Learn how we managed to increase Base Training organic traffic using a solid content marketing plan.
From a young age, I knew how to deal with computers or as my Greek mom says “with this piece of shit”.
Unfortunately, this was not the case with gymnastics and sports.
But that didn’t stop me from getting into fitness and doing what I know well.
At the end of August 2018, I met with Panos Balatsinos, owner and professor of Base Training. Base Training is one of the best Personal Training & Fitness Academy in Greece.
Panos acted smart and built his website around Base Training degrees and services.
Panos has built strategic partnerships from a digital aspect to build online authority and reputation.
Be like Panos.
Our goal was simple: to bring Base Training to the top of Google results in order attract new people looking to register to the Personal Training Certification or as Panos told me: “I want SEO” 😂
But for me and my team the goal was to implement the inbound marketing plan starting with TOFU (top of the funnel) content aka blog.
Setting the Scene
After completing an in-depth discussion with Panos about Base Training’s image, target audience and the specificity of its certifications and their difference from the competition, we concluded that the common denominators in each blog post should be:
- Scientific articles based on credible sources
- Free knowledge guides on fitness, nutrition, etc. that could work as lead magnets
- Interesting, thorough and even fun articles and case studies to keep the readers interested
But also in the technical (SEO) track, we should make sure the articles:
- are at least 1000 words in size
- make use of correct keywords
- adhere to on-page SEO rules
- include visual or interactive material for greater engagement
- have bullet lists and small suggestions to capture engagement
Let the SEO Games Begin!
We begin our Content Marketing plan with these steps in mind:
- Market & competition research
- On-site SEO
- Keyword research
- Content scheduling & production
- Measure & report
1. Market & Competition Research
We wouldn’t be able to start our strategy properly if we didn’t do a proper and complete SEO Audit for the website and for the competition.
For this reason, we use 2 methods:
- Traditional Google search manual or
With a simple Google search, the big competitors turned out to be 4-5 in total, which was audited based on the following aspects:
- UI/UX Design (Visual Assets, Content) – do they have an attractive website?
- Content – how are they communicating and engaging with their audience through content?
- CTAs – what are they used for? where do they lead? What’s the copy?
- On-site SEO – how much is the loading speed? What’s the sitemap structure?
- On-page SEO – have they used H1 titles correctly? Have they taken care of the meta description? What about internal linking?
- Social sharing – are there any social sharing buttons? Does every article include an OG image?
Yes, but what do these numbers mean?
This means that the website has low backlinks and organic keywords. This means that if anyone was looking for base training they would find it with only 40 different keywords (not exclusively on page 1).
Question: What are backlinks?
Answer: These are links that belong to another website and lead to us. It is considered by many to be the #1 factor that Google rates for your website’s position in search results.
In contrast, the competition had many more backlinks, better domain ratings and far more organic visibility ιn Google.
What notes do I take from such an analysis:
- Keywords ranked by competition to use in my SEO strategy during keyword research
- Referring domains & backlinks to understand if he has done an offsite SEO strategy on another website/blog in the form of a paid article if he has developed some collaboration that I can develop in the future as well
- Top Content to see which page has more shares and traffic in order to get further ideas for my content
- Paid Keywords they use in their Paid Advertising campaign, which therefore means that have a strong meaning for their business.
2. On-Site SEO
One thing that many overlook is on-site SEO. It’s wrong to build links or do content marketing if we haven’t made sure that our website structure is right. We never build a house without foundations!
What do we look for and correct when doing on-site SEO?
- Duplicate content
- Low loading speed
- Large images
- Oversized CSS & JS files
- 404 Errors
- Blank canonical tags
- If any and if the sitemap has been submitted to the search console
- The architecture of the website
- Internal linking
One of the best tools available on the market is the Screaming Frog, which allows you to detect many of the above.
First, we insert the website link into ScreamingFrog and wait for the crawling to finish.
When finished I will export to CSV which will then be formatted into distinct columns in excel or Google Sheet format.
Finally, we will filter the data (using a filter duh!) According to what we want to receive e.g. HTML links with status code 404, so we’ll see which pages end up in 404 error and need immediate correction.
Similarly, we find duplicate or blank content in titles, headings (H1, H2), meta descriptions, etc. to correct them.
which give me a complete picture of what is to blame and what I need to correct.
