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With an increasing number of people using their mobile devices to discover great businesses close to their location, “(business) near me” searches are seeing a steady rise in popularity. The phrase “restaurants near me” are experiencing this even more so.

Did you know that in the USA alone,  the term “restaurant near me” is searched 380,000 times a month?  Other variations, such as “Indian restaurant near me” and “Italian restaurant near me” have recorded over 260,000 searches per month.

Given that a top 3 position in Google has an average click-through rate of 34%, ranking your restaurant’s website for one of these searches can bring in a consistent stream of new customers each month. This number can potentially be in the hundreds if you are located in a densely populated city.
Graph of Restaurant SEO local restaurantsearch marketing Google Place Page Local Consumer Connect NewYork NY Searches“Restaurant near me” searches are on a steady rise all over the world | Source: localconsumerconnect.com

Let’s look at how you can optimize your restaurant’s website for “near me” searches to build a steady stream of new customers.

By the end of this article, you’ll learn:
  • How “near me” searches work
  • Optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) profile
  • Having complete and consistent citations of your name, address, and phone number
  • How to improve your listing’s click-through rate
  • What if I operate in multiple locations?

How “Near Me” Searches Work

When you type a search term in Google followed by the phrase “near me,” the search engine automatically adjusts the search process to display results relative to your IP address. This means that Google will prioritize results for relevant businesses that are closer to the location where the search was made.

For restaurant owners, these “near me” searches offer an amazing opportunity to establish their presence within their current locations and acquire new customers. 

To further streamline the results of a “near me” search, Google also displays a map listing showing the exact locations of these businesses. Here’s an example:
Google results for italian restaurants near meGoogle results for the search “Italian restaurant near me” | Location:  Leeds, UK

As you can see, the Google Map and the three restaurants listed directly under it are prioritized on the Google results page. These results take up the bulk of the space on a smartphone screen. On many devices, only the map is visible without scrolling down.

Another thing you’ll notice is that the next set of results are not from actual restaurant websites but from local directory sites, such as TripAdvisor. Websites of restaurants only appear towards the bottom of the first page of Google, with the majority being displayed on the subsequent results pages.

This is because TripAdvisor and other local directories have built their entire business around gaining authority in the eyes of search engines. They will therefore outrank the website of any independent business in 99% of cases.

The key, therefore, is to optimize your restaurant website so it is displayed among these top results in the map, rather than try to compete in the traditional “organic” listings.

There are three important factors that can influence your website’s position in the map for “near me” search results. They are:
  • Optimized Google My Business (GMB) profile
  • Complete and consistent citations of your location and contact details (name, address, and phone number)
  • Improved “click-through-rate” of your listing
Let’s go through each one so you have a clearer picture:

Optimizing Your Google My Business (GMB) Profile

Do a Google search for “restaurant near me,” then click on the map at the top of the page. Google will pull up a map that shows the locations of the restaurants within that area. The image below is an example of this:
Google search for "restaurant near me"Google map search results for “restaurant near me” | Location: Manila Philippines 

The embedded locations on the map, along with the corresponding restaurant list on the left side of the page are determined by the information listed on the Google My Business page of each restaurant. Click them, and they will pop up the GMB listings themselves.

This points to two crucial conclusions: 

1. Your restaurant needs a GMB listing if you want your business information to be listed at all in a Google map search result. Not yet claimed your restaurant’s GMB listing? You can do so here.

2. When it comes to map listings, Google will often prioritize GMB profiles with complete and relevant business information. It’s therefore important to provide as much detailed and helpful information as possible in your GMB profile.

When people land on it, they should be able to understand in one glance what type of restaurant they’re dealing with, the complete address, down to the street name, and any other information that the reader will find useful. Upload more pictures of your menu, frontage, signage, etc if you need to. 

Staying active and posting fresh content to your GMB page is a great way to maintain a competitive edge. Use the post features, upload recent pictures, and take the time to respond directly to Google reviews. Remember, your competitors are looking to tap into the benefits of a well-optimized GMB profile, too.  

Having Complete and Consistent Citations of Your Location and Contact Details

Even though Google will display search results based on the location information provided in the GMB profile, it will still perform a “double-check” through other online sources to confirm that your restaurant is where you say it is. 

Google will crawl the internet to find other instances (citations) where your restaurant’s location and contact details are listed— namely your restaurant name, address, and phone number. That’s why it’s important to be consistent with these details whenever you list them on your website, social media pages, online directories, etc. 

If Google finds enough citations, it will start to regard your restaurant as a credible entity with multiple citations backing up the information you provided. 

So it’s important that you are not only consistent but also present across multiple online platforms. Start with your website and social media pages, then reach out to relevant online directories to feature your restaurant’s information on their platforms.

Everything must be consistent (word for word) across all the platforms. Google cannot understand that “127 Bung Street” refers to the same location as “127 Bung St.” With Google prioritizing GMB listings with correct and relevant information, your restaurant’s visibility in the map listing may start to decrease if there is any uncertainty over your location.

How To Improve Your Listing’s “Click-Through-Rate”

Click-through rate (CTR) is a measure of how often users click on your listing following a particular search. Basically, Google wants to know if by returning your listing as a search result, that it’s relevant to the user’s search. 

A higher CTR compared to the other listings on the results page tells Google that your listing is a better match for that search term, which as a result, will improve your visibility and ranking. 

Want to improve your listing’s CTR? First, look at your listing on a search results page from a user’s standpoint.
Google search for "italian restaurant near me" with map

What’s the first thing you notice on the results page above? For many of us, it’s those golden stars signifying the reviews. Many people rely mainly on this information alone when deciding to click a restaurant’s listing. 

Therefore, having a high number of 5-star reviews and positive feedback is the best way to get a better CTR of your listing. 

Of course, you’ll need to put in the necessary work to earn those 5 stars — good food, great ambiance, prompt service, speedy deliveries, excellent staff, etc.  When people visit your restaurant, encourage them to drop their feedback. Some restaurants even go as far as offering next-time discounts and promos for customers who leave a review on their listings pages. 

Also note the tags with the checkmarks below each listing — Dine-in, Takeaway, Delivery. These tags provide valuable information about your restaurant and can improve the CTR of your listing.

Imagine someone searching for a restaurant near them to order food delivery. If they see the delivery tag below a listing, they’ll be automatically drawn to it since it’s exactly what they’re looking for. By making your service as clear as possible, you’ll minimize the confusion and hesitation on the user’s part on whether or not they want to click on your listing.

What to Do If You Operate in Multiple Locations

If you operate in multiple locations, the best course of action is to create a separate GMB listing for each location. You’ll then need to optimize each listing to rank for “near me” searches made in each respective area.

You can’t have more than one GMB listing pointing to the same page on your website. This means you’ll have to set up a dedicated geo-location web page for each location where your restaurant services. Then point each listing to the corresponding page. 

Be sure to populate each geo page with relevant, keyword-optimized content so your website visitors know exactly what areas you serve and how to reach them. 

Managing all this information while also running a full-service restaurant can be a bit of a challenge for most restaurant owners or managers. MarketMan provides a full suite of restaurant management and automation solutions designed to lighten the workload and help you maintain an efficient system. Sign up for a free demo with MarketMan today.