The other day while doing a search on my smartphone for “Mexican restaurants in Kansas City” I found dozens of great results, but only 3 – 4 of them made me really want to visit. Then I thought:
Why aren’t more restaurants leveraging the the internet to get more restaurant customers online?
After doing some research and putting it to the test ourselves, we’ve found that there are three quick ways to get more customers to visit your restaurant after finding you online.
The first thing you need to do is claim your Google My Business page, add images and complete information about your restaurant. Next you need to do the same for your Yelp page ensuring that all of the information matches and is accurate.
Lastly, your website needs to feature menus, specials, great images of the food, and your contact information. Having these three things in place allows you to serve the customer before they even step foot inside of your restaurant.
So are you doing these three things for your restaurant online?
Why This is Important for Your Restaurant & Future Customers
We checked out an article from Search Engine Land that found 51% of a website’s visitors come through search. Search Engine People even estimates that 93% of all traffic comes from a search engine, and well over half of that is done on a mobile phone.
So what does this mean for your restaurant? It means there are thousands of hungry people in your local area using their phones to find a bite to eat. Most of all, 64% of mobile restaurant searchers become customers within an hour.
As you can see, this is a huge chunk of potential!
Being a millennial (ok, it’s not just millennials), I love to try a new restaurant every so often. The first place I’ll go to find one is Google or Yelp. After this, I’ll visit the restaurant’s website to find their menu.
I repeat this about 3 times to compare different results, and I’m not that different from your average foodie.
While there are dozens of local restaurant listing websites that get plenty of visitors searching for new restaurants, the 800lb gorillas are Google and Yelp.
This is because those two options are the best at giving me what I need and quickly. Are you seeing a pattern here?
The Bottom Line Of Searching For Restaurants
When it comes to search and restaurants, expect people to compare about 2 – 4 different results before making their final decision. Because many searchers like to weigh their options it’s important that you start serving a customer the moment they find you online.
What does this mean?
On the internet, your restaurant needs to give users exactly what they want and as quickly as possible. This is why people love services like Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor and similar websites. When a hungry visitor finds your restaurant online, this is really when you start serving them!
As a result, you’ll find that more people who find your restaurant online will become its customers. New potential customers want to know what it’s like to eat at your restaurant, from the food to the atmosphere.
So, how do you get your slice of the internet pie? (no pun intended)
There Are Two Frequent Types of Hungry Customers
To make things a bit easier to understand, let’s introduce you to two common customers searching for your restaurant online. Their decision making process is slightly different, but the good news is that you can serve them both with the same practices.
The “I’m Hungry Now” Customer
These customers are hungry and want to get food within the next hour. Typically, they are on a lunch break, or want to grab food on the way home. They do quick comparisons before making their decision.
A large volume of these customers are searching during weekdays, and are likely using their phone. These customers will seek specials and good deals near them. They are also the most likely to become your new customers.
The “New Experience” Customer
Customers in this group tend to do much more research before choosing a restaurant. They look at more metrics that the other type of customer may not, and do longer comparisons. Many of these customers search during the week, but will likely visit on a weekend.
They’re often looking for a new family restaurant, date night spot, or a great local hangout with friends.
These customers take more work to get, but they are more likely to become repeat customers and give out many recommendations if the enjoy their experience.
This is really the customer that you want to go for. If you follow these three methods with them in mind, you’re easily serving the former type of customer as well. Now, on to the main course of this topic. (sorry, I did it again)
What are the three ways to attract new customers to your restaurant online?
1. Improve Your Google My Business Page
How are you showing up online? Here’s something you can try right now. Do a search online for your restaurant’s name in Google. The first thing you should see is the box to the left. (it’ll be on the right side of the page)
This is your Google My Business page and it’s one of, if not the most important factor in being found locally. It gives hungry customers everything they need to know about your restaurant.
A restaurant’s Google page and Yelp page are generally the first thing standing between visitors becoming your customers.
Your hours, directions, price range, category, phone number, questions, pictures, and reviews are all displayed in one place on your Google My Business page.
Since Google My Business is a service provided to everyone free of charge, you would think that it gets utilized by every restaurant in town.
Well, that’s not always the case!
How to properly use Google My Business For Your Restaurant
First, you need to create a listing, or make sure that you claim your existing one. Google will typically create a listing for your business on its own if you have a physical location.
However, if you see an option called “Own this business?” that means that you have yet to claim your business and populate it with accurate photos and information.
Up until now, your listing contains only user uploaded images, and data that Google found about your restaurant from other sources (like Facebook or your website).
Claiming your Google listing lets you take more control of this crucial barrier between hungry customers and your restaurant.
My Restaurant’s Google Listing Is Claimed, Now What?
Now its time to get to work on optimizing your Google My Business listing. Here’s what those two types of hungry customers are looking for when searching for a bite to eat in Google. Quick tip, this also applies to your Yelp page.
Add Your Website & Assign the Proper Category
Make sure your listing has the correct address to your website. Sometimes, Google will link to your Facebook, or OpenTable page. Since you can’t control your own narrative through these sites, it’s important you represent to your official restaurant website.
