How your pizzeria can use online search to bring in more customers

Canadian Pizza
May 07, 2019
By Canadian Pizza
Restaurants Canada recently hosted a webinar on search trends and how restaurant operators can attract more diners by using relatively simple strategies.

With more than 20 per cent of online searches being conducted by voice, the webinar looked at how this number is rising, how millennials search differently and how you as an operator can make the most of these trends.

Roberto Sarjoo, director of marketing and communications for Restaurants Canada, moderated an informative session presented by Steve Buors, CEO and co-founder of Reshift Media Inc., a social media search and development shop in Toronto. Buors described how people of different ages search for places to eat and shared tips to help more hungry diners find your pizzeria or restaurant.

Online search is evolving quickly but many businesses are slow to adapt, he said. Operators must get better at reacting to the changes because they will profoundly impact your business.

THREE TRENDS IN ONLINE SEARCH

More than half of searches happen on a phone, but they are more likely to use voice to trigger Siri, Google Assistant, Google Home, Google watch, Android Auto, Apple Car Play or Facebook. Search is all around us and getting more and more ingrained, Buors said. He pointed out three major trends in search:

Local search: Google can search using specific geography (“Give me restaurants in Saskatoon…) and you don’t even need to state your location: Google interprets what you want using your IP address. This is different from the typical organic search in which you get just a list). With these you tend to get aggregators like Yelp or Trip Advisor coming up first, so it’s tough for a restaurant to get into that list.

It’s easier to get into local search, which uses a different algorithm than organic or paid searches.

To have a good chance of showing up in a local search, you must claim, complete and make the most of – optimize – your My Google Business page. Google creates these pages for all businesses, but it’s up to businesses to make sure they are accurate, complete and used to best advantage.

Four out of five people do local searches, Buors said and those who do are more likely to actually show up and buy something: for example, 18 per cent of local searches led to a purchase within a day, more than twice the number of non-local searches.

There is an urgency to finding a result nearby and one in three people search right before they buy.

Search comes directly to you now: These days, if you go to the mall, Google uses Android to see you and prompt you with information about what’s there. It gives you a lot of information, including hours of operation and predicted wait times – very useful for restaurants – because it knows average foot traffic, he said.

Voice search: At the moment, 20 per cent of all searches are performed by voice and by next year half of all searches will be voice searches, Buors said.

When people use voice search, they tend to talk a lot and you get a really long string of words, giving you a very detailed search. There is a real shift in generations and which age groups are using different devices. For example, people 26 to 35 are most likely to have a smart home device, and one-third of millennials use voice assistants at least once a month.

But it isn’t all about Google. There is such a thing as social search, Buors said. Facebook has launched a Facebook Local app, in which “Eat and Drink” is prominent.

This search recommends places based on several factors and then gives you more information such as reviews and proof others you know have visited. It tells you if it’s open, what it has posted on social media and if there are events associated with the business. It’s not just about doing good posts but about getting exposure, he said.

WHAT SHOULD I DO ABOUT ALL THIS? THREE STRATEGIES

1. Claim and optimize your Google My Business pages

The information on the “card” at the right of your computer screen comes from Google’s own directory, which has a directory for every business based on what they find on your website and on other sites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor.

“Your page is there – whether or not you want it – and you should claim it!” Buors said. “Google wants you to claim it because it wants your information.”

Make sure your address is perfect, phone number, hours, add categories of what you serve (burgers, pizza, breakfast, deep-dish pizza, etc.). Choose a category to display, then you can add several more to help people understand what you serve. You can and should add photos and lots of other details.

Google My Business also powers maps. People don’t go by addresses anymore: they just follow directions, he said. If your address is wrong in any way, people won’t find you. It’s about letting people know what’s near them and you do that by letting Google know everything about you, he explained.

If you have multiple locations, link the listing page to each local page. Upload as many high-quality photos as possible of people at your restaurant, smiling and enjoying themselves. And have a plan for responding to reviews, especially negative ones.

Using Google Posts is a good way to stand out, he said. You can add information to your listing (what’s new, event posts, offer posts, product posts), including a “view offer” call-to-action button and a button to get directions. You don’t have to be a huge name; you have the exact same chance to show up in a search. Google’s decisions are based on a complex set of factors. Here is where independents can get an edge!

2. Make sure Google can find and understand your website content
Your website needs attention and care and many restaurants don’t pay enough attention to theirs. Make it as easy as possible for people to understand your content and for Google to understand your content. Cover the basics: phone number, address, menu. Ideally these should match your Google page exactly.

3. Think of Facebook as a place to search
Use Facebook to post content but also as a way to help people find you. For example, change your phone number in all places, make sure your hours and website address are correct and up to date.

Post regularly (three to four times a week is a good volume). People use your number of posts as a barometer to see if you “get it.” Finally, list any events you are hosting because Facebook is more likely to show places with events more frequently.

More webinars and resources can be found on the Restaurants Canada website.

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