Restaurants rely heavily on local trade, and that makes them a perfect fit for Google My Business (GMB).
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.
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.
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 enquiry, 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 optimised 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 fist 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 optimise your restaurant’s Google My Business listing
1. 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).
2. 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.
3. 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.
Recommended reading: 2020 Guide: How To Handle Bad TripAdvisor Reviews
4. 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.
5. 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.
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.