3. Keyword Research
A priceless process!
Keyword research is the cornerstone of the blog and more generally the content marketing strategy!
We know that we are looking for keywords with:
- Medium to large monthly search
- Low competition
This time we decided to go even further and get more into topic clusters!
What are topic clusters?
“Topic clusters, are grouped categories of blog posts around a specific topic and not around a specific keyword.”
You can learn more about Topic Clusters as an effective SEO strategy on HubSpot.
So the 4 main pillars of content that were decided to be made are:
- Personal training (e.g. how to become a personal trainer)
- Gym exercises (exercise programs etc.)
- Nutrition (e.g. protein, superfoods)
- General fitness topics (eg Body Mass Index)
Each category contains its own equally clustered keywords and were used to generate our blog topics.
Some of our best Keyword Research tools are:
4. Content Scheduling & Production
After completing the Keyword Research, there was a series of scheduling, namely a content calendar.
There were 2 things that we needed to do well:
- To write very nice, detailed, funny and well-studied articles
- Adhere to all on-page SEO rules (proper use of keywords & LSI, internal linking, headings, etc)
That alone was enough to build Base Training’s content plan and reach the highest possible level and rank some easy keywords aka low-hanging fruits.
Here are some questions I come across daily …
- How many blog posts do I need to write?
- When should I publish articles?
- How do I choose the ideal keyword?
- If I post more content will I exhaust my audience?
The truth is that there is no magic formula as it depends on certain factors. I’ve seen an increase in 100K visitors with 3 articles per month and 10K visitors with 20 articles per month.
What we must certainly adhere to is:
- Very strict on-page SEO
- Great articles
- Easy reading
- 20% production – 80% promotion
So we decided with the Base Training team that we would produce 1 article per week and check for results. And we have kept it like this until today!
We suppose you noticed something above that wasn’t directly related to content production.
20% production – 80% promotion
What does this mean;
That, even if you put maximum effort to write “THE BEST ARTICLE IN THE WORLD”, you’ll see no value unless your audience sees it.
Fair enough? Yes!
Was it done? Clearly!
We live in a time where you should not only invite your family to read your content, but everybody!
Promote your content people!
Yes, but where?
The design of Base Training was simple. Share this content to:
- Social media (Facebook page & Instagram)
- Their Facebook group
- Newsfeeds of their trainers and friends
- Fitness forums
- Social ads
- Guest blogs (bonus: getting backlinks)
So a concerted effort was made to get as many visitors as possible into the blog post each week!
Over time, good content was rewarded! How?
- With positive comments & engagement on Social Media
- With backlinks from authoritative blogs and publishers
- By reducing the bounce rate
- With steady increasing traffic!
6. Measure & Report
So, with great patience, we watched the Base Training blog take off and Google “giving us points”!
This of course means that many of the articles ranked to the top of Google thus increasing the entire reputation of the website which made it possible to rank even more keywords faster.
Checking on Ahrefs today we see the following statistics:
✔️DR (Domain Rating) increase from 2.1 to 15
✔️ Significant increase of Backlinks
✔️ Increase of referring domains from 3 to 56
✔️ Increase of organic keywords from 40 to ~ 4,100 (!) With 100 ranking in the 1st page!
✔️ Increase of organic traffic from 254 to 5,708 people per month! (!) as seen in Analytics:
This indicates ONLY Organic Traffic and not total, so as to only show results from Google traffic.
While some of the keywords in the first place (Greek Google) are:
- personal trainer
- aerobic exercise
- personal trainer school
- personal training seminars
- personal training certification
- peanut butter ( 😂)
- personal training
- functional training
It’s quite important to track the main keywords.
This means that we were monitoring some important keywords from the beginning, such as “personal training certification” and the main keyword of each article, so that we could always know their evolution in the SERPs.
Of course, you will get a free tool, try SERPROBOT.
Content marketing is definitely a great and efficient way to increase your traffic effectively!
The results are even more spectacular when you open up to international markets where the target audience is thousands of times bigger!
Our goal ultimately remains the final conversion. The content marketing strategy we analyzed today is the first step in implementing the entire inbound marketing plan, which will be discussed in a next post.