Chantal : Doctor Bill, welcome along to the Fitness Business Podcast.
Dr Bill Sukala: Hi Chantal. Great to be here.
Chantal : Now, we start each show chatting about tips for staying focused and staying organised. So, can you share any app systems or rituals that you use or that you recommend?
Dr Bill Sukala: For me personally, I find that the gym is my office. It’s a place where I can go to be creative. While a lot of people are standing at their desk or sitting at their desk, I like to get into the gym, jump on a bike, and have a notepad in front of me. I’ll just zone out and start peddling. I find that writing hand written lists and sub-lists within those lists, and then assigning a level of importance to each task, and then giving it a priority helps me keep … I’ve got a lot of ball in the air, so it helps me keep everything organised. I find that the exercise itself, which we know promotes BDNF, which is kind of like brain fertiliser, fertiliser for the neurons actually helps me think more clearly.
Chantal : It’s funny how sometimes the simple stuff like writing things down is better than sometimes any app that we can get. Right?
Dr Bill Sukala: Well, yeah. I find that with my phone, I’ve got obviously a tonne of information in it, but I find getting away from the phone and sitting down with pen and paper and actually writing things down … I remember one of my professors at uni a long time ago said, “Learning comes through the fingers.” I find that that helps me in my work as well as just something that it’s a little personal hack and trick that works for me. I then, later on once I leave the gym, I’ll go back home and I’ll organised everything that I’ve written down. Then I’ll start incorporating that into, say for example, the projects that I’m working on. Yeah, it just helps me, again, keep everything much more organised but it gets me out of that electronic head space for a little while.
Chantal : I think that’s a great tip. Now, you are here today to help us do a bit of a health check on our website. So, you’ve got to give us the diagnosis, Doctor. What would you say are the top five signs, all symptoms, of an unhealthy website?
Dr Bill Sukala: Excellent question. Look, the first thing that I see … I see a lot of this particularly in the Fitness Industry and all just in general amongst health professionals. Health professional obviously are trained health professionals, but they weren’t trained in websites and all the techy side of things. The biggest thing that I see are lots of static, dead online brochures or just online business cards that people are only visiting this websites when somebody types in the URL. They’re not competitive in Google Search. They have these websites that are just forgotten about with no attention. They’re like the burnout barn on the side of the road that you’ve driven by it a hundred times, and eventually you get to the point that you just stop looking at it.
That’s really the same way Google is. Google is scanning the internet and looking at all these different websites. If your website’s neglected, Google eventually doesn’t really pay much attention to you. Just recently I was working with a client who had a website from … I think she had it built in 2011. At that time, you didn’t have any concern about having a responsive website that will adjust to a mobile device or a tablet. I still see a lot of websites out there that are very dated, and they’re just not user friendly. They have microscopic print because it’s rendering the desktop version of their website on a mobile device.
Chantal : Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, we need to make sure that our website is active, it’s responsive, and it’s not just sitting there gathering dust?
Dr Bill Sukala: Yeah, absolutely right. One of the things that you’ll hear me say throughout this talk is, people have to take an active interest in their websites. The reason for that is if you’re neglecting your website and you’re strictly focused on social media, you’re actually leaving a lot of money on the table. It would be in any health professional’s best interest to, again, take interest in their website and, again, get back on the horse, and update it, and get the website performing as an active employee 24/7. That kind of leads into the next thing is, by virtue of having a static dead online brochure, that can compromise the health of the website. A few things that I, just off the top of my head, a few things that really … that people absolutely, unequivocally must pay attention to would be the how fast your website loads, so website speed.
Now, for some of the things that compromise a website’s loading time. If you’ve ever gone to a website and it takes forever to load, some of the reasons for that can be very large images on the page, which obviously take a long time to download especially on a rubbish internet connection. We have websites out there with a lot of, what I’ll call, code bloat, so themes and plug-ins that add lots of extra code that has to be downloaded and called when a visitor visits that site, massive navigation menus with too many drop-downs, and all these calls to external scripts. For example, if you have lots of ads and external ads that require calls to external codes, all those things, long story short, can just make the user experience really quite terrible, so speed of the website.
