Ultimate Guide to SEO for Personal Trainers

Dive deep into SEO for personal trainers: stand out on Google, attract perfect-fit clients, and expand your audience without relying on social media.

Close-up image of a woman's hands typing on her laptop.

As a personal trainer, there’s no question- you’re really good at helping your clients grow strong and move well.

But no matter how talented you are, you can’t help your people if they can’t find you in the first place.

Enter: Google and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

SEO is the art of getting Google to serve you up on the first page of search results.

It’s the way you optimize your website so that you appear as the answer to your potential clients’ Google searches. Done well, SEO will help you draw in high-quality leads who are looking for the services your offer.

Understanding the basics of SEO is the first step towards taking advantage of the full potential of your website (and breaking your reliance on social media!).

By implementing gold standard SEO strategies, you can increase your website’s visibility on search engines (like Google), position yourself as an authority, and drive organic traffic to your site.

Throughout this guide, we’ll cover SEO essentials like keyword research, on-page optimization, content creation, building backlinks and how to track your SEO.

As a fitness professional, you don’t need to understand every in-and-out of SEO. But a little knowledge is a lot of power.

My goal is to equip you with the basics you’ll need to take control of your online presence, draw in your dream clients, and grow your audience.

Jump To:

A Note On Search Engines

There are other search engines, but most search happens of Google, so that’s where I’ll focus. But good search optimization for Google, will likely help you on other platforms as well.

What is SEO?

SEO is the practice of optimizing your website and its content to improve its visibility and ranking in search engines.

It’s about making your website more attractive and accessible to Google, so that when potential clients search for keywords or phrases relevant to what you do, Google displays your website higher in the search results.

When your website ranks higher in search results, you have a greater chance of attracting organic (–> non-paid) traffic. People are more likely to click on your website and explore what you have to offer.

SEO encompasses a variety of techniques and strategies that work together to improve your website’s ranking in search results. These include:

  • optimizing your website’s backend
  • improving the relevance and quality of your content
  • performing keyword research to identify the terms your target audience is searching for
  • building backlinks from authoritative websites
  • ensuring a great user experience.
 

It’s important to note that SEO is an ongoing process rather than a one-time task (it’s a practice, remember?).

Google (and it’s competitors) continually update their algorithms to provide users with the most relevant and useful results. To stay competitive, your SEO efforts must be consistently (but not constantly) maintained.

By keeping track of your website’s SEO metrics, you can maintain and improve your Google rankings. At the end of this post, I’ll share the smallest effective dose of SEO monitoring so you can monitor your efforts and know when your website needs a little TLC.

The Benefits of SEO for Online Personal Trainers

When it comes to your personal training business, think of SEO as a member of your marketing team.

It’s the introverted workaholic, operating in the background 24/7 to establish your credibility and attract targeted organic traffic.

In contrast to its more extroverted cousins, paid-marketing and social media, SEO doesn’t get pushy. It’s just really clear on who it is, and is satisfied to wait for the right person to ask Google the right question.

Fortunately for you?

There are lots of right people asking the right questions that will lead them to your business.

While often under-appreciated, SEO plays an out-sized role in defining your online presence and building your client base.

And here’s the best part: If you’re an online personal trainer, a physical therapist, a soloprenuer service provider- the internet is not as crowded as you think it is.

Most one-woman shops aren’t investing in their SEO.

Organic search still presents an ENORMOUS opportunity for anyone in the fitness industry to reach new audiences and call in your ideal clients.

People are going to Google to look for personal trainers and other health and wellness pros.

Make sure they can find you!

Foundations of SEO for Personal Trainers

The three pillars of good SEO are good tech, helpful content and high-quality backlinks. If you want to get found on Google, that’s where you’ve got to focus.

Google’s priority is serving up the best search experience so that people keep coming back to search (and to view ads).

Google search results prioritize websites that 1) load quickly and look good on a smartphone, 2) provide satisfying answers to their searches and 3) are trusted by a lot of other websites.

1. Technical Foundations

To lay a solid SEO foundation for your website, you’ve got to address a few technical aspects.

I’ll be the first to say these tech foundations are the things you’re least likely to want to take care of. Rather than skipping them, hire someone else to do them.

Spend your time writing great content, building relationships that lead to backlinks, and of course, serving your clients. Ask a web developer to take care of any tech issues that arise. Stay in your zone of genius, I promise you won’t regret it.

Here are some of the things you want to be aware of so that you know when you need help:

Website Security

Website security is important for protecting user data and also plays a role in SEO.

Search engines prioritize websites with SSL certificates (HTTPS), as they provide a safer browsing experience.

If you don’t have an “S” at the end of your “http,” you can see if your web host can sell you a certificate or you can reach out to a developer for support.

