Survey the SEO Minefield: How to Get Through Safely ft. Tara Smith – Sales & Marketing Manager of Pilates Can

Survey the SEO Minefield: How to Get Through Safely ft. Tara Smith – Sales & Marketing Manager of Pilates Can

In part one of the SEO Minefield series, David and Tara discuss their experience navigating the complex world of search engine optimisation (SEO) for their Clinical Pilates business, Pilates Can.

They share their experiences of working with various SEO consultants and strategies over the past 10 years and stress the importance of understanding your own business and target market for successful SEO.

David and Tara also touch on the challenges of keeping up with the changes in SEO and hint at using a new Australian-based specialist SEO company, which they plan to reveal and interview in future episodes.

Stay tuned for the next episode where the duo plans to share more of their journey, and reveal valuable insights about SEO for small businesses in the clinical Pilates industry.

Don’t miss out on this latest, or any, episode of “The Pilates Business Podcast”.

Show notes

  • [00:00:00] Introduction to SEO for Clinical Pilates Businesses
  • [00:00:45] Our Journey with SEO: Trials and Tribulations
  • [00:01:19] The Art and Science of SEO
  • [00:04:01] The Importance of Understanding Your Business for SEO
  • [00:04:35] Our Experiences with SEO Providers
  • [00:12:00] The Changing Landscape of SEO
  • [00:13:30] A New SEO Partnership for Our Business
  • [00:16:51] What's Next in Our SEO Journey

"It's that symbiosis that we were talking about, getting all of these little elements, and how they all fit together to provide an optimal result for your business. Both through SEO, and then all of your other marketing."                                               Tara Smith - Sales & Marketing Manager Pilates Can, Canberra

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Episode Resources

Episode Transcript

DAVID GUNTHER:  Search engine optimisation, SEO, is a minefield for clinical Pilates small businesses.

Tara and I take a walk through the SEO minefield, to find out what tools we can use to navigate the ever-changing landscape of search engine optimisation for our webpages.

 Welcome to The Pilates Business Podcast, episode four of our rebooted series. This episode is focusing on the minefield of SEO. We'll talk about why we call it a minefield and what we know about SEO, which isn't as much as we would like to know.

Now I'd like to introduce. Tara Smith, our marketing manager at Pilates Can, Tara's had about the same amount of experience with SEO as I have. Welcome Tara.

TARA SMITH: Hi, thanks, David. Yeah, it's great to be here on the podcast. Thank you for inviting me.

DAVID: Tara and myself have had literally years of experience with SEO, but mostly experience from within the business of Pilates Can, a clinical Pilates studio, hoping to maximise what SEO can do for us.

SEO, it's a science and it's an art. Both of those things are difficult. If you don't know the exact science (and the science is changing all the time), and if you're not used to working with it all the time for a specific purpose, then you're going to make mistakes.

They say a little knowledge can be dangerous, and that's probably what we've done over the last, maybe 10 years being knowledgeable about SEO. Tara's only been with us for a minuscule seven years or so, I think. Is that right, Tara?

TARA: Yeah, I think it's something like that. I was gonna look it up before this interview so I could seem knowledgeable about how long I've been here for, but yeah, it's about seven-ish years.

When I was at uni, I trained as a graphic designer, so, when I first started, let's say I had approximate knowledge of things like advertising, marketing, SEO -type stuff. They were always in the adjacent building to us, you would often work together with them. There's a lot of crossover in the outcome of our work, but my knowledge of marketing and SEO has really come from, yeah, working with you and then the various different digital marketing people that we've had, be it outside consultants, internal digital marketing specialists that we've had.

DAVID: I really look at myself as a specific marketing professional for small business in wellness and mobility being Pilates Can, and hoping to help others that are in that space with their learning and our learning.

We're learning all the time trying to constantly keep up with the changes, and SEO is a perfect example of something that's changing all the time. It's also only a small piece of our marketing. There are so many other things within our marketing, that SEO can be easily left out, or perhaps dealt with in some smaller way with the resources that you have available.

Let's face it, in the small business arena, we don't often have a lot of resources to be able to do all of these things to the ability that we would really love.

TARA: I think all of these elements of marketing, they have a very symbiotic relationship with each other. You can neglect one of them, to some extent, but they all affect each other in a way. For us with that small team, it's prioritising where we can put our resources, but making sure, we're keeping an eye on all of those different, I like to say, spinning all of the plates at the same time. Making sure they're all still going a little bit, because you don't want to neglect the minefield entirely. If you haven't even looked at a map of where the mines are on the minefield, and then you start trying to traverse it again it's probably going to be more difficult than if you at least kept that map in your filing cabinet.

