Category Archives: Online Findability

Great SEO link for your studio’s website

Map of indoor cycling studios around the world
Click to add your website and other information to our global listing of Indoor Cycling Studios.

Looking to improve the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) of your studio’s website?

Silly question; of course you want to improve how easy it is for potential clients to find your website and then hopefully become a long-term customer.

Our global list of Indoor Cycling Studios at is a great place to create an authoritative link back to your site, which can help your site’s SEO – especially if your studio and domain URL is new.

Search engines like Google look at multiple factors before delivering a result to any search. Beyond on good page content and meta description, links back to your website are like votes telling Google your site is a good choice to display.

But just as there are people you trust more than others for recommendations, some websites have more authority (trust) than others.

So please take a few minutes to add your studio listings at

The key to a great website is…

Fitness Studio Website Design
Now that I’m helping Cycle, Yoga and Pilates studios create beautiful websites, I’m learning even more that the key is great pictures!

I often get asked, “My studio is under construction- do you have stock photos I can use?” Yes, we have many stock photos our clients can use, but I encourage all my studio owners to hire, barter, negotiate, (beg?) the services of a professional photographer at the onset. A few good, original photos are better than a dozen stock photos.

No studio yet? No problem!  Grab some great shots of you and your instructors doing cool things- outside and around the town where your studio is located. Include familiar landmarks so potential new customers will recognize your location. Close ups of old and new bikes/ jerseys with familiar logos/ bike shoes/ helmets/ roads/ people being active are all eye catching. Can you get a photo of the outside of your building, or even your sign as it sits in waiting to be put up? How about taking one of the indoor bikes your studio will have and bringing it outside somewhere?

I know your studio is going to be wildly successful. The great head shots you begged, bartered, or negotiated for the ‘about us’ section of your website will come in handy each time an article is written about your studio and they want to include a picture of you- the owner (of course they do)!

A website doesn’t have to be expensive to be visually appealing. The website at the top is and it has just a few professional photos for background and head shots of the trainers. The rest are taken with an iphone 5S. This works brilliantly!

If you take professional photos and add in cool design elements like Charla and Coleman did for their Time Trial Cycle studio  you get a site like this:

desiging a new fitness studio website

And here is yoga practitioner Andrew Tanner’s site:

yoga studio website design

Andrew has just a couple professional pictures and the rest is youtube videos and iphone photos- works great!

Having the ability (and capability) to change out photos quickly and easily is something I’ll talk about in another post. Keeping things fresh and appealing, without having to wait on, or pay a webmaster, is a feature you may want in your studio website. It happens to be something that’s included with every design at the company I work for- LiveEdit.

Are you opening a studio? How exciting! If you’d like to talk about your website plans and options, I’d love to help.

You can reach me: or feel free to call me anytime 320.685.0183.

MINDBODY Connect looks very cool – have you tried it?

MINDBODY Connect iPhone and Android for Indoor Cycling and fitness studios

MINDBODY sent me an email announcement about their new Connect App for Apple or Android devices. By leveraging the GPS location service in a user’s device (40% of all class registrations are by phones), Connect will display all the service providers near by that are using MINDBODY Online.

This App is very clever, benefiting both you as a studio and your current (and future) customers.

Not to mention completely free for you and your customers.

I saw this comment on their page in the iTunes store:

Love this soooo much! I can see my schedule across all my favorite wellness providers, buy class passes and other services as needed. And, I don’t need to go to each individual website to find class schedules, phone numbers, etc. It’s all in one place. No more multiple logins

In the past, we have encouraged studio owners to optimize their listings in Google Places/Maps and on Yelp, for the purpose of making sure your studio appears in location based searches. You can think of MINDBODY Connect as another location based search tool, where fitness minded customers can discover your studio and then easily find a class.

Here’s a short video that describes some of the features.

Build a relationship… starting with your greeting.

If you saw the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report, you may remember how people are instantly identified (through a high-tech eye scan) as they walk into a retail store. The interactive merchandise displays changed to reflect the information on file for each new customer as they walk by.

Hearing; “Hello Mr. Macgowan, we have your cycle reserved and ready for you” from a front desk attendant as I walk into your studio, would be a nice initial touch point. While MINDBODY Connect doesn’t include any sophisticated scanning technology, it does know exactly where I am – as long as I have my iPhone in my pocket – which I do close to 100% of my day.

If you aren’t using MINDBODY you can give it a 30 day test drive here.

MINDBODY users will want to confirm their studio’s listing on both platforms. You can download Connect for Apple and Android 





Your Yelp Listing Has Become Very Important

This search result will cost you $$$

Teaching a great class is important to building your attendance numbers, but new students need to first find your studio. Mobile search has become very important with 10’s of millions of smart phone users and we’ve talked here before about the need to claim and update your Google Maps/Places listings.

