As a coach, you want to find the right kind of clients so you can help them improve their lives. If you don’t have a good lead generation system set up, however, you could spend more time trying to get clients than working with them.
Facebook ads, social media posts, cold outreach… There are plenty of ways coaches can promote their services to their target audience online, but most of them have this in common: once you stop investing time (and money) into them, they stop working.
Search Engine Optimization, aka SEO for coaches, is different.
While it definitely takes time to optimize your coaching website and create blog content that can rank, the results you get from those efforts are long-lasting. Once a post ranks, it can rank for years, and the better optimized the various parts of your site are, the more they’ll lift each other up and help you get found on Google.
In this post, we’ll discuss why SEO for life coaches is important, as well as what you need to do to boost your coaching blog on Google.
A Quick Glossary on SEO Strategy
Before we dive into SEO strategies for your coaching business, let’s go over a few basic terms related to search engines. If you’re already familiar with SEO, you can skip this section. Otherwise, this short list will help you understand page SEO better.
- Search Engine Optimization: The combination of many different acts and strategies that help visitors easily find your website when they’re Googling something.
- SEO keywords: A keyword is what people type into a search engine’s search bar to get a list of sites that provide the information they’re looking for. These search terms can be one word, like “coaches”, or a group of words, like “SEO for coaches”.
- Keyword research: The process of figuring out which exact keywords people are using to find the information you can provide for them on your website.
- Keyword rankings or position: How far down the list of search results your website can be found. If you have an article targeting the keyword “abundance mindset in relationships” and that article is the third result from the top down when someone searches for “abundance mindset in relationships”, you rank in position 3 for that keyword.
- Search volume: How many people search for a specific keyword on Google every month.
The Importance of SEO for Coaches
Creating brand awareness
Unless you’re an internationally renowned coach like Brené Brown or Tony Robbins, the majority of your ideal clients probably haven’t heard of you or your services yet, which means you need to put your name out there. Guest posting, networking, and engaging on social media are some of the active ways you can do that. However, you can also set up a system that puts you in front of those clients while you’re doing a client call, preparing dinner, or taking a few days off.
That system is your optimized coaching site, and more specifically, your coaching blog.
Instead of focusing on promoting your coaching business directly, SEO allows you to understand what your audience is looking for on Google, so you can write quality optimized content that answers those questions. Each time someone searches for something and your site provides the answer, you’re introducing yourself to them in the best possible way: by helping them.
Generating qualified leads
By being selective about the kinds of topics you write about, you can control the type of readers – and thus clients – you attract. If you’re a life coach focused on helping successful entrepreneurs live a meaningful life, you might have a post about “What to do after selling your business” as many of your target clients may struggle with this question. However, you probably shouldn’t publish an article about “How to know you’re ready to quit your job” as that appeals to a whole different crowd.
The better you know your target audience, the better you can focus your keyword research on topics they care about, and the more likely you are to rank for articles they’ll want to read from top to bottom.
By continuously providing valuable quality information for your target clients – and making sure they can find you when they’re looking for that information – you grow their trust in you. Each time you answer a question, you build your authority, so that when they’re ready to hire a coach, you’ll be the first one they contact.
The Basics of Search Engine Optimization for Your Coaching Business
Any kind of marketing strategy works best when you have a solid plan, and that’s especially true for SEO. While you can figure out some things as you go, there are certain best practices to take into account from the start.
The steps below don’t dive deeply into the technical SEO side of things. Instead, they show you the most important things to do for the highest chance of ranking your site in the top search results on Google.
1. Create a content strategy
Brainstorm topic ideas
First of all, you need a content plan. Make a list of all the possible pain points, questions, and topics your target clients could be Googling. Next, group those related topics together.
As an example, imagine your target audience consists of single moms. One of your topic groups could consist of the following keywords:
- dating as a single mom
- how to tell your date you have kids
- when to introduce your new boyfriend to your kids
All of these have to do with dating as a single mom.
Another group could have the keywords:
- is it okay to get a nanny
- when to hire a cleaning lady
- can I ask friends to watch my kids
All of these have to do with seeking help as a single mom.
The more possible blog topics you can think of at this stage, the better.
Find rankable keywords
Next, you’ll want to run keyword research on all of these topics. There’s a wide range of tools available online to help you with this. Below is a selection of a few of them that you can get started with and then scale as you get more experienced with this stuff.
AnswerThePublic is more of a keyword idea generator than a true keyword research tool. It allows you to type in a word (or group of words) and then it spews out a bunch of related keywords. Other than that, it’s fairly limited in the information it provides.
Google’s own Keyword Planner is pretty basic as it’s meant to be used for Google Ads. It doesn’t give you the specific search volume for a keyword, only a very broad range, and it only categorizes keywords as “low”, “medium”, or “high” in terms of competitiveness, rather than attributing a score to it, as many other keyword tools do.
