The 2 Secrets To Winning at Local Search SEO

I’m obsessed with how little value restaurant operators and owners place on location data accuracy.

They’ll tell me that they were just featured on [insert] media site or just had some influencer post their signature dish on Instagram and it got 3,000+ likes or that they hired a publicist for $5,000 a month and spent several thousand dollars on competing and [fill in the blank] high-profile food event.

Great.

So if someone who happens to be looking for a good Burger joint who doesn’t read that website, isn’t following that influencer and didn’t attend that event (which mathematically is close to 100% of the population) and they search “best Burger near me,” then what does that restaurant have working to attract that customer?

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Chances are though, they obsessed over negotiating the difference of a $00.05 per pound on a key item they buy from a distributor or spent more than hour updating Twitter, Facebook & Instagram but did not include appropriate hashtags, calls to action or geo-location targeting all the while, the food menu on their website is outdated. Priorities …

Take a look at these statistics:

  • 82% of local searchers follow up offline via an in-store visit, phone call or purchase (TMP / comScore)
  • 74% of internet users perform local searches (Kelsey Group)
  • 73% of online activity is related to local content (Google)
  • 61% of local searches result in purchases (TMP / comScore)

Putting “word of mouth” aside, the odds are in the favor that someone is likely to happen upon a local restaurant through a search engine. Don’t get me wrong, all that other stuff is good and can drive in new customers, but it supports local search, it doesn’t trump it.

To win at local search, you need to know what the search engines have been programmed to find. 

ACCURACY

There is nothing more important in local search than accuracy. Think about it this way; if someone searches “best tacos near me” (“near me” is one of the top Google search terms and has doubled alone in the last year) and they happen to be literally standing in front of a restaurant that offers tacos, the web crawlers will return with results that have the highest amount of instances of similar and recent data.

If the web crawlers see that a restaurant has their name listed differently on their website than it is on their Yelp page and something else on their Facebook page, they score that business negatively in search.

Example: Let’s say your business is called “David’s Morning Cafe.” But for some reason when you claimed your Yelp page it’s listed as “David’s Cafe” and on Facebook you forgot the apostrophe so it reads as “Davids Morning Cafe,” Google will know they are the same business but look unfavorably upon it from a search perspective.

This is a real problem and it happens way more often than you think it does.

Check out this example; sam a.m. in Jersey City. You’ll notice that the inconsistencies in the how the name of the business is listed.

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Website:
sam-a-m-jc-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-36-31-pmGoogle:
sam-a-m-jc-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-36-19-pmFacebook:sam-a-m-jc-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-36-04-pmYelp:sam-a-m-jc-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-35-14-pm

Now check out this pork on pork sandwich they have on the menu. It’s amazing!

It could be from mismanagement, like different people registering different accounts, or someone forgetting an apostrophe. It could be from customers and users updating the information on their own. It could also be from the networks themselves trying to self correct to be accurate (ever get a pop-up from Facebook after you check in at a restaurant asking for their hours?) The point is, it’s easy to mess up and easy to lose control.

You probably think this is something that only happens to small mom and pop restaurants right?

  • Is it Red Robin or Red Robin Gourmet Burgers?

red-robin-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-45-40-pmred-robin-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-45-33-pm

  • Is it Five Guys or Five Guys Burgers or Five Guys Burgers & Fries?

five-guys-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-46-21-pm five-guys-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-46-06-pm

  • Is it Capital Grille or Capital Grille? Is there a “The” that proceeds either?

the-capital-grille-memphis-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-53-22-pm-35-15-pm the-capital-grille-memphis-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-53-22-pm

Location data inaccuracy happens all the time to all sizes of businesses.

But that’s not all.

RELEVANCY

The search engines that propagate local search are also looking for relevancy.

What does that mean? In a nutshell; recent positive ratings and reviews. If they can see that a local business is getting a lot of positive reviews, they will favor that over a local business that has all of their location data correct or has more back links and search queries. It’s true.

Would you rather go to a restaurant with a 4-star Facebook rating that hasn’t had a new review post in more than a year or a restaurant with a 4-star Facebook rating that has several reviews from last week?

Pretend you did a search for a local pizza joint. Pretend you did a search for a local pizza joint. Several results come up that have 3.5 stars or higher on Yelp.

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  • Pizza Joint A has 4 stars and 95 reviews
  • Pizza Joint B has 4 stars and 239 reviews
  • Pizza Joint C has 5 stars and 10 reviews

Which would you choose? The answers is obvious, you are going to Johnny Pepperoni.

