Gone are the days when hungry people drove down the street looking for a restaurant to try. Now, most people turn to the internet; specifically, Google, to help them find the perfect place to enjoy a meal, drink, or dessert. This search engine is the go-to source for the vast majority of people when it comes to all sorts of information, including restaurants they may want to visit.
In this post, we’re going to focus on a tool every restaurant should be fully capitalizing on to market their business online successfully and increase their profitability — Google My Business (GMB).
Local SEO for Restaurants
In recent years, business owners and marketing experts focused on search engine optimization (SEO) have noted a growing trend. An increasing percentage of Google searches are targeted at finding local listings. In fact, 46% of all Google searches are now locally focused. These searches often consist of adding terms like “near me” or “in [City Name]” onto the end of the search phrase to limit results to local businesses.
In a recent survey of more than 1,000 smartphone users, the food category topped the list for “near me” searches. This makes sense considering that people searching for a restaurant are typically looking for a place to eat near their home, work, hotel, or a nearby exit on the interstate. Wherever we find ourselves, food is always a priority.
Of course, people can search for restaurants from any internet-enabled device, but many of these local searches take place on mobile phones. Mobile users tend to search on the go with a desire for immediate answers. They may be on the road or heading out the door and looking for a restaurant nearby. Or maybe they’re looking for a place that will deliver food to them.
When people are in a hurry to find answers, they’re not likely to spend much time on restaurant websites. Instead, they’ll rely on the quick answers Google provides at the top of the search engine results. So, no matter how great your restaurant’s website is, you may still fail to capture curious consumers if they search for your restaurant and see outdated information in your Google My Business listing.
Creating and maintaining your Google My Business profile is well worth the effort since it comes with a whole host of benefits, including increasing your business’s visibility and making a more positive, powerful first impression.
Google My Business Features for Restaurants
Hopefully, you’ve already claimed your Google My Business listing and input your necessary business information like your restaurant’s name, address, phone number, and hours. This is a great place to start, but there are plenty of other opportunities to enhance your GMB listing.
You may have overlooked some of these features, but capitalizing on them can help you provide more information to potential customers and to make your restaurant stand out. When someone searches for your restaurant, and they find all the helpful information they’re looking for, right there at a glance, they’ll be more likely to reserve a table or stop in for their next meal. Let’s look at six Google My Business features you should take advantage of to help your restaurant succeed.
The first feature you should make sure you take advantage of is your business description. In 2018, Google reintroduced this feature, which allows you to write a brief description of your business. The maximum length is 750 characters, but if you write a description this long, it will be truncated. Even though searchers will only see the first part of the description, they still have the opportunity to click to read the rest. With this in mind, you want to frontload the most crucial information.
The description section on Google My Business is your opportunity to tell people what makes your restaurant unique. Try to keep it brief and to-the-point. Remember, online users want fast information. Here are a few talking points you should consider including in your description:
- Cuisine: First, make sure you tell customers what kind of food you serve. Whether it’s a regional cuisine like Chinese or Indian, a fusion cuisine like Tex-Mex, a classic American cuisine like burgers and fries, or a specialized cuisine like vegan or gluten-free, you want to let diners know what kind of food they can expect to find on your menu.
- Signature item: Most restaurants have a signature item or items that their diners can’t get enough of. Whether you’re known for a delicious signature dish like fried pickles, eggplant parmesan, loaded mashed potatoes, or your famous chocolate cake, online users may start to feel their stomachs growl when they see your Google My Business listing.
- Atmosphere: Finally, you want to make sure you let customers know what sort of atmosphere they can expect to encounter at your restaurant. Are you a fast-casual joint, a quaint bistro, or upscale restaurant? The atmosphere of a restaurant is just as important to many people as the food they serve, so be sure you let diners know what sort of vibe characterizes your restaurant.
Another great feature that applies specifically to restaurants is the menu listing. You may have your menu posted on your website, but as we mentioned earlier, people looking for immediate information won’t always take the time to navigate through your website. Or, maybe you don’t have a website for your restaurant. If so, it’s even more critical that you list your menu on your GMB listing.
You want to list your menu because research shows people looking at restaurants online are interested in checking out your menu. It turns out that three-quarters of people look up menu information online. If they can’t quickly locate and look through your menu, some diners may dismiss your restaurant and find another one where they can make sure they’ll find something that appeals to them.
Google My Business is the perfect platform for showing off your menu, whether you have a website with your menu or not. Google allows you to create sections, with individual items along with descriptions of up to 1,000 characters and prices for each item. You can keep it as simple or as detailed as you want, and you can even edit your menu when needed to feature seasonal items or specials.
3. Photos and Videos
The adage that a picture paints a thousand words can certainly be true when it comes to food. You know this to be true if you’ve ever seen a commercial for a restaurant and found yourself immediately craving the delicious food on your screen. If you want to get people’s attention, you want to add some visual interest to your Google My Business listing in the form of photos and videos.