In addition to your website, make sure that you have the proper category selected for your restaurant. If you want people to know you’re an Italian restaurant, but Google tells everyone you’re a Sandwich shop, this should be fixed!
Make Sure Your Phone Number, Address, and Hours are Correct
Google is smart, but it’s still a computer. Sometimes it will pull the wrong hours, address, or phone number for your restaurant. Maybe these things have changed since Google last obtained them. Consequently, people could be arriving after you’ve closed for the day! That never ends well.
Add Great Photos of Your Food, Interior, Exterior, and the Team
Both the “I’m Hungry Now” and “New Experience” customers want to see good pictures from your restaurant, especially of the food. Your photos should be good quality, and if you can hire a photographer that’s even better. Get images of the inside, and outside of the restaurant.
Taking photos of the team or owners will also convey a sense of pride in what you do.
Respond to Recent Reviews
Chances are you will probably have reviews on your Google listing. Try to respond to all of those that have come within the last month or so. Regardless of if they are good or bad, responding to reviews shows that you are actively engaging your customers, and care about their experiences.
Get More Reviews
There are a few different roads you can take when trying to increase your reviews. Try including a “Check Us Out on Google / Yelp” message on your menus, on the entrance to your restaurant, and definitely on your website. Mentioning it to customers in person also doesn’t hurt!
It goes without saying that reviews are a major factor in obtaining new customers. You want to be getting them constantly.
Ok, so you’ve set up your Google My Business Page. What else does your restaurant need?
2. Improve Your Restaurant’s Yelp Page
Yelp is similar to Google in that it gives hungry customers the information they are looking for when searching for a restaurant. It’s also like Google in that Yelp will set up a page for your restaurant on it’s own, but you may not have claimed it yet.
Search Google for “Your Restaurant Name + Yelp” and take a look at your page if it exists. If it doesn’t exist, you should absolutely create a Yelp page for your restaurant. Yelp is also a free of charge service, and optimizing your Yelp page is roughly the same as Google, just a bit harder.
Reviews on Yelp don’t come easy, therefore, some hungry customers will put more trust into the overall score for your restaurant on Yelp than on Google.
There are 30 million unique users on Yelp’s mobile app, and 70 – 74 million on Yelp’s desktop and mobile interfaces. Let’s break down how to reach more of those hungry customers.
Optimize Your Yelp Listing
Just like Google, make sure to claim your Yelp page. Once you’re in there, focus on including all the correct information such as hours, location, website, and history.
Yelp actually allows you to talk about when the restaurant was founded, what your values are, and more. Filling out a complete profile increases your chances of being found.
Now that you’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to focus on the two biggest factors that will bring new customers to your restaurant from Yelp.
That would be pictures and overall review score.
You Need Plenty of Good Pictures and Great Reviews
When you take a look at the Yelp interface on Desktop, mobile, and the app you’ll see where the eyes land first.
The “I’m Hungry Now” customer may look at 2 – 4 listings of a certain category, but might just want to look at pictures and overall score. The “New Experience” customer looks at pictures and overall score too, but is more likely to read reviews as well.
Take some great images of some of your most popular dishes, as well as the interior and exterior of your restaurant. When it comes to reviews, the customer needs to have an email verified Yelp account to leave a review on your Yelp page.
This is harder than Google, as more people have a Gmail account than a Yelp account, and a Gmail account is all you need to leave a Google review.
Yelp is also stricter when it comes to reviews. If they sense a review that doesn’t seem genuine, POOF, it’ll be removed! You need to get your Yelp reviews naturally. Make sure people know they can check you out on Yelp.
Cultivating a great Yelp page takes more time sure, but you’ll drive plenty of new customers through your doors once utilized properly.
3. Update Your Restaurant’s Website
If Google and Yelp are the first barriers to obtaining a new customer, your website is the second and perhaps most important. You website puts your restaurant’s brand and narrative on full display.
While you can add images and even video to your Google and Yelp listings, the way your website looks is under your full control.
Sure, there are plenty of restaurants who have not updated their websites in years, or don’t have one at all. Google and Yelp alone can drive in plenty of new customers, especially if they are full of great reviews and images.
However, if your website creates the experience of what it’s like to visit your restaurant, then congratulations, you’re serving the customer before they even visit!
Contact your web designer, or if you used in a website builder, get ready to make some changes!
What Makes A Good Restaurant Website?
Here at Tekkii, we believe design is important, but functionality is key. A great looking website is pointless if it doesn’t serve the visitor. This includes delivering a seamless experience, ease of use, and providing the information people are looking for.
If you read the 5 common web design mistakes and how to fix them article, you should have no problem representing this information in a sound way.
Remember why we said platforms like Google and Yelp are so popular? You should apply the same thought process on your website. As a result, you’ll understand how to deliver that tasty content that hungry users crave. (there I go again)
The Menu with Pictures & Prices (Avoid PDFs!)
You absolutely 100% need to have an easily readable menu on your website! Period end of discussion. A restaurant website must feature their menu with correct pricing and pictures to visitors.
This is overwhelmingly the main reason they are there, and if the visitor made it this far they are close to being a customer.
