Bryan Harris, the managing partner of Outback Steakhouse in Durham, NC, doesn't know what a slow night is. He doesn't worry that he's overstaffed or whether the tomatoes that he just chopped will spoil. He doesn't need to.
And it's not because of Outback's brand equity, his restaurant's location or even his latest direct mail campaign. It's because he has a killer local strategy. The bottom line is that if potential visitors don't know where you are located or that you even exist; how will you share your establishment with them?
Here are the five (5) fundamental strategies that you can implement today and start seeing immediate results with:
1. You are not listed everywhere- A majority of restauranters look at Google Places as the end-all solution to promote their establishment locally. Beside, Google is the number one search engine in the world so what else could you possibly need, right?
If your establishment does not have a presence on other engines such as Yahoo, Bing, Yelp!, Best of the Web (BOTW) and so forth; you are losing out! There are many more local search engines but these four alone all rank within the top 5,000 sites in the world according to Alexa.com. You may think that you have a presence on all of these sites but as you will find out in the next strategy; you may be way behind and not even know it.
2. Your information is not filled out completely- It is imperative that you fill out all of the sections of your local profile, including: what cuisine your establishment offers, operating days and hours, location, additional services that you offer, your logo, pictures, video and so forth.
To measure whether your information is completely filled out, consider using a free service such as, getlisted.org. Get Listed will tell you what engines you are listed on, which ones you are not and what your percentage of completeness is. If you don't know where you stand in local search right now; this is a great place to start!
3. Be targeted- If you try to appeal to the masses, you will end up attracting no one. Your entire description must be concise, honest and to the point. The more targeted that your information is, the greater chance that you will have of attracting loyal clientele to your establishment. Be true to what your brand represents and everything else will fall into place.
For example, the overview of your establishment must include very limited options as to what your cuisine is classified as. Therefore, if you are a seafood restaurant and just happen to offer a seafood nachos appetizer, you would not classify yourself in the 'Mexican' category. Furthermore, if you put multiple addresses to try to appeal to more people; you are doing it all wrong. The penalty for trying to deceive the system is not worth the risk!
4. Have substantial feedback- Your placement in local search is much different than that of natural (also known as organic) search, and luckily, the local search algorithm is much more predictable and less volatile. Just as relevancy and backlinks are held strong by search engines in natural search, reviews and their inherent quality, are strong variables in the local equation.
In essence, the more high quality reviews that you have; the better that your establishment will perform in local search. Furthermore, you can not just rely on consumers to give you great reviews. You have to ask for them! Consider holding a charitable function, running a contest or providing incentive (without damaging your brand equity) to obtain reviews. You could also try writing the reviews with your guests to ensure their quality as well.
5. Have tracking in place- So you've optimized your local search and Get Listed says that you are operating at 100%; this is fantastic! So is it working? Are people coming to your website? Is your phone ringing? More importantly, are the consumers that found you via local search coming in and dining with you?
If you are unsure then you've got a serious tracking problem! Luckily, the solution to this problem is quite simple. You should consider setting up a unique website address to send web visitors to, installing Google Analytics on your site to see where visitors are coming from and how they are finding you, setting up specialized numbers to track your phone calls or installing the Google website optimizer to see where visitors are clicking on your site. The best news of all is that all of these options are free or extremely cheap to implement!
These are just the basics to get you started but if you follow these five steps, you will absolutely dominate your local market and get a flood of consumers hungry for what you have to offer in no time (pardon the pun).