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Delmonico’s is reportedly the first fine dining establishment in the United States. This NYC restaurant is also famous for introducing Americans and tourists to classic dishes like Lobster Newburg, Eggs Benedict, Baked Alaska, and of course, the iconic Delmonico Steak. Today, the eclectic NYC dining scene serves people from all walks of life, including celebrities, American presidents, and the regular guy on the street. Competition is fierce, and not every restaurant is a budding Delmonico’s. So, is deploying expensive ad or social media campaigns the only way to get noticed? Nope, this is where Google My Business for restaurants makes a difference.

If you’ve read our blog, you know that local SEO is a key factor in the Google My Business framework. Take a look at these statistics:

That’s the power of local SEO. So, before we get into Google My Business for restaurants, we’re going to explore local search and why it’s an insanely effective strategy for driving traffic to a restaurant.

Understanding Local Searches

Let’s put local searches into perspective. As a whole, mobile searches will drive $1.4 trillion in local sales by 2021. In comparison, the total sales for restaurants will be about $863 billion. Local searches from mobile devices will put increasingly more money into the local economy as time progresses.

In a nutshell, local searches are online searches with local intent. So, they can be geolocational searches that use the words “near me” or “close by” (which have grown in volume by over 900% in the last two years). Also, they can constitute searches for specific local restaurants (such as “Fred’s Tacos in LA”). Any search where a consumer is looking for a local establishment is a local search.

Here’s the thing — almost ALL restaurant searches are local searches. But, not every user searching for local dining establishments will end up seated in your restaurant. About 50% of them prefer to make online orders, and a good 10% will choose to eat at your competitor’s. After all, there are almost 30,000 restaurants in NYC. You’re not going to win all of the customers 100% of the time. However, if you’d like to capture the attention of as many local searchers as possible, you only have to do one thing — appear on their search result pages. Preferably on Page One.

So, how do you get your restaurant to display on local searches?

Easy: This is where Google My Business comes in.

What Is Google My Business For Restaurants

We all know that Google is the most popular search engine in the world. But, just how popular is it? According to Hubspot, Google is responsible for 94% of ALL organic traffic on the internet.

So, when we talk about local searches, we’re really referring to local Google searches. The bottom line is this: if you want your restaurant to appear in local Google searches, you have to use Google My Business.

Registering for Google My Business is the single most important thing you can do for your restaurant this year. Sure, you can spend $50k on Facebook ads and pay an agency to make you viral YouTube videos. However, none of that will come close to the value proposition Google My Business offers in terms of conversions.

So, what happens if you don’t register? Simple: you won’t have a snowball’s chance of showing up in the local snack pack. Additionally, you won’t show up AT ALL for voice searches, and Google won’t list your restaurant on Google Maps.

Simply registering for an account and providing accurate, up-to-date information is critical to increasing the prominence of your brand.

But, let’s say you want to appear at the top of Page One. Having your restaurant in first place when someone Googles “NYC pizza” will be, without a doubt, the single largest driver of traffic to your restaurant. That’s the golden zone and where every aspiring rockstar restaurant wants to park. Restaurants that can grab the first spot in the snack pack for 5 miles around will almost certainly keep their tables full.

So, how do you rise in the rankings? More importantly, does Google My Business for restaurants really work?

Google My Business For Restaurants in NYC: 5 Strategies To Help You Rank Higher

Google My Business for restaurants in NYC.

Before we go into strategies to help you improve your Google My Business ranking, let’s talk about how Google determines those rankings.

According to Google, restaurants are ranked based on three primary criteria.

  • Relevance: This is how well your restaurant fits into the customer’s intent. Using the right keywords and completing your profile are key to capturing a potential customer’s attention.
  • Distance: You can’t change this one, unfortunately. This is your restaurant’s proximity to the customer. The closer, the better. This also happens to be the single most significant category in terms of ranking.
  • Prominence: This is how “well-known” your business is. You’ll want to leverage your website and online reviews to the hilt.

Getting into that local 3-pack can be the lever that unlocks amazing opportunities for your restaurant. Here’s how your restaurant can get noticed:

1. Use The Right Keywords

This helps with category #1 — relevance

Keywords play a significant role in your ranking factor. When customers search for pizza, they won’t all be searching for “pizza near me.” Some of them may search for “pepperoni pizza near me” or “best NY style pizza.” All of those subtle keyword variations are your golden ticket to fame. They give you a chance to rank by leveraging less competitive keywords.

Your Google My Business profile has one main spot for keywords — categories. You have room for one main category and three additional ones.

Here’s what we recommend.

First, do some keyword research. Google’s Keyword Planner can help you identify the demographics looking for specific keywords as well as show you any related keywords. So, when you type in “pizza,” you’ll likely see “pepperoni pizza” and “fast Italian food” as related searches. Both of these make great keywords to add to your Google My Business profile.