That is because you would choose the restaurant that meets the following criteria:

  • Highest rating
  • Most amount of reviews
  • Most amount of recent reviews

Search engines work the same exact way. More recent positive reviews means more customers are choosing to recommend one business over another and therefore are more pertinent.

The search engines want to deliver the absolute best results to you the user. That means they have to have the information correct when they send it to you and they want to have the results be the best of the best so that you are connected to what you are looking for faster.

PRIORITIES

It’s been reported that the half-life of a tweet can be as fast as 5 minutes. Studies have shown that a post on Facebook has a life expectancy around 5 hours. Ratings and reviews and location data are forever. Local search happens in real time. Therefore it could be argued that you are better off spending time validating the accuracy of your online location data and responding to reviews than posting updates on social media … or negotiating 3 cents on that head of lettuce.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Search engines rely on a system of accuracy and relevancy to deliver search results.
  • The local business with more accurate location data across all channels and with more recent positive ratings and reviews has the best shot to come out on the top of searches.

Want to learn a little bit more about perfecting local search? Check out this blog post:
3 Easy Ways To Rank Higher In Search Results

CONTRADICTORY SIDE NOTE

While in the middle of writing this, I saw these fries on @SkinnyPigNYC and immediately started making plans to visit Mile End.

I wonder if Mile End Delicatessen knows that they have 76% inaccurate location listings, most of which have to do with their name?

mile-end-winning-local-search-seo-burger-conquest-34-45-pm

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How to Seriously Upgrade Your Restaurant or Bar For Less Than $300

Your bar needs an upgrade. You know it, I know and the customers who have chosen to take their business elsewhere know it. Maintenance and upkeep are hard enough with daily operations that the idea of an upgrade causes aneurysm level stress without even seeing an estimate.

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OK relax. I’m not talking about that kind of upgrade. If this is your bathroom, you already know what needs to be done. 

Assuming that’s not your restaurant, don’t worry. I have 2 very simple, easy and inexpensive upgrades that you can do this week, that will have serious impact on the way customers regard your business.

PROBLEM:
What does nearly every single female customer take with them into the bar? Besides a sense of pride and a need for libation, most women carry a purse. That purse contains some of the most important things in their life; a wallet, a cell phone, keys and who knows what else.

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You know what they don’t want to do with that purse? They don’t want to lose it and they don’t want to put it on the dirty floor either. The same goes for men carrying bags. Bags could draped over the back of the chair, balanced them on a lap or maybe held but it’s certainly not preferred.

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EASY UPGRADE 1:
Put hooks to hang bangs under the bar. Install one every other seat that way there is one hook per person seated. For less than $20 you can get 10 of these: Richohome Retro Octopus Double Prong Robe Hook,Coat and Hat Hook- Pack of 10.

richohome-retro-octopus-double-prong-robe-hookcoat-and-hat-hook

While you are at it, get 10 more and make sure there is one on the back of the door in all of your bathrooms. Nobody, including you, wants to put their bag or jacket on the floor of a bathroom that isn’t in their own home.

Putting hooks on the bathroom doors and under the bars shows that you thought of the customer first. It lets them know that your customer service is a cut above the rest.

Click here and buy some hooks from Amazon.com right now.

PROBLEM:
You know who loves to eat out when they have the chance? Moms, Dads and Grandparents. You know how often they get to eat out, have a hot meal or even just be able to sit down while they eat? If you have kids then you know the answer is practically never.

Most people think Saturday and Sunday afternoons are just for boozy brunchers but that’s also when parents with young kids can get out of the house to see friends, eat lunch and blow off some steam. They might be looking for a place with a kid -friendly menu or perhaps accessible parking and if you have those, great. But you know what’s more important to new parents than anything else when choosing where to go with their kids?

EASY UPGRADE #2
A diaper changing station.

ecr4kids-horizontal-commercial-baby-changing-station

Without fail, every single time my wife and I take our baby out with us for a meal, the first thing we do is call and ask if they have a baby changing station. We might go there and the food could be amazing or they might have an unbelievable selection of craft beer but it will be totally known there forward as the place without a changing station.

For less than $2oo you can order the ECR4Kids Horizontal Commercial Baby Changing Station with 500 Disposable Liners from Amazon. Do it now.

ecr4kids-horizontal-commercial-baby-changing-station-hanger-liners

Also, I’ve never been to a bar that had a station with liners. I didn’t even know that was a thing until I wrote this post. I guarantee if we found a bar or restaurant that not only had a changing station but was always stocked with liners, we would go there before anywhere else.

