Not sure how to get your studio featured at the top of Google's Search Engine Results Page? Read MAIA Social Media Specialist, Cris Rodriguez' tips on dominating Google.
By: Cris Rodriguez, Social Media Specialist
Social Media (love it or hate it) is an absolutely effective communication and marketing tool for your Academy.
While there are many different platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram to help build your audience as well as brand awareness, today we are going to cover one of the least leveraged platforms: Google My Business.
Before we learn how to leverage it, we have to understand the type of marketing that Google is versus Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook and Instagram are interest based marketing. Meaning, our ads will be shown to users based on the data that they have provided while surfing the internet (websites they have visited, products they have purchased, etc).
Think about why people are on social media in the first place. It’s usually because they are bored and/or are looking to be entertained. Facebook and Instagram users aren’t hopping on the platforms because they want to be advertised too.
Due to this, interest based marketing requires us to have a thumb stopping image, persuasive ad copy, and a call to action that has the power to interrupt the user from their normal behavior, and get them to click on our ad.
Notice how Facebook is advertising on it's own platform to get more people involved in Facebook Groups. This is an example of interest-based marketing.
This really comes down to being able to show the right person, the right message, at the exact right time - and that is tough in today’s day and age where we are consuming more content then ever.
The unique strength of Google is that it is intent based marketing. What this means is that the user or prospect has a want or need in that moment, and we can leverage it with our paid and/or organic search.
For example, Johnny has come home now 3 days in a row claiming that Bobby has been bullying him in the lunch room. Johnny’s Mom, Mrs. Johnson, is now at a stage that she believes it’s time to enroll Johnny in Martial Arts.
So what does she do?
She goes to Google and types in “Martial Arts Near Me”.
Notice the highest reviewed academies are at the top of Google Map Listings for Tampa, FL. This is an example of what a customer will see when they're looking for martial arts in your area.
If you have a strong presence on Google, your School has the opportunity to show up in (3) different places on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
Our ultimate aim for our school is to be able to “takeover the SERP” in those 3 places.
The 1st place is at the Top of the page. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), the only way to do this is to launch paid advertising through the Google Ads platform. If you want your school to show here, you’ve got to pay to play.
The 2nd place is on Google Maps, which populates under Google Ads. In order to give your school the best chance of showing up on Google Maps when a prospect makes a relevant search to your Martial Arts School, you have to optimize your Google My Business listing and have fire Google Reviews. I am going to give you some actionable steps today (that are free) that will help your listing populate here.
Finally, the 3rd place, is through the organic listings that are shown about 2/3rd’s of the way down through search engine optimization (SEO). This requires a fully optimized website and some sweat equity. If you are interested in upgrading your website to one that is optimized specifically for a Martial Arts School, check out www.MarketMuscles.com.
Google My Business allows business owners to control their appearance on Google Search and Google Maps.
There are literally billions of Google Search queries (inquiries) each day that are seeking small businesses in an individual's area.
Having a positive presence on Google My Business can significantly increase your traffic and sales!
Check out these stats: According to Google, 50% of people who perform a local online search for certain products or services will actually visit a store that same day!
Why? Because they have an INTENT.
Think of Google My Business as your personal online reputation management system.
Many small businesses are not aware it, which means more than likely your competition isn’t using it. If you’d like to bring in more phone calls, requests for directions, and clicks to your website…then keep reading my top 5 tips to implement so your school can take over the SERP.
The first place to start is to head to business.google.com.
Even if you’ve never utilized your GMB (Google My Business) Account, there is a good chance that your GMB Account exists on Google already. If it doesn’t, no worries, we will start from scratch. If it does, you will just need to verify and claim it before we can go in an optimized it.
One of the MOST important aspects of your digital footprint is to make sure that your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) information is written out the EXACT same way across ALL platforms and directories.
Anytime your business is mentioned online, it’s IMPERATIVE that the NAP is uniform.
For example, if your address is 5040 W Linebaugh Ave, Tampa, FL 33624, you must make sure that everywhere online it is listed exactly the same way.
