Facebook may be the online hub that dominates headlines and most of consumers’ personal time, but there’s no denying that Google remains the king of the Internet and the No. 1 website in the world.
So when Google speaks, people should listen—and speak Google did, to QSR about the restaurant insights and tips that every restaurateur should know in today’s increasingly tech-driven world.
How does Google have anything to do with the quick-serve industry? Simple: The company has a range of tools, from AdWords to Places to Analytics, that lend a hand in the day-to-day operations of businesses, including yours.
That’s why Google’s own Karen Sauder, industry director for restaurants, and Kelly Davis Seeman, head of restaurants, shared with QSR the tech company’s five best practices for restaurateurs.
Google founded its success on its weighed search engine and, to this day, remains the premier search destination on the Web—so much so that Google is not just a noun, but also a verb and a regular member of the world’s lexicon.
The two Google executives say that when it comes to consumers’ searching habits, restaurant operators must do themselves a favor by putting their business in the direct line of a customer’s vision
Sauder says online searches for restaurants are up 122 percent in the last five years, and that there are now twice as many searches for restaurant menus than there are for pop behemoth Lady Gaga. Further, 82 percent of diners look online for quick-serve information, while 76 percent of diners say they use online searches as part of their quick-service decision-making process, she says.
“People want to know a restaurant’s availability, their hours, whether they deliver, if you can order online,” Sauder says. “The most important thing you have to do is be there when customers are looking for you.”
“Being there,” the Google experts say, is multifaceted. A website and social media presence is one thing, but Google encourages operators to be more proactive when trying to be front and center of a potential customer’s online search.
“Restaurants are going after a share of the stomach,” Seeman says. “People have to eat every single day, and what we find is that most meals are more planned out than you realize. What we recommend is to make sure that … potential customers are searching on brand terms. Make sure that you’re showing up either on natural search results”—achievable through search-engine optimization—“or, if you have the budget allocations, also in search ads.”
Google AdWords, for example, lets operators target customers through carefully selected keywords. All the operator has to do is create an ad for his business, choose some keywords, set a budget, and choose what geographic territory he wants his ad to run in. The ad then pops up when someone Googles that keyword in that territory, and the operator only needs to pay each time the ad gets clicked. Google even helps the operator craft keywords to maximize an operator’s return on investment.
Google Places, meanwhile, lets operators become the face of their own brand online. The tool offers operators a free profile hosted by Google, through which they can post store information, photos, videos, promotions, and be reviewed by customers. To get started, operators just need to claim their business online with Google.
But Sauder and Seeman say operators should go beyond just helping their brand or store be found online. Menu items, they say, should also be easily searchable, and the same for promotional campaigns.
“We recommend that if there’s a promotional window when there’s something new that you’re launching, make sure people hear about it,” Seeman says. “[Customers are] going to search for it when they see the TV ad, it’s going to be in the news. Make sure you help them connect the dots so they can research it online and find it quickly.”