Google My Business has become the online entrance for customers into a restaurant. Google provides a restaurant knowledge panel for branded searches and also returns local packs for searchers on types of restaurants in a location.
Google My Business is a window into your restaurant providing customers with information from, opening hours, busy times, menu, ordering, reservations, images, posts and reviews.
Google intends to make these the main entrance into your restaurant for customers and like any online asset you should control, manage and optimise it for the best restaurants possible.
Opening Your Restaurant
If you had the foresight to find this guide before opening your restaurant you have a choice to make.
- Claim the restaurant you are buying business listing and change/manage
- Mark the restaurant as closed and create a brand new listing for your restaurant
All information, image, hours can be changed, what cant be changed are the reviews!
Check the previous restaurants reviews, below 3.5 rating I would personally mark as closed and create a brand new listing. This also depends on how many negative reviews there are associated with the listing, hundreds and it will take a while to increase the overall review score, dozens and it is quite easy to build up your score quickly.
Once claimed, you also have the ability to let past reviewers that you are now the new owner of the restaurant and would like for them to try the new and improved version. This also provides any readers with information about the new restaurant and to ignore the old reviews.
Again if you had the foresight the ideal thing would be to make sure the login details for the business listing is provided on completion on sale. Failing this you will need to request ownership of the business listing.
If you have already claimed ownership of the old restaurants listing and realise there are some really bad reviews:
- Reply to the old reviews, we are brand new restaurant and would like to welcome you to try the new restaurant
- Contact Google My Business Support – there have been some successes in old business reviews being removed prior to purchase date.
Claiming or Creating a Google My Business Account for your Restaurant
Before creating a new business listing, check to see if one already exists, search for the current name and its location.
If the restaurant listing displays “own this business” then click the link and follow the process.
Create your Restaurants Google My Business Listing
- Sign in to Google My Business.
- Sign in to your Google Account, or create one. Then, click Next.
If you have a website and you already use Google Analytics, use this account.
Once verified you can find your Google My Business Dashboard on a computer will be on: https://business.google.com/locations and its also worth downloading the Google My Business App to manage on the go.
Optimising Your Restaurants Business Page
Starting in the info section:
1. Restaurants Category
It worth checking if there is a closer category to your restaurant, start typing in Restaurant and a list will drop down of available categories.
Select the best fit for your restaurant.
2. Opening Hours
Make sure to list your restaurants opening hours, again make sure that your regular business hours are listed on your other online resources (Website, Social Profiles, Business Citations)
An option is provided for special hours over and above your normal hours like Christmas or a public holiday that happens to land on mid week. Special hours can be set below primary business hours. If you do not set these hours, Google displays “Hours may be affected” if it is a bank holiday – which is not good, especially when you are open.
3. Website, Reservations
Make sure you are displaying the correct link to your website. If your website is currently being developed and not currently live then do not add your link until it is ready.
If you are a small restaurant, you could create your free website with Google My Business.
If you have a dedicated booking url for appointments, and restaurants can also add their menu url.
The insights provided on your business listing are not always accurate (server errors, updates etc) so I recommend using a UTM tracking code on your websites link. This allows you to accurately track your visits and where the users went on your website in Google Analytics.
Tracking will help you to make better decisions as to what your users engage with and converts customers.
You can also offer bookings via a third party provider >> check your business dashboard left hand navigation for Bookings / Reservations – follow the steps.
4. Add Menu
Add your restaurant menus which gets its own tab for users in mobile.
Prices will automatically convert to your countries currency.
Add Menu Section: This could be Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner or Starters and Main Courses
Add Item Name the Price of the Item then Item Description.
Select Add Menu Section to create a new section and use the 3 dots to edit individual items within each section.
5. Restaurants Description
Your description appears within the knowledge panel, when it comes to adding your restaurants description make sure you describe the type of restaurant the experience you offer, and why you are great at what you do.
Don’t be tempted to:
- Stuff in Keywords
- Add Links
- Shout at customers with CAPS.
This is your chance to shine and show case your business.
6. Short Name
The short name feature allows you to create a branded short name to share on site or to customers looking for business.
On the back of this, it also crates a short name link for reviews that you can incorporate into your customer interactions and emails.
I recommend claiming yours as soon as possible, especially if your business name is quite common.
If your business is brand new, you may not have any options available to add any attributes. Make a regular check (or notifications) to see if any new attributes are available.
Attributes helps Google to provide more accurate results to searches.
Google Posts appear within the knowledge panel and in mobile display. This is a natural place to add special offers, dish of the day, themed evenings etc.
Types of posts available:
- Announcement (Whats New)
- Event – Date and Time
- Offer – Vouchers Available
- Product – Pricing Available
A Google Post lasts for 7 days in search results, whilst an even will remain in search up until the end time and date specified.
Some simple rules to get the best out of Google Posts:
- Use High quality images (800 x 600), you can also use video
- Create a great title (headline) and include your target keyword in title. Include enough information for a user to make a decision and perform an action ( call you, sign up, book)
You can also add videos as a post, chefs in the kitchen are really popular. Might be time to brush up on your video skills.
Restaurants are visual places and your images will convert searchers into customers.
You cannot control the quality of the image a customer uploads (you can report) but all your images should showcase your food and restaurant, don’t upload poor quality images.
- Cover Photo
- Food & Drink
You can also add video in the photo section.
- Less than 5MB
- PNG or JPEG
- Minimum size 720 × 720
- Less than 100MB
- Up to 30 seconds long
- Min 720p resolution
Products – Menu Items
The layout is very similar to adding the menu, however you must include an image.
Remember with images – people eat with their eyes, so only complete this section if you have great images. The ideal time would be when you change your menu and you can set up a small photo table to take a quality photo of the dish before being served.
Questions & Answers
Question and Answers do not appear within your listings dashboard because they were implemented via Google Maps platform and are often missed by businesses. One way to keep informed of any questions or answers posted to your business is to have the Google Maps app enabled on your phone and you can answer this immediately.
Don’t want to use the Maps app, then make sure that you have enabled notifications for this in account settings – this will be an email notification.
Users do misunderstand the nature of this feature and often think this is some form of chat feature asking for immediate information. I recommend that you pre-populate this feature with FAQs that you encounter on a daily basis in the restaurant.
Ranking signals based on reviews have been reduced over the past few years because this is just to easy to game, so quality over quantity is the messaging here.
Listings with review stars showing stand out on the page and in heat map studies, users tend to view listing with reviews before other listings.
Business also tend to panic over a less then 5 star review, however customers expect to see a range of reviews for a business, what they are looking to see is how the business reacted to the review, what will happen if I happen to have a bad experience, will the business take me seriously.
You can also send the short name direct link to send to customers when asking for them to leave a review.
You can also check out Google My Businesses Marketing Kit where you can download printable kits, that you can ask for reviews which could be merged into your bill wallet or placed at the reception desk.
Enable notifications when a customer leaves a review, if you happen to get a negative review, take a deep breath and reply in a professional manner. You can also report inappropriate reviews.
Now that you have your restaurants business page sorted, you might want to see how to can bring it all together with your websites visibility too.
Tim Capper at Online Ownership has a unique understanding of restaurants and hotels. Having a Swiss Degree in hospitality management and owned and operated restaurants and hotels across the UK, he now offers Google My Business Management and Consulting services.