5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Restaurant Online
Restaurant owners always ask us, “How can my business stand out on the web?” We’ve reached a time when small businesses appreciate the value of search engine presence but still aren’t quite sure how to achieve it. I’ve always said online prominence is more of an art form than a science, really, and it’s something that can be mastered by anyone, regardless of their level of computer savvy.
Why do older bars & restaurants appear before newer ones in search results? Trust me, Google doesn’t discriminate over time in business. It has to do with your overall presence throughout the web, which older establishments tend to accumulate over time. But you can expedite your journey to the top all by yourself!
There is no reason for restaurants to be intimidated by search engine optimization nor should they pay out the nose to have experts handle it for them. I’ve gathered my 5 favorite strategies for boosting local business online to share with you all. Granted, there are countless tactics for increasing your restaurant’s web visibility but this is a great place to start and will surely give you fast results with minimal effort.
1. Promote a Big Event
Whether you host a big party for a special occasion such as the Super Bowl or rent your space for a public get together, promoting an event online can offer lasting results in overall web presence. Many bars & restaurants plan something for major holidays and happenings like St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve, Kentucky Derby, etc. However, their advertising of said event usually stops on-site with table tents, posters and word of mouth, completely alienating those who use the web to discover things to do. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of websites that allow users to list events for free in addition to local guides, forums, news platforms and classifieds that can offer additional exposure. So let’s assume you do your homework and pack the house for March Madness. How does this translate to improved online presence? Those pages and accounts you created on the various event listing sites will live on forever, even after your party has expired. They not only promote your events but market your venue to their entire audience. Take this same model and apply it to multiple events throughout the year and you’ve significantly improved your organic visibility. Remember, of course, to always link back to your restaurant’s website when given the option.
2. Get into Google Plus
There’s a lot about Google that is beyond your control, making it that much more essential to take command of what is. Go ahead and Google your restaurant name and city right now. You’ll notice to the right of the search results is a bunch of information about your business including hours, photos, menus, virtual tours, reviews and more. I urge you to sign-in to Google My Business and ensure all the details are correct and complete. This account comes with a Google+ business page, which you can update as often as you like with specials, announcements, events, etc. just as you would with Facebook or Twitter. Unlike other social networks, playing ball with Google is always in your favor.
3. Join SinglePlatform
Currently, your restaurant’s menu appears on several 3rd-party websites in addition to your own. These sites display menus as a courtesy to their visitors but it can backfire quickly if the information is out-of-date or incorrect. We will never be able to control how potential customers discover bars & restaurants. Some will rely solely on a business’ official website and others use any number of aggregate resources to make their dining decisions. If this concept concerns you, it should. Luckily, SinglePlatform allows your most-updated menu to be published in real-time across the web’s most-popular platforms such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare and many others. The service is easy to join, charges a small monthly fee and offers a better night’s sleep for restaurant owners all over the world.
4. Engage with Meetups
Sites like Meetup.com offer people a platform to organize online and get together in real life. They have endless group types ranging from book clubs to business networking supported by a massive local membership base in every major city. Some groups see upwards of 500 people at each event! The website makes it quite easy to browse various groups, get in touch with the organizers and even sponsor their cause. They are always looking for new venues to gather at, which presents an awesome opportunity to bar & restaurant owners. Not only can you get a link and logo on a very popular site but pack your space on off nights as well.
5. Start Blogging
Blogging is a foreign concept to many small business owners. However, search engines love blogs because they represent fresh content, authoritative perspectives and social interaction. Granted, sitting down every day to write a 500-word article is not your best use of time when you have a restaurant to run, but the benefits are worth the effort. Start small by publishing short, simple posts on your website. Talk about upcoming events, promotions, customer stories, recipes or local news. Try to tie everything back to your restaurant when possible. Consider it a casual, fun, ongoing conversation with your customers and watch your web traffic increase with every new post.
The web marketing world is host to a never-ending conversation about search engine rankings. Major services like Google, Bing and Yahoo have implemented tremendously complex algorithms to serve their users better. The finer rules of their search software may change every month or week (or day) but your efforts in boosting local presence online will never go to waste.
Your customers are curious and will employ several platforms to research their night out. You owe it to them (and your business) to be as many places as possible. I can’t promise you’ll make it to Page 1 of Google, listed directly above the big-box Italian restaurant down the street with the million-dollar in-house marketing department. I can, however, promise spreading your brand throughout the web’s many opportunities is a fantastic start and yields brilliant, lasting potential.