It all boils down to building online reputations.
5 min read
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A well-maintained, stellar reputation is critical for restaurants to increase business and revenue. Below are novel and a couple of basic tried-and-true ways — yes, they still work well — to build, monitor and maintain that all too ephemeral, elusive reputation.1. Use Google My BusinessGoogle is really important for restaurants because it is the largest search engine in the world. Presence on the platform gives anyone searching for restaurants access to Google’s vast influence into business, ratings and reviews. Potential customers have all the information they could possibly need about a restaurant directly from a restaurant’s Google My Business homepage.Restauranteurs can use Google My Business as a social network by updating listings with photos, videos and events. These updates will show up when potential customers search the names of restaurants on Google.Google My Business also offers “Google Alerts” that are a daily roundup of everything the web has to offer on a specific keyword or topic a restaurant owner has entered. It’s best to set up alerts for the restaurant’s name, cuisine specialty and a combination of the restaurant’s name and location to see what’s being posted online. It’s also possible to set up a Google Alert based on a competitor’s information — just to keep an eye on what it’s doing.2. Update/upgrade social media channelsIt is very important to make use of upgrades in social media search engine optimization (SEO). For example, Instagram has a way to enhance a photo (alt text) that will also add visibility outside Instagram to large search engines like Google. Add a photo, pick a filter, edit and select “Next”. Go to “Advanced Settings” to take advantage of this latest advance in social media discoverability. And by the way, people with visual impairments can then view Instagram images as well.3. Update/create blogs on websitesWhen a restaurant has its own blog, it can increase its visibility just by using some keywords on search engines such as Google to increase its number of views. What happens then is that a community of readers will read and comment on blog articles such as “new menu items,” a recipe for a popular dish or photos of happy customers trying the latest chef-inspired meal. Try to outrank the restaurant rating on TripAdvisor by selective SEO using keywords like the name of the restaurant. Imagine if the restaurant appears on the first search for “Best Restaurants in London”? This will increase views and increase ranking on Google.4. Use software and platforms for reviewsAccording to coschedule.com, more than 51 percent of Facebook users and 81 percent of Twitter users expect a response to an online complaint within one day. With that kind of pressure, restaurant owners need a way to instantly hear about what restaurant visitors write on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Check these frequently!Let’s start with reputation management dashboards. These should be the first line of defense when it comes to proactively controlling a restaurant’s standing online. Tools like RepCheckup, are designed to help restaurant owners manage all review profiles (like Yelp, Zagat and TripAdvisor) from one centralized location. Set up a regulated system to monitor these profiles to be able to interact with customers as they leave reviews — and don’t forget to thank (and apologize, if necessary) the reviewers! Invite reviewers back and make the return visit the best-ever dining experience. RepCheckup costs about $99 a month for a single location. It was built to help business owners quickly and effectively manage and respond to online reviews from key review websites. Users can also request new reviews via email or text.And speaking of reviews, Trip Advisor has info on how to invite customers to leave a review, ask customers to review their experience at the restaurant, either by calling or messaging them. It’s the best way to improve online reputation, and Trip Advisor offers just that. It’s a simple-to-use customer generation solution that makes it easy for the most loyal customers to leave feedback on review sites. This solution increases positive reviews while pushing down the negatives on key rating sites. The result can generate a perfect 5-star rating. If the customer leaves negative feedback, it is routed AWAY from the review sites and sent to the restaurant owner for an immediate response and resolution.5. Claim listings on travel and restaurant platforms This seems like an obvious step, but it’s absolutely paramount to claim a business listing on as many sites as possible including Google, Facebook, Yelp and TripAdvisor. This increases a larger online footprint by casting a wider net when it comes to attracting potential customers.Claiming listings also has the added benefit of cementing digital authority. Customers will know that all online listings are officially handled by someone affiliated with the restaurant. So, it’s necessary to make sure that basic information (address, phone number and hours of operation) are updated and correct across all listings. Incorrect or misleading data is more than enough to convince any consumer to look for other options.