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New Customers Are Searching. Will They Find Your Restaurant?

By Cherylin Blitch

google searchIf you moved into a new area and wanted to find a nearby Italian, Mexican, or any other style of restaurant, what would you do? I mean other than taking detailed notes on the fullest parking lots as you drove around (not safe).

Let's be honest, you would Google it.

You'd type "Italian Restaurant Kansas City" or "[insert style] Restaurant [insert city]" into the search box, be presented with a list of the top picks in that location, and decide to try whichever looks tastiest.

So put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer and type "[your style] Restaurant [your city]" into Google. Where are you listed? If you're not in the top 7 on the first page, look at the following pages until you find your listing. Then, right underneath your star rating and review count, click "Place Page".

Ever seen this page before? It represents your restaurant to new local customers on Google. Are you proud of it? Would you want to eat at your restaurant after seeing it? Was it hard to find, buried on page 6 of the search results?

If you ARE on page 6 (or 2, or 5, etc.), all is not lost. It's possible to get to page one, and it's possible to make your listing more attractive. It takes some know-how, of course, and here are your options:

First, you could learn to do it yourself.

There are several good training programs available online, and the work involves the following tasks:

  • Claiming the page (if you are the owner)
  • Customizing the page by adding details, photos, videos, and coupons
  • Taking stock of your reviews, and encouraging satisfied customers to write more of them to improve your star rating
  • Expanding and strengthening your online presence by posting listings on a wide variety of online directories and review communities...and ensuring your restaurant's name and contact information is consistent across all of them

The list goes on, but that's the gist of it. Tending to your restaurant's online presence is an ongoing process of updating, monitoring, responding, submitting listings, and encouraging engagement. Do some research and prepare yourself to do it well if you want to see results.

Second, you could hire a local search expert to do it for you.

Maybe you're not willing to spend hours scouring countless local listing sites, checking for inconsistencies. Maybe you don't have time to juggle and respond to your reviews as they pop up in online communities all over the web.

If that is the case, you're not alone...but beware! Choosing to ignore these tedious tasks could have grave consequences for your restaurant. They are indispensible when it comes to befriending the search engines and increasing your online visibility.

The best local marketing experts will set up and/or manage your local listings on the big three search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing) and help propel them to page one. They will keep your listings updated on a multitude of smaller listing sites and review communities, monitor and respond to your reviews, and show you the best ways to encourage happy customers to write more.

These experts exist to make your life easier. Let them.

A Final Word

Making your restaurant visible online is essential in today's internet-driven world, regardless of where you are located. In fact, 97% of consumers now use online media to shop locally.

In areas with a constant influx of new residents or visitors, I would go even further to say that a solid online presence is necessary to stay in business. Period.

Is there a university or military base in your area? Are there any large companies? How about tourism? If so, a steady stream of potential customers is arriving, getting to know the area, and searching for new restaurants to frequent.

Are you doing all you can to help them find you when and where they are looking for you? What are you waiting for?



1. BIA/Kelsey and ConStat, User View Wave VII - February 2010



Cherylin Blitch is a Social Media and Internet Marketing Consultant with GrowYourRestaurant.com. Leaders in cutting edge marketing for restaurant owners, GrowYourRestaurant specializes in managing social media, local optimization, online reviews, mobile and email marketing for restaurants. Find out more at GrowYourRestaurant.com or contact us at Contact@GrowYourRestaurant.com.



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