Website security. I see websites get hacked all the time because they have websites that are using, for example, old versions of WordPress. They’ve got old themes, old plug-ins within those themes. The hack bots are out there 24/7 scanning the internet looking for vulnerabilities in websites and backups as well. I see lots of website that if they get hacked and destroyed, they don’t have a backup system in place where they can restore their website quite quickly.
The third thing that people have to be aware of with their website is using tracking code. For example, Google Analytics is something that most people have heard of. The other one is Google Search Console. Now, the old name for that was Google Web Master Tools, so some people may be familiar with that term. Basically, if someone has a website that is not using Google Analytics or is not connected to a Google Search Console, then they’re not able to get information on their specific rankings for different keyword phrases. They don’t know who’s back linking to them.
Also, site health. I got hacked years ago. It was one of my early lessons in learning about site security, but because I had Google Search Console connected to my website, I was able to find out very quickly that I’d been hacked. I was able to fix the problem quite quickly and get straight back online.
Chantal : Doctor Bill, sorry, you called that Google Search Console?
Dr Bill Sukala: Correct. Google Search Console.
Chantal : Is that a paid-for service, or is that just a plug-in?
Dr Bill Sukala: Good question. Google Analytics and Google Search Console are both free. They’re free services to you if you have a Google account or you have … Even if you don’t have a Gmail account, you can have any other email and still have a Google account through that. If you have a Google account, then you can get Google Analytics and Google Search Console setup for free. It doesn’t cost anyone a cent.
Chantal : That is really good to know, because I knew all about Google Analytics but not about the Search Console. So, thank you for that. Are there any other signs or symptoms we need to look out for?
Dr Bill Sukala: Yep. A fourth thing that I want to bring to listener’s attention, and this is one of those embarrassing things. It’s kind of like when you go to the dentist, if you haven’t been there in a while. Rubbish content. It’s one of those things where people have content that somebody told them, “Look, you’ve got to write articles. You’ve got to put content on your website.” The reality is, a lot of people have rubbish content that’s just never going to rank. It’s always going to be banished to Google’s page ten Siberian wasteland.
First, you have to have content with what we call a focus keyword. Essentially what that means is, for example, if you’re doing an article on, say, exercise, exercise is too broad but we want to narrow that down. We might want to narrow that down to a keyword phrase, say, “Exercise after pregnancy,” or, “Exercise, pregnancy, and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.” By way of having the keyword phrase niched out and really specific, that allows you a much better opportunity to rank in Google if you write content around, again, a very specific topic. So, that’s one of the things I see that’s usually a problem is I see lots of articles that are written very broadly. The content is too short, maybe it only has 200 words or something. It’s uninteresting, meaning somebody just went off on a bit of a rant talking about what they had for breakfast that morning. There’s no organisation to it. It’s not formatted in a way that Google can understand it in a way that it can index that content properly.
So, remember that Google is nothing more than a matchmaker between the searcher’s query and the content that it indexes. The goal of Google is to serve the best content for a searcher’s query. If you’re just writing a bunch of random haphazard content that doesn’t really have any direction to it, that doesn’t have a good, neat, coherent structure, then basically Google’s going to look at it and go, “Look, I have no idea what the heck you’re trying to say here.”
Chantal : Bill, I’ve got a quick question for you just in regards to that, because each week when we post the podcast, we put in a focus keyword. For us, we generally use the name of the guest that is appearing for that particular week. Therefore, the focus keyword changes every single week with every single blog or post that we upload. In the case that perhaps I’m a personal trainer that specialises in working with triathletes and time after time the blogs that I post relate to the word triathlon or triathletes, for example, does it matter if my focus word repeats itself? Does that make it less effective when being searched for, or does it make it more effective?
