If you’re like me, you want more traffic to your website. Very simply stated, more traffic = more prospects. More prospects = more members. It really is that simple.
For years I’ve advised my clients to forgo the investment in paid search engine optimization (SEO). I’ve always considered it an expensive way to make a temporary impact. Instead, I’ve coached them to build their SEO organically – by creating great content like blogs or videos, by getting press on relevant websites and by getting links from other related websites in their industry. This method has a lot more long term sustainability since Google and other search engines continually update their algorithms. Those who try to game the system, inevitably lose out. It’s also the method I’ve used to build my business. If you were to search for “graphic design tampa” or anything related, my company Shake Creative would be at or very near the top of the Google results.
Well, as you may have noticed, Google continues to fiddle with their system. So do all the major players, like Bing and Yahoo. More and more these search engines are using social proof to base their rankings on. What is social proof? It’s simply people like you and me leaving a review. By contributing to things like Google Maps, Yelp and TripAdvisor you’re helping them decide what is a better suggestion for the next person who asks. In fact, if you search for most anything related to a location or to hospitality, map results will be your first set of results.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense too. If I were to ask a friend, “where’s a good place for a steak in Tampa tonight?” I would probably take one of his suggestions since I trust him. Asking Google and other search engines is now essentially the same process but on a grander scale. That’s why it works!
On my recent trip to Minnesota, I queried Google, “golf course Minneapolis.” As expected, the first results were its map listings. These came before any ads or organic results.
And just in case you need proof that it’s not just Google who’s all in on reviews, here’s what happened when I searched for the same thing on Bing.
It’s the exact same thing! The two largest search engines are 100% focused on social proof and reviews. It’s also important to note that, if you look closely, you’ll see Bing’s results get pulled over from TripAdvisor and Yelp.
Leveraging Member Reviews for Inbound Web Traffic
So if you’re ready to start driving more traffic to your website, there’s one very simple step you need to take immediately. Start asking your members to leave 5 star reviews on the major sites I mentioned above. If you do this, you will be at the top of the map listings and more traffic will flow to your website.
If for some reason you are uncomfortable asking your members, remember that you can always ask your staff and happy guests to do it too. Those reviews count just as much to the search engines.
Important Review Getting Steps
Firstly, I’d suggest dripping the reviews out rather than having them all come at once. When a flood of reviews come in, it usually signals something suspicious and you want this to be more natural. I recommend asking a dozen or so members, staff and guests to do it each week. A handful will actually do it and this will create a natural increase in your reviews. Send them an email, call them or ask them in person. Whatever the vibe of your club dictates.
Secondly, make sure to make it easy on your reviewers. Give them direct links to the sites you’d like them to review on. Here’s how you can create a direct link to leave a Google review. You might even consider setting up a laptop or tablet in the lobby or next to where members enter their handicaps. By removing the barriers, you’ll ensure more reviews get published.
One caveat to the above advice is Yelp. Yelp does not want solicited reviews. They want them to happen naturally. Never give a direct link to your Yelp page. Just ask folks to review you on Yelp if they loved their experience. They’ll have to do a little work to find you, but the dedicated fans of your club will.
Hurry, Don’t Procrastinate
The great thing about this method is that you can quickly make a big impact. Most clubs are not focusing on reviews like they should be, so just a few dozen good ones will make you the top result in most localities. But guess what? They will be soon. Thousands of folks read this blog as well as my newsletter. If you aren’t proactive, someone else will beat you to the punch. So make sure you act fast! 🙂
Looking to Go Deeper?
This article is a great start to getting noticed online. However, if you are looking to truly dominate your search engine optimization so you can attract even more members, there’s a bit more work to be done. Lucky for you, I’ve put together a short online course to teach you these skills. It’s called The Future of Search. During this training I’ll uncover the little-known secrets of how artificial intelligence will forever change the landscape of online search and how you can prepare to win online. Click here to learn more and sign up.