Search engines, like Google, bring golf courses over 60% of their total website traffic. It’s impressive to think that one single channel can be responsible for the majority of people finding your business online. Search engines are a powerful tool for both consumers and businesses, making it exceedingly easier to put people in touch with businesses, and vice versa. One way marketers take advantage of the power of search engines is through SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
What is SEO?
By definition, Search Engine Optimization is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine. In other words, SEO is when you influence search engine algorithms to achieve more prominent placement on Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
Why Should Golf Courses Care?
The influence that search engines have on our golf industry is getting stronger and stronger. The number of searches taking place on Google for keywords, such as “golf courses”, has increased by 71% since 2019 and that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Golfers are leaning on search engines more, which means that having optimal visibility on these platforms will have an even larger impact on your business going forward. In some cities, these searches are taking place thousands of times per day, with each search being a new opportunity to capture a new customer. And by comparison to other marketing channels, search engines can provide a cost-effective way to find new members, fill golf leagues, and book more tee times.
Tip #1: Claim & Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business is a free tool that allows business owners to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. Many golf facilities do not have access to their Google My Business page or have yet to take the time to fully understand and complete their profile. This is SEO Tip #1 because optimizing your Google My Business is typically the low-hanging fruit. Doing this can cause huge, overnight improvements in search engine traffic, especially for clubs that have neglected this in the past.
Google My Business isn’t a “set it and forget it” type of platform either. Keeping your Google My Business page updated with recent posts and accurate details can help build a stronger profile that will get rewarded with more visibility than the competition.
Tip #2: Write Better Title Tags & Meta Descriptions
We often see websites that look good and format well but have been built with little attention towards SEO. Title Tags and Meta Descriptions are a major factor in helping search engines understand what your page is about. There are many guidelines and best practices that SEO experts will recommend here, but the main thing to consider when rewriting Title Tags and Meta Descriptions is to try and add context so that people (and robots) can understand your business’s offerings better.
For example, many golf facilities will have a Title Tag such as “Blue Frog Golf Club”. A more optimized Title Tag would be something like “Public Golf Course in Toledo, OH | Blue Frog Golf Club”. This gives search engines more information; it’s a public golf course in Toledo, OH. Adjusting this will help the website appear more prominently for a larger number of searches taking place in the Toledo area.
Similarly, Meta Descriptions need the same type of optimization, but in a longer sentence format. A scenario we see often is website companies taking customer’s sites live without any Meta Descriptions, which is something that should be addressed immediately if search engines are of any importance to you. A proper Meta description will look like the example below:
“Known for its award-winning Tom Fazio design, Blue Frog Golf Club is one of the best public golf courses in Toledo, Ohio. Book a tee time today!”
Title Tags and Meta Descriptions will periodically need to be rewritten. This lets Google know that the website isn’t stale or stagnant, and it gives you a new opportunity to make adjustments to the current information you’re providing Google and other search engines.
Tip #3: Monitor & Improve Page Load Speed
Google and the other search engines are sticklers about website load speed and rightfully so! No one likes to visit a website that takes forever to load. With search engines being in the business of showing you things you want to see, they do everything they can to avoid sending you to a slow website. Google has publicly stated that faster websites will win more search engine visibility. They aren’t trying to hide it. In fact, they are encouraging businesses and web developers to put more emphasis on site speed than just about anything else. That should tell you something.
Google offers a PageSpeed Insights tool that helps businesses determine the areas of their website that are slowing it down. Since all websites are not created equally, we find that each website has its own unique page speed hurdles. For some, the hurdle is having images that are formatted too large and just take up unnecessary bandwidth. Other websites may have larger issues, such as a poorly performing hosting server or third-party software that delays page load times. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is a great place to start and will set you down the right path.
Tip #4: Make Sure Redirects are in Place
With more and more golf courses fully understanding the importance of their website, it seems that these websites are getting updated more often, which is a great thing! However, anytime pages come and go, we need to get into the habit of 301 redirecting the old page to the new page. A 301 redirect indicates the permanent moving of a web page from one location to another. This prevents people from being sent to embarrassing 404 pages. Below are a few examples of when to use a 301 redirect:
- Did you get a new website made? Make sure there are 301 redirects in place.
- Did you update a page from “2020 Rates” to “2021 Rates”? Make sure there’s a redirect.
- Deleted old or outdated pages on your website? Redirect those to the homepage or most relatable page.
Tip #5: Write More Homepage Content
With today’s web design trends, it seems that websites are being made with more of an emphasis on images and videos than the actual information on the page. That said, Google and the other search engines still use the copy on the page to understand its context. Therefore, it’s as important as ever to make sure your homepage, at minimum, still has enough copy.
“Enough” is relative to the competition in the local market, but we recommend trying to include 1,000 words of copy on your homepage. While you may notice a website with little copy rank well on Google from time to time, there is a strong correlation between word count and improved search engine visibility. While this is true for all pages, the homepage is certainly the biggest opportunity, especially with websites today including less and less copy.
If you’re struggling to write more copy, try compiling a FAQ section on your homepage. This can help you populate the page with more content without having to write in long paragraph form. People often include the course’s history, notes about the ownership, affiliations, and more. While it may seem like a waste of time because you think “no one will ever read this”, I can assure you the robots at Google will!
SEO is Always a Work in Progress