Most parents roll with other parents who have kids their age and gems like that become a quick topic of conversation. Make it easy for a parent or grandparent to take their kids out and you will make loyal customers out of them.

Want to be a real fave with parents who want to spend their money at a restaurant or bar? Put a changing station in both the women’s and men’s room. Most restaurants will put one in the women’s room but Dad’s change diapers too.

Do Mom’s a favor and click here to buy a baby changing station from Amazon right now.


CASE IN POINT

I can tell you 2 things about The Quiet Man Public House in Peekskill, NY. First of all, they have an absolutely, over the top and ridiculous Burger called the “Mad Mac.” They call it the “twisted version with all the fixings” but I call it a “food party!”

the-quiet-man-public-house-peekskill-burger

It comes topped with corned beef, Irish bacon, bacon jam, fried mac n cheese and onion rings on a brioche bun.

You know what else I remember about The Quiet Man Public House? They do not have a baby changing station in their bathrooms. I know this because on my last visit we had to change our son on a table in the corner of the restaurant. The staff was super nice about  it, very accommodating and also apologetic.

The food is great and the place has a really nice vibe. But it’s burned in my head now that if we want to go there, it means there is going to baby butt in everyone’s face at some point.

KEY TAKEAWAY

Upgrade your bar or restaurant for less than $300 by installing a baby changing station and under the bar coat / bag hooks.

friedmac_0-edit_0

You could also try adding crazy toppings to your Burgers, but I would suggest trying the hooks and station first. Once you do, here is a recipe for deep fried mac n cheese from Food Republic.

 

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How to Get Your Customers to Take Action

CALLS TO ACTION

My mother used to always say to me “don’t ask, don’t get.” She taught me the valuable lesson of learning to ask for things. They say the number one mistake sales people make is not asking for the sale and the same rings true for restaurant and bar operators.

If you don’t ask your customers for feedback, positive ratings on review sites like Yelp & TripAdvisor or to sign up for your newsletter, you shouldn’t expect them to do it. Even a dog knows when it’s time to ask for dinner! Chances are that dog gets fed every day around the same time but he doesn’t want to take the chance you might forget.

begging-dog-burger-conquest-dinner

Be like your dog, ask for the dinner.

I used to be a co-owner of a bar in New York City called Idle Hands Bar. By the time we sold the bar and closed it for good, we had 174 reviews and a 4.1 star rating on Yelp. That didn’t happen by chance. We used to host a weekly Wednesday night beer tasting event. At the beginning of the event we would make an introduction announcement andI ended it the same way every time;

“If you have a 5-star kind of experience tonight, would you mind giving us that rating on Yelp?” People did.

I followed that with “And if you don’t feel that we have you a 5-star experience tonight, stop me while you are here in the bar tonight and tell me how we could’ve improved.” They did.

For those things that we got wrong, we learned to correct them. For those things that we did right, people rewarded us by giving us a positive review on Yelp.


Read Darwin G.‘s review of Idle Hands Bar on Yelp


This rule doesn’t just apply to ratings & review or in store communications. You need to be asking all the time. In the business world this is a call to action (CTA); a request for immediate action from an audience.

If you want people to sign up for your email subscriber list, you need to ask them to do it. But you should also make it easy to do and offer them a reason to do it.

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER

JOIN OUR EMAIL LIST AND GET A FREE APPETIZER

Which sounds more appealing to you?

texas-roadhouse-vip-club-free-appetizer

Texas Roadhouse knows that when you see those onion petals and the word “FREE” you’ll gladly send over those personal details. Want to meet me at the Teterboro, NJ location once it opens and split my order?

Check out this Ben & Jerry’s call to action. As part of their social conscience program, they planned to delete some flavors that used ingredients that could be effected by climate change. They called them “Endangered Pints” and put all the ingredients & flavors on their website. They took a photos of those pints and shared it on Instagram.

In their call to action they asked followers to click the link in their bio. For the passionate Ben & Jerry’s fanatic, they clicked and participated in the conversation.

When coming up with your CTA, think of it in terms of an exchange. You would like the customer to do something but what can you do for them if they take the requested action? It doesn’t always have to be a free drink or appetizer. Sometimes helping the customer on their journey is enough.

