The popularity of “near me” searches are rising. A consumer can now put in a search command into their phone such as ‘restaurants near me’ and instantaneously be presented with a list of restaurants in their area.
‘Restaurants near me’ is by far the most popular ‘near me’ search query with 6.2 million organic searches per month. In fact, food-based searches make up four of the top five positions in all unbranded “near me” queries including “food near me,” (3.1 million) “pizza near me” (1.3 million) and “delivery near me” (750K).
The smartphone has changed things. According to Statista, smartphone search queries have grown to dominate almost 60 percent of the entire organic search market. This data is clear that restaurants need to focus on optimizing for local search queries by making sure they have a good online digital strategy in place for connecting with ready-to-eat consumers in their area.
Although the hospitality industry has a great opportunity to reach new customers through ‘near me’ search, they are among the worst at optimizing for it. A voice search optimization study by Uberall found that only 4% of locations within the hospitality industry were perfectly optimized across Google, Bing, and Yelp – (3 key directories for local search optimization).
When we talk about local SEO (search engine optimization) we are talking about ranking in the local three-pack. When a user types in “restaurants near me” into Google, they are presented with three results.
Research by Moz suggests that if you aren’t ranking in the coveted 3-pack, your chances of even being seen at all falls to about 8% which means that if you aren’t showing up in the top three results, you’re going to be driving far less hungry mouths to your door.
To Optimize for ‘near me’ Search
Seven key directories you should have a profile on are:
• Apple Maps
• Trip Advisor
By listing your restaurant on the above seven sites is a great start as you will be covering the most important search engines, mapping services, and review sites. However, listings alone are not enough.
The key to ranking in the local three-pack is the accuracy and consistency of your business information.
Here is an example…
I randomly selected a Thai restaurant in New York and tested the online presence, consistency, and accuracy of the business location, and found inaccurate location information:
• On Manta and Facebook, the business wasn’t listed
• The name of the restaurant is different on Yelp and Bing
• The website is missing on Bing and Foursquare
• There are no photos or opening hours on Foursquare
The inconsistencies are not minor and represent major trust factors to search engines looking to establish where to send hungry consumers looking for a meal in your area.
Optimizing Your Local Business Listings
First, enter your address, opening hours, phone number, business name, website and zip code on the most important directories (Google, Bing, Yelp, Apple Maps, Facebook, Foursquare, Trip Advisor, etc. …)
Build a minimum of 50-60 citations across these 3rd party sites. Listing information must match exactly across the different directories, review sites, and search engines.
Be as specific as possible about your business and what it does. Offer vegan options? Have special offers? Outdoor Cafe? The more information you provide, the more you will rank for specific search queries.
Add photos and videos that show off the food, staff, dining room, the restaurant location… This is a major factor in your ranking and an area most businesses fail to complete.
Reviews Are Important
The second part of your ranking strategy is your review management. Your star rating, review volume and the frequency with which you reply to customer reviews are all factors that determine your ranking in the three-pack.
Search engines want to know that customers like you, engage with you and that you engage right back.
Important review actions to help you rank for ‘near me’ search queries….
Optimizing Your Reviews
• Get your customers to leave reviews online by encouraging them while they are in your restaurant.
• Encourage reviews on Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Yelp – not just Google.
• Reply to ALL reviews – 33% of customers who receive a reply to a negative review change their review to be more positive
• Create a review strategy, review velocity is important for search rankings.
• Reply to reviews fast – information from Google suggests that business locations that reply to reviews in under five minutes are more likely to rank higher in local search
While you can not offer anything to a customer for a review, you can treat them like VIP’s and this will encourage even more referrals and positive reviews.
Setup Your Restaurant Location Page to Work for Your Business
We have set up and managed hundreds of Google Pages for local businesses to successfully get them into the 3 pack. Click here to request a call to discuss setting your up for just $150 per location.