Google has changed the way restaurants operate and connect with their customers, and one feature in particular has had an impact. Google My Business (GMB) is a free and easy tool that allows businesses to interact directly with customers who have found them via a Google search.
The ability to respond to customers is beneficial for any restaurant, however, it is especially useful for businesses that focus on local SEO. Due to this, GMB is incredibly important for restaurants.
Although GMB can be effective, it’s not automatic. The GMB profile should also be a core restaurant marketing strategy used to get new customers. In order to get the most out of GMB, restaurants need to put time and effort into optimizing their profile.
What is Google My Business optimization?
The goal of Google My Business optimization is to help your restaurant rank higher on Google search and helps with your overall local marketing strategy. These elements will make it easier for potential customers to find your services.
Essentially, the stronger your GMB profile is, the more effective you are at acquiring customers, thus it's important to have in your marketing plan.
It is important to remember that optimizing a GMB profile is not something that happens automatically. It is something that you will actively have to work on if you want to see positive results.
Recommended Reading: [Guide] How to Add a Restaurant to Google Maps
How to Optimize Your Restaurant’s Google My Business Page
97% of people used search to find a local business, and according to the same source, 62% will disregard businesses that have zero online presence. So if you don’t take your local SEO performance seriously, you’re missing out on the majority of opportunities.
Simply put, an international customer having a meal at your restaurant is awesome. But let’s face it — it’s a rare possibility. Local customers, though, that’s another story.
Add a business description
A GMB description is a description of your business on Google. If Google My Business is your website, think of your GMB description as your About page.
It needs to be accurate because it’s how you tell potential customers essential information — the kind of details they need to visit your restaurant. This includes your restaurant’s NAP (name, address, and phone number) information.
Here are the best practices for adding a GMB description:
- Stick to Google’s guidelines. Don’t mislead users, show low-quality content, display links, and put anything offensive in your GMB description. Remember, Google strives to provide nothing but informative content.
- Prioritize important messages. You’re allowed to provide a description of 750 words. So before anything else, focus on adding your restaurant’s NAP, your menu, opening and closing times, and other important data.
- Include easy-to-spot landmarks. If you’re located across an iconic landmark, people can find your restaurant more easily. So name and describe those landmarks, too.
- Add relevant information. Omit anything unhelpful like links and promotional content on the description section. There are tabs and options that allow you to include links and promotional content later on.
Keep menus up to date
Adding a menu to your GMB profile is easy. Start by logging into your account. Once you’re in, click Info on your screen’s left side. Then look for the menu icon — the one featuring a fork and spoon. Click it and you’re set.
Because adding a menu is practically effortless, why not do it? The benefits of featuring a menu go in line with almost all the benefits of having a GMB profile.
It also saves your customers’ time. With online access to your restaurant’s menu, they can make a choice while on their way or while they’re still at home.
Just make sure, though, your menus are up to date. Otherwise, your potential customers will be left confused if they learn they invested time going to your location and choosing menu items for food you don’t serve anymore.
Use the reservations and ordering feature
The reservations and ordering feature is a one-click GMB feature. It allows the people who searched for your restaurant on Google to make a reservation or order right away — without navigating to a different webpage.
The great thing is, you can easily set up this feature. Start by signing into your GMB account and going to the URL section. There, add the appropriate URLs from third-party websites and set the preferred links (like Order online and Reserve a Table). Once you’re good to go, click Apply.
The other benefits of using the reservation form and ordering feature include a significantly reduced customer waiting time, improved capacity control, and better record-keeping.
To create posts, just sign in to your GMB profile and download the GMB mobile app. From there, you can find an option to create posts. And you can easily whip up the type of post you want.
What’s New? is a type of post on GMB listings. It’s a post you need to consider making if you have anything newsworthy to share with people — like recent information, new food or drinks, and announcements.
For example, your restaurant is officially collaborating with a local business. They’re probably hosting a job fair and you’ll be in charge of food catering. Because it’s a newsworthy event, create a post around it.
Here are other post types you can create on your GMB profile:
- Products - The list of products featured in your Product tab can be featured here.
- Offers - With this post type, you can make the most out of your restaurant’s offers. If you’re offering coupons, special deals, and discounts, inform people about them.
- Events - If something buzzworthy is about to happen in your restaurant, invite people to it. And creating an Events post is how to do it.
Optimize Q&A section
By default, your restaurant already has a Q&A section on Google’s listing. And with it, you have the ability to address the frequently asked questions about your restaurant. A small issue, though, is anyone can provide answers — even if they have no credibility and give inaccurate answers.
