and they choose to buy (usually online). Over 90% of our sales come through our website with no human intervention at any stage of the process – so when a new customer walks into the studio for the first time they’ve usually already purchased online and booked their first class online, often without ever talking to us. Of course we still have a few people wander in off the street (our one concession to above the line marketing is a presence at street level, with signage and flyers on display in the entrance to our building).
What do you think? Do you love it? Has Raphael missed anything?
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