Have you ever been traveling in your car and wondered what restaurants are nearby? Well, it seems that a lot of people are doing just that, as Google searches for “near me,” “nearby,” “closest” and “nearest” have increased by 300% from just a few years ago, with 80% of those searches coming from a mobile device.

Consumers are using their mobile devices to find businesses nearby, and not just restaurants and coffee shops, but jewelry stores, bank and furniture stores and everything in between. Google has responded to this need by putting the technology in place which gives consumers accurate and relevant search results. As a restaurant, you need to know how to get your location at the top of the list for these “near me” searches.

Local SEO

The first factor in SEO Ranking is to make sure your website is mobile friendly as most of the searches are being done by mobile devices. If your site is not easy to use, the consumer will move on. Click-to-call buttons and an address on every page makes it easier for consumers to find you. A strange, but very effective local SEO marketing strategy would involve adding these keywords to your website. For example, if you are a Mexican restaurant, you can add “Mexican restaurant near me in Sanford,” or “closest Mexican restaurant in Sanford.” You will want to add this to your Title, Meta Description, Copy and to Alt Tags too. This might sound a little strange in your copy, but will be successful if it is included in your local SEO marketing.

You should also include structured data markup on your website which will help define your exact location. This is important for the “near me” searches as location is key to getting in the top spot. More SEO ranking factors include making your website content comprehensive and relevant to your customers, page load speed and backlinks.

Google My Business

The best thing to happen to your restaurant would be to have the top position in the three-pack of results after the ad listings when someone searches for “restaurants near me.” How do you get your restaurant in that position? First you need to create your Google My Business page — this listing is free of charge, you just need to create it.

When you set it up, include yourself in all possible categories to make sure you would be included in all searches. The secret to getting the top is to make sure Google knows where you are located, that your information is always up-to-date and including high quality photos in your listing. Another top strategy is to have activity on your listing — the more you interact, the more relevant and important Google thinks you are.

Your listing page allows you to respond to customer reviews and you should do this as much as possible as conversations post activity to your page as well as boost exposure to customers. Also share updated information or events taking place at the restaurant on this page, again the more updates to the page, the more Google will promote it in the searches that are relevant to your business. When the search results come up for the consumer, Google is making the experience more user friendly for them by providing NAP (name, address and phone) in all searches so be sure your information is always up-to-date.

Purchase Ads

The easiest way to ensure your restaurant will get the top position in a search is to also purchase an ad. If the qualifications are met, the search will put your business in the top three spots before the three-pack. You will also be listed on the map and the consumer can easily click and find you. These are charged by the CPC (Cost-per-Click).

Maps/Location

To ensure your business is at the top of the “near me” searches, you need to make sure your spot on Google Maps is accurate and keep this up-to-date. If Google does not know where your restaurant is, it cannot include you in a “near me” search. Then, you can purchase an ad that will come up when you are relevant to the search.

Business Directories and Links

If you have a local blogger or company that provides directories, make sure you are included in these directories and keep information accurate. Add yourself to local Yelp directories and make sure you are detailed in the description. Do not just add a link or you will get lost in the listings. Google will pick up on the information in these directories to put you in the top search. Link your page with other businesses in your area that complement your business. For example, if you are a healthy café, you should link to a local gym in the area or if you are an upscale restaurant link to the local Broadway theater.

Customer Reviews

Reviews from your current customers are some of the most powerful forms of advertising as a restaurant because customers are looking at what others think of your restaurant and use that to decide if they want to try it or not. On Google My Business, you can respond to all reviews your customers give. This will increase your position because you have activity on your page.

Social Media Marketing

Don’t forget your social media in your local marketing efforts. You need to set up your Facebook page just like your Google Business listing, making sure the information is consistent and using your city and state in your title.

Customers will review your restaurant on Facebook and Twitter so don’t forget to stay on top of these to know what they are saying about you and respond to these posts. People talk about business, new developments and products on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and more. All these social mentions find their way to Google’s sensors as well. The search engine will pick up on positive or negative sentiments and use these to help them rank your local business. If a lot of people talk about your business and/or link to your website, you must be relevant. Monitor these mentions and engage.

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