An age-old saying is getting an update for 2021 and our increasingly digital restaurant industry: “location, location, location—in the Google search results”. Local search engine optimization (SEO) has never been so pivotal to success as a pizzeria, and one of the best ways to perform in search results is to master your presence via Google My Business (GMB).
Google My Business is the core profile that Google uses to deliver search results to people looking for local restaurants. Through it, you control how you show up in both text searches through Google.com, as well as map searches through Google Maps.
Mastering your GMB profile is one of the most powerful levers you can pull to automate customer acquisition in your pizzeria marketing strategy—and we’ll show you how.
In this practical guide, we’ll explore:
- What it takes to stand out in our highly competitive pizza industry
- A 10-minute guide to setting up your Google My Business profile
- 3 features of GMB few restaurants take advantage of (easy ways to stand out!)
By the end, you’ll have a Google My Business profile that’s ready to start generating new local customers for you night and day.
Pizzeria Marketing: It’s All About Connection
Let’s start with first principles. In a niche industry as competitive as pizza restaurants, where menus tend to look similar and most customers prefer takeout and delivery, it’s essential to lean into a time-tested brand positioning strategy: proudly highlight what makes you unique.
Your pizza may taste better than the shop down the street, but customers looking at text on a screen can’t tell that. When they’re making that decision between 2-3 pizzerias that serve the same set of core items, it’s a touch of personality, mission, and narrative that’ll often make up the difference.
As you create your Google My Business presence, make sure to feature at least one of the following throughout your profile:
- The story behind your brand. Narratives are memorable, so it’s no wonder why the best marketing uses stories to connect with customers. When you tell your story, the goal is to build a bridge, so we suggest framing it in a way that says, “here’s our story, and what it means for you.”
- How you do things differently. Do you use an unusual technique, create recipes that suit specific diets, or only work with local producers and ranchers? Milk those oddities for all their worth—they’re gold for standing out from the crowd.
- Core values that drive your business. Are there a few key values that are the centerpiece for everything you do? Drive those front-and-center to signal to like-minded customers that they’ve found an ally in your pizzeria.
These connection-building elements of your positioning should be infused into each of your marketing channels, especially local SEO.
Create a Local SEO Keyword Wishlist
When someone searches for “rooftop pizza”, Google’s goal is to deliver them the best fit result for their search. The idea is to use the same language and terminology your customers use to indicate to Google that you can provide the kind of experience or location that a searcher is looking for.
We call this language keywords, and they can be separated into two primary types:
- Geographical Keywords — These keywords indicate a customer is looking for pizza in a specific area. Examples: “Chicago pizza”, “pizza midtown”, or “pizza on the riverwalk”.
- Experience-Focused Keywords — These keywords indicate that someone is looking for a specific kind of product or experience. Examples: “wood fired pizza”, “gluten-free pizza”, or “rooftop pizza”.
Brainstorm a list of 10-15 keywords that are relevant to you. These should be phrases that, if someone comes to your restaurant looking for that particular keyword, they’ll love what they find. As you write your Google My Business page, you’ll sprinkle these throughout as signals to those good-fit customers.
The 10-Minute Essential Guide to Google My Business
Enough background, let’s get your pizza shop’s GMB page ready. Navigate over to Google My Business, log in, and let’s get started.
Get Started with Basic Restaurant Details
Google will start by walking you through a standard set of questions about your restaurant, like your name, location, and hours. You want to answer every question with as much detail as Google will allow. That means not leaving your hours or phone number blank. Filling out every field gives you every chance to rank for local searches.
For your category, we recommend selecting one of the “pizza restaurant” related categories for your primary category. Later in the GMB dashboard, you’ll be able to add additional categories to give Google even more context into your restaurant.
Your pizza shop’s description is the first 1-2 sentences that appear on your public GMB profile—it’s your chance to make an impression on local searchers, so let’s make it count.
We suggest frontloading information about (1) the atmosphere or experience, (2) what kind of menu you have, and (3) any helpful notes about ordering (delivery-only, etc). Keep it quick and snappy, like this description from Pizza Press in Austin, TX.
When you add your address and service area, Google will ask to send you a physical postcard to verify your location. Make sure to add a website link—
Next Google will ask you about service options. These are helpful for people who are looking for a specific type of ordering method—like dine-in or delivery—check any boxes that apply to you.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Google created attributes that give customers a clearer understanding of what to expect from your restaurant. These attributes range from cultural (women-led, LGBTQ+ friendly) to safety (mask required, temperature checks required, etc) and accessibility (WiFi, Wheelchair Accessible).
There’s also a new attribute type—highlights—that displays small visual icons representing features of your pizza shop that deserve spotlighting, ranging from Outdoor Seating to Private Dining Room.
Google has a questions and answers section that allows customers to ask questions about your pizzeria. We suggest using a personal account to ask questions so you can answer them preemptively. This gives you space to address hesitations or common questions that you haven’t been able to address anywhere so far. For example: Are they dog friendly?
