Your Website Sucks (and how you can fix it)

comic style business man afraid of laptop

Like most savvy fitness studio owners, you probably understand the importance in having a website to get more customers. A website can be a very powerful tool in your online marketing program. It acts as the “home base” for your online presence. All of your traffic from social media, email newsletters, and ads should be leading to your website.

But maybe you’ve noticed that something seems off.

Potential leads have commented that they can’t find your site using search engines.

Current clients say they can’t find what they need on your site.

People visit your site from social media but then they promptly leave.

No one is signing up for your newsletters or promotions.

The problem is simple: Your website sucks.

Try not to cry… no, ok…. cry a lot

Don’t fret. A lot of fitness studio websites suck. Fortunately for you, you’re reading this article and you’re about to find out why it sucks and what you can do to fix it. Fixing it will set you ahead of your competition, drive in more traffic, and help you to get more customers.

Here are the top 4 reasons why your website sucks:

  1. It’s invisible.
  2. It’s ugly.
  3. It’s all about you.
  4. It’s a dead end.

#1 – Your website sucks because it’s invisible

screenshot of Google search on a smartphone
The All-Seeing, All-Powerful Google

This doesn’t mean that your site is actually not visible (although, that would be a problem, too). It means that people can’t find it. If people can’t find it, it might as well be invisible, right?

You don’t have to be an SEO expert to make your website more visible, but you do need to know some basics.

First, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. That’s a fancy title for the act of making your site friendly for search engine websites to crawl and index your site; that is, for them to read and list it.

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.

What is SEO on Search Engine Land

SEO allows users to enter search terms, called keywords, relevant to your site, and your site will show up in their search results. The better you “rank” for those keywords, the higher your website will appear in the list of results.

While ranking for competitive keywords is a kind of art form in which many expert SEO consultants specialize, there are a few things you can do right now to improve your SEO.

improve your SEO

  1. Use tools to help. If you’re using a website builder such as WordPress, you can and should use a quality SEO plugin such as Yoast or All in One SEO. While these tools are not the only thing you need to do, they are a great starting point in getting your SEO underway. These tools help to improve your on-page SEO, such as making sure your keywords appear in your titles, content, and description. Other site builders also have guides to help with SEO on their platforms, so be sure to check out your documentation for those!
  2. Get on Google Search Console. Google has a great set of tools for helping you to help them get your site indexed and increase your ranking. This is where you will tell Google to crawl your site, view reports from the crawler, and submit your sitemap. There’s a bit of a learning curve to using it, but since Google is the authority on searches, it’s well worth taking the time to learn it (or hiring someone to do it for you).
  3. Fix broken links. Google and other search engines will penalize your site for having broken links. Clean these up to help your ranking, and make a better user experience on your site. If you’ve recently updated your site, be sure to redirect old page links to their new locations or alternative pages. If using WordPress, plugins such as Redirection are great tools to help with this.

#2 – Your website sucks because it’s ugly

screenshot of lingscars.com
Don’t be this guy. Just… just don’t.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, true, but an ugly site is probably ugly for one of these three reasons (or all three reasons): It’s broken, outdated, and/or unprofessional.

It’s ugly because it’s broken

Nothing will make your users bounce faster than a broken website. This includes broken links, 404 errors (“Page Not Found”), missing images, and features that just don’t function as they should.

If you want people to take your website (and business) as seriously as you do, it shouldn’t look like no one is taking care of it. If you wouldn’t stand for broken equipment in your facility, why stand for broken links in your website?

Fix broken links and functions

After you add a new feature to your site, make sure to test, test, test. Test it yourself. Have your friends and family test it. Have a colleague test it. Have the least computer literate person you know test it.  Have this guy’s mom test it (no, seriously)! The last person you want to figure out that your contact form doesn’t work is a potential client. A broken website may very well be the last interaction a lead ever has with you.

It’s ugly because it’s outdated

Almost as bad as a broken website is an outdated one. Particularly as related to responsiveness and how well it works on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Currently 80% of Internet users own smartphones and 91% say that access to content on their devices is “very important.”

And there’s more: 57% of users won’t recommend a business with a poorly built mobile website.

Mobile devices (particularly smartphones) are the primary means by which many users access the Internet. Some families don’t even own desktop or laptop computers these days. If your goal is to get more customers, you simply cannot ignore a large portion of your audience by neglecting mobile devices.

Get your site updated

Unfortunately, unless you write HTML and CSS, there isn’t a DIY fix for this if you aren’t using a platform with ready-made templates like those used by WordPress or a builder like Squarespace.

If your site isn’t responsive, you need an update. Responsiveness WILL affect your search engine rankings.  Right now Google has two separate ways to rank your website: desktop and mobile. But they’re working on integrating the two so that just one algorithm will evaluate and rank websites. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, then you’re going to lose traffic sooner rather than later.  Most of the site builders have responsive starter themes or templates, including WordPress and Squarespace. Alternatively, a quality website design company will always offer responsive sites with their packages.

Aside from responsiveness, an outdated looking website is just bad for business. Just like having working equipment in your gym shows that you take care of it, having modern equipment in your gym shows that you’re up-to-date on the current technologies and desires of your clients.

Your website really just shouldn’t look like it was made in Geocities in 1999. There are certainly ways to design a site so that it looks “timeless” and there CAN be 10 year old designs that are still relevant, but the average shelf life of a website design is about 5 years at the most, depending on your business needs. Most websites should actually be redesigned (or refreshed, at the least) about every 2-3 years to account for business, technology, and trend changes.

It’s ugly because it’s unprofessional

Professional designers spend years learning about the principles of web design in order to create designs that reach an audience in the right way. While it doesn’t necessarily take a professional designer to create a nice looking site, the results are typically much better, as a designer’s expertise is focused entirely on creating good design.

