Question: At your Golf Course or Private Club, how much did you pay for your listing in the Phone Book last year?
Hopefully, your answer was $0. Search boxes on phones, computers, and tablets have entirely replaced the Yellow Pages. Today's "phone book" is a collection of online review sites. These sites serve up business contact information along with reviews from actual customers.
The good news – these sites are free!
The bad news – you must invest time to use them effectively.
In this post, we'll cover the top four online review sites and how to use them to drive traffic to your Golf Course or Private Club.
Most review sites are quasi-social sites. They deliver business information to potential customers based on the words typed into the search box. A listing for The Sagamore Club could be triggered by typing The Sagamore Club, or Private Clubs Noblesville, or even just Private Club from a device located in near Noblesville. Just like the phone book, users can search by name, industry, or geography.
The similarities end here.
Unlike the phone book, review sites deliver an in-depth look into your golf course or private club. They allow you to display promotions, photos, event information, menus, and more. They give customers instant feedback based on what other people are saying about your business. In the old days, these testimonials were communicated entirely by word-of-mouth.
The four review sites below are all important for golf courses and private clubs. Make sure you have "claimed" your listing and updated your profile on each site. You'll also want to make sure you are very consistent with the contact information you enter into each profile – inconsistent information will negatively impact your SEO efforts.
Google is by far the most critical directory site for your golf facility. It is tied directly to the Google search box – so users of google.com, Android devices, Google Maps, or the Chrome web browser will see your business page in their search results. Google gives users the necessary information that you'd expect – location, website, contact info, hours of operation, customer reviews & ratings, and photos. Customers can even ask questions of you. To take full advantage of your Google listing, make sure you update your profile entirely and include lots of great pictures and an enticing description.
TripAdvisor is a well-respected platform with many loyal users. It is generally used more by people traveling for work or vacation than people who live in the local market. Therefore, it is significant for high-end and destination facilities. Very few courses have TripAdvisor in their online marketing plan, so there is a "blue ocean" of opportunity to rise above the golf course competition with TripAdvisor.
Yelp is the go-to review site for restaurants, though customers do review other businesses and will comment on your golf course or events. Yelp delivers customers similar information as Google and TripAdvisor, but it grew to fame based almost wholly on user reviews. With Yelp, golf course owners will find a group of users who are more engaged and review businesses more frequently. It is vital to keep your information fresh and engage users & reviewers regularly.
GolfAdvisor.com, a subsidiary of GolfNow.com, could be considered the Yelp of the Golf Industry. It is an online review platform designed for our industry; it lists all courses - not only those that post inventory on GolfNow. There is extra importance for courses that distribute tee times on GolfNow - those courses have a "Book Now" link on their GolfAdvisor profile, and players are asked to review the course on GolfAdvisor.com.
Of course, there are more sites! Though Facebook isn't a review site, you should pay attention to your recommendations on the platform. If you have a robust wedding or banquet business, make sure to invest time into TheKnot.com and WeddingWire.com. Certain regions have local or regional review sites, like GreensKeeper.org in California. Each course and market are different, but as the phone book has gone out of print, all courses and clubs need to invest a little time in the "phone book" of the 21st century.
Navigating the world of digital marketing is hard. If you are having trouble, let us know, we help golf courses and private clubs optimize their strategies and tactics every day.