In every city, there are thousands of people searching Google for terms like “best restaurants near me” — thousands of people you could convert into new customers.
And 50% of people who performed a search visited a local store as a result of that search within 24 hours. The best part about these searches is they’re already looking for what you offer — a great restaurant experience — so it doesn’t take much convincing to get them to choose you. But you do need to get their attention first, so they’ll show up.
The question is, how do you get the people searching for restaurants near you to find you? There are over 90 factors that influence which restaurants are seen first in search results, but three, in particular, are easy to implement and have the greatest benefit.
1. Fill Out Your Google My Business Page
The first and most important factor is to get your Google My Business page filled out and ensure it is correct. It takes just a few minutes to do but makes a massive difference in the traffic you receive from search engines because it signals that your posted information is correct. Want to know the best part? It’s easy and free.
2. Build Link Signals
The second most important factor leading to greater exposure and more rankings is building link signals. Sounds complicated, right? Don’t worry; the concept is actually very easy, though it’s a bit more time-consuming. It basically means you have to have other websites link to your website. This signals in the search engine’s eyes that you are relevant and useful to others.
The best way to do this is to ensure you’re registered on all of the top 20 directories for restaurants, like Yelp and Zomato, and that you reach out to the publications in your area to write stories about you. That’s it. Building links takes a bit more time, but is generally easy to do.
3. Build Online Reviews
Not only are reviews critical for increasing your search traffic, but they’re also important in their own right. In fact, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and every 1-star increase on Yelp leads to a 5% to 9% increase in revenue.
Powerful stuff, right? The question is, what is the best way to build online reviews? The most reliable way is to provide a guest experience worth reviewing — one that surprises and delights your customer, rather than being ordinary. As a restaurateur, you probably already know that, though. So what are some ways to increase your number of reviews?
• Place reminder cards on each table to ask guests for reviews. Most people will leave an online review if asked, so why not ask directly at their table? A simple card thanking them for choosing your restaurant and asking them to share their experience on Google is all it takes. If thousands of people visit your restaurant each year and even 5% leave an online review after seeing your reminder card, that’s a huge bonus that will put you ahead of your competitors.
• Grow your customer database. Grow your customer database. Grow your customer database. Grow your customer database. I could spend all day long repeating those words and that still wouldn’t be enough to emphasize how important this is for your success. Not only will it allow you to text, email and send past customers review reminders, but you can also target them with ads all across the internet using their names, emails, phone numbers or addresses, in order to stay top of mind.
What’s the best way to grow your customer database? Build a text opt-in subscriber list that your customers can join. Consider adding another card on each table telling customers to text a number and opt-in for a free cookie. Once they opt-in, you’ll have their number and the ability to reach them anytime.
Why is this better than social media and email? Because the open rate for text is 98% compared to 20% for email. So, is being able to reach past customers to get them to leave Google reviews and come back again worth the less than $1 that a cookie and text will cost you? Yes! See why customer databases are so powerful?
I wish I could tell you that implementing these three restaurant marketing ideas were instant and free, but the truth is they take time and effort. You can have your team help you implement these initiatives, but they’re too important to your success to delegate and forget about completely. The best way to go about taking advantage of these opportunities is to assign a trusted employee to do them and set aside an hour per week to ensure they’re being done right.
Remember that this is a process. Also, each of these three components is extremely powerful, even if they’re executed on their own. Making progress on just one per week is enough to increase your odds of success. But getting all of them right together can really create a revenue-increasing benefit.