6 Simple Steps To Improve Your Gym’s Website Rankings

Students look to Google, Apple Maps, Yelp, etc. to find a BJJ school to try.  We’ve got 6 DIY steps you can do to make sure your Jiu-Jitsu gym’s website shows up near the top.

Whether you’re reading this because you’ve just published your gym’s first website, or because you’re annoyed that the gym down the street, despite having worse facilities, wrorse coaching, and WAY worse owners, keeps showing up in places like Google, Apple Maps and Yelp ahead of your gym… we’ve got you covered.

Rest assured, you can significantly improve your website’s rankings… and pretty easily… all in about 2 hours.

Quick Summary

6 Steps To Improve Your Gym’s Website Rankings:

  1. Fix NAP Listings
  2. Address On-Page SEO
  3. Improve Website Load Times
  4. Add SSL Security
  5. Get More Online Reviews
  6. Attract Quality Inbound Links

You could always hire a company for $500+ per month to get you top online rankings, but for those gym owners that don’t mind getting their hands dirty in exchange for saving a bunch of money, you can improve your website’s rankings yourself.

So, let’s get cranking on the 6 most essential steps to get you to the top of online rankings on sites like Yelp, Yahoo!, Google Maps, and Waze.

STEP 1: Fix NAP Listings

There are 3 or 4 companies that specialize in gathering basic data on every business in the United States (things like company name, phone number, address, hours, etc.). Then they sell that data to consumer facing apps and websites like Yelp, Google Maps, Bing, etc.

So if you’ve ever wondered why your gym’s hours or phone number are listed wrong in a bunch of places on the web, it’s probably because your gym’s NAP listing isn’t accurate.

That’s obviously a problem. But beyond that, from a web rankings perspective, your NAP listings need to be consistent across all major databases. Because when companies like Yelp buy the data from multiple databases to power their listings, if the data is consistent at all of them, your gym’s website will be ranked higher.

What To Do:

The first step to improving your NAP data is know where you stand currently. There are a few free tools online you can use to check your gym’s current NAP data:

These online tools will show you what NAP info about your gym (address, phone number, hours of operation, etc.) is being displayed where on the web. You can then either choose to pay one of these companies to update and monitor your NAP data for you (somewhere between $49 and $150 per year), or, alternatively, you can manually visit the two dozen or so sites that publish NAP data like Yelp, CitySearch, YP.com, Google Maps, etc. and update your data at each one.

In the end, you want to spend 30 or 45 minutes making sure that your data is consistent, accurate and complete in as many databases and websites as possible, as this will increase the places that your gym can be found online, and by having it consistent everywhere, you’ll increase the rank of your gym’s website throughout the web.

STEP 2: Address On-Page Search Engine Optimization

Search engine rankings on sites like Google and Facebook are determined by computers, not people. So, while your gym’s website may be visually beautiful to humans, it also needs to speak the language that the computer ‘bots’ that are scanning your website and determining its rankings will understand. That ‘bot’ language is called ‘On Page SEO’.

Fixing your gym’s ‘On Page SEO’ means making sure a bunch of technical things on your websites pages are done correctly, (things like title tags, meta and page descriptions, page word count, keyword density, etc). When they are, you’re communicating effectively to the ‘bots’ that are scanning your website and telling them exactly what your site should rank highly for, which in turn increases your sites’ visibility.

What To Do:

To make your website talk to ‘bots’, you don’t actually need to be able to speak ‘bot’ yourself. There are website plugins that will tell you exactly where your website’s On Page SEO is deficient, and tell you, step by step, how to fix it.

A great free On Page SEO plugin is Yoast

Just download the plugin and go through the setup wizard. It’ll instruct you to list keyword phrases that are relevant to your business (e.g. “Jiu-Jitsu Gym in __CITYNAME__”) along with about a dozen other steps. Once you’ve completed the setup wizard, then go through each of your website’s pages and look at the plugin’s recommendations for that page.

It will recommend things like adding a page meta description (to tell the ‘bots’ what the page is about), or adding a bit more content to the page (generally speaking you need 500 words on a page minimum to have it rank well), or it might recommend that you mention your target phrases in the content a bit more.

In summary, the Yoast plugin (as well as Yoast’s competitors) will literally tell you exactly what changes you need to make to that page in order to eliminate all of the deficiencies. So, just go quickly through each page, spending just a few minutes per page, until you’ve cleared all of them.

Then your website’s content will speak clearly and loudly to all ‘bots’, which will significantly help your website’s rankings across search engines and apps.

STEP 3: Improve Website Load Times

It’s super frustrating to wait for websites to load. So frustrating, that most people don’t do it. In fact, 53% of website visitors will just abandon a website entirely if it takes over 3 seconds to fully load.

Companies like Google, Yahoo! and Yelp know people hate slow websites, so if your website is slow, it won’t show up as high in rankings as it otherwise would have on those sites. So… make it load faster.

What To Do:

There are a few free tools that will test your website’s speed, and tell you how to improve it. Here are two we like:

Both of these will give your site a speed score, and then identify the specific culprit(s) that are slowing your gym’s website down, as well as provide some suggestions for how to fix the issue. Some of these fixes may be above your head technically, but a lot of them can be fixed easily without any techie know-how.