If you’re marketing message is about birthday parties, don’t just tell me you offer them, tell me how I can book one and make sure it’s easy!

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To help you along your way, here is a list of great initiatives that a restaurant can use to create calls to action that market and bring in new customers.

  • Book a private party
  • Make a reservation
  • Subscriber to a newsletter
  • Download a coupon
  • Follow on _____ social network
  • Buy a ticket

Want to know what not to do when it comes to calls to action?

Never, ever, ever, ever, never buy or place advertising without a call to action. That’s a HUGE waste of your money. Check out this sponsored post on Instagram from 123 Burger Shot Beer, a bar in NYC.

123-burger-shot-beer-instagram

I’ve been there. It’s a good concept and they run a nice business. In this advertisement they spent money just to tell you what the “123” in their name stands for. Cool. But now what? You don’t know where this is, you don’t know if they show sports on their TVs, they didn’t ask you to follow them, click to their page or site or do anything else at all that would move you along the sales journey.

Allow me to help…

How does $1 Burgers, $2 shots and $3 beers sound to you? Check out 123 Burger Shot Beer in Hell’s Kitchen NYC! Follow @123bsb on Instagram for event information, party photos and killer food shots like this!

Our Double Cheeseburgers #foodporn #sports #drinks#cocktails #sportsbar#jelloshots#cheapdrinks#boozypopsicles#fastfood

A photo posted by 123 Burger Shot Beer (@123bsb) on

KEY TAKEAWAY

The best way to get your customers to take an action is to use a call to action that gives them something valuable in return.

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Here’s How Easy It Is to Appeal to Millennial Diners

Unless you are a local diner, your answer should never be “everyone.” But what’s the question? “Who is your restaurant’s target customer?” Restaurant marketing is just like being an air-force fighter pilot (stay with me): If you can pick your target and stay your focus, it’s much easier to accomplish your mission.

Successful businesses know that choosing the right audience and focusing their messaging to attract that target market is the path to success. Taco Bell is looking for customers 18-34, which is why you don’t see family marketing like you might like McDonald’s or IHOP.

appealing-to-millenial-diners-ihop-kids-eat-free

The rule applies whether you are a huge international chain or a single unit on the side of the road in the middle of no where. Once you know who your core customer is, you can start to focus your message to appeal to them. If that target market is millennials, then the following list is made just for you.

Here are 5 of the key components for attracting millennial diners.

1. CAMERA-READY FOOD
Today’s generation of serious eaters are online. They belong to social networks. They take pictures of their food. They share those pictures on those social networks. Whether some chefs like it or not, it’s going to happen. It’s essentially free advertising for your restaurant so you better make sure that food arrives to the customer in an Instagram-ready fashion.

Look at this Lobster Mac N Cheese from Poco in New York City’s East Village as an example. You’re already dying to eat it.


2. CREATIVE MENU
Remember that boring grilled cheese with 2 slices of American cheese on white bread we ate when we were kids? Or how about that plain stack of pancakes with the butter already soaked in? That’s food. You eat it, you survive.

Millennial diners want adventure. They want excitement. If they wanted a bologna and cheese sandwich, they probably wouldn’t have left their kitchen. If they are going to part with hard-earned money, you had better give them something they can’t easily make at home.

Show me loaded tater tots. Where’s that platter of charcuterie a mile long? How about a Burger stacked to the ceiling with awesome game meats like they have at Handcraft Kitchen & Cocktails? Millennials might not order that way every time they go out (how else do you explain so many salad chains?) but you should make sure your menu has at least one “wow” moment.

appealing-to-millenial-diners-handcraft-kitchen-nyc-game-changer“The Game Changer” from Handcraft Kitchen & Cocktails: bison patty, wild boar patty, duck confit, brie & cherry chutney on a brioche bun.


3. FRESH, QUALITY INGREDIENTS

C’mon. We are past the age of frozen Burgers, rubbery chicken fingers and store-bought desserts. If we wanted cheap, reheatable and overly salted food, we would just hit the frozen section at the grocery store. Now more than ever, people want to know that you are not only making something they can’t do at home, but that it’s made as fresh as possible and with well-sourced ingredients.

Even Domino’s Pizza got the hint. They were notorious for having pizza that tasted like cardboard, so they threw out their recipes and upgraded.

appealing-to-millenial-diners-dominos-pizza-better-turnaround-9-09-04-pm

Think about how many people, research and time it took to make that decision. For a smaller business with only one or even a couple units, it’s pretty quick and easy to make a similar switch.


