Local search: Let’s find a restaurant with a great patio

patioVancouverites know all too well that sunny days are limited so when one comes around we jump on the opportunity to get out and about. This Labour Day weekend was one of those fortunate occasions where the sun was out in full force and to me there’s really no better way to take advantage of our gorgeous city than by playing a round of golf and finding a patio on which to enjoy a cold drink.

With the forgettable golf round complete it was now time for phase two of my brilliant Labour Day plans… Finding a restaurant with an amazing patio to relax on with a drink.

Vancouver has no shortage of great restaurants, all varieties, and the patios are plenty as well. My friends and I have our favorite places but we’re always up for trying out something new, at least new to us. Naturally we turned to trusty Google to guide us.

Doing a search for “Vancouver restaurant” would bring up too many results and with the ultimate goal of forgetting our golf round by basking in the sun, we decided to narrow our options by searching for “patio Vancouver restaurants”. The results were fascinating to the SEO in me.

Patio SERP

It appears that there were a limited amount of restaurants optimizing for the keyword “patio.” Monks McQueens was really the only actual restaurant we found on the SERP, and no offence to Monks McQueens, but I’d argue that there are better patios out there.

The restaurant industry is cut throat in a market like Vancouver so wouldn’t it make sense to really look for that differentiating factor to make your establishment stand out? Restaurants may have this as part of their business plan but how about adding this to your marketing mix? Given that people are online more than ever these days, how about adding what sets you aside from the competition to your digital marketing efforts? With local search becoming more and more important and much more visible on the SERPs, I see ignoring the local-long-tail as a missed opportunity.

Along with the local-long-tail, Google Places is an essential way to reach customers by presenting valuable information in a prominent place on the SERP via a places page. Google Places allows you to include that differentiating factor right in your description (note: you should probably also do this to the on-page optimization efforts on your site if you haven’t already). This can be the competitive advantage you’ve been seeking to assure you are highly visible online within your local market.

With Google now putting a lot of weight on what the end users are saying about business via reviews, you really want to ensure that your business is not only optimized online but that you also deliver on what you boast. Reviews from third party sites are still valid and important from a consumer perspective but obtaining Google Places reviews is where you can most influence your listing’s rank.

Here are the core things to make sure you add when setting up your Google Places page: http://www.google.com/places/

• Company/Organization
• Address
• Phone number
• Website
• Description
• Email address

To enhance your Google Placed listing consider adding the following:

• Categories
This is where those restaurants out there that want to be considered as a “great patio restaurant” can communicate this.
• Hours of operation
This will enhance the user experience and save the user from having to call you. It streamlines the process to potential business
• Photos/Videos
Including photos and video adds visual appeal to your listing.
• Reviews
Reviews are really obtained not by how visible you are online but by following through on what you promise. If you promise a great place to relax after a round of golf and don’t deliver, don’t expect great reviews from your customers.

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