Our best advice is to choose well during this stage. This is because you can only have one main keyword and three alternates in Google My Business. Your main category will act as your primary keyword (choose one with high-traffic that’s an exact match to your restaurant type). Meanwhile, your additional categories will be sub-keywords you discovered through Google’s Keyword Planner.

Remember, you should ALWAYS put NYC/New York City OR your specific area (such as Queens, Brooklyn, or Manhattan) next to any keyword you choose. So, don’t just type in “pizza” but rather, “NYC pizza.”

Try to make your keywords voice-friendly, as well. Around 50% of your diners will be searching via voice. This means using long-tailed keywords like “NYC pizza near me” instead of “NYC pizza around Manhattan.” Think, “What would I say?” rather than “What would I type?”

Finally, you should leverage restaurant industry trends to draw attention to your restaurant. For example, alternative meats are booming right now. So, if you recently premiered the Impossible Burger on your menu, advertise that through your keywords.

2. Focus On Getting Customer Reviews

This helps with category #3 — prominence.

Online reviews are a big deal on Google. Not only do reviews play a role in your Google My Business ranking, but research has also shown that simply eliminating reviews from a local business listing can drop a restaurant’s rankings by a few spots. Lower rankings can translate into lower revenues.

In fact, a Google Ranking Survey showed that reviews account for over 15% of Google’s local rank juice. That certainly makes sense, since 97% of customers say reviews influence their purchasing behavior.

That said, all of your reviews should originate organically. Yet, this doesn’t mean you can’t encourage customers to comment positively about your restaurant.

Google recommends two strategies to help you score reviews.

  1. Reminding your customers to leave a review: There’s absolutely no penalty for asking for reviews. You should definitely ask customers to leave you a review on Google if they loved the experience your restaurant provided.
  2. Replying to customer reviews: When customers leave you a review, be sure to acknowledge them! This is especially true for negative reviews. 88% of diners trust online reviews as much as recommendations from their friends and family members. Of course, it should go without saying that you should reply to positive reviews, as well. Doing so will actually increase your ranking.

Getting reviews is obviously important. But, making sure they’re good reviews is even more crucial. Did you know that 9Fold helps you eliminate negative reviews by giving you insights into negative customer experiences BEFORE they become bad reviews? Click here to learn more.

3. Keep Every Element Of Your Restaurant’s Online Profile Up-to-Date

This helps with category #1 — relevance

Here’s an easy way to get noticed: Keep your menu, images, and restaurant information up-to-date. Restaurants can now edit menus on Google My Business using the GMB Info tab.

So, the next time you’re running a summertime LTO, remember to add it to your GMB profile.

4. Choose Between Your Website and Your Landing Page

This helps with category #3 — prominence

Next, we’ll tackle the complicated stuff. Google uses your website to determine your restaurant’s prominence in the consumer space. This means that your website’s overall SEO strategy will directly impact your local SEO strategy.

We aren’t going to jump into SEO strategies — we’ve already covered that in previous posts. However, we advise thinking carefully about whether you want to link your homepage or a landing page to your Google My Business account.

Good landing pages can give your rankings a big boost. For starters, you don’t have to have a comprehensive SEO strategy to score big. You just have to focus on optimizing a landing page with the right keywords, LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords, geo-tags, and great copy.

Don’t get us wrong. Your homepage still matters, even if it’s not linked to your GMB profile. However, using a landing page link on your actual profile instead of your homepage link can be useful, especially if you have more than one restaurant location.

5. Use The Most Relevant Social Signals

This helps with category #3 — prominence

Again, Google has admitted to using external influencing factors when determining your ranking on Google Maps. One of those factors is your social media presence and how social signals impact rankings. A recent Cognitive SEO study showed that social media shares, likes, and mentions were highly related to Google search rankings.

For more tips on how to succeed with social media, check out our post on how your restaurant can dominate the social media space.

Bonus: Leverage Your Own Online Ordering System To Leapfrog Over Your Competitors

If you’ve made it this far, you get it: Ranking in the local snack pack is critical to business success. That said, search engine rank is only part of the equation. You want a powerful, intuitive online ordering system worth sending your customers to. Consider this: 60% of US diners order online at least once a week. If you only have a physical location, you’ll miss out on significant cross-selling or upselling opportunities. Also, if you’re relying on 3rd-party apps to offer online ordering services, it could seriously put a dent in your revenue takings.

As you may already know, 3rd-party platforms take over 25% of the meal price, while the average restaurant operates on a 5% margin. That means you’ll lose money on every meal.

For more tips on how to leverage Google My Business for restaurants, contact us. Let us show you how 9Fold can help you create a hyper-branded online ordering system to help you keep more of your hard-earned profits.