You would NOT want to have your address listed in some places as “West Linebaugh Ave” or “W Linebaugh Avenue”.
It’s such a small detail, but so important. Make sure that your NAP is UNIFORM and set up correctly on GMB from the very beginning.
Due to the numerous amount of responsibilities we have as school owners, many times when we are first setting up profiles online and on social media platforms, we don’t give it the true attention and detail that it requires to work hard for us.
When you are filling out the Information Section on your GMB account, you have to make sure that you are optimizing it through choosing relevant categories, giving accurate operating office hours, and utilizing a keyword rich description.
Taking the time and doing this right will set you up for success and your SERP Takeover.
In regards to choosing a relevant category, GMB will allow you to set up a primary category + additional categories. This section of your GMB account is what is going to be DIRECTLY communicating with Google - so choose wisely. Our primary category is set up as “Martial Arts School”, I’d suggest you do the same.
One of the major mistakes I see Martial Arts School Owners making when I am auditing their digital footprint is with the posting of their Operating Hours. It’s such a small detail but can really make or break the amount of phone calls you receive (and we all know that the phone is the LIFELINE of our business, right?!).
Many schools put their “Class Hour Schedule” online and this is 100% hurting you! You must put your Office Hours instead.
When someone makes a query on Google for a Martial Arts School, if you and your competitors listings both show up, but yours says your CLOSED (and it will say this in bright red!) but your competitors listing says they are open - who do you think is going to get the phone call?
It’s not rocket science, but it’s a small detail that is often overlooked.
Last up, the description of your GMB Account is where you should really spend some quality time.
You will have up to 750 characters to write out and the absolute BEST practice is to use keyword rich content. Meaning, think about what keywords your potential customer will be using to try and find your school, and implement those into the description. This is one of the few places on GMB that you can put keywords that will help with ranking. So make sure you think this one through.
One of my favorite components of GMB is the ability to post. Why? Because not many businesses use it! GMB Posts are similar to Facebook Posts. They will show up directly on your profile and where they really shine is with the ability to add Events, Offers, and Coupons.
Here is an example of a post I put up for Back to School Season.
If you set up Events, Offers, and Coupons, when someone finds your business, they will also see the promotion you are currently running. It’s basically FREE advertising.
My suggestion when posting on Google My Business is to include keywords that you want to rank for.
My secret weapon has been adding my schedule to the end of each post. Why? Because my schedule has KEYWORDS that I want to rank for.
Pretty smart, aye?
Give yourself an advantage over your competitors and post DAILY on GMB with keyword rich words.
Having a review strategy for your school is imperative, and will be a great topic for a future article, for now, understand that it must be a part of your everyday marketing in your school.
Earning “triple digit” 5 star reviews for your school is the sure fire way to make your GMB profile shine above your competitors. Due to companies like Amazon, our buying habits online have changed.
Twenty years ago, no one trusted online reviews. Today, people trust online reviews as much as they trust a recommendation from a dear friend.
It’s difficult enough to get our listing to show up on Google Maps, we have to make sure that when we do show up, we stand out with our reviews to help entice clicks and interactions with our school and not our competitors.
Your goal, triple digits. I know you can do it!
Finally, one of the best way to increase brand awareness is through pictures and videos of your Academy. Uploading “high quality” pictures will allow your profile to stand out and doing this consistently will also help keep your profile looking active.
Many Martial Arts School Owners take pride in the way that their Academy’s physical location looks, but when it comes to their online presence, they are quick to throw up any picture, regardless if it is inline with their brand and value.
Be conscious of what you are posting and how it represents your school.
Notice how I keep every picture I use on brand and inside my school. Action shots and videos like these are good examples of how you can increase your brand awareness.
Implementing these 5 GMB Tips will help you rank on Google so you can drive more clicks, phone calls, and traffic into your Academy.
And the more traffic we can drive, the more lives we can change.
[Looking for more marketing help outside of just Google? Then sign up for MAIA Edge and get your studio's one-stop marketing shop today.]
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