Local SEO Tips for Golf Courses: 5 Easy Steps to Improve Your Google Rankings

/Local SEO Tips for Golf Courses: 5 Easy Steps to Improve Your Google Rankings
Local SEO Tips for Golf Courses: 5 Easy Steps to Improve Your Google Rankings

Those who run golf courses are finding it more and more difficult to attract new customers. Although word of mouth still plays a significant role, prospects are increasingly turning to Google search to find a local golf course, and then choosing between the first few on the list. To build your customer base, then, you must get your business to the top of Google rankings.

We will guide you through our proven, step by step process for moving your business to the top of the list. First, though, let’s discuss why local SEO is crucial for golf courses.

3 Reasons Golf Courses Should Invest in Local SEO

  1. Bye-Bye Yellow Pages, Hello Google:It wasn’t that long ago that a golf course could place an ad in the Yellow Pages and wait for golfers to call for a tee time. Today, though, a whopping 97% of people search online for local businesses, and Google is by far the market leader.
  2. Free Traffic:Although things are slowly evolving, advertising is still one of the biggest expenses for small businesses. Improving your Google ranking gives you a constant stream of free traffic that can be converted to paying customers.
  3. Zippy Results:While national and international businesses do not see results from a new SEO campaign for 6 to 12 months, golf courses have a huge advantage. You are competing with other golf courses in your area, not those on the other side of the country. And many of your competitors are neglecting local SEO. That means that with a targeted campaign, you could reach the first page of Google local listings in just 39 days!

Step 1: Choose Your Keywords

The first step is to simply generate a quick list of keywords that match your services. For example, you might choose “golf course”, “golf pro”, or “golf lessons”. When your list is reasonably complete, sign up for a free Google AdWords account.

You do not need to build or fund an ad campaign. Your goal is to access the free Google Keyword Planner. This helpful tool shows you how much traffic each keyword drives, and suggests related keywords that might not have occurred to you.

Now you are ready to finalize your list of keywords. All keywords fall into 2 basic categories:

  • Buying Intent: Buying intent keywords mean that a prospect imminently needs your services. For example, “Where can I take golf lessons in Miami” is a clear sign that the prospect is ready to improve his game.

Focus your initial attention on buying intent keywords, since they drive the speediest results. Feature them on your homepage, and build separate service pages for them.

  • Research Intent: Research intent keywords signal that the prospect is “just looking.” He might want to play golf at your course someday, but not today. For example, someone asking “What are the top golf courses in Texas” might be thinking of a future trip.

These keywords don’t drive quick conversions, so consider them to be lower priority. Don’t discard them, though, as they are perfect for FAQs and blog posts. These informative posts serve as your introduction to prospects who might remember you when they are ready to play golf.

Step 2: Optimize Your Keywords

Now that your keyword list is finalized, it is time to optimize. There are 2 separate areas of focus—your Google My Business page and your website. Here’s what to do:

Google My Business

Think of your Google My Business page as a sort of miniature website for Google’s “Maps” section. It briefly describes your company and boosts your overall presence online. It’s also a way to boost your rankings fast, since it is far easier to rank a Google My Business page than a website.

To optimize, completely and accurately fill out the following elements:

  • Verification: First, claim your page and submit it for Google’s verification process. You’ll know this is complete when you see a checkmark and the word “Verified” by your company name.
  • NAP: Your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) must be both accurate and entirely identical across the internet. Reassure Google that yours is a local business by choosing a local phone number rather than an 800 number.
  • Categories: Google requires all categories to reflect services instead of results. Golf Course, Golf Resort, Private Golf Course, Public Golf Course, Golf Instructor, Country Club, and Golf Driving Range are all valid Google categories, so choose 3 to 5 that apply to your business.
  • Description: A 100 to 200-word overview of your company ending with a call to action, the description works well with this format: {Name of Company} is a {private (or public) golf course} in {Your City}. {Give some information about the course and/or why customers love you.} Call {Phone Number} today for 10% off your first round.
  • Hours: Double check that your hours are correct, and are accurately listed across the internet.
  • Images: Images are essential to boosting customer engagement and showing new prospects what to expect. Add some photos of the course, staff, and even your regulars (with permission). Make sure your images are sharply focused, sized between 10KB and 5MB, and have a minimum resolution of 720px x 720px. Also consider replacing the generic Google My Business background image with a branded image.

