The Restaurant Insider’s Google My Business Checklist
A Cheat Sheet for Restaurant Google Listings to Get Millions of Views (5 min read)
Perfection is a tough standard to achieve but for many restaurants that’s exactly the goal. I learned a lot about perfect execution as a front-of-house captain at Emeril’s in Buckhead Atlanta almost 15 years ago.
Perfect food, perfect presentation, perfect service and perfect ambiance will get you very, very far. But without the effort to make a perfect first impression in the digital realm, most modern patrons will never give you a chance.
They’ll never discover you, never pick you, never come for a visit, and never become raving fans.
Just like Emeril had to teach us his recipes for amazing food, drink, and hospitality, you need a recipe for cooking up digital perfection to fight the war on obscurity and get millions of eyes on your location and your food.
Your restaurant’s Google My Business listing can and should be by far, the highest return on investment in marketing your restaurant in 2020 and beyond.
After all, there are over 5 billion monthly searches for restaurants by over 1 billion monthly users. And it’s only just heating up!
So I’ve created this Google My Business Restaurant checklist & cheat sheet to help you strive for perfection on the leading edge of your reputation.
You will become a people magnet and earn trust, rank and respect from prospective visitors, current customers and Google.
And yeah, I said millions of views! So you know it’s not a fluke, here’s 9 of our clients that have a combined over 25,000,000 views of their GMB listings as of the day this was written.
One is a famous place in NYC. But all the rest are in places with populations of 200,000 people or less.
I just want to show you that this will work just about anywhere you could be, whether you’re a white-table, pub-style or counter-service restaurant.
A complete Google listing will engage interest, establish trust, create positive brand equity and motivate people to take action.
That means, increased views, visits, and value for your restaurant concept or franchise.
Before I teach you exactly what to do, it helps to understand how Google determines local ranking.
They do it with R.D.P. - Relevance, Distance, & Prominence
Relevance – How well someone’s searches are matched with a local listing. Complete, detailed listing information will help Google understand your restaurant and match your listing to searches from customers looking for similar cuisines, themes, or features (like kid friendly).
Distance – How far each potential restaurant is from the location terms and or GPS location data used in a search. If a customer doesn’t specify a location in their search (“Steakhouse Downtown Atlanta”), Google assumes distance based on what’s known about their location from their device.
Prominence – Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking – more reviews and positive ratings will improve a business’s local ranking. It’s based on information that Google has about a business from across the Internet like links, articles and directories.
Okay, here it is, right from the mouth of the ‘Rainbow Dragon’, PLUS a few pro tips on - the what’s and how’s of completing and improving your local ranking.
To get all these things working for you ASAP here is the checklist of things you need.
- Complete and Accurate Information – Local restaurant results should be about the most relevant information for each search. Businesses with complete, accurate and specific information are easier to match with the search requests. Make sure all of your business data in Google My Business is precise, so customers know more about what you do, where you are and when they can visit you. Your physical address, phone number, category, brief description and attributes. *Make sure that you keep this information current as your business changes*
**Pro-Tip** – The Name, Address and Phone Number should match all your other business listings and mentions down to the exact space and format!** (So Tapas & Bar should ALWAYS be the same not Tapas and Bar, Tapas&Bar, or TapasANDbar.)
- Describe Your Business Perfectly – Enter unique and valuable information that describes your restaurant. Think about the words that customers would type to find your business, and make sure that your listing actually includes those keywords within it. The more unique your business name and description are, the easier your customers will find you. For example, if someone who lives in Dublin, California is looking for a NY Pizza restaurant and you also own that business, it’d be easier for the customer to find your listing on Google if your description included, ‘Harry’s NY Pizza in Dublin, CA’, instead of only ‘Harry’s Pizza in CA’.
- Verify Your Location(s) – Verify your restaurant and any additional locations so that they’re eligible to appear across all Google products, like Maps and Search. If your listing isn’t verified then you can’t access insights and a whole bunch of the features like review responses or customer messaging.
**Pro-Tip** DO NOT let anyone verify your business with their own email address! They will end up the ‘OWNER’ of your Google listing and as we’ve seen in the past, not all employees or vendors stick around or leave with a smile so this could be a legal battle before Google will give it back to you!
- Add Photos – Adding photos to your listings shows people your food, atmosphere, team and special event spaces, and can help you tell the story of your restaurant. Accurate and appealing pictures may also show potential customers that your business offers what they’re searching for.
