Your website needs to answer golfers’ questions

    Search engines are changing the way they find information. Scott Baxter of First Internet explains how you will need to rework your website.

    Humans are an inquisitive bunch
    We ask questions – all the time. And while you might not think this applies to you as a golf retailer: it does.

    Google has changed its rules recently (Google loves to keep us all on our toes), meaning standard search engine optimisation, nice images and a regularly updated news feed are not enough to keep you top of the list when it comes to your rankings – so your website could be missed by potential customers.

    It’s all about questions. It turns out that the way that people tend to search for things online these days is not by brand, or by location, or specific product. People either type – or increasingly ask out loud, thanks to voice search – full questions.

    Remember Ask Jeeves? Turns out that they had it right. If your potential customer is looking for the right club, or gloves, or trolley, they are just as likely to ask a specific question about it, than type in the word. To be nearer the top of the list of sites that they then see (or are told about by Alexa), you need to answer those questions.

    Luckily, this is a relatively easy thing to do and doesn’t require huge changes to your website. It does however, mean a little more time in getting the content right. Your blog or news section can be adapted, or a new page added, in which frequently asked questions are listed. Or you can be more sophisticated about it, and plan regular advice articles that answer these questions: simply plot out the list of key products you sell and put together a strategic programme of advice articles, sharing your expertise on the best products for different player, game, weather etc. needs. This provides interesting, sharable content as well as satisfying Google’s new search requirements.

    Golf is booming: the number of total adult golfers on the course increased by 2.1m players to 5.2m in 2020, despite the challenges brought by Covid. It’s also attracting a younger audience: people aged 24-35 are now the most likely to pay and play at a golf club and with research, shopping and booking all increasingly carried out online, a good digital presence and relevant communication is vital. This is because popular markets attract larger general retailers – and the likes of Amazon and Ebay are fully on board with golf.

    More than half of US shoppers who purchased golf merchandise online in the last year did so at a general online merchandiser such as Amazon (57%), as opposed to a specialist.

    To attract and harness the growing, younger, digital audience, golf retailers need to compete in other ways, and here is where those questions, answers and expertise come in. Amazon does not answer customer questions about their specific needs – and it cannot do in-store custom fits. Speciality golf retailers may be competing with online giants – but that speciality advice is where the point of difference can come in from both a customer service and online ranking point of view. It can bring your business higher on the list and drive customers to store where needed.

    So while the usual UX rules apply – make it user friendly, optimise your images, make it mobile, make it secure – it’s also important to think about the questions golfers tend to ask, and take the time to answer them fully on your website.

    That time will then lead to higher Google rankings, more traffic – and ultimately, more sales. GR

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    As an avid golfer since the age of eleven Dan lives and breathes all things golf.  With a current handicap of eleven he gets out and plays as often as his work life (and girlfriend) allows. Dan confesses to still being like a kid at Christmas when it comes to seeing the latest golf equipment. Having served as GolfPunk’s Deputy Editor, and resident golf geek for the past 13 years and working for golf's oldest brand, John Letters Dan brings to GOLF RETAILING an excellent understanding of the sector.