Editors note: The following is a guest post by Mike Bannan, Director of Business Development at IDEA Health & Fitness Assocation. In it, he gives a summary of his educational session "Growing Membership with Yelp, Google Places, and IDEA FitnessConnect" that he presented on March 16th, 2011 at IHRSA's International Convention & Trade Show.
20 percent of all searches are directly related to location. This fact can have a huge (positive or negative!) effect on fitness and training businesses.
People looking for a personal trainer or a gym don’t search for “personal trainer” or “gym”, they search for “personal trainer Cooper City” and “gym Cooper City.”
Whether they’re searching on Google, Yelp, or IDEA FitnessConnect, location matters.
I presented a session on this a couple weeks back at IHRSA in San Francisco. I shared a bunch of information IDEA had learned about how people search for local businesses (such as fitness facilities and personal trainers); and more importantly, the 16 things most successful businesses are doing to show up at the top of those searches.
Here are some of the high points:
Claim your profile. All three of these services display profiles for businesses. But many (most?) profiles have not been claimed by business owners. The most important thing your business can do to improve your search ranking and how you’re perceived is to claim and complete your profile.
Google cares what other sites say about you. Google Places profiles display a ton of information from other sites, like CitySearch, TripAdvisor, and Yahoo. Plus, Google bases a lot of your credibility and authority on links from other sites to your own.
IDEA FitnessConnect cares how qualified your staff are. One of the main reasons FitnessConnect exists is to provide transparency of professionals’ credentials. So FitnessConnect weights rankings heavily on the verified credentials of the facility’s professionals. Make sure your staff have completed their profiles, and that those profiles are associated with your facility.
Yelp cares what other people say about you. Encourage people who love you let other people know about it, especially in Yelp reviews. (Be cool, though—don’t beg for positive reviews.) And be sure to reply (publicly or privately) to negative reviews.
But before you can do anything with Google Places, Yelp, or IDEA FitnessConnect, you have to claim your profile! Really. Do it. Do it now!