Restaurants rely heavily on local trade, and that makes them a perfect fit for Google My Business (GMB). In fact, if you’re an operator in the hospitality industry, this is how people find you on Google Maps.
If you’re a restaurateur, and you’ve either never heard of GMB or are vaguely aware of it, having set up your account many moons ago, now is the time to get a handle on this brilliant tool.
In this guide, we’ll reveal:
- what Google My Business is all about;
- why it’s important (particularly in hospitality);
- how to add your business to Google Maps; and
- how to optimise your GMB listing.
We’ll also reveal some fascinating stats about online reviews which illustrate why a presence on GMB and Google Maps is so important for your business.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free tool offered by the search giant. It helps businesses establish a presence on the search engine and appear in relevant search results.
If you’ve used Google recently (who hasn’t?!) you’ll probably have seen GMB in action. It often appears as a ‘knowledge panel’ in the right-hand side of search results or just below the Google Map (depending on what you searched for).
GMB listings feature key information about local businesses, from their physical address to the phone number, website, opening hours and even user reviews. As noted, it’s primarily how people find your business on Google Maps.
Google pushes GMB listings way up the page, therefore you’re more likely to notice them than the organic or even paid ads when searching for a specific local service or business.
Why is Google My Business so important?
If you’ve spotted a GMB listing on Google while searching for something, you’ll almost definitely have interacted with it.
That’s because GMB listings are genuinely useful. They offer quick access to everything you need if you want to make an inquiry, book a table or find somewhere immediately within your vicinity.
Restaurateurs shouldn’t need any more encouragement than that to ensure their GMB listing is on point, but there are three main benefits worth keeping in mind:
- You’ll gain better exposure on Google within local searches.
- You’ll offer a better customer journey for potential diners.
- You’ll receive more traffic to your website and through the front door.
A well optimized restaurant GMB listing helps Google understand what you’re all about far more comprehensively - and cost-effectively - than on-site SEO.
The more Google knows about you, the more likely it is to surface your business during searches.
Google is acutely aware of the restaurant industry
Last year, Google made a couple of changes to GMB which neatly illustrated how interested they are in the restaurant industry.
The first was the ability to pick out popular dishes and expose them in a carousel. Driven by machine learning, this provides searchers with even richer information about potential dining experiences.
The second was end-to-end food ordering on Google Search, Maps and Assistant. Using partners that included DoorDash and Delivery.com, Google later backtracked slightly by offering the ability for restaurants to opt-out of the service, following complaints from restaurateurs.
How to add your business to Google Maps
Adding your business to Google Maps is all about your Google My Business Listing. However, you might not be aware that there are actually three ways to add your business to GMB:
- Add your business via Google My Business.
- Add your business via Google Maps.
- Claim your business on Google Maps.
As you’ll discover, however, all roads lead to that vital Google My Business listing.
Adding your busines via Google My Business: step-by-step guide
This is, arguably, the most sensible, sure-fire way of ensuring that you add your business to Google Maps properly. Start here, unless you’re pressed for time (in which case head for the Google Maps option below).
Step 1: Sign into Google My Business.
Step 2: Sign in with your Google Account, if you have one (or create one).
It’s recommended doing so with your business email address.
Step 3: Enter your business (or chain) name and category and click Next. At this stage, you might be asked to place your business on the map with a pin – go for it!
Step 4: Enter your business address.
Step 5: If you serve customers outside of your business address, you’re the given the option to service other areas, too. This is useful if you offer home delivery within a certain radius.
Step 6: Add your website address and phone number, and click Finish.
Step 7: Follow the steps for verification.
Step 8: Add your services (there are a bunch of existing services to choose from, but you can create custom services, too).
Step 9: Add your business hours (don’t skip this step!).
Step 10: If you’re asked to add messaging, it might be best to skip this for now. It’s essentially a free service offered by Google to enable customers to contact you via GMB… but it is another communication to keep track of. The presence of your web address is more important for now.
Step 11: Add your business description. You have around 750 characters to play with, so be concise, but remember to include your key search terms (i.e. including ‘thai restaurant’ will aid local searches for that type of establishment).
Step 12: Add photos of your business. You can add lots of these, and we’d encourage you to go wild – really show off what makes your venue special.
That it! Your business will soon start appearing on Google My Business and Google Maps listings.
Adding your business via Google Maps: step-by-step guide
If you fancy a bit of a shortcut to creating your Google My Business listing, you can do so via Google Maps. This process essentially starts with the placement of your business on Google Maps itself.
- Step 1: Sign into Google Maps.