Website Optimization

Your top priority for optimization is your “core” pages, or your homepage and service pages. Optimize them for your buying intent keywords. When you’re finished, move on to your “content” pages (blog posts and FAQs), optimizing them for your research intent keywords. Here’s what to do:

  • Homepage: The title tag is the most vital individual element on your homepage. It serves the same function as a chapter title in a book, describing your golf course in just 50 to 65 characters. Try this format: Golf Course in {Your City} | {Name of Golf Course}.

The meta description is a short (100 to 150 characters) synopsis of your main services that ends with a call to action. Format it something like this: {Name of Golf Course} offers a quality {golfing experience} in {Your City}. Call {Phone Number} today for 10% off your first round!

The visible headline, or H1, must contain your primary category. Format it similarly to: {Golf Course} in {City, State}.

The last element is your page copy. It should be 500 to 1000 words long, tightly edited, and highly descriptive of your golf course and core services, and should end with a strong call to action. Incorporate your primary keyword as it naturally fits.

  • Service Pages: Each core service needs its own service page. Optimize it just like the homepage, focusing on the relevant keyword.

Step 3: Develop Citations and Links

With the framework of your local SEO campaign ready to go, you can develop citations and links. Both improve your online reach, boosting your Google rankings.

  • Citations: A citation is simply a listing of your business name, address, and phone number(NAP) in an online directory. Try general national directories such as Facebook and yellowpages.com, general local directories such as your Chamber of Commerce website, and targeted golf directories. Make sure your NAP is completely identical across all listings.

Note that some directories require paid listings. Take a peek at Google Analytics before you commit. There is no reason to pay for a listing that will not drive traffic and conversions.

  • Links: To reach the highest levels of Google rankings, it is essential to have inbound links from authoritative, credible websites. Build relationships with companies that offer complementary services to your own, such as travel planners and country clubs, and then ask to trade links. Use a tool such as the Moz Open Site Explorer to see where your competitors’ links are coming from.

Step 4: Ask for Reviews

Customer reviews impact your local SEO campaign in two crucial ways. First, they help to convince prospects to try your golf course. Second, they let Google know that you have a legitimate business. While all reviews can help, you will get the fastest rankings boost from Google My Business reviews. Send your satisfied customers an email link to your page, and request a review. If you follow up regularly, you will soon have a consistent flow of recent reviews.

Step 5: Track Your Results

The only way to know what’s working and what’s not is to track your results. There are seemingly endless ways to analyze your data, but these three core metrics are the most vital:

  • Rankings: Google displays rankings that are customized to previous browsing behavior. To learn your true rankings, you need a tool. Ask your webmaster to install the free Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools). Be sure to check your rankings at least once a month.

For a more detailed analysis, switch to a paid tool such as RankRanger.com. This tool tracks your Google My Business page as well as each individual webpage, and automatically updates ranking data from all of your SEO campaigns.

  • Traffic: Google Analytics is arguably the best way to track your website traffic, or visitors. You can view your overall traffic, each individual webpage’s traffic, and the portion of traffic that comes through Google search. Check your traffic report at least once per month, with an eye out for long-term trends.
  • Conversions: A conversion is a concrete action you want prospects to perform, such as contacting you for 10% off their first round of golf. You can track both phone and web conversions in Google Analytics. You can also learn which of your webpages have the highest and lowest conversion rates, and even which services drive the most conversions.

Ready to Get Started?

Now you understand why a targeted local SEO campaign is crucial to building your customer base. Work through all 5 steps in order, and be sure to complete each step before moving on to the next. Here is a recap of the 5 steps:

  1. Keyword research
  2. Keyword optimization
  3. Citations and Links
  4. Reviews
  5. Tracking

Want Help with SEO?

At Main Street ROI, we specialize in helping golf courses attract more local customers through Google. If you’d like help with your SEO, contact us for a free quote.

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