3 Easy Tips for Restaurants to Be Found Where Diners Are Searching

5 min read.

The digital world asks a lot from restaurants. Posting fresh, compelling content to different channels every day and always trying to stay top of mind can get overwhelming. As digital marketing and social media platforms evolve, nailing down and executing an online strategy feels more daunting than ever. But you don’t need to push new content to be found – and be current – where diners are searching for your restaurant

While digital marketing requires planning, constant attention, and analysis, there are also plenty of easy things restaurants can do right now to optimise their presence. Below, we share three simple ways to build your brand presence. Start by updating these channels, then think of everything that comes next as bonus points.

1. Optimise your Google Business listing. 

Every month, there are five billion searches for restaurants on Google. A free business profile lets you connect with all of those potential guests through Google Search and Maps. You can post photos and offers to your profile to inspire diners to come in for a meal. 

To claim your restaurant’s Google Business listing, log into the Google account you want associated with the business. From there, you can search for your restaurant’s name – if you see your restaurant in the results, select it and follow the steps for verification. 

Google may verify your business by calling you on your business phone number or sending you an email. But the most common method is to send a postcard to your restaurant’s physical address. This can take up to five days and look like a spam mailer, so keep an eye out for it. 

If you search for your restaurant and don’t see it in results, select “Create a business with this name.” Since your restaurant has a brick-and-mortar location, select “Yes” when asked if you want to add a location to your listing. Enter your restaurant’s address, hit “Next,” and on the next prompt, select “Yes, I also serve them outside my location” if you offer delivery. You’ll also be prompted to enter your service area, which is an optional step. (If you don’t offer delivery, select “no.”) 

Next add a business category, like “Italian restaurant.” You can always change it later. Finally, you can add your restaurant’s phone number and website, which is vital because it gives diners a way to reach you easily with questions or to book a reservation. Select “Finish” to begin the verification process.  

2. Set up an Instagram (business) account.

If you use Instagram with a personal account, you know the drill: post your best photos, like and be liked, comment and reply, and don’t forget the hashtags. Your restaurant’s Instagram account will be similar to your personal one, but business accounts give access to tools that can help you optimise your feed, like analytics and paid advertising. 

Operators can see their audience’s demographics (age range, location, and more), as well as which posts had the most impressions or engagement. That kind of insight gives you the power to optimise your social media strategy based on your best-performing assets. Businesses can also add buttons such as “Contact” and “Reserve” to their profiles so users can reach out or book a table. Finally, you can put money behind your posts to reach more people, if you choose to do so. 

If you already have a regular Instagram account for your restaurant, you can convert it to a business account easily in “Settings” without losing any content. If you’re starting from scratch, create an account using a Facebook account, email or phone number. (It’s a good idea to use a general restaurant or company email to ensure you’ll always have access, even if the person who created it leaves.) During the setup process, you’ll see the words “Try Instagram Business Tools” – click there to make yours a business account. Select a category and sub-category (think “restaurant” and “dim sum restaurant”, and add your physical address – this is key, because a location makes you searchable on Instagram. Once you’re up and running, start posting!

3. Build out your OpenTable profile.

Last year, diners looking to discover a place to eat made 620 million searches on OpenTable. We call this group who turn to OpenTable to find restaurants “undecided diners.” Sometimes, they use the OpenTable website or app to search for a restaurant’s name. Other times, though, they may search for “Thai,” “fried chicken,” or “Barangaroo, Sydney.” Our search algorithm takes into account over 170 factors about the restaurant and the diner to match the right restaurants to the right diners, and send more diners to restaurants we know they’ll enjoy. For these discovery searches, there are a few important things restaurants can do to improve their organic search rank in OpenTable’s results. 

Maintain an up-to-date and comprehensive restaurant profile. Great profiles increase a diner’s likelihood to book at that restaurant once they land on the restaurant profile. Also, they help the restaurant to be included in more collections or specialised landing pages (think “Great for Brunch”). A complete restaurant profile should include:

  • Menu. Have a cocktail menu or brunch menu in addition to dinner? Post them all so diners know everything you have to offer.
  • Photos of interior. Show people in your restaurant to bring the atmosphere to life.
  • Photos of food. Apply the same standards you would for social media content – dishes should be beautiful and representative of your menu’s range.
  • Tags. Think “kid-friendly,” “romantic,” or other descriptors that make your restaurant stand out.
  • Description. Provide a short paragraph about your food, location, chef, sourcing – anything that reflects your restaurant’s brand. 

Here are a few ways to maximise your search ranking: 

Pay attention to reviews. Reviews matter, so solicit them during the dining experience (with the bill, for example) and afterward, with OpenTable’s automated post-dining survey emails. Our research shows that diners are looking for recent, concise, and diverse reviews. Address critical feedback – average ratings are calculated for the trailing 120 days, so the best way to boost your ratings is to study diner complaints and address them.

Create a robust photo gallery. Two-thirds of diners think photos are important when picking a restaurant. Again, use your social media lens and pick images that show off different areas of your menu (brunch, cocktails, desserts) and play up your ambiance.

Post a complete, accurate menu. 78% of diners say menus are very important when considering a restaurant, so make sure people know what to expect.

The most effective and fastest way to improve your restaurant’s search rank is to run a campaign using OpenTable marketing solutions. Unlike many other platforms, OpenTable is only for restaurants and diners – that means people are visiting the site or app for the sole purpose of finding restaurants and booking tables.

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