KeySearch isn’t that well-known, but it’s a great budget-friendly alternative for the top keyword tools mentioned below. Because of that, it’s a fairly popular tool in blogging communities. It provides data on…
- Search volume
- CPC (cost-per-click)
- PPC (pay-per-click)
It also suggests similar keywords to look at and it allows you to track your keyword rankings.
The great thing about KeySearch is that it gives you information about the pages that are currently in Google’s top 10 and gives each keyword a score that indicates how hard it will be for your specific site to rank for that keyword.
Ahrefs is possibly the most popular SEO tool out there. Aside from keyword research, it helps you do a bunch of other stuff, and as such, it’s tailored to professional SEOs. However, many site owners who depend heavily on SEO for traffic and lead generation use it too. While all its features may seem overwhelming, you can start by using only its keyword tool and explore from there.
SEMrush is similar to Ahrefs, and someone who’s serious about SEO will use one or the other, or sometimes even both. I personally use and like Ahrefs, but if you also do PPC, SEMrush is the better option.
Many of these tools have their own guide on how to do keyword research. Another great place to get started is this article on Backlinko.
Check what your competitors are writing about
If you find it hard to come up with topics to write about or you’d like to expand on the list you already have, there’s another way to get ideas: by looking at what other coaches in your niche are writing about.
While you can simply browse through their blog, a better way to go about this is to plug their website into a more advanced SEO tool to get a list of all of the keywords they’re ranking for and what those rankings are.
Take into account competitiveness
Just like your coaching business has a certain authority in the eyes of your target clients, your website has a certain authority in the eyes of Google. If your website is brand new, that authority will be pretty low. The more content you start to rank for and the more other websites start linking to you, the more that authority will grow.
Going into the different factors that affect your site’s authority would take us too far, but it’s important to know that it plays a role in which keywords you can rank for, and so you should take it into account when researching keywords.
To keep things simple, and assuming the keyword tool you’re using gives you this data, here are a few basic things you want to look out for:
- Ideally, 3 pages currently in the top 10 on Google have a lower DA (domain authority) than your site.
- Ideally, they’ll also have fewer backlinks than your site.
- You’ll have a better chance of ranking if these “weaker” sites don’t have the exact keyword you’re going for in their article’s title, URL, and/or meta description (the little text Google displays in the search results below the title of your article).
- There should be at least a few other blogs ranking in the top 10. If all the ranking pages are ecommerce sites, for example, your coaching blog posts probably won’t make it.
Be realistic about your qualifications
Besides the authority of your website, the credibility of your blog posts’ author is also crucial when it comes to ranking in Google. The search engine pays attention to the Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EEAT) of the person listed as the author of your content. Note that even if you outsource your blog post-production, this person will still be you (assuming you add your own bio below your posts).
Make sure that you fill the “About” page of your website with as much information about you as you can, including any certifications or other qualifications you have as a coach. This will also come in handy for gaining the trust of your website visitors, not just the algorithms.
If you’re a health and wellness coach or a professional related to the legal field (e.g. adoption coach), this gets a little trickier. Since the YMYL (Your Money Your Life) update, Google prefers medical and legal professionals (M.D., Ph. D., etc.) when it comes to content related to health, money, and the law. This doesn’t mean you can’t rank wellness-related content in Google but you probably won’t have much luck with articles about specific medical conditions (unless you’re a doctor yourself).
Simply put, if it’s something you’d refer your client to a doctor, clinical psychologist, or legal professional with, it’s probably better to let them write about it.
Putting it all together in a content calendar
Once you’ve decided which keywords you want to create content for, you can put together a calendar with what to write and when. This can be a simple Google spreadsheet or part of your project management tool like a Trello board.
There are three main ways to decide which posts you’ll tackle first:
- Purely keeping in mind SEO purposes. In this case, you’ll want to focus on the keywords with the best combination of high search volume and low competitiveness first.
- Based on seasonality. If you plan to write articles related to certain times of the year, you want to make sure those are published at least a month before that time of the year.
- Based on your resources. Perhaps there are articles you can easily write yourself, whereas you might want to outsource others. Or maybe you already have material for some articles which would make them quicker to write.
Whichever way you decide to go, it’s key that you’re honest about how much time you’ll be able to spend on your content calendar. It’s better to do just one article per month than to feel overwhelmed because you had planned to publish once per week and you now have a backlog of 10 post ideas in your pipeline waiting for your attention.
2. Write or outsource optimized content
Create a briefing
Now that you have your keywords and your content calendar, it’s time to start writing. The easiest way to make sure you write a well-optimized article is by creating a briefing. Most people think briefings are only needed when you decide to outsource your blog content but even if you write your own posts, they’re crucial.
Your briefing is like a checklist that tells you how to optimize each post and that helps you make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
Things to include in your brief:
- The main keyword for that post.
- Secondary keywords: These are keywords you discovered about the exact same topic that should go into the same post but that have less search volume, only cover a part of the topic, or are harder to rank for.
- The desired word count: This is how long the article will be. Ideally, your article should be at least as long as the average length of the other relevant articles ranking for that keyword on the first page of Google.