Dr Bill Sukala: Yes and no. First off, the theme of the website is triathlete or triathlons. Now, underneath of that, you’re going to have kind of a hierarchy of topics, or let’s say categories for example. You might have triathlon or triathlete as the top level keyword. Underneath of that you may have triathlete training, triathlete nutrition, triathlete technology, for example, just off the top of my head. You want to try not to have too many repeated keywords, but when you have a really niche website, it’s going to be almost impossible sometimes not to have the same word in the keyword phrase. Rather than using the identical keyword phrase, you can mix it up and you could have, say for example, an article on triathlete nutrition or triathlete exercise.
Again, you just have to have a logical flow, a hierarchical flow of those keywords. You can get away with using them again, but you just need to make sure that you’re not using identical keywords all the time, try to have a little bit of variety around that theme of triathlon or triathlete.
Chantal : Excellent. Thank you very much. Okay, now was there one more symptom that we need to cover off?
Dr Bill Sukala: Yep. This is actually a big one. It relates to the your website, but it also is something that can be a bit of a thorn in your bottom line. That is being held hostage by web developers. Now, anyone who knows my work in the realm of exercise physiology and nutrition knows that I do a lot of consumer health advocacy work speaking out against hokey diets, and supplements, and that sort of thing that undermine what we do as health professionals. I’ve come to learn that in the web development world, we see a lot of web developers holding health professionals hostage. In other words, they setup your website for you. A lot of times they set up … To be honest, I see a lot of rubbish websites that are not done very well. The person does not have direct control over their hosting account. They don’t have direct control over their domain name that is their URL, their web address. They don’t have full administrator privileges to their own website.
As an example of this, I’m helping a woman right now in New Zealand who was absolutely held hostage and left for dead. She wanted to change her service, and the guy said, “Well, I’m not going to give you access to your hosting account,” which this basically means she didn’t have direct access to all the files that created her website. It made it more difficult for her to be able to move her service somewhere else. It also made it very difficult for her … She wasn’t able to update her own website. When I did a website audit of her website, I was able to look into the source code of her pages, and I find out that she was something like 15 versions behind on WordPress and 13 versions behind on a plug-in.
Now, one of the main risks of this is that if you have old versions of WordPress or old versions of themes and plug-ins, hackers are always … they’re working 24/7 to find ways to hack websites. So, this guy, he was getting paid a regular fee from this person, but he wasn’t even updating her website. She was just left for dead. Where I come in, I try to help health professionals take charge of their websites and have complete control. I don’t receive recurring residual fees. I’m all about helping health professionals, again, take control of their websites. Stop being held hostage by web developers that are actually gouging you, number one, on the price of your website, because they’re just creating your website using a template. They’re not actually building you a website.
It’s a business model that I see where web developers, they rely on dependency and they don’t educate you to be able to take charge of your website. In the long run, I find that when health professionals do not have a vested interest and really understand what it is that’s going on with their own websites, they get left behind. It becomes unimportant. But social media, everybody’s on it. They have direct control, they’re interacting with it. I think that’s the head space people need to be in with their websites.
Chantal : That’s why it is perfectly timed that we’ve got you on today to talk about this health check for our websites. Now that we have a good feel for some of the signs and symptoms of an unhealthy website, how about we take a step into some of the ways that we can start to get our website in to top shape.
Dr Bill Sukala: Absolutely. Look, the first thing I’ll point out is that most of the things that I’m going to talk about here now are DIY. You don’t need to pay a fortune to somebody to do these things, but you do need to first take an interest in your website and, again, take control. I’ll discuss that in a little bit more depth in just a moment. Again, everyone’s on social media, but social media’s a lot of white noise, so again, neglecting your websites, leaving a lot of cash on the table.
Now, the first thing that … There’s a little checklist that I’ve put together here, and you have to be really brutally honest with yourself. First question is, “Ask yourself, ‘Is my site just an online brochure? Is it an online business card? Is it working for me 24/7?'” That’s the first thing. If you answer that your website’s just a dead static brochure, then you definitely need to be, again, taking some steps and moving forward. Ask yourself, “Is my site healthy?” So, run speed tests on it. If you Google, “Website speed tests,” plug in your domain name or your URL, and then run the speed test.
