What a treat to hear directly from Jon Ray, Field Marketing Lead with Google, some tips for restaurant owners looking to maximize their web impact. Customers who attended the GRS Customer Conference last month got a first hand look at some of the great tools Google has available. Here’s a recap:
We all want our website to make the top of the list when our customers search “Pizza, Your Town”. Jon pointed out a few key factors that Google uses to decide who gets that coveted top spot:
Relevant content. Why are blogs so popular these days? They let you pack your website with content, updated regularly, on-point to your keyword targets. Blogs should have personality and be regularly updated, as the freshness of your site is something Google considers.
Have content Google can read. Lots of pictures on your website are nice, but Google only reads text when deciding search result rankings. So make sure that the keywords your customers are searching for are sprinkled throughout the text of your website.
Links pointing in. Google considers your website to be more relevant IF a lot of other websites link to it. So network with local directories, industry players, etc. to ensure as many incoming links to your website as possible.
Google Places results (listed with red pins on the search results) will be a key for you to get your restaurant listed. See more on Google Places below.
Submit a site map to Google, this will help Google search for all the pages of your website.
Google has recently unveiled its new social networking tool, Google +. You’ve seen the Google +1 button on many sites. Now, search results will show any of your customers’ Google contacts who have recommended your restaurant using the +1 button. This “social search” is a powerful way to connect with new customers and will be used by Google to improve search results. Be sure to ask customers to +1 your business on Google Places to help kick start your results in this area. Visit Google's +1 page to learn more about how to add the button to your site.
Jon mentioned that 20% of all Google searches are for “local intent” - customers looking for a business near them. This rises to 40% of all searches on mobile devices. Your restaurant probably already has a Google Places page, whether you know it or not. You can “claim” the page (Google will verify with a phone call to your business or a postcard in the mail) and then you’ll be able to add photos, videos and offers. Be sure to add important and unique items that people may be searching for (Gluten-free crust? Local sourced products?) in the “Additional Info” section. All of these customizations will help the search results.
Google Places is a review site, and like all the rest this can cause restaurant owners some trepidation. Jon suggested that while a 1 star review IS likely to get read, if you post a caring response it can actually improve customers’ impressions of your business. It’s also good to emphasize to your customers that their support of you as a “locally owned business” through Google places positive reviews is appreciated.
Google Dashboard gives you all sorts of tools to help analyze how well your site doing. You’ll see the top searches that led people to your page - if these searches aren’t relevant to your business, then you need to change your website. You can also see how many people requested directions to your business and from what zip codes. This can be useful info to help you target advertising messages or even plot future expansion.
If you manage multiple stores, you can create a “master” Places account and upload location data for multiple stores in a spreadsheet format.
And Even More Tools:
Google Adwords: Google offers amazingly targeted, affordable advertising through its Google Adwords program. Here you can bid on “keyword searches” in your local area. The results you get will be based not only on the price you bid for the keyword, but also the “Quality Score” of your ad, i.e. how closely the ad matches the search. You can easily create multiple ads to match each possible search so get creative! Use Google Analytics to track how effective your advertising is. You can place tracking code right on your GRS online ordering “confirmation” page so you’ll be able to tell how many ad clicks resulted in an order.
Google Insights is an interesting tool that lets you compare different search terms, see what’s trending. Google Alerts let you sign up to receive an email daily with alerts on articles or discussions around the web on topics you choose - a great way to keep on top of the buzz about your business or a competitor.