**Pro-Tip** Listings with over 100 high quality photos got 500% more calls!
- Manage and Respond to Reviews – Engage with your customers by replying to their reviews. Responding shows you value customer feedback. Engagement will increase positive reviews and improve your visibility. Showing that you care will increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. And when you respond to a customer review you are sending a direct message via push-notification to the customer that left you a review.
**Pro-Tip** Make it a good message and they’ll return, bring friends and family and try something new!
- Keep Your Hours Accurate – Entering and keeping your opening hours current and including any special or hours for holidays and special events, lets potential customers know when you’re available.
**Pro-Tip**– Make sure your hours are also identical all over the web in any of your other social listings, business directories or citations.
Ok, now that you have the basics covered, there are some tricks up the sleeves of agency owners like myself that get our clients to the MILLIONS of views.
Advanced Tactics Cheat Sheet
7 Pro Tips To Boost Your Restaurant Google My Business
Restaurant and Catering Menus – When it comes to your menu, there are two ways to do it; take a picture like this –
Take the time to list all the items, descriptions and prices into the Google My Business system like this –
Which one do you think is going to get you more respect from Google? Well there’s about zero chance of Google reading ‘Chilled Asparagus Salad’ from a picture of a chalkboard menu and showing you to the people that search ‘best asparagus salad’.
Just make sure to update any items, descriptions or prices as they change.
Customers and Google will both appreciate how easy it is to read and how it’s all nicely laid out section by section.
Currently only about 10% of restaurants are using this feature. Be ahead of the pack.
Live Messaging – Just one more great way for people to reach out, connect and get their questions answered (and one more thing to put you in the weeds) – GMB messaging is relatively new and also super important to have activated.
You can’t just set it up and forget about it.
If Google notices that you don’t answer your customer messages within 24 hours they will disable this feature!!
Photos – If you don’t take control of this, your customers will and you won’t have any say over what is the primary impression within your listing. Is it a perfect setup? Or an empty plate? Who knows what your patrons are going to create and publish on your behalf.
That’s why Google has given you the ‘By Owner’ section of photos.
These should be tack-sharp beautiful pictures of your food, restaurant and team. Make sure you are taking and adding new ones frequently.
**Pro-Tip** – Make sure to add great titles to your images before you upload them. Go all out if you have a picture of a pizza don’t just upload ‘img954.jpg’ or whatever your camera or phone names it. Rename it to ‘Italian Artisan Cheese Pizza Ray’s Pizza 1234 1st Ave New York NY.jpg” That way it covers – what the picture is, the name of the restaurant and the address or location.
This is a cool feature and allows users to book a reservation right on Google Maps or even order delivery.
**Pro-Tip** – Make sure you set up as many as you need. You can and should have ‘Reserve A Table’ and ‘Order Delivery’ no matter what.
Posts/Offers – This feature has made GMB more social and has demanded that you spend time mini-blogging about your restaurant.
I actually really like helping my clients with this one, it’s more free-flow and creative.
You can set up a weekly schedule to add a mix of special news, offers, and event details or just cool stuff that happens while you’re at work!
It’s a chance to really add some unique personality to your listing and gives customers a reason to follow you and check back often.
Video – Yes there is now a ‘Video’ section in your Google My Business listing. USE IT!!!
Video is a primary driver of traffic on the web, social media and now restaurant listings. If Content is King, then video is King Arthur!
360 Virtual Tour – A virtual tour is an extension of Google Maps Street View.
It brings 360 degree photographic services inside your restaurant so that people can easily see where they are going.
It creates INSTANT mental trust, making prospects feel like they’ve already been there.
It’s one of the smartest investments in a Restaurant listing because you only pay for the setup and you can use it in other places like your facebook listing and even embed it into your website pages.
If you want to learn more about these, check out my blog – 7 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Google Virtual Tour.
All this stuff may seem like a lot of work. That’s because IT IS A LOT OF WORK!
But so is everything else that you do in the restaurant industry in order to be sustainable and noteworthy.
You have to nail this part down and it’s not a set and forget type of thing.
Google Maps has become more powerful than you can imagine and will continue to grow in features and tools that are built with one thing in mind – the end user.
That’s right, Google didn’t design all this stuff for your restaurant or the jewelry shop next door, or the lawyer across the street.
It’s designed to keep users coming back for more and their convenience will always come at the expense of yours.
All to make people trust that Google has the answers – including where they should dine and what they should eat when or if they get there.
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