Fortunately, you can stay on top of this issue. You can ask and answer questions about your restaurant yourself. You can also set up alerts.
As for the questions worth asking, that’s up to you. Consider putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask the questions you want to be asked. That, and include essential information that isn’t on your business description.
Here are more useful questions and answers to provide:
- “Will you accommodate people with particular food restrictions?” If you will or won’t, provide a brief explanation or specific answers about the meals you won’t change for those with food restrictions.
- “Is the restaurant child-friendly?” Address the potential customers who plan to bring their children. You can also detail features that children will enjoy.
- “Do you accept credit cards?” Often, people prefer to pay for their meals using credit and debit cards and e-wallets. So inform them if they can do this in your restaurant.
- “Do you feature a parking area?” If your restaurant doesn’t feature a parking area, you can cite a nearby location as an alternative.
As a type of user-generated content, reviews can help potential customers get a genuine impression of your restaurant. And in a time when it’s easy and simple to manufacture a business description or practically anything, for that matter, people will appreciate genuine content.
Ways you can encourage customers to leave reviews about your restaurant include distributing surveys, polls, and rating forms. You can also put up a small container near your restaurant’s entrance/exit and ask customers to “feel free” to give you suggestions or express their concerns.
Recommended Download: Free Restaurant Comment Card Template
But while helpful, reviews can also harm your restaurant. If you receive negative reviews, it’s a hit on your restaurant’s reputation. They could leave a terrible reputation about your restaurant and drive potential customers away.
Luckily, it’s not the end of the world. The situation is salvageable. Just be calm and collected, and respond to reviews properly.
Here are the best ways to respond to reviews:
- Verify the review’s authenticity - Don’t stress yourself out over matters that might not even be true. Before you respond, personally attend to the concern first.
- Always be appreciative - Thank the person who left a review. Be kind and empathic, and ask them if you can offer them anything that can help ease their negative experience.
- Take responsibility - Most of the time, customers leave negative reviews because they had negative experiences with your restaurant. Try to understand where they’re coming from and apologize.
- State facts - Be and remain professional. Acknowledge your customers’ situation, show respect, mind your manners, and cite factual evidence.
Add photos and videos
Adding photos and videos to your restaurant’s GMB profile makes your business more appealing. It also helps people have a better feel of your restaurant. Many people also consider the addition of media as a deciding factor whether or not they should eat in a specific restaurant.
To add photos and videos, sign in to your GMB profile and look for Manage photos. Click that option. From there, you can upload or drag and drop the photos and videos you want to add.
Want to update posts in your listings to include photos and videos? Then navigate to a specific post and find the option that says Add photos or videos.
Free Course: Restaurant Marketing Course by 7shifts
Additionally, photos and videos give you a competitive advantage because they make your profile more accurate. Let’s just say that between you — a restaurant that features photos and videos — and the restaurant that doesn’t have a single visual on its GMB profile, people will choose to go to your restaurant.
Then again, photos and videos can work against you if you don’t approach the matter carefully. Adding offensive media is how you can turn people away.
Here are the best ways to add photos and videos to your GMB profile:
- Remove irrelevant items - Showing many photos and videos is good. But don’t feature ones that have nothing to do with your restaurant.
- Show the best areas - You have unique tables and chairs, for example. Show them to your potential customers to draw them in.
Use GMB Insights
GMB Insights is an analytics tool. It shows essential information about your business profile on Google’s search engine and Google Maps.
And of all the incredible things that come with a GMB profile is the Insights feature. It shows you how and where people find your listing, what people do after finding you, how many people viewed your listing, actions that were taken on your listing, and every interaction on your listing.
There are many ways you can leverage the data you can gather from Insights. And one of the most important ways is to learn the difference between the quality of searches you get.
Here’s what each of them are:
- Discovery searches - This refers to searches made by people who browsed generic categories (like dental services and carpet cleaners) and ended up discovering your listing. Your SEO efforts are the main reason for these searches.
- Branded searches - These are searches for your brand.
- Direct searches - These searches are directly about your restaurant. People make direct searches because they heard about your restaurant’s name and would want to learn more.
Optimizing your restaurant’s Google My Business profile is one of the most effective ways of attracting customers using a marketing strategy and increasing your income. Whilst it takes time, effort and consideration, it is a free service that is guaranteed to boost your restaurant's revenue.
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