Google Maps is an essential part of our day-to-day navigation. Considering that it’s one of the seven apps that has over a billion users, it’s a must-have tool to use for your business.
To add your restaurant to Google Maps, you’ll need to create a Google My Business (GMB) account. This post will walk you through creating, optimizing, and managing your restaurant business profile not only for single-site restaurants, but also multi-location restaurants and franchises.
What is a Google My Business Account?
Google My Business is a free tool you can use to manage your Google Search and Google Maps presence without taking potential customers to a website or a listing account. It helps to cut the customer’s path to your contact information, offers, reservations, and more.
Recently, Google started optimizing Google My Business accounts for many different industries, including hospitality. This is the first indicator that there is a huge demand from customers.
Google My Business pages appear in different ways depending on the searched keyword and the platform a person uses to search. Here are a few examples.
Here’s what customers will see when they search for a general restaurant name that has multiple locations on the Google Search App and on Google Maps:
And here’s what they’ll see when they search for a specific restaurant name and location on the Google Search App and Google Maps:
Why Google My Business is a Must-Have for Restaurants
GMB is especially beneficial for restaurants, for a number of reasons:
- It eliminates the extra step of landing on your website or another listing account where customers can get confused or click on something else and lose your page.
- It gives you a strong online presence when potential customers are searching for nearby restaurants.
- It’s a great way of increasing foot traffic to your restaurant as it’s directly integrated with Google Maps and provides directions and parking information right away.
- It features user-friendly reviews and a Q&A section where customers can find quick answers to their questions. It even provides a “critic reviews” section from third-party, high authority websites.
- It allows you to provide a menu link that helps customers immediately connect with your restaurant and make a faster decision.
- It helps customers plan their visit by looking into busy times and availability.
- It allows customers to make direct reservations without having to go to a third party page or the website.
- It allows you to display multiple means of contact, including your website, social media account, address, and phone number.
- It features AI food image recognition and grouping of uploaded customer photos. This provides a mouth-watering experience for potential customers while they browse all the food photos uploaded by your customers.
How to Create Your Google My Business Account
It’s easy to set up your restaurant’s GMB account. Just follow these steps:
- Go to https://business.google.com/create
- Add your restaurant name. If the name already exists, you’ll see it appear in the search results (and if it’s your restaurant you can simply click on it, claim the listing, and verify).
- If your restaurant doesn’t already have an account on Google, you can continue creating one. The onboarding process will ask you to add your address, phone number, and website URL (don’t worry if you don’t have one).
- Now your account is created! The final (and most important) step is to verify it.
How to Verify Your Restaurant Account
The most common way to verify your restaurant and add it to Google Maps is to choose the option that says Mail. After selecting this option you will receive a physical postcard in the mail. This postcard will have a 5 digit verification code from Google that you will then use to confirm your location.
After it’s verified, your listing will go public and will start generating online and foot traffic for your restaurant.
Optimizing your GMB listing
The best time for optimizing your GMB page is between requesting a mail verification and receiving the actual verification. It can take up to three weeks, so it’s a good time to add as much relevant information to your GMB account as possible.
Here are the most important optimizations you can make for a strong Google My Business Account.
If you offer delivery services, you can mention your service area on the map. Google Maps is a convenient tool when it comes to targeting a specific geographical area or radius.
This helps to make sure that customers outside the service area can manage their expectations and avoid cancellations.
Hours of Operation
It is extremely important to have the correct hours of operation on your Google My Business account. Both Google Search and Google Maps use this feature all the time. Google Search uses hours to prioritize the search results they display at any given time, and Google Maps uses it to help customers to choose the right place based on the distance, commute length, etc.
Phone Number, Website and Address
This is the information that is going to directly affect your revenue. The information should be correct and consistent with other listings you have (i.e. Yelp, TripAdvisor). Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing pay attention to consistency, and if you have conflicting information displayed on different listings, you may run into issues with rankings.
Reservations, Order Ahead, and Menu URLs
These URLs help users to engage with your restaurant before their visit. They can visit your website to learn about the menu, order ahead before arriving, or book a table.
There are other ways to integrate reservations and your menu to your Google My Business account as well.
In case you don’t have a website (or a menu section on your website), you can add all your menu items to your GMB account. The account allows you to create sections for your menu (i.e. Snacks, Shareables, etc.) and add each item along with the description and price.
This is a useful tool to feature the whole menu and have detailed description and pricing information for each section. Besides providing a great customer experience, it also offers a call to action for potential customers.
There are many options here to help you communicate everything your customers will need to know about accessibility, seating, planning options and restrictions, offerings, etc. Here are some of the most common features you can use to communicate more about your restaurant.
It may sound strange, but even in big cities, wheelchair-accessible restaurants are not as common as they should be. Providing accessibility information not only helps customers with their decision making, but also helps create a more accessible and inclusive community.