Another thing, please don’t use a PDF file to display your menu. This does not serve mobile customers well at all. Many mobile users will have to download the file to view it, then pinch and zoom in order to read it.
In addition, search engines can’t read PDF menus and they won’t be indexed as a result.
Visitors will love being able to view your menu and prices as a part of your website as opposed to a separate file.
There are still plenty of restaurants using PDFs to display their menus. You’re bound to stand out and possibly influence a visitor’s decision if you provide a better menu reading experience.
Your Specials / Happy Hour
How come it’s so hard to find a local restaurant’s daily specials online? If it’s Wednesday and your restaurant is offering wings for $0.50 instead of their normal $0.75, hungry customers need to know! They also need to know what time, and any other specials you have throughout the week.
This is perfect for attracting more lunch customers, or patrons looking for good food and drink specials after work. All you need to do is have a page that lists each day, the specials for that day, and the time that it starts.
“I’m Hungry Now” customers who are on the fence will easily become your customers with the hook of a good special.
Additional Content & Social Media Links
These are the assets that will really help your restaurant stand out and be unique. Include high quality images, video, the history of your restaurant, and added testimonials. You can also include your restaurants awards, media mentions, and upcoming events.
Make sure to include your social media links so users can follow your restaurant on different platforms. If they do this then you definitely have a loyal customer!
Mobile Friendly Design
This needs no explanation. Over half of visitors to your restaurant’s website will be visiting from a mobile device. If your website isn’t responsive to mobile devices, you are definitely missing out on plenty of new customers!
There are 5 other common web design mistakes that we talk about in another article that you can read about here.
How Well Does This Work? Here Are Some Real Results
We showed them a number of times in this article, but we recently designed a website for a Mexican restaurant in Kansas City. La Fonda El Taquito has been around for nearly 40 years and has been a staple of the historic Westside neighborhood.
They had a website created for them back in 2013, but the domain had long since expired was taken offline. They went years without a website, but they did have a Google and Yelp page up and in place.
However, their Google and Yelp pages were not claimed and they featured inaccurate information. Their hours were incorrect, their menu was outdated, and the uploaded customer photos left something to be desired.
It’s not their fault, its tough to keep up with the internet side while also running your restaurant.
So we helped them get a great website, and fixed their two biggest listings. Their new site launched right at the beginning of May.
What happened once these three things were fixed?
Google Listing – 130% Increase in Customer Actions and Growing
In just one month La Fonda El Taquito was up 130% in customer engagement from the previous month. Customers were calling them, asking for directions, and visiting their customer-focused website.
In the month of April, they had 239 customer actions through their Google listing. In May, they had 550. As of June 14th, 2018, they are already at 275 customer actions on track to surpass May, the month of Cinco De Mayo!
As a result, they’ve seen a good number of new hungry customers come into their restaurant, as well as previous customers who may have forgotten about them!
Yelp Listing – 157% Increase in Customer Leads
In the same month, La Fonda’s Yelp traffic saw an increase of 157% in customer leads. Directions, phone calls, check-ins, website clicks, bookmarks, and more are included in this metric.
For a whole year, they never passed 11 customer leads in one single month. After optimizing their Yelp page, however, they beat their record almost immediately! Once again, in June they are on course to beat the month of May, and almost double their month average for the past year!
At least one of those customers tried them out and left them a brand new 5-star review for them within the last month.
Website Receives 549 Visitors with 63% Engagement
Since launch, the La Fonda El Taquito website has had 549 visitors to their website. That’s after a little over a month and a half, May 2nd – Jun 17th 2018. Roughly 326 of them came from Google, and the rest from other sources. As you scroll down their site, you find testimonials, the special of the day, a Google map, and everything a hungry customer wants to see.
About 63% of their 701 website sessions went on to perform an additional action on their website after the initial page they landed on. This was mostly hungry customers looking for the menu or specials page, their two most popular destinations.
The numbers continue to increase on Yelp, Google, and their website. If the first month is any indicator of the trend we’ll see, there’s sure to be an awesome increase in new customers as we continue to help them further optimize.
Serving the Visitors Before They’re In Your Restaurant
So if I was hungry right now, I would get my phone out and go to Google or Yelp. After looking at a restaurant’s reviews and images, I am going to visit their website.
I want to see a pictures of their food, a menu menu (without downloading a PDF), their specials, and then I want to find out how far they are from me.
La Fonda El Taquito’s new website features a call to actions for viewing their menu and specials right away. We also made sure that the mobile version of the website had two handy buttons that stay with you wherever the you go.
One button is for calling the restaurant, and another for getting directions with a simple touch.
Right away, hungry customers are presented with the menu, specials, and great photos of the food. Then, they can easily call or get directions if they see something appetizing, no matter what page they are on.
La Fonda El Taquito’s website does a great job at serving the visitor and makes it easier for them to make their decision.
What Do You Think?
With more and more people turning to their phones every day like me, what do you think about some of the methods we talked about here? Do you think they are necessary to see a dramatic improvement in new customers finding your restaurant?
We encourage you to implement these methods today! Give it about one to two months or so, and let us know if you’ve seen a difference!