// Use Google ‘Places’ to grow your business

Google searches now rank businesses that have completed their Google Places profile higher than businesses that haven’t. Lucy Johnson explains what ‘Places’ is and reveals how you can use it to grow your fitness business.

Businesses all over the world are using Google to help them grow. Unfortunately, the fitness industry doesn’t feature strongly among them. Furthermore, many businesses either don’t dedicate the funds they need to really see a difference or simply don’t know what to do. So, here’s the latest information you need to make your fitness business grow with Google.

In the past year, Google has rolled out a tool called Google Places. Integrated into the Google Maps feature, these business ‘directories’ include information about your business, including location, years in business, opening hours and photographs of your facility.

This isn’t to say that all the hard work you’ve done to create your website was totally wasted. What’s important to know is that businesses with a website and a Google listing tend to be ranked higher. This makes it imperative for you to claim and nurture your Google Places listing. If you’re just focusing on your website and ignoring Google Places, you’re wasting time and money.

Google Places allows users to refine their searches to produce results that are more relevant to them. For example, if they are using Google to look for a personal trainer in St Kilda, they will be able to find more personal trainers in St Kilda. Simple as that.

So, to take advantage of your new-found Google knowledge and get more customers, you need to know the four strategies to ensure you appear on the first page of Google Places:

  1. Make sure your listing has your search term or keyword included. For instance, if you want your business to be found when someone types ‘St Kilda fitness club’ into Google and your business name is Fit and Fun, you’ll need to list your business as ‘Fit and Fun St Kilda fitness club’.
  2. Make sure that your listing category is accurate and is what people are searching for (i.e., don’t list yourself as a ‘leisure’ category if your ideal customer would never look for ‘St Kilda leisure’ in Google). Create your own category if yours isn’t listed.
  3. Don’t skimp on the information. Fully complete your Google Places profile listing with all the details, even if they seem irrelevant. Add as many videos and pictures as it allows.
  4. Solicit positive reviews from your members. You’ll be ranked higher if you’ve got more positive reviews on your listing than similar local businesses. Plus, it’s great social proof in itself; if you saw two health clubs listed on Google and one had 50 positive reviews while the other had less than five, which one would you choose?

Important change

Google searches, which are used by more people than any other search engine, are now designed so that businesses that have completed their Google Places profiles will be ranked higher than businesses that haven’t. You can have the best website in the world, but if you don’t mesh that with a completed Google Places profile, your website will fall in search rankings. This means you’ll lose business and your local competition will gain business. To come out on top, you’ll need to draw more interested visitors to your website. It’s a fairly simple tool, and it’s free to use, but many gym owners and managers will fail to do so. By going to www.google.com/places you can give your facility the advantage necessary to grow and prosper.

This article is republished courtesy of Fitpro Business

Lucy Johnson
Lucy is a former international fitness presenter and fitness manager for Europe’s largest health club. She now delivers marketing, branding and business strategies for fitness businesses. For more information, visit www.rockstarfitnessmarketing.com