But everything changed with Apple’s iOS 6 update for iPhones and iPads. Apple no longer uses Google Maps data, replacing it with their own mapping system that appears to rely heavily on Yelp for business listings.

A Best Practice for studio owners and managers is to confirm that your facility is correctly listed and displays properly on both iPhone and Android devices. The easiest way to do this is grab one of both types, stand in the parking lot and search for your studio using the Maps function.

My recommendation is to search by:

  • Your business name
  • Your speciality; Spinning Studio, Indoor Cycling studio, Fitness Club, etc…
  • Common Keywords; Spin, Cycle, Fitness, weight loss, etc…

If you aren’t showing up on an iPhone running the new iOS 6.x (Apple’s new Map App shows a “3D” tab in the bottom LH corner) it’s time to add or update your Yelp Business Listing. Follow that link to create a free profile and then search for and claim your listing, if you haven’t already.

If you’ve spent time with Google Maps you may be frustrated by how limited Yelp is, when it comes to categorizing your business. My suggestion is to fully develop the Bio’s of each Instructor and manager. It’s in these descriptions where you can reinforce specific keywords that will hopefully help searchers find you and your class 🙂

The Thing About Content Marketing

IDEA Fitness Connect for indoor cycling studios
Click to Create Your Profiles

Is you never know who will see it… or what will come from it 🙂

I’ve written here frequently about Content Marketing to attract new customers to your Club or Studio. I see it as a simple, effective and most importantly FREE method of becoming more findable online.

Here’s a great example of how Content Marketing can work for you and how it could lead to new and unexpected results.

In August 2010 IDEA launched their new FitnessConnect Professional Directory. Recognizing this as something very cool I wrote a number of articles about FitnessConnect and then interviewed a representative from IDEA for an episode of the Indoor Cycle Instructor Podcast.

My interest in writing the articles and producing the Podcast was two fold:

  1. I see the FitnessConnect professional directory as an excellent free service that every Instructor and Studio owner should be taking advantage of. I list a number of reasons why here.
  2. IDEA is the largest fitness education provider in the USA. Instructors go there looking for fitness education and many are Indoor Cycling Instructors = my target market for my ICI/PRO service. I created Content (articles and Podcasts) about FitnessConnect in the hope that an Instructor looking for information on FitnessConnect in Google would find (Marketing)

But I didn’t expect this:  

Dear John,

I’m currently writing an article about IDEA FitnessConnect (IFC) for IDEA Fitness Journal (scheduled for publication January 2012). The article will highlight the impact IFC has had on the industry, as well as, fitness professionals since its launch.

I came across your Fitness Studio Marketing blog/podcast and listened to your interview with Mike Bannan. Your enthusiasm for helping fit pros better market themselves lends itself to this article very well. I think our readers would find great value in hearing your comments with respect to IFC.

This same kind of request could come from your local newspaper for the simple reason that reporters, like the one who contacted me, use Google for research. You just need to create something for them to find.

Has anyone proofread your website? Part 2

In Part 1 I discussed the importance of having someone else proofread your website. The idea is to go beyond typos and miss-spellings and check for missing critical information and then test that all your links work properly.

I’ve shared this story about  number of times about a Studio Owner I met on a flight back from last year’s IDEA Fitness convention. The short version… I wanted to contact this person, except I lost her business card. I remembered her first name, the city where her studio is located and that her primary focus was Personal Training. Armed with this info and the power of Google search, you would think I would be able to find her studio, right? Nope. I found multiple Personal Training business, but not her’s.

Here’s where I got confused… I later found her business card and called her. During the conversation I told her how I was unable to find her using the Google. She didn’t want to hear it. She actually got defensive and told me she wouldn’t want any client who found her studio online. She only wanted customers who came to her via a word of mouth recommendation.

Does that make sense to you?

Maybe she had a bad experience that makes her overly cautious or she isn’t comfortable with computers. It may also be that she had someone create a website for her who told her everything had already been done. We hear this a lot;”the person who built my website told me it could take months before is will show up in search engine results.” Not true. The sites I build typically show up the same day.

As a business owner, can you afford not to be found online?

Have you had someone proofread your website’s online findability for?

  • Search Engine results in Google, Yahoo & Bing?
  • Places (Maps) Listings?
  • Mobile search results?
  • Social Network sites like FaceBook, Yelp & IDEA’s Fitness Connect?
  • Do you have an understanding of the traffic your website gets each month?

It’s not enough to think “I have a website” and call it good. Will people find it when they are searching for a business similar to yours? Is your website and other listings bringing you actual customers?

Will you take the steps necessary to fix it if you find a problem?

I’m offering to proofread member websites for free over the month of June. Contact me to to learn more

Has anyone proofread your website? Part 1

Twice this week I wanted to find the physical address for two Indoor Cycling Studios. Both times I was unsuccessful finding it on their websites…

The first was when I received an inquiry about attending the ICI/PRO conference. I followed the link in the owner’s email signature to see where they were located. I clicked every link on the site… no address anywhere. Then I searched for a Google Places listing… nothing.

