Published October 27, 2020
There may not be a better time for restaurant owners and operators to tap into free ways to promote their business. During the beginning of the pandemic, restaurants owners had little choice but to scramble to find ways to stay open by offering curbside service and delivery options. Now, with many of them reopening (at least partially), getting word to their customers about that is vital—and Google’s subsidiary Google My Business is poised to help you do that and much more.
With your customers wondering if you're open or not and which services you may still be providing, online visibility is more important than ever, and that's why Google My Business can be a huge help marketing your restaurant. Their free online service gives you many ways to promote your business and increase your local SEO in Google search and maps—and yes, it's really free.
Create a business profile. Easily create a business profile and your customers can find you online in a number of ways: through a direct search (they type in your company's name), a discovery search (they type in a product or service that you may provide), and/or a branded search (they type in something that relates to your brand). If you have a marketing team, make sure they have a plan for building out your Google My Business presence and that it sticks to your brand.
You'll be able to include photos that support your brand in your business profile and information about what you're offering, provide updates about any changes you're making during this time and more. When the pandemic ends you'll be able to easily make changes to your profile including letting customers know that you're fully open and back to providing regular services so they can begin booking them.
Craft a website. If you need to create a website for your restaurant Google My Business makes it very easy and seamless. After you create your business profile a website will automatically be generated using your profile information. You can then edit the information, change the design, add information about what your restaurant offers, how your customers can get in touch with you order food, post pictures and more for the bargain price of zero dollars. You can then make social media posts about your website on Facebook and Twitter—all of which supports your brand.
Use a marketing kit. To better reach current and potential customers both online and offline, Google My Business provides you with free marketing materials. As they list on their website, you'll get "print-ready posters, window stickers, table tents, ready-to-share social posts, and more." Check out their marketing kit and let your imagination take off. It's also a great resource for your marketing team.
Interact with your customers. Google My Business gives you more opportunities to have more contact with your customers and during the pandemic that can be crucial to your restaurant. Many restaurants are having to adopt new practices and if there are any glitches you can be sure your customers will leave a review about it. You can then make the necessary adjustments and respond to their review, letting them know what you've changed. That way you're not only letting them know that you're paying attention but it's also a good way to stay connected to your customers.
Get on Google maps. Many of your customers use Google maps to look up your restaurant, and it's easy to see why. In one place they can get driving directions to your location, see if you're opened or closed, check out your Yelp rating, gain access to all of your contact information, access a link to your website and more. With Google My Business you can make sure your business is in Google Maps and you can edit your information and features, too.
Download the Google My Business mobile app. Their free app lets you customize your business profile on the go and you (or your marketing team) can respond to reviews as quickly as possible—seemingly simple things like adding your phone number can go a long way in connecting to your customer. You can also easily upload photos from your mobile device and advertise promotions. Their app has a "customer button" that gives you more ability to interact with your customers which is so important during this time and will be well after a vaccine for COVID-19 is found.
Increase your reach with Google Ads. While Google My Business and Google Ads are two separate services, they do go hand in hand in helping you reach more customers interested in booking your services. With Google Ads you can easily create online ads and only pay for them when customers click on your ads. That way you can attract new customers, directing them to your website or your Google Maps listing. You'll also have the ability to see how effective your ads are in your dashboard. Read more about how linking Google My Business with Google Ads can help your business.
Optimize search insights. To find out what's working to attract current and new customers, Google My Business Insights lets you see how customers use Search and Maps to find your business and what action they took once they find it. With Insights you can see:
Recognizing that the pandemic presents special considerations for a company using Google My Business, their help center has recently released some guidance on changes you may want to make. Beyond how to update your profile to let your customers know what services you're providing or any location information, they also recommend including the following updates:
Read their full article about COVID-19 Google My Business guidance.
Beyond the 800 million dollars Google has donated to small- and medium-sized businesses, they're also providing useful resources. From offering free premium video meetings to preparing guides to help you build a strong online presence, Google's "Helping your business through COVID-19" resources can be a big help. Get all of them here.
No matter what happens with the pandemic, you’ll make your SEO and digital marketing game stronger and make sure the content on your website more perfectly reflects your brand. And with the help of Google My Business, you can continue to grow your restaurant on a local basis and beyond.