DAVID: Let's discuss the strategies that we've had to find a guide to that map over the years. Look, there's been a few years that we've been doing this. As mentioned earlier, it's probably at least 10 years. We've had a website in a rudimentary form, probably since the very early 2000s and that's changed with many, many iterations over the years as it needs to.

With SEO, we've used various strategies, as we've mentioned briefly. Us trying to work it out on our own within the business. We've also had consultants, individual people who are willing to put in time for us specifically and to help us with our SEO and then also specialist SEO companies that we've worked with. We've had limited success, here and there.

Unfortunately, we have experienced a few times when we've stepped and heard a click. One of those I can recall is when we had a company that we were working with. We won't mention the name, mainly because I've actually forgotten. It was so long ago, but also for other obvious reasons.

We certainly accepted that SEO is a long term strategy. You can't just pull a lever and straight away the next day things change. It takes time as and we're aware of that. And so we were working with a company and we found that they were pretty much not doing anything. We had to terminate that relationship as quickly as we could.

One of the reasons for that was that we really didn't have the numbers worked out. The numbers that we needed to know were the numbers that indicated what work they were doing. Also, the numbers that indicated the results of that work.

That was something that, over time, we've started to work with better. We've worked out our own numbers by having worked with other consultants, asked a lot of questions, spent a lot of time thinking about these things and discussing these things with consultants that work in this space. They may have been within Australia, or outside of Australia and that's allowed us to work out what questions to ask and then what numbers are important to us.

TARA: Yeah, and because we've been with so many different providers for our SEO, be it all those different types that you mentioned, it's allowed us to maintain some consistency and comparison between the results that we've gotten from those different providers as well, in order to see you know, this provider may be more expensive than this other provider. Was it actually worth it to pay more money? Is it worth it doing it internally? All those sorts of things.

DAVID: Yeah, and I should stress that we haven't changed providers and consultants just for the sake of it. With these relationships with individual providers, particularly if they're remote (as in outside of your city or outside of your country), sometimes they have other priorities, and they find that, over time, the priority of working for your small business, within a relatively small industry of clinical Pilates, is not their top priority.

Their top priority might be more around their family, their health, or they find a bigger, better opportunity. And that's just, a fact of life. Something that we've dealt with. We've persisted, although there have also been times when we have ignored SEO, when we've said, 'oh let's just not spend the money, and let's not spend the time. Let's just pretend that everything will be okay as we walk through this minefield'. That's probably not the best strategy.

TARA: I think that strategy possibly led to us being on a sub-optimal page of Google sometimes, David. Yeah, I think it's something that you can't completely ignore, but it can seem overwhelming, especially if you're not, you know, we both have approximate knowledge of SEO, David, but we're not professionals.

DAVID: Don't feel bad when you're out there listeners with your own knowledge, because we've been doing this for years and obviously we don't specialise in SEO, we specialise in clinical Pilates., We're trying to do our best to promote it, and help our industry promote and differentiate clinical Pilates, perhaps from other businesses that use the word Pilates for whatever they do, which is different to what you do and what we do.

What I've found is that, walking through that minefield, it is good to stay alert and to stay focused. I think more recently, there's been lots of toxic links. To our website, and that's been exciting seeing those pop up in the reports from SEMrush and then also having our consultant at the time deal with those and spend time and money actually de-linking the right links and not the wrong links.

You're quite right, what you mentioned earlier about a sub optimal ranking on Google, where we were perhaps aiming for the top four for certain keywords, and we were in the top maybe 100? On the fourth page and, for a small town (which Canberra is really. It's a city, it's the capital city of Australia, but it's also a lovely place to live because it's essentially a small town that's grown into a city).

TARA: I think as well the pages that we're still trying to rank well for also change over time based on what the business is focusing on.

If you're not adjusting those sort of focus, targeted keywords and things with your SEO strategy, and your business has shifted vastly in the last, maybe there's been some kind of global pandemic or some big event that might've changed the direction of your business?

DAVID: Gosh, that'll never happen.

TARA: Yeah. How often does that happen? But, yeah, if something like that has happened, it's caused the types of clientele or the types of sessions you're offering to change, but you're still targeting the keywords you were targeting pre-COVID when you were doing something else with your business that's not going to be good.

DAVID: I think that's a really good point. You need to understand your own business first. What benefits you're delivering to your target market. That's really important. We've got episodes about that in The Pilates Business Podcast, if you want to check those out. That's important because if you are using an SEO professional or a company that specialises in SEO, they'll need to understand. If you don't understand in the first place, and can't actually let them know that you're not perhaps a fitness business, you're a well-being, mobility, clinical Pilates business. You specialise more in a personalised approach. Those sorts of things are really important. What pages are they going to want you to help rank for the keywords that are going to be keywords that your target market, that you want to come into your studio, spend money, get their benefits out of your business, because that's what you specialise in.

