How Diners Find Local Restaurants on Google in 2020

Let this sink in for a moment: the restaurant industry dominates entertainment and hotels in Google search.

In fact, restaurants are the #1 searched industry online according to a study by market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey. Additional statistics from this study are as follows:

  • 81% of smartphone users search on a mobile app
  • 92% of smartphone users search on a web browser
  • 75% select a restaurant based on the search results

These stats speak for themselves about how crucial it is to boost your restaurant’s Google search ranking. Let’s dive into some search behaviors of today’s average foodie and find ways to reciprocate them.

Google Searches Are Becoming More Specific

Google is getting smarter at retrieving relevant search results. As a result, people are asking Google longer and less general questions. For example, someone may search “restaurant with vegan-friendly options” or “restaurant with live music.”

By using specific keywords that effectively showcase your restaurant’s unique offerings, you better match the searcher’s intent. Going for more general keywords like “dine-in restaurant” may be tempting due to high search traffic but competition will be stiff due to most restaurants having a dine-in component.

So what can you do about this? Come up with a list of unique keywords that identify your restaurant and describe what people are looking for. Then insert those keywords multiple times throughout your website. For instance, if your restaurant is full of gluten-free options, embed the keyword “gluten-free” on your web pages. Repeat it 2-5 times but make sure it is relevant to the page and unforced. Google can penalize you for spamming words. You can even combine two keywords into one longer phrase to make it sound more natural.

Examples (keyword in bold):

  • “Reserve your table at the best gluten-free restaurant in Atlanta.”
  • “Our pizzas have farm to table vegetables and are available with gluten-free bread.”

Local Google Search is Booming

If you follow local business marketing tips regularly you probably already know that “restaurant near me” is the most searched term.

It’s for good reasons that local restaurants and other businesses are choosing to focus more energy on optimizing for local search. Google themselves claimed that searches with a specific location in mind are rising 50% faster than all other inquiries.

To take advantage of this, make sure that your local listings (i.e Google My Business) have the correct address and make sure it’s specific. You can also repeat the address at the bottom of each of your web pages to further solidify your location with Google.

Capitalize Health Trend Keywords

Again we’re mentioning health and lifestyle diet trends because this movement is continuing to skyrocket throughout 2020.

With gluten-free products estimated to be a 9.98 billion dollar industry by 2027, it makes sense to put the money where the health trends are. If your restaurant accommodates any lifestyle, certainly make sure you are utilizing those keywords in all your listings, website, and social media content. By highlighting the fact that you serve, say, a menu item that complies with a whole30 diet, you can attract diners who intentionally search “restaurants with whole30 options.”

If you need a quick overview on lifestyle diets you can read our blog post titled “Whole30, Keto, and Paleo – Demystify The Menu!“.

Optimize for Google Voice Search

You turn your head upon hearing someone ask his/her phone “hey siri, where is the nearest sushi restaurant near me?”

The idea of speaking directly to Google via phone is still pretty amusing…after all, Google search engine was compared to the Star Trek computer by the head of Google search rankings team. Voice recognition however, has been been estimated to make up 50% of all searches in 2020.

Google’s search algorithm has become extraordinarily smart over the past few years. Someone may ask “where is Farm Burger in Buckhead?” followed by “do they have sweet potato fries?” The potential diner does not have to repeat the restaurant name in the follow up question because Google remembers. This marks the end of one-size-fits-all type answers to broad questions. Using multiple search inquiries to get a specific, custom-tailored answer is the future of search and the future is now.

If your SEO is optimized on your website and Google My Business listing, then give yourself a pat on the back! One tip that we do have however, is to think of some long-tail keywords that answer potential dine-in questions. Better yet, make them conversational, like how you would answer a potential guest over the phone. For example, insert “we offer sweet potato fries as a substitute for the baked potato” on your menu page or as an answer on your FAQ page. When someone types a specific question on Google, your answer may show up and lead them to your restaurant.

Third Party Apps Account for Alot of Traffic

It’s no surprise that many diners find restaurants through third-party delivery apps as their use has been rising. Google search engines are rampant with paid traffic from UberEats, Grubhub, and Doordash.

What does this mean for your restaurant? This means you should spend some time looking at your listings on these delivery apps and making sure information is accurate. 3rd party delivery apps can be overly-dominate, especially in 2020, so you might as well make sure they advertise you correctly.

Speaking of overly-dominate delivery apps, it will be critical to invest in the non-delivery aspect of your restaurant. Step up your marketing and focus on giving customers an experience. After all, Millennials place great importance on an immersive dine-in experience. This gives you a chance to showcase your restaurant’s uniqueness and personality. Find less competitive but unique keywords that express this to get around highly competitive, generic keywords used by delivery apps.

Diners Find Restaurants Organically Through Reviews

You most definitely understand the importance of having excellent reviews but did you know they can help you get discovered?

Check out this screen shot below:

Typing “restaurant outdoor seating” gave us these nearby local restaurants through customer reviews. As you can see, the customer reviews that used words related to ‘outdoor’ or ‘seating’ helped the restaurant get found by a new potential diner looking for outdoor seating.

If utilized correctly, you can use reviews as an effective tool to associate your restaurant with more keywords. Our recommendation is to seek out a few of your loyal customers and ask them to write a banging review. Even better, ask them to mention any unique features (menu items, atmosphere, music, etc) they like about your restaurant so other diners seeking these features can find you!

Looking for a fun way to grow your restaurant business? ChowEasy is a restaurant marketing app that helps locals discover your restaurant by matching their appetite and mood. Get full control of your promos by offering them on YOUR schedule and on YOUR terms with your restaurant name revealed ONLY to committed diners. No upfront costs or commitments! Learn more now.

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