Cropped screenshot of the URL bar of internet browser. There's a red circle around the "s" in the https://www.... of the URL.

Mobile-Responsiveness

Since most search happens on smart phones, having a so-called mobile-responsive website is a must.

Google considers mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. In fact, Google only indexes the mobile-version of your website.

Double-check that your website looks good on your phone. Most modern content management systems (like WordPress, Squarespace, Wix) provide themes that are mobile-responsive out-of-the-box. But if you check, and you’re not, you’ll need a developer to help you fix the problem.

Page Loading Speed

Website speed is a critical factor in both SEO and user experience. Ideally, your mobile site should load in under 3 seconds.

You can check yours in Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

Slow-loading pages negatively impact your rankings and lead to visitors bouncing off your site.

The most impactful tech-related thing most service providers can DIY is to 1) delete extraneous or un-used plugins (on WordPress) and 2) optimize images.

In general, your images should be under 100 kB. If you’re displaying photos dropped straight from your DSLR, you might as well strap a fully-loaded sled to your website.

By improving page loading speed, you improve user experience AND your search engine rankings.

Hiring Help

So, you need a hand with some of this? Here’s what I would do. Start asking around. You could go to Fivrr, but when I have to give admin access to my website, I’d rather use someone vetted by a friend or colleague.

You can ask for recommendations for a website developer in any professional masterminds or Facebook groups that you’re in. You can also ask any colleagues who might have a developer maintain their sites for them.

Once you’ve tidied up your foundations, it’s on to the fun stuff: keywords and content.

2. Keyword research and On-Page Optimization

Keyword research and on-page optimization are essential components of effective SEO.

Along with content, they form the second pillar of SEO.

By honing in on the words your ideal clients are typing into the search bar, you can optimize your website’s content to align with their search intent, improve your visibility in search results, and draw in more traffic.

Keyword Research

Taking the time to perform keyword research allows you to identify the exact words that your ideal clients are using to query Google.

By using keyword research tools (personal faves: Google, Keywords Everywhere and Ubersuggest), you can discover high-value keywords that have a good balance of search volume (the number times that term is searched per month) and competition (how hard will it be to rank well for that keyword).

Screenshot from Ubersugget's keyword research tool, with Volume, CPC and SD metrics highlighted.
Here's a screenshot from Ubersugget's Keyword Research Tool. "Volume" gives a rough idea of total monthly searches in Google. "CPC" (cost-per-click) gives you an estimate of how much people are paying for ads linked to that search term The higher the CPC, the more competative the term. "SD" is SEO difficulty. The higher the SD, the harder it will be to get your content ranked on the first page. Keep in mind, these values vary from search tool to search tool. They're good for comparing keywords as long as your comparing data collected within the same tool Don't compare data collected by different tools.

Quick tip: If you have a new website or you’re new to SEO, target low volume (>250 searches/month) keywords when you’re first starting out. The lower the better, really.

Keyword research provides insight into what your target audience is searching for and helps you plan your content.

If you’re skipping this step? It’s like doing a bunch of random exercises and expecting a specific transformation. If you want a specific outcome, take specific action.

On-Page SEO

Once you have identified a list of target keywords, it’s essential to use them correctly.

“On-page” optimization means strategically incorporating your target keywords into various elements of your website, such as:

➡️ meta tags (the SEO title and meta description)

➡️ header tags (H1, H2, H3 etc.)

➡️ URL slugs

➡️ body content.

Tip: If you’re a WordPress user, make sure you install an SEO plugin like Yoast (screen shot below, free version is all you need) or All-in-One SEO to help you manage your on-page SEO. These tools aren’t perfect. But they can help remind you of some low-hanging SEO fruit that you might otherwise forget to collect.

Screen shot from the free version of Yoast SEO for WordPress.

Content Optimization:

On-page optimization goes hand in hand with content optimization.

Creating high-quality, high-value content that aligns with your target keywords is the bread and butter of SEO.

By addressing your audience’s pain points, providing insightful information, and offering unique perspectives, you can hook your readers and demonstrate your awesomeness.

By tweaking these “on-page” variables, you send clear signals to search engines about the focus of your content. This increases the likelihood of ranking higher in search results for relevant queries.

Infographic showing a breakdown of a Google search engine results page.
Breakdown of the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Note, you might encounter additional features including sponsored links, video results and shopping carousels.

2.5 Creating Valuable Content

In the world of SEO, content is Queen.

Creating great long-form content is not only essential for attracting and retaining your desired audience but also plays a significant role in wooing Google’s attention.

Blogs are my favorite long-form content modality for SEO purposes.

By producing high-quality, original content that provides answers and solutions to your audience, you can improve your online visibility, build your cred, and climb the rankings.