- Who the article is for: This is important if your audience consists of different sub-audiences. For example, if you’re an abundance mindset coach, you may be working with both entrepreneurs and executives.
- Other articles on your site to link to.
- Which call-to-action to add: This could be a signup form for your newsletter or a note for the reader to book a free discovery call.
Make an outline
It’s much easier to write a great article when you already have an outline in place than it is to get started with a blank page. To create your outline, have a look at the articles that currently rank on page one for your keyword. Make a list of the topics they address and the headings they use.
Your article should cover everything your competitors cover (as long as it’s relevant) and add extra information.
Open this SEO content checklist
You can go very far in optimizing an article but here are the basic key things you need to get right for every post:
- Use your main keyword
- in your article title (the one shown on your blog)
- in your meta title (the one shown on Google)
- in the meta description
- in the URL
- in the first 150 words of your article text
- Use all of your secondary keywords at least once
- Make sure your images have descriptive titles
- Resize your images, so they’re not bigger than whatever space they’ll take up in your article
You can copy/paste this quick checklist to use whenever you’re working on an article.
Tools to help you write
If you want to go beyond the basics, there is software that helps you analyze your competitors’ pages and that gives you a report of all you need to include in your article and how you should include it. While these tools are handy, they also make the writing process considerably longer and require quite a bit of SEO expertise as their advice needs to be interpreted, rather than purely implemented.
If you’re interested in taking your SEO efforts a step further, this is a selection of content software to check out:
A Word on AI
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the AI talk spreading on the internet like wildfire. If you’re wondering whether AI is useful for producing SEO content, here’s what you need to keep in mind.
AI tools like ChatGPT are great when it comes to brainstorming keywords and content ideas. If you’re looking for general information that isn’t time-sensitive, AI can give you some great inputs for your content calendar.
What AI falls short on is quality writing. Although some provide content for free, they won’t be able to think critically and provide context for your readers. Consequently, your visitors will also bounce (close the tab) once they open your article and harm your rankings.
If you want to build credibility and make sure your SEO stays healthy, it’s better to post articles on your website written (or rewritten) by a human being.
3. Create internal links
Linking your blog posts to one another is key as it helps Google better understand the structure of your site and it helps readers find more valuable information. It also keeps them on your site for longer, which in turn increases your authority in the eyes of Google and heightens the chance that they’ll subscribe to your email list or take another action.
When creating internal links (links within your website), you want to follow these guidelines:
- only link between posts that are related to each other topic-wise.
- if you have a main page about a topic (say, dating for single moms) and then a few posts about subtopics (introducing your boyfriend to your kids, what if your kids don’t like your new partner), always link from the main article to the sub-posts and vice versa.
4. Build external links to your content
I already mentioned before that your site’s authority increases as other websites link to it. That can happen organically, or you can speed up the process by writing guest posts for relevant websites like Life Coach Magazine or giving podcast interviews so that it spreads more quickly.
5. Share Your Content on Social Media
Another way to spread the word about your new posts is by sharing them on social media. Driving traffic to your website from social media can expose your content to a whole new set of audiences who might be interested in your services.
If you run a local coaching business and you’re looking for clients for in-person sessions, there’s another way social media can help. Get your business on Google Maps and ask your clients to leave positive reviews for you. This will increase your authority both in the eyes of your clients and Google.
6. Get your website in top technical shape
Unless you come from an IT background, this last step is one you’ll want to outsource. A pretty car isn’t going anywhere when its engine isn’t working, and the same applies to your website. The slower it is and the more technical and structural errors you have, the harder it will be for your content to rank.
There are SEO agencies that focus on the technical side of SEO, but in my experience, it’s more cost-effective to learn a bit about what needs to be done, and then hire a developer to do it.
Tracking Your SEO Success
The only way to know whether your SEO efforts are paying off is by tracking them. Easy and free tools for this are Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. The former gives you information about your website visitors, their behavior on their site, and how many visits your site gets. The latter gives you data on keywords you rank for and any structural problems Google may see when crawling (basically, visiting) your website.
For more extensive tracking, I recommend signing up for Ahrefs. The cool thing about Ahrefs is that it runs frequent audits for your site, giving you a detailed report of what needs to be fixed. Also, you can leverage an exclusive keyword rank tracking tool such as Zutrix to know the real-time performance of your website.
Don’t Neglect Your SEO
Clients come and go, and when life happens, you may not have the time to do cold outreach or post on social media every day. Even when you’re fully booked or are getting great results from other types of marketing, that might not always be the case.
In those cases, the SEO you’ve done beforehand will keep drawing people to your services.
While SEO for coaches may seem a bit daunting if you’ve never done it before, remember, you don’t need to do everything at once. Follow the steps in this article and if you get stuck or keep procrastinating, you can always hire an SEO agency or an SEO writer to help you out.Want more tools to help you focus on what you do best? Check out Paperbell’s integrated software. It makes client management a breeze!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2021 and has since been updated for accuracy.