Before we dive deeper into how the new Maps look is affecting your course, let's take a look at the aesthetic differences. As you can see from the image below, the new Maps display has some obvious changes. When comparing new vs. old Maps displays, you’ll notice:
· There is only 3 businesses listed in the new Maps and 7 in the old
· There are no phone numbers listed in the new Maps
· There is no link to Google+ in the new Maps
· New Maps does not include a full address
· New Maps displays images on the right-hand side
After reviewing the differences, most golf courses will be grouped into two categories: those that were hurt and those that were helped by the recent Maps display changes.
Who was hurt?
We can assume that most golf courses were hurt since these updates have been made. After all, with Google taking away 4 business listings in their Maps display, your golf facility is nearly 60% less likely to be shown during a search. If your golf course was displayed in the old version of Maps and is now nowhere to be found, I wouldn’t be surprised if you notice a significant decrease in business in the near future.
Want to check to see if your golf facility is still appearing in Google Maps results? Navigate to www.google.com and search “Golf Courses in [YOUR_CITY]”. If you still show up, take a big sigh of relief. If not, scroll down to see what you can do to fix this problem.
Who was helped?
Golf courses that have benefitted from the recent Map updates are the ones that still appear within the 3 displayed positions. These 3 businesses will have far less competition and will yield more traffic. Although these updates will hurt more golf facilities than they will help, 3 lucky courses will likely see a significant increase in traffic.
Note: Google Maps not displaying phone numbers or complete addresses in their results may have hurt your golf course, even if it still appears in the top 3 positions. Now, searchers have to take one more step to receive the information they need, which is never ideal.
If so many businesses are being hurt by these changes, why would Google do it?
The answer is a relatively simple one… More money for Google. Google is forcing local businesses to spend more on their ad network to compensate for their recent loss in exposure. The big G knows exactly what they are doing and, unfortunately, they do it very well. The world revolves around Google and they know you’ll eventually be willing to pay them for your golf course to show up on their search engine.
What can you do to fix this problem?
Don’t panic! If your golf course doesn’t appear within the first 3 results of Google Maps anymore, there are two approaches to fixing the problem.
1. Local SEO – The only way to combat Google without paying for ads is to utilize a strong local SEO program. Google uses a number of factors to consider what businesses will show up in the top 3 positions of Maps. By optimizing your website, having consistent NAP on online directories, and enhancing your Google My Business page, you can alter where your golf facility shows up in Maps results. The only downside to local SEO is that it can take a couple of months to get everything in order, but is well worth the effort in the end.
2. Use Google AdWords – You may not like the idea of paying Google to show up on their search engine more prevalently. However, I am here to assure you that it’s necessary, effective, and can be very profitable. In fact, our clients see a 352% ROI on average. See, it’s not all that bad! Google AdWords is also instant, so no waiting around for organic results to improve.
While the recent changes to the Maps display may have thrown your facility for a loop, it’s not the end of the world. Through Local SEO and Google AdWords, golf facilities have plenty of opportunity to enhance their online presence.