Is your restaurant optimised for 'Near Me' search queries?

If a user searches, “sushi near me” in the Los Angeles area, a list of nearby locations will appear at the top of Google Results Page. Can you see your restaurant's name on the list? If no, then clearly you haven't optimized your website for "near me" searches. This article will explore the potential of “near me” searches and how you can rank both on desktop and mobile for related terms.

"Near Me" searches have grown exponentially in the last five years, with 9.6 million searches made for "restaurants near me" in 2019. Add to it another million searches from voice-enabled devices such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Google's algorithm is designed to build an online environment where users can find establishments of their interest with a click of a button on their mobile devices.

So if an Australian couple traveling to San Jose for the first time is looking for a pizza place in their current location, all they have to do is ask Google and it will identify nearby locals through its “near me” query. It's a snap!

All of which is to say - people searching on their mobile devices for restaurants, food, delivery, takeaway is now more prevalent than ever before.

For restaurateurs, the focus should be on using strategies to optimize the website for the restaurant’s specific location, and no that doesn’t mean adding “Sushi Near Me” in your website’s meta tags. These simple, yet effective tips will help you hit a home run with your online customers:

Get listed on important directories

First things first, get your business listed on important directories, starting with Google and followed by popular websites such as Yelp, Facebook, Trip Advisor, Foursquare, Apple Maps and so on. By listing your restaurant on different search engines, mapping services, and review sites, you make it discoverable to those who are looking for what you have to offer.

Sounds simple right? Well, here’s a thing. Most restaurants don’t understand the basics of the business listing. The key to ranking high on search engines is accuracy and consistency of NAP i.e Name, Address, and Phone Number. Make sure that your restaurant’s NAP is exactly the same on your website and all of the other social and review websites.

Additionally, sharing even trivial information like opening hours, holidays, the cost for one meal, etc. can make a lot of difference. Include keywords wherever possible and make sure that you upload your menu (with or without the prices) along with the images of your dishes.

Perfect your Google My Business Page

So while you get your business listed on all major websites, do not forget to optimize your Google My Business Page. There are a variety of questions Google wants you to fill out to complete your Google My Business profile. This information is then displayed in the knowledge panel that you see when searching for a business, a service or a product on Google. This is how it looks:

This knowledge card gives your potential customers enough data about your business to make it easier for them to connect and engage with your brand.

What most restaurants do is create a GMB page and forget about it. They don’t even respond to the reviews posted by their own customers. This can drastically affect your ranking on Google and other popular search engines. Here are a few things you can do to make the most of this tool and outdo your competitors:

  • Check your listing frequently
  • Create GMB posts to promote events, offers, and content
  • Take advantage of GMB's messaging feature
  • Upload more (better) images
  • Respond to all reviews (especially negatives ones) and provide resolutions

Create pages for every location

Listing your address on your website is of utmost importance if you want to rank for “Near me’ searches. It is highly recommended to mention the restaurant’s address on every page on the website. This will make it easier for search engine crawlers to understand your location and for what kind of “near me” searches you should appear for.

If you own a chain of restaurants, then creating a separate location page for each would give them the best chance of ranking in local searches. Let’s say that you have four Burger Joints, named Burger Ninjas, across New York. You would need to create a “Burger Ninja in Brooklyn” page for your restaurant in Brooklyn, a “Burger Ninja in Manhattan” for your restaurant in Manhattan, and so on. Your homepage should, however, still target a common search term like “Burger Ninja in New York” to maximize the results.

Optimize your Reviews

One of the most important parts of the ranking strategy is to optimize reviews. The more reviews you have on the social sites, especially GMB, Yelp and Trip Advisor, the better your chances to rank for "Near Me" search queries. Increasing the number of positive reviews can have a dramatic and positive effect on local search. This is especially true when it comes to Google Reviews

The review score, review volume and frequency with which you reply to your customers are a few factors that you must pay attention to. What you can do to optimise this aspect of your online presence:

  • Encourage your customer to leave reviews on Facebook, TripAdvisor and Yelp – not just Google
  • Make sure you reply to all the reviews and fast
  • Maintain consistent review velocity to stay relevant
  • Make customer reviews visible to SERPs using Schema

Final thoughts

So there you have it: Essential tips to help restaurants make the most of the growing near me search trend. These ranking strategies should become fundamental to any restaurant business looking to gain both online visibility and conversion rates.