A local SEO strategy targeting their most commercially important centres

Freedom Leisure is one of the UK’s leading not-for-profit charitable leisure and cultural trusts. They operate over 100 leisure venues across the UK and offer a wide range of activities, from gyms, swimming pools, fitness classes and personal training, to soft play areas and dedicated sports halls. Their mission is to create healthy communities and improve people’s lives through fitness and leisure.

Adido was tasked with ensuring a successful website migration, followed by a local SEO strategy that focused on delivering increased memberships across Freedom Leisure’s most high-profile centres, whilst in the face of stiff competition.

An ageing website and numerous locations facing stiff competition

Freedom Leisure decided to update their long-standing website. So, the priority initially for Adido was to ensure a thorough and seamless website migration.

Freedom Leisure also wanted to increase their overall ranking position, which when the SEO strategy started, was approximately 66 across the UK. More specifically, there were a number of priority locations and centres that needed a reboot. With a vast number of leisure centres across the country, they wanted to maximise their organic presence, however, Freedom Leisure operate in a competitive space, competing against private health clubs not only for the long-term goal of memberships but for presence in the SERPs.

One of the challenges we faced was that some locations have multiple centres in the area, so our solution also had to consider keyword cannibalisation within a location.

A targeted SEO approach focusing on priority locations to boost memberships

The website migration was the first step to enable a successful SEO strategy. This included keyword research, a review of the staging site as well as pre and post launch data collection to make sure no important content was lost. Multiple calls and meetings meant all the data required for a successful migration was stored and Freedom were kept up to date with the progress throughout the project.

Once the migration had been planned and implemented, leaving no stone unturned, the website launched!

It plays a crucial role in the growth of Freedom Leisure by helping to increase the number of new customers, whilst also improving the experience for existing customers to help drive sales.

As Freedom Leisure operates in over 100 locations, we focused on a local SEO strategy, optimising both the website centre pages and creating local citations, including Google Business Profiles and Bing Places. Whilst we would have loved to have optimised all of Freedom’s centres within the year, we had to be practical with the available SEO budget and settled upon optimising their priority locations first.

Prioritisation initially came from the client who had a number of centres they wanted to focus on. Once these were complete, keyword research helped to form the focus for the next locations. For every one of these centres, we carried out extensive local keyword research and used this knowledge to optimise the core activity pages.

To overcome the multi-centres in one location challenge, we proposed prioritising the flagship venue in each location. Whilst this may have been to the detriment of the smaller centres, it was also important to avoid keyword cannibalisation within the website itself (which would have diluted success in all areas rather than being strong in at least one).

In order to monitor our progress, and ensure that the strategy was working, we introduced Freedom Leisure to a new way of reporting on performance. Taking into account the data we could track on the website, we provided reports at centre level for both rankings and traffic through to leads, focusing on the centres we optimised vs. the website as a whole.

Overall ranking increase from 66 to 4

In the last year, we have worked on ten locations, focusing on the centres’ main activities – gym memberships, swimming lessons, fitness classes and soft play activities. Within that time, we have seen key terms moving to position one and in turn achieve significant increases in organic traffic and more conversions.

The content we created is either ranking in position one or at least page one for key terms such as fitness classes, tennis lessons, swimming lessons and soft play activities.

position improvement
32% increase
in goal conversion rate

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From day one, our focus was clear - to drive traffic to pages that will result in more memberships. This was the priority for Freedom Leisure and why our strategy focused on optimisation of the top activities in the most important locations.

Gaining rankings for the term gyms in [location] was the goal, as well as swimming in [location] & fitness classes in [location].

Further content creation focused on best gyms in brighton and best gyms in swansea - two prominent locations, both with significant search volume. Gaining rankings for these terms in the lead up to the busy new year period was vital in driving traffic and conversions.

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