If you don’t want to do the fixes yourself, a plugin like WPRocket ($49), will do a lot of these fixes automatically for you. Or for a free alternative, try WP Super Cache.

STEP 4: Add SSL Security

Look up to the browser search bar of this article. Do you see the lock symbol next to www.Simplegym.io?  That lock symbol tells you that this website is SSL secured (the “s” in https:// tells you the same thing). Having SSL or Secured Socket Layer basically means that any data transmitted via your website is encrypted and secured against hackers.

As of October 2017, Google and other major search engines and apps began ranking websites higher that were SSL secured. So if your website isn’t SSL secured, do it.

What To Do:

Thankfully this is pretty easy. It’s just a matter of buying and installing an SSL certificate for your website.

The path of least resistance is to just contact your website’s hosting company, where, for a fee (usually $30 – $75 per year) they’ll upgrade your website to be SSL secured with no work required from you beyond whipping out the credit card. There are cheaper options offered by third parties ($5 – 10 per year), the downside being that you’ll have to do the install yourself.

Regardless of which path you pick, this is a quick way to boost your rankings if your website isn’t already SSL secured.

STEP 5: Get More Online Reviews

Think of the last three businesses you bought something from. How many of them did you leave an online review at? The answer, for most of us, is a big fat zero.

People rarely spontaneously leave reviews, and even more rarely, do they leave positive reviews.

Despite that, almost all of us read online reviews when making important decisions like choosing which BJJ gym to join. And reviews don’t just affect individual’s buying decisions, they’re a big factor in online rankings too. Apps like Google Maps, Yelp, etc. weigh positive reviews as a major factor in determining where your gym shows up in their rankings.

If your plan has been to just do a good job running your gym, and hope that your customers will leave positive reviews without you asking, you’re likely going to be dissapointed.  Instead, positive reviews have to be systematically encouraged and facilitated.

What To Do:

While you can probably rely on the kindness of a few close friends and family to get you your first few reviews on platforms like Google, Facebook, and Yelp, long term, you need a system in place to get new positive reviews in.

That means making it very easy for your customers to leave online reviews by providing them with the links to do so via email or text, and explicitly asking them to do so.

There are companies like BirdEye or GetFiveStars that, for between $20 – $50 per month, will email or text out requests for reviews to your gym members, and track your reviews. Alternatively, if your gym uses lead management software, review requests are often built in. Or, if you want to save the money, you can do the requesting yourself.

Either way, you need a system in place (e.g. “we always email to ask members to submit a review on their 60th day of membership”) otherwise you’ll end up doing a push for reviews once, and never revisit this. And when it comes to improving your website’s visibility and rankings, the key is to consistently get positive reviews over the long term.

STEP 6: Attract Quality Inbound Links

The single most important factor in determining whether your website ranks near the top in search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing is inbound links. That is, the quantity and quality of other websites that hyperlink from their website to your gym’s website. Remember, search engines use machines, not people, to determine whether your gym’s website is high quality, and whether it should be ranked ahead of the Jiu-Jitsu gym’s down the street.

These Search Engine’s ‘bots’ rely on links pointing from other websites to yours as a way of measuring how worthwhile other people think your website is, and then the search engines rank websites accordingly.

What To Do:

You want other high-quality websites, ideally topically or geographically related to yours, to link to your gym’s website. So, for example, having your city’s local business directory link to yours, or a popular website about Jiu-Jitsu link to yours are both strong signals to the search engine ‘bots’ that your site is reputable in your city and on the topic of Jiu-Jitsu. Therefore, your website is more likely to show up near the top in search engines if someone searches for Jiu-Jitsu related searches in your city.

The key here is quality, not quantity. You want actual good websites that are actually related to your topic, or geography to link to yours. So start out by looking for a few good fits, and just emailing the webmaster of that website, and just asking if they’ll add a link to your gym’s website. Or if your gym is a member of an association, or supports a local charity, consider asking their webmaster. For most gyms located in a mid-sized city, just getting five or ten relevant websites to link to yours is enough to elevate your gym’s site above your competitors. 

Tip: If you haven’t built your website yet, try to pick a domain name that includes some of the keywords you want to rank for. Most organizations that will link to your gym’s website, will use the words in the name. So, for instance, HoustonJiuJitsu.com is going to be easier to rank in search engines than TopFlightFight.com. That’s why bigger companies, will fork over lot’s of dollars for high end domain names, (e.g. Colonoscopy.com). That way, pretty much every link they get, will include anchor text (e.g. “colonoscopy”) that is on topic for what they want to rank in search engines for.


So that’s it. 6 steps, which if you hustle, can all be completed in about 2 hours.

None of this online marketing stuff is super fun. We get that. But just spending a little time on it, can dramatically improve your gym’s online visibility in website’s like Yelp, Google, Waze, etc.  Which means that the next time someone in your area searches for “Jiu-Jitsu Gym” they’re more likely to land on your gym’s website first, and therefore much more likely to become your gym’s newest member. And growing your gym, well… that is fun.


This article is intended for informational purposes only. Neither SimpleGym LLC or its author, offer, nor intend to offer, professional or legal advice. Consult with your attorney and search engine marketing professional for individualized advice suited to your unique business’ needs.