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Friends in High Places

Oh look another weekly article review for my Kitchen Management class. I know that sometimes these reviews and summaries are a bit random but I try and pick ones that will help people increase the amount of business they are doing or could help myself out later in life if I ever try and open my own restaurant. Enjoy Chef Fan’s…

With social media having such a big impact on how people today research and find the places they want to go; the difference between making money and losing money could be as simple as how well you manage your social media presence. This week’s article once again comes from the February 2012 issue of Restaurant Start-Up & Growth, and is all about why our restaurant needs to be on Google Places and how to get started if it isn’t already.  The article explains why Google Places is so important to our business’s success, as well as how to “claim” you’re Google Places listing and to improve the ranking on Google Places.

Let’s start off with a brief description of how Google presents search results: When a prospective customer searches for a restaurant on Google they will be shown between 1-10 Google Places results along with a listing of other results. In other words let’s say the search for “insert type of food Restaurant in insert city or town” what they would get on the first page is 1-10 Google Places results mixed in with other web page results.  This is assuming that they haven’t selected a more refined search option from the top or left hand menus like Google Maps, or Google Video’s. Most of the time a Google search won’t end up showing a listing for both your website and Google Places link on page 1 but you could get lucky. The reason why this is so important is because if you do a general search Google Places will always be at the top of the page and you would have to scroll down for website listings. Another great benefit to a general search is that the Google Places listings will show the number of stars that you have gotten based on guest reviews. If you set it up correctly Google Places can do wonders for your social media marketing as putting your Google Places listing at the top of the page with your average rating allows a guest to quickly look and compare your restaurant with your competition all without having to scroll or hunt any farther than the first page of Google.

Before you can start utilizing the benefits of Google Places you will need to “claim” your restaurant or business or even sign up for a Google Places account, both of which are free. If you have been is business for a year or more you may already see a listing for your restaurant, but the information you see may not be correct. Regardless you can be certain that the information on your restaurant will not be as compelling as we would like it to be. This is how “claiming” your listing comes into play. The first thing you are going to need to do if you have a listing or even if you don’t have a listing is to sign up for a Google account, and you can do this on Google.com or Gmail. Once gain this is free and only takes a few moments. Checking if you have a listing is just as easy, because all you have to do is click on Google Maps and search for your restaurant. If you do have a Google Places listing then you will see an option to claim it in the top right of the map.

Don’t have a listing for your establishment? Not a problem, simply go to your new Google.com/Account page and click on the Google Places link. From here it is simply a matter of entering you information. You will start out with things like your restaurant name, address, and phone number. AS you enter this information you will see your Google Places listing populating on the right hand side of the screen. Once this basic information is completed click on continue. If on the other hand your restaurant is already listed in Google then it is a matter of claiming it as your own. You can claim your listing in two different ways: first is by phone which is the fastest way, and second is to fill out printable forms and mail them into Google. The mail option can take as much as 2-3 weeks and you won’t be able to make any changes to the listing in this time, so a quick phone call is much easier.

If you are going to take the time to create a listing or to claim one already present on Google then take the time to optimize it, and please don’t just list your restaurant’s name as this could work against you. Think about it like this; your restaurant is called “Bob’s” if you only list the name how many other “Bob’s” do you honestly think are out there in the wide Google Places world? Add as much information in this as you can like “Bob’s Restaurant” or “Bob’s Pizza Parlor”. If on the other hand you have only called yourself “Bob’s” then you might want to consider changing you legal name to be a little bit more specific  because remember this is all about standing out and getting noticed. Other ways of optimizing your listing is to having things like your physical address and a real desk phone number instead of an 800 number. You also should pick at least one category from Google’s listing but you don’t have to pick just one. Pick as many different ones as you can so that you have that many more chances to get noticed.

This may all be common sense but remember this is all about trying to get the Google search robots to place you listing at the top of the screen. You can do all sorts of things with your listing and the more you do the better your chances of getting this top spot on a Google Search. You can even add pictures and video’s of your restaurant, but keep in mind the first picture you upload is going to be the picture that shows up on your listing so pick one that represents your restaurant the best. The more information you put on your listing the better off you will be, and if you take an hour or two to do all of this right the first time then you can expect to see months and years of free marketing from the most used search tool on the internet.

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