Sounds like a lot of things to add to your profile? Don’t skip a single step. These attributes and highlights help Google feature your restaurant for highly-specific searches. You may not be able to rank in the top 5 for “pizza chicago”, but there’ll be far less competition for “rooftop pizza chicago”. Apply the Rooftop Seating highlights, and your chance of a high ranking skyrocket.
Professional Photography: Add 5+ Images
Many customers will quickly judge your restaurant’s fit by the photography alone, so we recommend having professional photos taken to make sure you don’t lose any searchers with DIY imagery that’s less-than-appetizing.
There are a few photos we suggest publishing from the get-go:
- Indoor + outdoor atmosphere
- An image of your physical menu
- 3-5 featured dishes
This simple array of images helps set reasonable expectations, makes your menu as accessible as possible, and tempts local searchers with your food on display.
Add Actions: Menu, Reservations, Order Delivery
Google has become increasingly interactive, now offering customers the ability to view menus, order delivery and/or pickup, and reserve seats.
You can add custom links for the following actions:
- Order takeout / delivery
These actions show up as buttons that make it easy for customers to find order / reservation pages. The most commonly used buttons in 2020 and 2021 have been “Ordering Pickup” and “Order Delivery”.
Optimize: How to Keep Your GMB Profile Click-Worthy
Setting up your Google My Business profile is only half the battle. To thrive in local search results, you need to keep it fresh. An updated profile demonstrates to customers that you’ll go the extra mile to help them feel confident and welcome visiting your shop.
Add New Pictures When Things Change
Undergoing a reservation, adding an outdoor patio, or updating your menu? Snap some new images. When customers who are familiar with your location or neighborhood see outdated imagery, it makes your GMB profile appear unkept.
Even if you don’t have anything “new” going on—post new photos anyway. Google actually rewards restaurants that regularly add new photos. One study found that businesses with over 100 images get 2,717% more direction requests than the average businesses.
Incentivize and Respond to Reviews
Research consistently shows that customer reviews are pivotal to success in local search. BrightLocal found that 91% of younger customers look for and trust reviews. The study also concluded that 40 reviews is the threshold for a believable rating (less than 40 indicates less trustworthy social proof).
Another benefit to responding to reviews is that Google is more likely to promote your listing to a “Local Pack”, or priority placement with two other listings. These are the first restaurants to show up in search results.
Shockingly, over 70% of businesses do not respond to reviews, which means that thoughtful responses are still an easy way to stand out.
Here’s how to rock the review game:
- Make leaving reviews as simple as possible. We recommend creating a simple URL on your website such as “yoursite.com/review”. This link can automatically redirect to your Google My Business profile, where customers can quickly review your business. Put that URL in loyalty program emails and on your receipts to send customers there automatically over time.
- Respond to positive and negative reviews. Thank the reviewer for their feedback, address any concerns, and graciously welcome them back anytime. A Harvard Business Review study found that responding to reviews increases review volume, raises the average rating, and generates revenue.
Make sure responses are self-contained and don’t require additional responses. You don’t want to turn review spaces into customer conversations or disagreements—the goal is simply to appear available and vigilant to potential customers.
Publish “Posts” in Google Natively
Google Posts from businesses are a new feature as of 2020, but there’s already evidence that posting natively from Google My Business will improve your rankings in local search.
Rather than being just another social media profile, these posts aren’t for saying top-of-mind. They’re for getting the conversion when you have a hungry audience right in front of you. There are a couple of ways you can do that:
- Publish Offers — Announce limited-edition pizzas, holiday specials, and other offers. If someone’s browsing through 5-10 pizza shops and realizes they get a special treat on the house at your location, it might be enough to cause them to pull the trigger.
- Address Hesitations — Speak directly to concerns people might have about visiting, like publishing updated holiday hours or parking instructions. These helpful bits of information make it easier for people to say yes to your pizzeria.
Google Posts are currently very under-utilized (less than 25% adoption), and early-movers are likely to experience more significant benefits from using them now than they will in a few years from now.
How to Turn Local Searchers into Customers
When a customer finds you via Google Search, there’s no guarantee they’ll follow through with an order—even if you are their top pick.
Ordering experiences that feel clunky, outdated, or inconvenient will turn customers away, even if they’re a great fit for your atmosphere and menu.
Now that your Google My Business profile is optimized, it’s time to do the same with your online ordering platform. Here are a few optimizations we recommend:
- Enable ordering from any device, anywhere. Being restricted to ordering from either an app or a website is so 2017. Customers expect a seamless experience that’s consistent across any device or ordering channel.
- Lead the way in convenience with text ordering. Tech-savvy customers tend to follow the path of least resistance when it comes to ordering methods—and nothing beats AI-powered text ordering.
- Create personalized experiences automatically. When you own your customer data—all of it—you can increase personalization across your ordering platforms and loyalty program, turning one-time visitors into loyal fans.
That’s why we built HungerRush 360 a new kind of platform for pizza restaurants that want to provide top-tier digital experiences for customers, no matter where they are or how they like to order.
Want a deeper look at how HungerRush can help you turn local searchers into customers? Request a demo today.
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