It can be a headache for customers who need accessible spaces to call and ask the location whether they can accommodate specific needs, so making this information readily available is very helpful.
If your restaurant provides accessibility options, you can select each that applies from the list below.
- Wheelchair-accessible elevator
- Wheelchair accessible entrance
- Wheelchair accessible parking lot
- Wheelchair accessible restroom
- Wheelchair accessible seating
The options you can select for amenities are:
- Unisex bathrooms
- High chairs
- WiFi - paid/free
- Onsite bar
This is perhaps one of the most important types of information you can communicate to provide a great customer experience.
Simply list the payment methods you accept at your location and the account will feature those on Google.
The section helps you target audiences with specific food restrictions and preferences. Some of the common offerings restaurants feature on their listings are:
- Certified kosher food
- Halal food
- Vegan and vegetarian options
- Gluten-free options
- Kids menu
There are many other options to take into consideration while optimizing your Google My Business account, and it’s definitely worth looking into each option to make sure you have the most up to date and relevant information on your listing.
Business (Restaurant) Description
The restaurant description field lets you succinctly communicate your restaurant type, location, atmosphere, and unique menu items. Most restaurants keep it short and use just one sentence to include key information about the business. Here are a few examples of your inspiration.
Edulis Restaurant Toronto - Cozy locale with a seasonal menu of wild & foraged foods used to create elevated Canadian dishes.
Carmen Toronto - Stylish, lively place with an open kitchen dishing out paella & tapas, plus wine & cocktails.
Per Se New York - Chef Thomas Keller's New American restaurant offers luxe fixed-price menus, with Central Park views.
Frenchette New York - Contemporary bistro serving French standards & daily-changing dishes, plus natural wines.
Langer's Los Angeles - Old-fashioned deli serving up hot pastrami sandwiches & other traditional comfort food since 1947.
Google allows you to add three different types of visuals to your Google My Business library, including:
- Your logo
- Cover photo: The most common cover photo used by other restaurants is a main interior photo of the restaurant at its busiest and most lively.
- Video: A great way to introduce your potential customers to your team, interior, the kitchen, and your happy customers.
- Interior photos: Show off the warm atmosphere during busy times at your restaurant.
- Food and drink
- The team: A good opportunity to feature your team, the chef, etc.
To enhance your restaurant’s brand and response rate on Google, create and add high-quality photos that will entice potential customers. You can even add a 360 photo for an even better experience.
Management and Activity
After you have created, verified, and optimized your GMB page, you’re ready to be featured on Google Maps and Google Search results and drive foot and online traffic to your restaurant.
Two years ago, your GMB journey would end here, and your only reason to revisit your account would be to address any reviews that required responses. In 2018, however, Google added a new feature called “Posts”. The account now allows you to add different formats of posts to share some news, events, products, and photos with your clients.
Posts are helping to add anything to your GMB account that you think is relevant and will generate revenue and/or brand awareness.
Here are the types of posts you can add to your GMB account:
- Text updates
If you have ever published a post on any social media account, it should be easy for you to create and publish a post here. If you’re adding just news or an event, you can choose one of the following button types depending on the content you are sharing.
- Order online
- Learn more
- Sign up
Reservations with Google is a great feature to directly secure business from your GMB listing. Google offers an easy integration directly from your account. You need to log in to your account, select Bookings from the menu, and select and signup with one of the scheduling/booking Google partners of your choice. Within one week, Google will set up everything for you.
For a detailed setup guide, visit Google’s guide on how to set up booking through a provider.
Another benefit of having reservations set up on your GMB account is receiving insights from Google. Insights help you to see how interested your potential customers are in your business, and how many of viewers booked a table through Google.
After clicking the “Reserve a Table” button on your account, customers will see suggested times and dates, custom day/time selection options, and your cancellation policy.
Read and Reply Messages
This new feature launched on December 2020 allows customers to get in touch with you in real-time from your Business Profile on Google. You can answer questions, share information, and attract more customers to your business through actively responding to messages.
Here is how it works:
- Messages will appear in your Google My Business Profile. You’ll receive notifications for incoming messages on your app.
- It allows to create customized automated messages.
- You can share food photos through the messenger.
- Multiple users with account access can message customers.
Learn more about Google My Business messages on Google support page.
Tips for Multi-Location Restaurants
If you own or manage multiple locations of the same restaurant, you can still manage all your locations in one account. In your account, click “Manage Locations” and you will see the list of options.
Google allows you to make various changes through this section, including transferring an account (if you sold a location or a franchisee). You can also mark a location as “open” or “closed” by selecting one or more locations, as well as importing locations in bulk.
Conclusion: It's Time to Get Your Restaurant on the Map
Getting your restaurant set up in GMB is the first step in marketing your business online. Once your page is optimized, you'll have a resource that will not only help the right customers find and visit your restaurant, but that will also increase your visibility and presence so that you can attract more customers.