8 Websites You Must Register With to Drive Traffic into Your Restaurant - FREE
It's no secret that most of the world uses google as their search engine of choice. You MUST be registered on google if you do nothing else. You should have a complete listing including your address, phone number, and hours at a bare minimum. Google allows you to post pictures, menus, and even links to your website if you have one. Registering your business in google also gets you properly located on google maps, which is super important for customers who have never visited your store before. You can find simple instructions on how to register for free here.
Google plus is google's social networking product and it is becoming more popular by the day, and google increasingly uses Google+ pages in their search algorithms. Much of the reading that I have done points to google+ being the next big thing - some may debate that it already is. Fortunately, setting up a google+ page is even easier than setting registering on google. To set up a google+ account for your business, simply follow the instructions here. I recommend setting up a google listing from above and a google+ account at the same time. It will save time and ensure that both profiles are consistent.
Bing is america's next largest search engine, and they also own Yahoo so you are getting a two-for-one when you register here. The same benefits apply as registering with google and you can register for an account in just a few steps here.
Yelp is a giant review site where customers rate your restaurant using their tried and true 5 star rating scale and leave comments. It is very important to register with Yelp not only so your restaurant has a page, but so that customers can review your business, and you can monitor and respond to customers. Most restaurants are already listed on Yelp by way of customer submission or automated processes, but you should claim your business page if you have not already. This allows you to post photos, respond to reviews, update your hours, and more. It gives you a bit more control over your online reputation and you can easily claim your Yelp page for free here.
So most everyone uses facebook, and many businesses have already set up facebook pages for themselves. Many businesses even use a facebook page in lieu of creating an actual website, which is ok if done properly. Unfortunately, some businesses ignore facebook and allow people to set up "shell" pages on their behalf. Why does someone set up a page for a business? Because people just like to check in and let their friends know where they are! Why not provide them a beautiful and interactive facebook page where they can check in and provide positive reviews of your business? Facebook uses a 5 star rating scale very similar to Yelp, so you should be putting your best foot forward and at least creating an authentic facebook page for yourself. Here's the starting point for setting up a facebook page.
Urbanspoon is one of my favorite review sites because it is food blogger friendly and I value food blogger's opinions over a customer who wants to vent his or her frustration over being snubbed by a rude waiter. It is not as popular as yelp, but I find it to be more informative with lengthier reviews and a thumbs up/thumbs down rating system, rather than a 5 star system. The same concepts apply here, create or claim your page just like on yelp, and make sure that you have accurate information. Let people know if you offer delivery, takeout, dine in, if you accept credit cards, and when you are open. Post photos of your dining room so that people know what type of atmosphere they can expect. It's not hard, but very few businesses take advantage of this free opportunity to turn your restaurant into a destination for hungry diners who have not yet tried your cuisine. I can't say it better than Review Trackers already did, so check out their step by step guide to the whole process here.
7. Trip Advisor
Trip advisor is a favorite review site for many, and seems to highlight the more premier restaurants in various cities. The site does a nice job of sorting out the top destinations in a given area, so tourists (or residents) can see which places are "must-try" on their vacations and trips. Your business cannot be one of the top restaurants if you are not listed, so why not get over there and set up a proper page so that you can become a destination restaurant?! Here is the link to set up your business on Trip Advisor.
Foursquare is a popular smart phone app that has a check-in service as its primary feature, but it's much more than that. It's a social app which allows friends to compete to see who is "the mayor" of each business by checking in the most times in a specified time window. It's really a fun twist on social check-ins and reviews. The Foursquare website functions very much like Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Urbanspoon, so I think you can see a common thread here. It's especially important to properly list your business on foursquare because anyone can type up a listing at any time from their phone, and the information is almost never complete. Do your business a favor and spend less than 5 minutes going through the simple process here.
Forever gone are the days that your business simply needed to be listed in the phone book for people to find you. Some business owners who are successful will always have an old school mentality and believe that they will be successful by providing a quality product and service, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, we operate in a totally different world where people consult their smart phones and computers on every choice they make - especially where they are going to eat lunch and dinner. Every person has their preferred method to seek out new restaurants to dine at, so it is important to have a broad a presence as possible. Although I do recommend you keep all of your information up to date and also maintain a strong social media presence, if you do nothing else, just set your business up properly on each of these sites. If you are short on time, you only have to do it once and never touch it again (although I believe staying up to date is much more effective).
Setting your business up on these 8 websites will drastically improve your online presence, widen your exposure to a vastly wider audience who didn't even know your business exists, and drive more traffic into your restaurant or business. This information I have provided is not magical, it's not technical, it doesn't cost a dime, and quite frankly if you can turn on a computer, you can probably get all of these registrations knocked out in a few hours. Sounds simple doesn't it? It is, but do a simple search of any neighborhood restaurant in your area and see if it has a quality online presence on even half of these sites and you will probably find that most businesses do not take the few minutes to ensure they are properly listed online. So what are you waiting for? Click the links, get registered, and watch your store traffic increase! Just make sure you serve a quality pizza when the customers arrive!