Understanding Your Audience

To create content that resonates with your people, it’s crucial to have a deep understanding of their needs, preferences, and pain points (in their EXACT words).

Take time to perform voice-of-customer research, engage your audience through surveys on social media, and listen to their feedback.

These insights will help you refine your content to address their specific concerns and provide it in a way that speaks to them directly.

Relevant and Valuable Information

Your content should be informative, relevant, and valuable.

Craft content that:

  • answers common questions you get from your clients
  • offers practical tips
  • shares personal experiences
  • addresses questions they’re asking before they know you’re the solution.
 

By positioning yourself as a go-to source of up-to-date, thorough and trustworthy information, you’ll establish yourself as an authority in your specific niche.

Optimizing Content

While creating valuable content is important, it’s not worth much if it’s not optimized for Google. Incorporate relevant keywords naturally within your content, including in headings, subheadings, and the body of the text. Make sure your content is well-structured, easy to read, and includes relevant images or embedded videos. Additionally, optimize meta tags, such as the SEO title and meta description, to accurately describe your content to search engines. Meta data is also used as the display text in the search results and so great SEO titles and descriptions work to entice users to click on your website.

This is where you put in your reps. This is where consistency matters most.


Regularly publish fresh, helpful content that aligns with your audience’s interests and addresses their needs. By doing so, you can establish your brand, attract organic traffic, and position yourself as an authority in your specific corner of the internet.

3. Building Backlinks and Establishing Authority

Building backlinks and establishing authority are the third pillar of SEO. Backlinks, also known as inbound links, are links from external websites that point back to your website. Consider these links votes of confidence and credibility, signaling to Google that your website is reputable and trustworthy. By actively pursuing quality backlinks, you can build your website’s authority and improve its visibility in search.

Guest Posting, Podcast Guesting and Collaboration

One effective strategy for building backlinks is guest posting or being a guest on someone else’s podcast.

Seek opportunities to contribute guest articles or be a guest on relevant blogs, podcasts, or webinars. By sharing your expertise and providing value to new audiences, you can earn links back to your website.

Collaborating with other health and wellness professionals on joint content or projects can also lead to natural backlinks and increased visibility.

Content Promotion and Outreach

Share your content through social media, your email newsletter, and any appropriate online communities. Reach out to relevant websites, bloggers, or journalists (check out HARO!) to introduce your content and offer it as a resource.

By demonstrating the value of your content, you increase the likelihood of acquiring quality backlinks.

Online Directories and Listings

Take advantage of every directory you have access to through your professional certifications and affiliations. Fill out profiles completely and make sure that your website is listed with accurate, up-to-date and consistent information. These directories can provide valuable referral traffic and backlinks.

Extra Credit: Monitoring and Analyzing SEO Performance

Monitoring and analyzing your SEO efforts is essential if you want to know whether your efforts are paying off. Here are two simple ways to effectively track your SEO performance.

Website Analytics

Once you decide what metrics are important to you, you can utilize Google’s own tools (Google Analytics and Google Search Console) to track key metrics related to your website’s performance.

Monitor metrics like organic traffic, average session duration, and conversion rates. This data will let you know how many users are interacting with your site, which pages they’re visiting and where there may be room for optimization.

You can also learn about which keywords drive traffic to your website so you know if you’re being found for what you want to be known for.

If you find these tools totally overwhelming, you can hire a pro to set up user friendly dashboards and/or provide tutorials. Feel free to ask me about this!

Keyword Rankings

Regularly monitor your keyword rankings to understand how well your website is ranking in for your focus keywords.

Tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs (expensive) or Ubersuggest (much less expensive) can help you track your keyword positions over time and identify opportunities to optimize your content.

Conclusion

Remember, SEO isn’t about quick dopamine hits, but a practice towards long-term audience growth. It requires consistent effort, adaptation, and a deep understanding of your people.

You already possess the expertise and passion to create great SEO-optimized content. 

By taking the time to perform keyword research, create content and build a few backlinks, you can position yourself as a trusted authority.

SEO is your secret weapon in the saturated online marketplace.

Take these tools and make the most of this opportunity to stake your claim to your corner of the internet.

Need a hand? I offer SEO site reviews, coaching and done-for-you services. I always offer a free consults.

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Laura Jawad, Ph.D. is a personal trainer and birth doula-turned-SEO strategist for female health and wellness providers.

She offers SEO site reviews, SEO coaching and on-page optimization for wordpress users.

Please reach out with questions, schedule a Chemistry call or explore her services page!

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hey, i’m Laura (She/her)

I’m an SEO strategist and systems junkie devoted to helping female health and wellness service providers get found on Google. I’m here to help you fill your client roster without relying on social media.

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