Today I have a solution for two problems you probably didn’t even know that you had.
Problem #1: There are potential customers out there looking for a place to eat tonight. These people are searching the internet to find just the right place that is going to please everyone. The search results come back…are you in the number one slot? Top ten? Fifty-ninth?
In a previous article we’ve discussed optimizing the search results for your restaurant by simply claiming your business on Google Places. That is still very highly recommended as Google is the largest search provider, but they aren’t the only game in town. The second largest search engine in the U.S., Bing, just released their version of Places this past week. It’s called the Bing Business Portal (BBP) www.bingbusinessportal.com and it has some very compelling reasons you should use it as well.
Both Google Places and the New BBP allow your business to rank higher in local searches. They give you a space to tell everyone on the internet who you are, when you are open, what makes your place stand out, and what others are saying about you. To do this you must claim your business, a process that takes less than 10 minutes. Once you do you can post a link to your website, pictures, videos, payment options, and delivery area if that applies. Both allow you to post a printable coupon or deal for those who found your listing by searching. They are both free and easy to use.
This is where the similarities end and Bing takes the lead. The new BBP also allows you to post a link to your twitter address and your Facebook page, and you can publish the coupon or deal you create to your Facebook page. You can create and post a profile of your chef and post a link to your menu if you have it online. BBP also gives you option to choose several keywords in the areas of Cuisine, Atmosphere, Features and Entrée Price to describe your restaurant which will greatly help get you found when a customer searches.
Problem # 2: A recent study found that 50% of people searching the internet for a restaurant did so using a mobile device and your website is not optimized for mobile and therefore is probably driving these people away. Let’s say I search for your restaurant on my mobile phone. I find your website and want to take a look at your menu, but your site has lots of graphics so it is slow on my phone, and the links are tiny so I can’t click on them to get to your menu, or if I get to the menu it is so small I can’t read it. Worse yet I get to your site and it has flash and my phone doesn’t support flash so I can’t see your site at all. Maybe I will try another more mobile friendly restaurant.
Now you can easily make your restaurant mobile search friendly with Bing Business Portal. The new BBP can automatically create a free mobile website from your listing. The basic website gives you access to address, map and directions to your location and a button to push to call your restaurant. It displays the hours of operation, cuisines offered and features. The biggest advantage though is you can enter your menu with category headings, names, descriptions and prices if you like, and Bing will optimize this to be displayed on the customer’s phone. You can also have the coupon or deal you create to be mobile friendly so the customer doesn’t have to print it. They just show their server the deal on their phone. BBP also offers a free QR code you can use to promote the mobile website to customers who scan the code with their mobile phone. An example of a QR code is displayed here and will link you to my about.me page.
The Bing Business Portal is very easy to use, and offers some great features for your restaurant. I encourage you to take a little bit of time this week and claim your listing on BBP and Google Places. Now that you know that you have the problems and the free and easy way to solve them, what’s stopping you?
I have been looking for you. I want to take my family and friends to your restaurant for dinner tonight. We are in the mood for exactly the type of food that you serve, we like the look of your place, your prices are right, and you are open when we want to dine. But we can’t find you. I guess we are going to that other place tonight.
How do people find you? If someone has never been to your restaurant, or maybe they have but not for some time, how are they going to know where you are? Well from that big Yellow Pages ad of course! NEWS FLASH nobody has used an actual phone book for anything except a booster seat in years. Actually when people are looking for products to buy, places to eat, caterers or other service providers, 82% of them use the internet. Surprised? Probably not, because that is probably how you find those same things. The question is, when people are looking for you, can they find you?
I can see your heads nodding, because you think the answer is YES, but is that really the case? I am pretty sure that if a potential customer gets on the internet and pulls up their favorite search engine, probably http://www.google.com, and then types in the name of your restaurant or business, then they do indeed find you. But what if they don’t know the name of your restaurant? What if they forgot about you? What if they never heard of you or the fantastic food that you have to offer? The deal is when people are looking for places to eat, they don’t type in the name of the place they are looking for. If they know your name chances are they already know where you are.
People who are looking for restaurants or certain types of food actually use keyword searches to find places they don’t know already. For example: I might go to Google, and type in “deep dish pizza”, or “BBQ”, or “Steak Restaurant”, and boom right there is a list of places that offer those types of foods, that are “Local” to me. Google actually knows where you are, and when you type in the keywords it searches its huge database of places and gives the searcher the results that most closely match what they typed in.
I see a lot less head nodding, some uncertainty, and a couple of heads shaking. It’s o.k. I am here to help you out. No you don’t have to be a computer genius, or web master, or SEO (search engine optimizer). You actually have one ready to go to work for you, and it’s free. I am talking about Google Places http://www.google.com/places . Google Places is a free service that allows you to enter lots of information about your restaurant into a simple form. Things like what types of food you serve, average dinner prices, hours of operation, specialties, your website address, additional phone numbers, and service area (great if you deliver). It also allows you to upload 10 photos and 5 videos so you can show people what they have been missing. The service is free and easy; you merely have to sign up for a Google email account to get started.
Once you fill out the form and verify that you are the owner, (either by phone or a post card mailed to the business address) Google takes all of the info that you entered and indexes it in their database. Then the next time someone searches for something you offer, your restaurant information is displayed. And it gets better, Google Places allow you to see analytics about who is searching for you, how they found you, and where they live. This information may be very helpful in planning additional advertising or even menu development. To find out more watch the short video provided by Google below .
Now that I and 82% of everyone else looking for you know where you are, maybe you better stock up. I think it’s going to be a busy weekend.