What’s the first thing people do when they decide to get in shape and join a gym? They turn to social media to ask for recommendations from friends and family, and then they turn to the Internet to do more research on their options.
Here’s another question for you: If potential customers research the fitness studio websites on the list that their initial search returns, what are they going to find when they get to yours? Five-star reviews? Three-star reviews? No reviews at all? The reality of the connected world we live in is that your lack of stars may send potential customers to competitors who have better reviews.
Reviews are an important part of your online presence. They reinforce the recommendations of friends, they serve as collective intelligence from other consumers, and they help with search rankings. In this article we will break down the nuances of the review sites that are most important for fitness professionals, and we’ll give you some tips for increasing your reviews.
Yelp (www.yelp.com) is one of the biggest online review sites for local businesses. With a monthly average of 90 million unique visitors and more than 102 million reviews, the site and its importance are hard to ignore (Yelp 2016). In addition to its impressive user engagement, Yelp has a partnership with Apple. So when you use Siri to search for local businesses, the search results serve up Yelp reviews as well (Search Engine Land 2012).
To determine who gets displayed at the top of the search results, Yelp uses a complicated algorithm based on user reviews. If you want to show up on the first page, you need to have reviews, and they need to be good. That doesn’t mean you can create a bunch of fake accounts and leave reviews to push your business to the top. The algorithm takes into account each user’s credibility.
If you haven’t already claimed your Yelp profile, make sure you do. Like it or not, people are stumbling upon your business listing on Yelp. When your profile is not claimed, or if it lacks important information and/or pictures of your space, it makes a bad first impression. Once you’ve claimed your account, you have access to lots of metrics that show how people find you and what they are saying about you.
Beyond claiming your profile and waiting for the reviews to come in, you should be aware of the other Yelp features that can benefit fitness pros. First, Yelp curates all sorts of lists by industry based on Yelp reviews. That means that if your business has a lot of “stars,” it’s likely to be included in the list that comes up in the search results, usually right below the Google directory list at the top.
Yelp has a special program that is growing in popularity in cities with strong fitness communities. It’s called Yelp’s Fit Club, and it is organized by local Yelp community managers as a way to expose Yelpers to all that the local fitness scene has to offer. The program puts up a schedule of classes at fitness facilities all over the city that Yelpers can attend for free. While facilities must offer the classes for free, being listed on a Yelp’s Fit Club site brings participating businesses both exposure and reviews.
Yelp also has an Events section, where you can post events for either Yelp Elite or the general public. Yelp has a lot to offer small businesses; make sure you’re not missing out on all of its features.
Many business owners don’t realize how important Facebook reviews are&mdash:or that they even exist. Facebook reviews give your brand credibility and enhance your Facebook presence. Among the many factors that Facebook uses in its algorithm are star ratings, which help increase the visibility of your Facebook posts. More reviews and higher star ratings equal more views.
Facebook reviews appear in two places on your Facebook page: on the left-hand side, where the information about your business appears; and on the Reviews tab near the top of your page. In both places, users can see the average review in terms of stars, as well as how many reviews you have. Another important place the reviews appear outside of the platform is within Google search results. When users use Google to search for your business, the first listing among the results will most likely be your website—followed by your Facebook page, with your star rating front and center.
Have you ever searched for a business or a type of business in your area and noticed the Google listing that populates at the top? There’s a map and then a list of three places, with an option to view more. Each listing has an address, a telephone number, a link to the business’s website and a star ranking. Those stars are Google reviews, and they are very important.
For more information on Google Reviews and general tips to get feedback from current clients, please see “Review Sites Can Be a Boon for Business” in the online IDEA Library (August 2016 issue of IDEA Trainer Success). If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at 800-999-4332, ext. 7.