Your restaurant’s Google My Business listing is a critical part of ensuring your online visibility. For today’s customers, looking up a restaurant online before trying it out is as common and natural as getting recommendations from a friend and family member. In fact, it may happen even more often.
To make the most of your Google My Business listing and draw more attention to your restaurant, make sure you’re utilizing the following critical strategies.
What Is Google My Business, and Why Is It Important for Restaurants?
Google My Business is the Google tool that allows you to manage the information about your business that appears at the top right corner of Google searches and on Google Maps. When people search for restaurants near them or for specific types of food in their area, you want them to stumble upon your restaurant — and to like what they see.
John and Tina are getting ready for a date night. They want to find a restaurant near them that fits their needs:
- A bar where they can enjoy some fantastic wings
- A sushi joint where they can try out something new
- A fancy restaurant where they can celebrate an important anniversary
If they aren’t familiar with the area — or if they’re looking for something new to try — they’re probably going to go online first to find recommendations. If you don’t have a Google My Business listing set up, or if you haven’t taken the time to optimize it, you may not get their attention at all. You’ll miss out on their business, even if your restaurant is the perfect one for their needs.
Likewise, suppose Darryl is traveling for business. He’s in a new city and, after a long day at work, he wants to grab a quick bite to eat that he can take back to his hotel. He will probably search for restaurants that offer takeout on Google Maps. If he comes across your restaurant’s listing and is enticed by what he sees, he’ll be much more likely to give your food a try.
How People Use Google to Find Local Restaurants
Today’s searchers are looking for convenient, easy ways to locate local restaurants directly from their phones or computers. What they’re looking for may vary, sure, but the statistics are eye-opening:
- 77% of diners check out a restaurant’s menu online before visiting. In particular, they may need to know information about how you can accommodate special diets or what specials you have available.
- 45% of interested diners want to see photos of food before visiting a restaurant. Keep in mind that 36% have been discouraged from visiting a restaurant by bad food photography.
- 50% of mobile searches are location-based. That number may grow higher for restaurants since most people are looking for food in a specific geographic area when they perform a search.
People look for local restaurants online for a variety of reasons. For example, maybe they want to try something new, or maybe they want to look into the place their friends are always talking about. Perhaps they’re looking into reviews before they actually visit. They may perform searches for specific types of restaurants, from pizza or sushi to ethnic food, or they may simply search for restaurants near them in general.
Regardless of what interested searchers are looking for, if your restaurant fits the bill, it’s critical that you appear in those search listings to help bring them through your door.
Leveraging Critical Google My Business Features for Restaurants
Are you ready to start making the most of your Google My Business listing and ensure that you’re able to generate the traffic you need from those interactions?
If so, then make sure you’re following these critical steps:
1. Verify your account.
In order to take ownership of your business listing, you will first need to verify it. Verifying your GMB account will allow you to start to entering your own information, not just information provided from outside sources. As a result, you’ll be in a better position to control what people will see about your restaurant when they search
2. Optimize your business description.
In addition to a basic description of your business, you can also include critical categories and attributes. First and foremost, select the categories that best fit your business.
For example, suppose that you have a sushi restaurant. You want your business to appear when searchers look for “sushi restaurants near me”, but you may also want it to fall into categories like “Asian cuisine.” Carefully optimize those categories to ensure that you are appearing in the right searches.
Keep in mind, however, that you don’t need your business to show up in searches that don’t fit your category. If you have a pizza restaurant, you don’t want it to show up when people are searching for sushi, and vice versa! Instead, highlight the categories that actually fit your business.
Next, take a look at your attributes. Attributes are the things your business offers that might attract consumers. Do you:
- Offer free WiFi?
- Provide outdoor seating?
- Offer easy access for individuals with disabilities?
There are a variety of attributes to choose from in Google My Business. In addition to the amenities that your business provides, you can also choose to highlight what you are. For example, you can express that you’re a woman-owned business or a minority-owned business. In some cases, these attributes may help you attract guests who are interested in supporting your specific type of business.
When you optimize your business description, categories, and attributes, you let your guests have a bigger-picture look at exactly what they can expect when they visit your restaurant. You’re helping them decide whether your restaurant is the ideal choice for their dining needs.
3. Keep your hours and contact information up to date.
Make sure that when searchers visit your Google My Business listing, they’re getting the latest information about when and how they can visit you. Google will often prompt you to update your hours for major holidays, and it’s also a good way to alert the public if you have to close for other unforeseen reasons.
4. Add tantalizing photos.
Many people searching for restaurants to try are interested in seeing real-life pictures. Pictures of your location can help visitors find it or make it easier for them to decide if you have the ambiance they’re looking for on a specific evening. High-quality photos of your food, of course, can be even more important — they can take someone from “I’m pretty hungry” to “I need to try that right now!” in just a few clicks. Add photos of your location(s) and food to your listing, and update them on a regular basis.
5. Let customers have a look at your menu.
Add your menu to your Google My Business listing to let customers see exactly what you have to offer. A chance to read the menu ahead of time can help alleviate customer anxiety, allow them to select exactly what they want before they come in, and even give more insight into whether your restaurant fits their needs and budget, all before they have an in-person interaction with you. You should also highlight popular dishes to give guests an idea of what you do best.
6. Add important links.
Add a reservation link and an online ordering link to your Google My Business profile, if relevant. Many delivery customers prefer to take care of as much as possible online rather than having to call to interact with your restaurant. The presence of those links could be the difference between a satisfied customer and one who chooses to go elsewhere.
Another important note: If you have your own direct online ordering menu, this is a great way to direct potential customers there and away from 3rd-party platforms that may inevitably pop up in search.
7. Keep an eye on your reviews.
Many of today’s restaurant-goers are looking for social proof before they decide to visit your restaurant. Reviews help give them more information about the experiences other people have had with your restaurant. Also, many consumers trust those reviews just as much as they would trust a review from a friend or family member.
Monitor and respond to Google reviews regularly through Google My Business. Keep track of what others have to say about your restaurant:
- The experience they’ve had
- How they interacted with you
- What they love most — or dislike most — about what you have to offer
Furthermore, make sure you respond to negative reviews in a professional manner to show people that you care about their experience, whether that means offering some type of compensation or, in some cases, calling out customers who may have caused their own poor experience. Other customers will see how you deal with those negative reviews, and it could influence their perception of your business.
Keep It Fresh, Keep It Enticing
Your restaurant’s Google My Business listing is just one aspect of your overall online presence, but it’s arguably one of the most important since it’s often the first thing potential customers see when they search.
By keeping it up to date, fleshing out the information about your business, and optimizing it with enticing photos of your food and establishment, you’ll be much more likely to draw in more customers. Then, of course, you get to wow them with what you do best — provide excellent food and a memorable dining experience!