These visuals don’t have to be of the food itself, though pictures of your most visually appealing dishes are certainly a great thing to feature. People also like seeing pictures of the exterior and interior of your restaurant so they can get an idea of what the seating and atmosphere is like.
When you add pictures or videos to your GMB listing, Google will ask you to categorize the photo. For example, you could identify a picture of the front of your restaurant as an exterior photo of the business. This allows people to click on categories of photos and videos, which is helpful if there are a lot of visuals associated with your restaurant listing, and they’re looking for something in particular.
Anyone can add pictures and videos of your business online, which will show up in your Google My Business listing. But don’t worry — you can control the visuals people see first when they Google your restaurant. You can also flag a photo for removal if it was actually taken at a different restaurant or is somehow inappropriate.
An underutilized feature of Google My Business that you don’t want to miss out on is Google posts. This feature allows you to create posts that can include text, images, and even call-to-action buttons. Think of these posts like social media status updates. When you publish a post, it will remain active for up to seven days, so posts are meant to be time-sensitive.
Google Posts take up a large portion of your GMB listing, so they can be an excellent way of highlighting relevant information that isn’t featured in the more permanent fixtures of your listing, such as your description. Just make sure you post new content each week, even if it’s a short snippet, so your Google My Business page has a steady stream of current posts.
Not sure what to post about on GMB? Here are some ideas:
- Events: If you’re hosting an upcoming event, such as a wine tasting, live music performance, or karaoke night, this is a great subject for a post. The nice perk with event posts is that they stay posted until the event date and don’t fall under the seven-day rule.
- General updates: You can also post general updates regarding your restaurant. Maybe your restaurant is under new management, has moved, or is opening up another location on the other side of town. Whatever the update, let customers know.
- Promotions: Google posts are also the perfect means to let people know about any special promotions you have going. Whether it’s a special discount, seasonal menu item, or any other time-sensitive promotion, this is great information to include in your GMB listing.
- Blog content: Finally, you can post general blog content that readers may find interesting or that would help highlight what makes your restaurant special. For example, you could post about the history of your restaurant or the health benefits of your cuisine.
5. Q&A Section
The Q&A section on your Google My Business listing is a place where any Google user can post a question about your restaurant. For example, they may ask about your holiday hours or whether you offer free Wi-Fi. Anyone can post answers in response, so you should closely monitor this section of your profile to provide fast and accurate responses. You can do this most effectively through the GMB app.
While other Google users may be well-meaning, there’s also a chance they will inadvertently offer inaccurate information, so you’re better off to field questions yourself before this can happen. GMB questions and answers will remain on your GMB listing, so provide thorough answers that future online users will find helpful, as well.
Paying attention to the questions people ask can also give you helpful insight into details you may want to add to your website or social media profiles. For example, if you’re an ice cream parlor, and someone asks whether you offer any dairy-free options, you may want to identify dairy-free items on your online menu.
Last, but certainly not least, is the reservations feature. This relatively new feature allows you to include a booking link for your restaurant right there in your GMB profile. If you use a digital reservation system, you may give customers access to this feature on your website, but adding a booking button to your GMB listing is an excellent way to streamline the process for Google searchers.
If you don’t currently have a digital booking service, you can choose one of Google’s supported scheduling providers, including our online reservation system. After partnering with one of these providers, your scheduling account will be synced with your Google My Business account within a week.
If you’re already using a scheduling provider to take online reservations, then you should automatically see the option to reserve with Google on your GMB account on the bookings tab. If you’re curious about how many people are actually reserving tables through this link, you can look at your booking history through your scheduling provider, which should let you know what percentage of reservations were made directly through your GMB listing.
Note that if you also have a way for customers to order online, you can similarly integrate this feature with your GMB account. This way, GMB becomes a customer’s one-stop-shop for whatever they need to do to enjoy your restaurant’s food.
Maximize Your Restaurant’s Profitability With Cake
Adding the necessary information like your address and hours to Google My Business is only scratching the surface of what GMB can do to help you market your restaurant effectively and pull in new customers. Especially if you provide the opportunity to book a table right then and there, hungry diners will have all the information they need and an easy path from their smartphone to your restaurant. Once they’re at a table, your enthusiastic staff and delicious food should keep them coming back for more.
If you’re looking for tools to help increase your restaurant’s profitability, then Google My Business is just the start. No matter what type of restaurant you are, if you want to succeed in today’s restaurant industry, you need tools to help your restaurant run efficiently and to give customers the online access they’re looking for. This includes giving them the opportunity to reserve a table or order food online. Even if these capabilities seem out of reach, they’re not with CAKE.
CAKE offers the cutting-edge, easy-to-use technological tools your restaurant needs to succeed. If you’re interested in taking your restaurant to the next level, take some time to learn more about our modern point of sale system, our guest manager software, and our online ordering platform today.