UK Health and Fitness Clubs - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q1 2024

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The Q1 2024 benchmarking report for UK health and fitness clubs has just been published. Learn how the top 11 UK health and fitness clubs perform across the digital space.

The latest Q1 2024 benchmarking report for UK health and fitness clubs has just been published. It covers the 11 largest clubs in the UK, including Virgin Active, The Gym Group, énergie Fitness, LivingWell Health Clubs, TotalFitness, Anytime Fitness, The Bannatyne Group, Fitness Space, Snap Fitness 24/7, PureGym, and Fitness First.

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The research gives an inside track on who is winning the biggest share of voice online and quantifies the gaps, risks and missed opportunities for other health and fitness clubs to win brand exposure, drive online views, and increase membership figures. The report highlights quick wins that will improve enquiries from your online strategy and identifies the barriers that may be reducing your site’s ability to optimise digital performance.

To see a preview and contents page of the Q1 report, click here. To get a copy of the full report and the key takeaways, please complete the enquiry form or schedule a call. Health & Fitness - COVER


For a glance into just six of the metrics we evaluated these top 11 health and fitness clubs on, check out our quick-look table below; Health&Fitness W&L Mar24

Continue reading for further detail on this quarter's best and poorest-performing UK health and fitness clubs or request a copy of the report for the full review.

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What The Industry Research Report Covers

The 70+ pages of research benchmarks each brand based on 50+ metrics and indicators of successful digital strategy, including organic visibility, domain authority, paid media ads, conversion performance, technical performance, site speed, universal search, content, social ads, accessibility, and mobile performance.  

Driving Optimal ROAS from Paid Media Channels

Some of the leading players in the space are high spenders on paid media channels such as Google, Bing and Facebook - but have a poor or sub-optimal conversion improvement strategy. Without an optimised, sophisticated conversion strategy that maximises the conversion rate, the return on investment is unsustainable or will underperform. Scaling spend on paid media is not achievable unless the conversion rate delivers optimal performance in the sector. Some in the space have paid media spend levels from £30k+ per month but dedicate minimal resources and budgets to conversion testing.  Given the cost per clicks on ad networks will continue to rise, we recommend spending at least 10% of your paid media budget on ongoing conversion optimisation testing schedules to ensure your paid media ROI maintains long-term viability, competitive advantage, and sustainability.

Technical Website Compliance

Savvy digital marketers know that having a technically sound website is an essential component of a successful fully integrated digital strategy - plus a site capable of maximising conversion performance. Health and fitness clubs have the benefit of not needing to maintain an ever-changing array of stock, so it should be relatively straightforward for these brands to avoid large volumes of 4xx errors.

PureGym reported the highest number of 4xx errors (108). Links can be broken for many reasons, including changing the URL or content’s location. Brands should assess links to check customers aren’t being directed to broken links.

Site Speed & Conversion Rate Performance

When 62% of consumers are less likely to convert if they have a negative mobile site experience, ensuring that your site is quick and easy to load will see a significant improvement on your overall conversion rates. Health and fitness clubs must ensure they are primed and ready for an increasingly mobile-first audience and are serving quick, easy to use mobile sites.

For Q1 2024, the mobile site speed ranged between 48 and 17, with TotalFitness reporting the lowest score. After assessing its mobile site, this health and fitness club should reduce the size of its background images to help increase download speed.

Building Competitive Advantage with Domain Authority

Domain authority (DA) is an essential metric for measuring the effectiveness of SEO performance and helps create a reliable overall gauge of how effective your site is at achieving organic traffic, i.e. ‘free’ traffic that isn’t gained through sponsored ads. Health and fitness clubs may want to collaborate with fitness publications and bloggers within the health niche, to expand their backlink profile and increase levels of relevant referral traffic.

A ‘good’ DA really comes down to how your competitors are performing, however it is generally considered average between 40 and 50, good between 50 and 60, and excellent above 60. The DA range for this quarter was between 73 and 30, with only Fitness Space scoring below the recommended 40. This health and fitness club also reported the least number of backlinks, which it should look to increase to help with its DA rating.