Please check out this post about what I see as step #1 for marketing your Indoor Cycling Studio.

Today I had a similar experience. Their website name does include the town where they are located, but no address is listed anywhere I could find it. Because I knew to look, I was able to find a very complete Google Places listing that answered my question.

Most of us have a kind of tunnel vision when it comes to reviewing something we have created. I know that I can easily re-read something I have written and my brain will add in some missing word. That’s why I have Angela, my part-time assistant. One of her regular tasks is to proofread my websites for typos, missing and misspelled copy. If she finds something she will go in and make any needed changes. This works great up to a point, with Angela finding and correcting obvious errors. Because she isn’t in the fitness industry and she isn’t an Instructor, Angela can’t know what’s; missing, confusing or factually inaccurate, in what she is reading.

My point here is that “discovering” you have overlooked some key website function, or piece of information, maybe for weeks, months or longer, is not good for your Studio business.

Beyond typos and miss-spellings, have you had someone else proofread your website for:

  • Easy to find Contact, Location and Class Registration information?
  • Every link goes to where it’s supposed to go?
  • MBO links are all formated correctly and test purchases go through completely?
  • Your email subscription signup works as intended?

Once you having everything tested and functioning properly, the next step should be proofreading your on-line findability. Stay tuned for Part 2

Example of content marketing for related local events


Example of local event content marketing
In ten minutes I have the #1 listing

You have heard Bill Pryor and I discuss how powerful content marketing can be because it works! Your goal is to have potential clients find your website and someone interested in a local Cycling Expo couldn’t be a better match!

In all of ten minutes I have the top listing that answers a typical question someone is asking online. Here’s what happened and how I got on the front page of Google:

  1. My wife Amy called me this morning on her way to the club. “Did you know there is Bike Expo at the Eden Prairie community center?”
  2. I didn’t, so I Googled; Bike Expo Eden Prairie community center and found the cities website where they have a page that describes the; What, When and Where details.
  3. I created the post below and gave it the title; When is the Eden Prairie cycling expo?
  4. In the post I added the What, When and Where details.
  5. I also copied the cities header banner to use as the post image – and I added Eden Prairie Bike Expo to the image’s meta description.
  6. Because of how this website is configured, when I click “Publish” Google is notified. My new post appeared almost instantly 🙂
  7. If I had an actual studio, would have placed some type of discount offer at the end of the post. Be creative. Local businesses have been asking us to “bring in the stub from your movie ticket” since movie theaters first opened.

Now in case you’re thinking; “John, who really does stuff like this?” Check out this post on the website for a local apartment building. They understand the value of content marketing. Notice that they are targeting the exactly what I was posting about… except they aren’t on the first page.

Why does this work for me, but the apartment’s website isn’t on the first page?

  • Google understands that is about cycling (as your site should be). Most of the content here talks about Indoor Cycling, bikes or fitness. The apartment building is trying to be about everything, but nothing in specific.
  • So how did I find the apartment website? They have an image tagged with Eden Prairie Cycling Expo that is in the top line of the image search results.

Go to your local Whole Foods and grab all the free community newspapers. Find fitness related events and start getting found online. Part of the relevance of any page is it’s age – older tends to be better. Most local events are scheduled months in advance so you can get a jump on your competitors if you get your post up first.

Marketing your new studio step #1 – set up your Google Places page

Spinning Studio need a Google Places listing
And it's FREE!

Once you have your lease signed, but before building a web site, or setting up Mind Body Online, your next step should be to tell Google Places all about your new studio. Here’s why:

  • There maybe some lead time before you listing goes live. Google verifies every new listing through a verification process. In the past they would just have their robot call your number. Lately they have been sending out a post card (2-3 weeks) that contains the verification code you need before approving your new listing.
  • Early word – of – mouth needs to be tied a place on line. Once you start telling people about your new studio, word can spread like wildfire… except many will only hear and remember bits and pieces. If your Google Places page is setup correctly any search for [spin studio in (your town)] should display your listing. Seeing is believing. If a prospective client finds you on line they will know all the details they need to look for you the next time they are near by.
  • Early media exposure needs something to link to. The ad rep from your local shopper magazine could show up while you are still sanding drywall. Be ready to give them a link they can include in an article they offer to write.
  • Google trusts its self. If not done correctly, your new website may take months before Google will display it on the first page of results. But your Google Places page can appear at the top within minutes of completing the verification process.
  • Google values links to and from Google Places. Once your website is completed, linking to and from your Places page confirms that your new site is in fact connected to your studio.
  • Other Social sites like Yelp, Bing and others build their listings from Google Places listings. Actually this works both ways; if Yelp sees a listing in Google Places they don’t have, they will add it to their site, using the information from the original:)