Some examples of that would be Pingdom, GTmetrix, and Google also has what’s called Page Speed Insights. That’s really handy because Google is looking at page speed as part of the user experience. Google wants to deliver not only really good content, but it also wants to deliver a really good user experience. One of the ways that it does that is when it scans the internet and it scans all these different websites and indexes them, it’s actually looking at how well those pages index or how well those pages load.
Another thing that you have to be asking yourself is, “Do I have security in place?” So, “Do I have a security plug-in, or do I have a web application firewall?” If your site gets hacked, do you have a clean copy to restore it? If you have, do you have analytics then stored, Google Analytics? Even if you have it, do you ever look at those analytics? That’s something that you can Google how to install Google Analytics. It’s actually quite simple. It’s not anything very complicated. It’s just a little snippet of code that you get from Google Analytics. When you go into your WordPress theme, most WordPress themes have a little area … Actually even if it’s not WordPress, it can be Joomla, it can be Drupal. There’s other types of content management systems besides WordPress. Almost every single content management system has a place where you insert that snippet of code, and then Google Analytics will start monitoring your website in real time.
Chantal : Excellent.
Dr Bill Sukala: Some other things too, as I mentioned, I mentioned previously Google Search Console, which was previously known as Google Web Master Tools. Once you have Google Analytics in place, then you can go ahead and link up your website to Google Search Console, which again, will also continuously monitor the health of your website and give you an indication of how well your site is indexing and for specific keyword phrases. It’s not just about having a website up there, but you want to make sure that website is working for you. It’s like a performance evaluation for an employee. If you’re an owner or a manager of a fitness centre, you need to be doing performance evaluations of your staff, and this is essentially an ongoing continuous real time performance evaluation of your website.
Then I think one of the other tips, one of the ways that you can start developing content, good quality content that’s going to rank, is go back and look at your content and be really brutally honest with yourself. When you read your content, have you written a bunch of blog posts or articles that, again, are just random ponderings or kind of aimless ramblings? Again, this is where I have to kind of smack people in the face with a cricket bat of truth and say, “Well, to be honest, nobody cares what you had for breakfast.” This is the single most important tip you’ll ever get for creating content, solve a searcher’s problem. Write content that actually scratches their itch. All right? If you can do that, then that’s the content that’s going to rise to the top.
Chantal : Doctor Bill, you have already given us so much great information about ensuring that our website is in top shape. Before we go on to talk about Health Pro SEO, are there any last tips that you want to leave us with?
Dr Bill Sukala: Look, I think it just comes down to, again, people taking the initiative. Know what’s going on with your website. Don’t just let it be a static dead brochure online that no one’s really look at. Consider your website an employee. You’d never hire an employee and then not do a performance evaluation, so why would you start a website and then forget about it? Number two, write great content that people are actually searching for and want to read. One little side tip that you can use is something called Google Trends. It will let you know if a keyword phrase is on the upswing in popularity or if it’s on the downswing. If something’s already on the downswing, there’s not going to be much interest in that. Don’t write about that.
Finally, again, the housekeeping side of it. Once you’ve got your site under control, you’re writing great content, don’t just let that be it. Think about your website’s speed, security. How healthy is your website? How easy is it to navigate? Do you have tonnes of drop-down menus and all those things that just make your website really difficult to use? Simplicity is everything. So, it’s important to have a healthy website but also really good content, again, that people are searching for, and they’re hungry, and they’re hungry to read and they really want to read it. If you serve that need, your website will absolutely unequivocally perform.
Chantal : Well, I think everyone will be very motivated now to go and do a health check on their own websites. Before they run away and do that, can you tell us a little bit more about your business, Health Pro SEO?