Organic Performance – Mobile & Desktop

A strong organic performance is strategically important as it ensures your site ranks above competitors for core, transactional keywords. When 93% of your customers won’t go past the first page of Google, your absence or lack of targeting for essential keywords will cost you conversions. Due to the cost of living crisis, consumers may be cutting back on small luxuries such as gym memberships, and opting for at-home workout options or a membership at a cheaper club. Health and fitness clubs should be mindful that they are optimising and ranking for relevant terms, depending on current events and topics, in order to maintain traffic.

All health and fitness clubs received more traffic from desktop users than mobile. Additionally, each club saw a loss in organic mobile traffic, whereas 3 saw an increase in organic desktop traffic. This data implies that each club should optimise their site for mobile users to use on the go.

Universal Search Opportunity

Google Universal Search Results are an evolving opportunity to make your pages visible on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Universal results often appear before traditional listings and are eye-catching for users. Universal search results refer to rankings on a SERP that are not the traditional ‘blue line’ Google link, and a site can appear for universal search results without being strong in standard rankings. Health and fitness clubs may find any of the Universal Search opportunities useful for sharing information and building brand awareness directly from the SERP. Results such as 'FAQs' and 'people also ask' questions will provide an opportunity to share knowledge of exercise and build authority, while 'local pack' will improve visibility in local areas.

PureGym continues to hold the top spot for overall Universal Search results — with 39,050 results. This health and fitness club scored the highest for ‘people also ask’. This category helps websites to rank in SERPs, which other sites should adopt.

The Longtail Keyword Opportunity

Longtail keywords are often considered high intent and potentially more likely to convert as a searcher is being more specific. Optimising for longtail keywords also puts your content strategy in a strong position to rank for new search terms as they enter Google’s index. Health and fitness clubs can either look at developing content giving specific exercise advice, which will help funnel users from the brand awareness to consideration stage, or focus on building visibility around high-conversion-intent keywords, that may mention terms such as fees.

PureGym is still at the top spot for longtail keyword appearances in positions 3. This health and fitness club also ranks the highest for positions 4–10, which indicates that this club will remain in the top spot for the next quarter, too.

Facebook Adverts

With the number of Facebook users in the United Kingdom (UK) hitting over 44 million users in 2023, it is not surprising that companies have jumped at the opportunity to advertise on the social media platform. Facebook’s UK digital advertising revenue has been estimated to have breached 2.6b GB pounds in 2019. For UK health and fitness clubs, Facebook ads are an opportunity to reach more customers and share updates to their facilities.

Below, we’ve provided examples of The Gym Group’s sponsored Facebook posts. All 3 posts include vertical videos to cater for mobile users — an excellent strategy, given that the majority of Facebook users are on mobile. Each post also highlights the club’s benefits, a get way to help increase conversions.

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Top Social Shares & Content

When it comes to social media and on-site content strategies, it is important to release content that has a longer shelf life. An article is considered 'evergreen' if it has maintained its relevancy to an audience for a long period of time. It's great for your engagement, but great for Google too, who will recognise content that achieves traffic over a long period of time. Health and fitness clubs with a strong blog presence are likely to see more engagement from social media, with users keen to improve their technique or even copy some exercises at home.

PureGym continues to secure the most Likes on its Facebook page (521,700 — an increase from our last audit) and the largest Instagram account (212,000 followers). All health and fitness clubs can increase their social media followership by regularly posting content and ensuring they’re not overly promoting their business.

Website Readability & Accessibility

About 20% of people in the UK have a disability – 2 million of which are people living with sight loss. In addition, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have some degree of colour vision deficiency. Health and fitness brands will want to carefully consider the impression they are giving users, from the first digital touchpoint. Prospective members who have a vision deficiency, or other additional needs, will need to know that they will be welcomed and supported in accessing facilities, beginning with the health and fitness club's website.

Any brands reporting accessibility alerts should modify redundant titles to provide more description or remove the title attribute from the code. TotalFitness raised some concerns in our previous report with 47 contrast errors, which it’s kept the same this quarter. It should look to reduce these to improve website visibility for those with colour deficiencies.


To get a copy of the full report, please complete the enquiry form. If you want to talk to us about accelerating your digital performance, please call us on 01543 410014 or schedule a call with Mike Movassaghi.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

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