How do potential customers find your restaurant in local search? Do they use a search engine like Google or Bing? Do they use a local directory like Facebook, Google Maps, Apple Maps, Bing Places or Foursquare? Do they use a niche directory like OpenTable, TripAdvisor or Zomato?
Local and niche directories publish business listings called citations that are mentions of your business name, address and phone number (NAP). Business listings can also include images, categories, operating hours, accepted payment methods, etc.
While citations have declined as a ranking factor over the years, free listings on authoritative local and niche business directories are still valuable. They position your restaurant where potential customers are searching, legitimize your business (especially for those without a website) and validate your company as part of a community.
In this post, I’m going to show you how to improve your restaurant's online presence with business listings.
1. Update Current Business Listings
Accurate listings of a restaurant's business name, address and phone number (NAP) are crucial. If the information is inaccurate, incomplete, inconsistent or there are duplicates — potential customers may deem them questionable or irrelevant.
1.1 Inaccurate Listings
When listings are inaccurate, they obstruct potential customers from completing tasks (e.g. making a reservation, ordering online) and may lead to unknown opportunities. For example, restaurants that have moved their location and didn't update their address could upset people who drive to the wrong location.
Update inaccurate business listings if...
- The business name has changed
- The business has moved to a new address
- The business has added multiple locations
- The phone number has changed
- Hours of operation have changed or change during holidays
- The website has changed from HTTP to HTTPS
- Accepted payment methods have changed
1.2 Incomplete Business Listings
Incomplete listings are missing essential information like a business's NAP and, if applicable, website URL, images and categories. Categories describe a business and help prospects locate the best result. For example, a vegetarian fusion restaurant might be categorized as "Fusion restaurant" on Google My Business, but as "Vegan or Vegetarian" on Yelp.
Use Moz Local to locate the right categories for business listings.
1.3 Inconsistent Business Listings
Inconsistent listings only lead to confusion. For example, imagine how confused customers would be if a popular restaurant was listed on Google Maps as "I Luv Bento" (a fictional company), but listed on Facebook as "I Love Bento." Inconsistent phone numbers, addresses and more could further confuse potential customers, especially if they move their search query from one directory to another.
1.4 Duplicate Business Listings
Duplicate listings contain more than one listing of the same company on the same directory. For example, if an employee accidentally created a second listing after a restaurant moved to its new location, that listing would need to be merged with the original listing in order to avoid being listed twice.
Follow the steps outlined in each directory to remove or merge duplicates.
2. Claim and Verify New Business Listings
Have you ever seen a Business Profile listed on the search engine results page that asks, “Own this Business?”
Have you seen a Yelp page that asks, “Work here? Claim this business.”
How about a Foursquare page that asks, “Is this your business? Claim it now.”
If restaurants don't claim their business listings in relevant and authoritative directories, potential customers may never find them, hostile competitors could attempt to display false information and good-intentioned customers might unknowingly enter incorrect information.
When claiming a business listing, the owner needs to verify that he/she owns the business. Google My Business and Bing Places send a postcard to the business address with a code that needs to be entered online. Other business directories like Facebook, Yelp and Apple Maps may use an automated phone call to verify the business over the phone with the code.
First, claim what's rightfully yours — your restaurant's business listing. If your audience has reviewed your restaurant on a business directory and you've never claimed that listing, you're missing an ideal opportunity to connect with your audience online.
Second, in your contacts app, enter your company's NAP and any additional business information. Refer to this contact card whenever necessary to keep your restaurant's information consistent on your website and across all business directories.
Third, in the notes field of the contact card, add links to the business directories where your company is listed, but safeguard the login credentials in a password manager like 1Password.
3. Build More Business Listings
A healthy website is a great start to being found online, but if your restaurant's not listed in the most relevant and authoritative business directories, potential customers might never find you.
Just like link building, getting listed in authoritative business directories should focus on quality, not quantity. A high-quality business listing on Facebook or Google My Business is given far more weight than a directory with low authority.
Focus on relevant, authoritative listings in directories like Google My Business, Facebook, Apple Maps, Yelp, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, Zomato, etc. For an exhaustive list of niche business directories, visit BrightLocal's Top Local Citations by Business Category or use services like Moz Local, White Spark and Yext. Use Alexa or Moz Domain Authority to gauge how well a directory ranks.
4. Audit Your Business Listings
Just as restaurants should routinely conduct a website audit, business listings should also be audited to ensure the most accurate and up-to-date information is listed in the directories.
In your calendar app, set a monthly or quarterly schedule to audit your business listings and download the mobile apps for managing your listings on the go. Several top business directories publish apps like Google My Business (iOS) (Android), Yelp for Business Owners (iOS) (Android) and Facebook Pages Manager (iOS) (Android).
You just learned how to improve your restaurant's online presence with business listings. While an effective website with content marketing will improve on-page SEO, business directories will improve off-site SEO and build credibility. Start updating, claiming and building your business listings today and help potential customers find and choose your restaurant.
Improve Your Restaurant's Online Presence with Business Listings first appeared on the Bento Sites Blog by Jeff Shibasaki.