Dr Bill Sukala: Yeah, Health Pro SEO started out, to be honest, almost by accident. For the past decade, I’ve taught myself all the main coding languages that I needed to learn for websites. So, I had friends of mine, health professional friends of mine that we’d get talking about our websites and they’d say, “Oh yeah, can you take a look at my website? I’m not sure if I’m doing this right.” I would just jump in there just as a little curbside consult and help them out just for free. I had a number of people come back to me and say, “Mate, I cannot believe how helpful that was. That was phenomenal.” They said, “You know what?,” they said, “I would have hired somebody and paid them a thousand bucks to do that. That was really great.”
A good example of that, a friend of mine had her website. She said, “Oh, can you check out my hosting account? I’m not sure what’s going on.” I checked it out and found out her hosting account was basically a spam incubator for Viagra and … I’m not joking. This is a true story. So, we were able to get her out of that rubbish hosting and get her onto a really good hosting account, clean up her account so now her site was secure. That’s where it all started anyway. It was almost an accident.
So, I developed that idea, and I started doing some beta testing and working with different health professionals and tweaking their sites. A friend of mine in New Zealand, all we did was change the title tags on her website. That’s the little information that appears in the tabs if you’re looking at a website and you have it open and different tabs open in your browser. We just changed the tabs, and her website, within a week, went straight to the top of Google.
Basically, what I do is I coach health professionals on, number one, how to take charge of their own websites. I teach them … It’s the teach them how to fish philosophy. It’s about self-sufficiency. It’s about freeing them from the shackles of web developers who are, number one, holding health professionals hostage, even taking advantage of them with really high fees for rubbish websites and even the maintenance fees. I’ve seen situations where somebody simply needed a backup copy of their website, and they got charged 200 bucks for that. That’s not fair. So, I come along and set this thing up, and I’m kind of kicking sand in their face and saying, “Look, in all fairness there are some really good, fair, ethical web developers out there, but there are also lots of sharks taking advantage of health professionals because they can.”
I work with clients in-person, face-to-face. If they’re overseas, then we use online screen sharing. I log into their, for example, their hosting account or their website, and I go through and I do a full website audit before we work together. I show them everything that needs to be done, and then I show them how to do it so they actually get their hands dirty. Then they have a vested interest. They understand it. The value of that is this, once they have full control of their website, they understand how it all fits together, they understand what a hosting account is, they understand what their domain registrar is and how that links up with their hosting account, once they understand what WordPress is and their theme and they have a genuine conceptual understanding of how it all works, then they can outsource all the grunt work that needs to be done. They can outsource that at a fair and fixed price. There are lots of freelancers out there that’ll do really good work, and they’ll do so at a fair and fixed price. It’s a pay per deliverable rather than being held hostage by web developers.
Then on top of that, I do go through top to bottom and teach clients how to do the SEO for their website. So, we’ll take a step back and have a good long chat about their business and who are they serving. Then we say, “Well, let’s think about some category areas that really encompass what it is that you do. Now let’s build some article ideas underneath of each of those categories. Now let’s build some keyword phrases underneath of each of those article ideas.” So, it’s a top-down hierarchical approach that I do with people to teach them how to, again, create really good content that people are actually searching for and want to read.
Chantal : Phenomenal. Doctor Bill, how do people best contact you if they want to chat further?
Dr Bill Sukala: If they want to get in touch with me, they can go straight to the Health Pro SEO website, which is healthproseo.com, or they can email me directly at [email protected]
Chantal : This has been so insightful and so valuable. I want to remind everyone right now, because I know that we have covered a lot of information in today’s show, that don’t forget if you head over to the website at fitnessbusinesspodcast.com, go along to today’s show notes page and you could actually download a transcription of today’s interview. So, if you want to dive into a little bit deeper, if you need to get any of those links that we spoke about during the show, or kind of read through that information, of course you can listen to it again, but you can download a free transcription from the website.
Doctor Bill, I want to say thank you so much. This has been really, really valuable information that you’ve shared with us today. You are an absolute expert in this area. I’ve learnt so much in that last 40 minutes together. So, thank you so much for joining us as a guest on the Fitness Business Podcast.
Dr Bill Sukala: Thank you. It was great to be here.
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