That's so important. That's probably the really base level of opening your eyes in the SEO minefield, and being able to identify where you're stepping, what you're stepping with, or how you're moving through that minefield. Who are you as a business? What are you delivering? And, which pages are you ranking for, which keywords?

Please take the time now to subscribe to The Pilates Business Podcast, and then listen on to the rest of this episode where we'll describe our experience with SEO in more detail, as well as the details of other episodes, and other series , that will help you with your clinical Pilates business.

Because of the changing landscape on the minefield, and because SEO is an art as well as a science. The art part of it is just as difficult as the science part of it, knowing what to put on your web page, where to put it, how busy to make that web page, what words to link it with the words that are going to be buying words for your target market.

Is it the right target market? There's so many links there. There's so many decisions to make as you walk through this minefield.

TARA: It's that symbiosis that we were talking about. Getting all of these little elements, and how they all fit together to provide an optimal result for your business. Both through SEO, and then all of your other marketing, and how that all supports the other elements.

I'm trying to think of some kind of symbiotic, maybe like a coral reef. But I don't know why there would be a coral reef in a minefield. It seems to be underwater. You need to bury mines. It doesn't really work. Oh, they could be underwater mines though.

DAVID: Submarine mines. Yeah.

TARA: Submarine mines. There we go.

DAVID: Beep, beep. Beep, beep. That one.

TARA: Got to torpedo the mines out in your submarine as you're going through, like Hunt for the Red October.

DAVID: I think we've probably confused the listeners enough with information on where we've been at over the last 10 years or so with SEO, and being in the minefield and now why we're going towards working with specialists in this area, a company of specialists.

We won't name the company yet because we don't know if they're any good. They probably will be. We think they will be, they tell us they will be, and they seem to be doing a lot of good work for other companies. They talk the talk and they've been able to talk with us about our specific needs and our specific culture, which is promising.

The SEO industry is changing. There's all this AI that's coming in recently. Prior to that, there's other different things that were happening with Google and Facebook, with ad campaigns, and other platforms. So there's ways change within this IT area and particularly now with that AI example.

We've got to be willing to look at how we assess the minefield looking at how we assess the work that really is going to make a difference. What the results are that we're looking for that will make a difference to our bottom line as a clinical Pilates business in our market.

My understanding, that might be wrong, is that ad campaigns weren't really a part of SEO. Is that right? Is that your understanding?

TARA: I would think that Google Advertising would affect our SEO on Google, but yeah, I don't know.

DAVID: That's something we can ask in our first monthly meeting with our SEO company. It'd be interesting to find out what their answer is on those Google campaigns, and whether that has an impact on SEO. Is there a reason why you think it does have an impact on SEO?

TARA: If you do a Google search campaign, you're advertising to have your results appear in Google search.

DAVID: Yes.

TARA: Thus, why I would think it would affect your appearing in Google search. If you're already advertising, maybe it changes how you're ranking on that person's particular search engine page, because everyone's results are slightly different?

DAVID: I think that's a fair enough theory, and one that we can test ask about. Because this will be a series, and this is just the first episode on the SEO minefield, we'll be able to tell you about that. We'll make a note of that, and remember to ask our consultant within the specialist company about that and come back with some answers. See if Tara was spot on, or if we're actually totally wrong, or maybe it's just a matter of definition, that it's perhaps not really part of SEO, but maybe it is? Dun Dun Duh. We'll find out.

TARA: Aren't you going to be interviewing this company? You've been being very mysterious about them.

DAVID: Yes, we will interview them, but I don't know, we may not say who they are. They might be just mysterious guests, and we might have to blank out their head if we do a video.

They are in Australia, we'll say that. They're an Australian company, this company. We won't say where in Australia. Could be Tasmania, could be Queensland, could be Broome. We'll see what happens with that.

We're hoping, crossing our fingers, that we're going to be able to tell you their name, and that we'll have the right information.

Okay, we'll leave it at that for now. This might end up being part one of two episodes about where we're at with SEO, before we move on to speaking to actual experts. Not to put ourselves down too much because, we do know the questions to ask, we do know a bit about, where we've gone wrong and how there's been changes in the marketplace, and in this particular area of marketing.

 Next week, we will bring you part two of the SEO minefield series. Where we will let you know. the exact detail of the numbers that we now use as our search engine optimisation map and mine detector. These special numbers guide us through the SEO minefield, safely and productively. But until then, stay awesome.

"That's probably the really base level of opening your eyes in the SEO minefield, and being able to identify where you're stepping, what you're stepping with, or how you're moving through that minefield. Who are you as a business? What are you delivering?"                                                                             David Gunther - The Pilates Business Podcast, and Co-owner & Instructor Pilates Can, Canberra

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