Hiring a quality professional designer is always the best way to get a professional-looking website.

Clean up your website design

Even if you’re not in a position to have your site redesigned by a pro, you can still make it look a little more professional with a few tips:

  1. Limit font choices to 2-3. A good rule of thumb is to have one font for headlines, one for font body text, and maybe one for call outs. You can most certainly just go with one font, using different weights (bold, medium, light, etc) to create contrast in the text. This will increase legibility of the content.
  2. Limit color choices to 2-3. If you already have brand colors, try to stick with those. Even then, stick with 2 main colors and 1 accent (for calls-to-action). This will eliminate distractions and create a cohesive user experience.
  3. Limit image use to quality images only when needed. Don’t add slideshows and animated gifs and photo galleries all over your site. Don’t just post tons of blurry photos from your smart phone. There are other platforms for image sharing (social media – like Instagram and Facebook); your website is not one of them.
  4. Always remember, less is more. In the tips above, the key word is, “limit.” Before adding any new feature, font, color, or image, ask yourself, “WHY?” Why do you need it? What does it do? Does it affirm the message you’re getting across? If your only answer is that it looks nice, or cool, or insert-adjective-here, then you don’t need it!

All of these above three items are actually related. An unprofessional-looking site is more likely to look outdated more quickly, and depending on how features are implemented, more likely to break. A broken and/or outdated site looks amateurish. So, all three of these points are equally important to your website not being ugly, and thus not sucking.

#3 – Your website sucks because it’s all about you

Your customer is a big deal. You are not.

This isn’t referring to your site having nothing but photos of you and 3 pages of your life story under the About section (but please don’t do that).

That’s not why your website sucks (unless you’re doing that, if so, please stop).

If you’re like many fitness studios, your site probably follows this standard recipe:

Homepage featuring logo, navigation, icons to your social media accounts, photos of your facility (probably in a slideshow so you can show more!), list of your services, paragraph about your facility, list of products you sell, followed possibly by a map, contact information, and directions to the studio.

I know what you’re thinking.

“But, this website is about my business. Isn’t it supposed to show customers all of that? How does this make my website suck?”

It sucks because it’s about YOU.

It should be about the potential CLIENT, the person whose butt you’re trying to get into your gym!

Rather than talking all about what YOU have, what YOU offer, what YOU sell, you should be addressing their pains, their problems, what they need, and then showing them how you have the solution.

Forget about all the sections with your Services, Products, and About on your homepage. You can put those on sub-pages in the site. Remember from the above, less is more? Compelling content that identifies the user’s pains and problems, expresses understanding, and offers your business as the solution, is the best way to build relationships with your users. Building relationships is how you get more customers!

#4 – Your website sucks because it’s a dead end

So, let’s say you’ve changed the above and now you have compelling content that talks to your user about why your fitness studio will solve their problems. Now your website user is a lead.

Then what? What are they supposed to do?

You need a sales funnel. A sales funnel is a fancy marketing term for the journey the lead is supposed to take on your site.

It could be simple: Just a form where leads can get on your email list. From there you use email campaigns to build a relationship by reaching out to that person; presenting all the great features of your studio; offering discounts and specials; inviting them to schedule a tour, etc.

It could be more complex: You have a call-to-action (like a button) that invites them to next read what services you offer, from there another button compels them to view your fitness class schedules, and finally from there they are taken to a form that will immediately schedule them for a free class or sign them up for a free trial week.

There could be more than one: The longer primary funnel and then the secondary email sign up as a lead capture on blog articles. But remember, less is more. Fifteen sales funnels will probably do you about as well as zero, unless you’re some kind of marketing savant (#careergoals). To start, pick one goal that you would like your leads to accomplish on your site and just work on optimizing that.

A sales funnel is a marketing system. It’s the “ideal” process you intend your customers to experience as they go from Prospect to Lead to Customer to Repeat Buyer. Sales funnels have been around much longer than web marketing, but the online world is the best thing to ever happen to sales funnels…

The Content Marketing Sales Funnel on Convert with Content

In summary, you don’t want your site to just be a dead end where your users go, read some information, and then leave. You want to to drive them towards accomplishing a task. That task should be a step towards making a sale (ie. capturing emails) or the sale itself (ie. purchasing a membership or product).

Conclusion

So your website sucks. But it isn’t the end of the world. It seems like a lot, yet it was only 4 things to address and fix:

  1. SEO. Use tools and plugins to get set up. Fix broken links. Get on Google Search Console.
  2. Design. Get your site updated. If your site is older than 5 years, save time and effort by hiring a team to handle those updates for you. If you’re going the DIY route, get yourself  a responsive theme and clean up your design. Less is more!
  3. Content. Focus on the customer. Put yourself in their shoes. Address their pains and problems and show your solution!
  4. Funnel. Create a goal for users to accomplish that would ultimately lead to a sale. Examples include email newsletter sign up, facility tour scheduling, free week trial sign up, etc.

These things make look daunting, and yes, they will take a little bit of work if you’re doing it yourself. The payoff, however, is worth it. A website that doesn’t suck will work for you to help you get more customers, increase your revenue, and help grow your facility!

No time to DIY these fixes or no idea where to start? Get in touch with us for a free website review or just to chat about how we can help.

Author: Sarah DaSilva

Sarah DaSilva is the founder and creative guru behind SuperPowered Web. SuperPowered Web provides online marketing and website design to fitness studios and fitness professionals. As a military spouse, Sarah has lived all over the country but currently resides in Honolulu with her family. She is an avid fitness enthusiast and foodie and can often be found lifting weights... or lifting a fork.

1 Comment

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