Getting reviews on your Google My Business listing is one of the most important steps to take.
First of all, positive reviews from previous customers serve as valuable social proof for people who are deciding on where to eat.
The reviews themselves are trustworthy word-of-mouth testimonials that can help convince a potential customer.
Plus, once you get a review, a star rating will appear on your listing, which makes the listing stand out (or fit in, which is equally important!).
Aggregated ratings from reputable third-party sites (like Yelp and TripAdvisor) can also appear on your GMB listing, under a “Reviews from the web” section.
Since Google is aware of the potency of reviews, the search giant provides a ranking boost to businesses that get reviews on their GMB listing, as well as on other third-party sites.
In addition, the content of your reviews can support your SEO efforts when they contain keywords!
If a user leaves a less-than-flattering review on the GMB listing, it’s important for a restaurant to publicly address any issues in a professional, helpful manner. This will help to neutralize the negative effect of a bad review, as well as show potential clients that you’re actively interested in making things right.
While it’s not as necessary to respond to positive reviews, it certainly doesn’t hurt to show that you appreciate each customer that goes out of his or her way to support your business in a public forum. You can offer a simple thanks to show that you are aware of and appreciate the feedback.
NOTE: You’ll need to verify your listing in order to respond to any reviews. To learn more about verification, check out our first post in this series, Google My Business for Restaurants: Benefits and Setup.
Unlike Yelp, Google allows you (and encourages you) to ask for reviews from your happy customers.
When can you ask for a review?
Here are some ideas for restaurants:
How can a customer leave a review?
You can either tell the customer to find your restaurant on Google Search or Google Maps, where they’d need to find the reviews area:
Or, you can provide a link directly to the reviews section of your GMB listing by following these instructions.
NOTE: your customer will need a Google account in order to leave a review. If they don’t have one, they will have to create one. However, it’s better to get reviews from an existing, active Google account, which would be more trustworthy.
Regularly creating posts that will appear on your listing is a great way to get more search engine traffic to your website. These short visual pieces of content include images or video, along with a button link, and they appear on your listing in Google Maps and Google Search.
There are lots of opportunities for restaurants to encourage website visits from various post types:
Once again, since Google knows the value of posts for communicating a restaurant’s offerings to potential customers (and since Google wants you to be active on its platform), it will provide your listing with a bit of a ranking boost if you post regularly.
Google posts will only last for 7 days, unless your post is an event, in which case it will remain on your listing until the event ends (as you defined it).
NOTE: in order to have your posts appear live on the web, you’ll need to verify your account.
Here comes another useful feature that you’ll only have access to once your listing is verified.
By enabling Messaging, you’re giving potential customers another convenient way to reach out to you directly from the listing, in addition to calling.
Note: These are text messages, so it’s likely that your business number won’t be the same number where you’d receive text messages. As a result, you’ll need to enter a mobile number here where you’d want to receive these texts.
In the app, visit the “Customers” tab from the bottom, and the “Messages” tab on that page.
It makes sense to be able to access your Google My Business account while you’re on the go, as you’ll want to be responsive to any messages that include time-sensitive inquiries.
You’ll also have access to all of the other GMB features in the app, such as creating new posts, responding to reviews, and checking insights.
Speaking of insights…
NOTE: If you want to check your insights - you guessed it - you’ll need to verify your account.
When you’re putting effort into any measurable digital marketing, it’s important to check in on whether your work is resulting in more online traffic, or you're reaching whatever your goals are.
Google provides some juicy details about how your GMB listing is performing in search results, which can help you make decisions about your future marketing efforts.
The insights can also prove the worth of setting up and maintaining a GMB listing, as you’ll see traffic that you wouldn’t have received without the work!
Below are a couple of examples of useful data available to you in Google My Business’ Insights.
This chart shows how many times your listing appeared in search results, segmented by 3 ways that customers search, as explained in the graphic's legend above.
It helps to see whether you’re getting more visibility in Google because people are searching for your restaurant name, or whether they’re discovering you by searching for your kind of restaurant.
You can click/tap on the sections to get the number of searches, and the percentage of overall searches.
Are you getting more direct searches than discovery? Could be a sign that your brand awareness campaigns are paying off. Or perhaps you need to add more keywords to your listing’s business description, or add more attributes. Learn more about optimizing these features in the second post in our guide to Google My Business for Restaurants.
The next step is knowing how many people actually contacted you or visited your website from your GMB listing. This chart shows you how people interacted with your listing, whether they visited your website, called you, messaged you, or requested directions.
If you’ve got lots of people visiting your website, is it optimized for conversions? If you’re getting lots of calls, do you have friendly knowledgable staff answering the phone?
We have a 3-part guide on Google Analytics for restaurants, to understand how your marketing and website is performing.
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