- Step 2: Do one of the following:
1. Enter your business address in the search bar. On the left, you should see an option to ‘Add your business’.
2. Right-click anywhere on the Google map and click ‘Add your business’.
3. Click the top-left menu item (three horizontal lines) and choose ‘Add your business’.
- Step 3: Follow the on-screen instructions to finish the setup of your GMB listing.
Claiming your business on Google Maps: step-by-step guide
If you find your business is already listed on Google Maps, you can claim it as your own. This is particularly handy in the hospitality industry when people purchase existing businesses and need to take control of the online presence.
- Step 1: Open Google Maps.
- Step 2: Search for your business in the search bar.
- Step 3: Choose your business from the list (make sure you pick the right one!).
- Step 4: Click ‘Claim this business’, followed by ‘Manage now’.
- Step 5: Select a verification option and follow the on-screen prompts.
Providing you can verify yourself, claiming ownership of the business shouldn’t take long at all. In some circumstances, it might be disputed, but if you’re the legal owner of the business, you should always come out on top.
How to optimise your restaurant’s Google My Business listing
- Complete all of your information Google lets restaurants add loads of really useful information about their businesses.
Start with the obvious:
- Business name
- Hours of operation
- Business category
Check that last one carefully - there are now around 4,000 business categories and they’re always being updated.
Google also gives you around 750 characters to write a business description. Use this to describe what makes your restaurant special and make use of every character (it’s thought that these descriptions aid search rankings).
- Upload the best images possible (and ask diners to do so, too) According to Google themselves, businesses that have photos on their GMB listings receive 42% more requests for driving directions on Maps and 35% more clicks to their websites.
You can’t get away with bad photos on GMB as a restaurateur. People will be looking for images of your dishes, the layout, decor and menus. So, spend plenty of time snapping away on your smartphone and, if you can afford it, hire in a professional photographer now and again.
Remember that other people can add photos to your GMB page, too, so encourage diners to do so. Equally, if you spot photos taken by customers that mention your restaurant on other platforms (e.g. Instagram), grab the photos and add them to your GMB listing, as well.
Just remember to moderate any photos added by other people! You can do this by sorting images ‘By Customers’.
You can also add a virtual tour to your GMB page. Just click the ‘Get started’ button in your admin panel and follow the instructions to get a quote for creating a 360-degree view.
- Respond to reviews Google reviews are just as important as those you receive on TripAdvisor. Some would argue even more so, in fact, as they’re often the first reviews people will see for your business.
Google allows businesses to respond to reviews, and this is a feature you should use all of the time.
Make it a daily task to check, and respond to them all, good and bad.
- Publish posts - In 2017, Google rolled out the ability for GMB listing owners to publish posts on the platform. You can do so with text, images and video.
Before this feature, you’d have to use your own blog (don’t stop doing that, mind!) or another platform to provide searchers with news about events, promotions or special offers.
Clicking the ‘Create post’ button in your GMB dashboard is a no-brainer. Google lives and dies by the content it can surface its users, and if they provide a platform on which businesses can publish news, it’s a safe bet they’ll pay special attention.
- Upload video from your restaurant Videos are just as important as photos on GMB - perhaps more so.
You can add them to your GMB listing in a couple of ways:
- upload videos to your photo library; or
- add them to posts.
Videos you add to your GMB profile will appear clearly when people dig into your details. What’s more, they’ll auto play to help grab the attention of the searcher.
The role of Google reviews
Research suggests that the presence of reviews accounts for over 15% of how Google ranks local businesses. And while no one really knows exactly what Google’s 200 or so ranking factors are, this does seem like good, old-fashioned common sense.
On the whole, consumers trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendation. Indeed, 97% of consumers now say that reviews directly influence their purchasing decisions.
But there’s a lot more to reviews, and they can all have a direct impact on how your business is not only found on Google, but how it is perceived during those searches.
Here are some fascinating stats which prove our point:
- 97% of people read reviews of local businesses
- 60% of consumers check for reviews when searching for businesses via Google My Business
- 78% of consumers will trust an online review as much as they will a recommendation from a family member or friend
- When deciding whether or not to buy something, 90% of buyers will head for online reviews
- Reviews that are older than three months are considered ‘irrelevant’ by 85% of consumers
That last statistic is particularly important, because it demonstrates the importance of ensuring your reviews are flowing in steadily. Just like keeping your GMB listing up to date, you need to make a concerted effort to encourage as many heartfelt reviews from your customers as possible.
Google updates GMB regularly, therefore we’ll ensure this post is revisited just as frequently.
It’s hard to understate the importance of GMB for restaurants. It’ll help your local SEO performance immeasurably and ensure you stand the best chance of appearing above your competitors in search results.