4. SOCIAL CONSCIENCE 

Have you heard about charity: water? They are “a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries.” Wouldn’t you instantly feel better about yourself after buying a bottle of their water instead of one from a huge beverage corporation?

Welcome to being a millennial.

Millennials have a broader social conscience and a more worldly point-of-view than previous generations. They think about how they affect the planet and how decisions made by others also affects others. You likely have a charity or cause that is important to you, your community or relates to core principles of your business. Call them up, drop them an email or send a tweet and ask how your restaurant can help.

5. CUSTOMIZABLE OPTIONS

Have you been to a Five Guys or a Chipotle? There are only a couple of main options on the menu but your ability to add toppings and builds is pretty vast. That allows you to eat your food the way you want it, but also allows two friends who don’t like the same things to share a meal.

appealing-to-millenial-diners-five-guys-fry-stack-burger

You’re a vegan? Cool. Enjoy the tofu whatever, I’ll be having the carnitas. We’re so millennial.

KEY TAKEAWAY

If you want your restaurant to appeal to millennial diners, include these 5 things:

  1. Instagram-ready food
  2. Hip and innovative menu items
  3. High quality and fresh ingredients
  4. Be socially conscience
  5. Be customizable

 

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5 Easy to Avoid Location Data Mistakes

Margins in the restaurant business are getting smaller and smaller every day, especially in densely populated areas like New York, Chicago and Boston. Rent is going up, the cost of food is getting more expensive, labor isn’t getting any cheaper, but none of that can be controlled by the owner. What they can control is the ability to help people find their business when they are searching for them online.

Bad information is the scourge of local search marketing. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to have correct location data for a bar or restaurant and yet so many businesses get it wrong. My hope is that by sharing this with you that I can help make bad data a thing of the past.

MISTAKE #1:
Website does not have easy to find information

5-location-mistakes-restaurants-burger-conquest-restaurant-404

Specifically, the following are the most important:

  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Hours of operation
  • Menu
  • Contact

When people do find your website, most likely they are searching on mobile and looking to find a place right away. Make it easier on them by putting the most important and relevant information right on top. For more on this, read The 5 Things That Must Be On Your Restaurant’s Website.

 

MISTAKE #2:
Website isn’t mobile responsive

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Man oh man! Doesn’t that Tubby’s grilled sub look tasty? It’s a childhood fave for me. Makes you want to click right on that link at the bottom. And then guess what?

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Hope you were searching from a desktop because even though their subs are mighty tasty, their website doesn’t have a responsive web design.

 

MISTAKE #3:
No website at all

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Oh man! That is an awesome, awesome pizza. One of my favorites in fact. It’s from Summit Pizza in Union City, NJ. On the left – that’s eggplant and ricotta cheese. On the right, my personal personal fave, chicken and pepperoni. It exists. Look at it. I took that picture.

But what happens when you search for their website and click on the link? #PizzaFail

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How can you be even remotely searchable without a website?!?!

 

MISTAKE #4:
Conflicting data on top-ranking geolocation sites

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That is the very, very tasty “TM Burger” from Trademark Taste & Grind in NYC. It’s topped with bacon, jalapeno jack cheese, fried pickled onions and special sauce. I highly recommend it. When I went to eat it, I actually had to call the restaurant first because I wasn’t sure after searching on line what time they opened.

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  • Google
  • Yahoo!
  • Bing
  • Facebook
  • Foursquare
  • Yelp

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Make sure you have the same information listed on these top geolocation sites as well as what is on your website. One little difference between one and another and the search engine web crawlers will move you down the search rank.

 

MISTAKE #5:
Multi-unit restaurants don’t have an easy way to browse all locations or a list by state

Oh man!! Have you ever been to a Wawa? It’s a convenience store / gas station / sandwich shop chain based in Pennsylvania. You’ll find them from New Jersey all the way down to Florida. They make all their own food and they make it to order.

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One of their most well known sandwiches is the Wawa “Gobbler.” It’s a limited time offer that’s only available in the fall. It’s Thanksgiving on a sandwich; hot turkey, gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce. No road trip through PA or along route 95 is complete without a stop (or multiple) at a Wawa.

Good luck mapping it out though. When you go to their website you can go search by location or store number, on the chance you have it. You can’t browse by state, a map or even just see a list. If you’re like me and need a sandwich stop every hour (true story), you need to plot your Wawa stops in advance.

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KEY TAKEAWAY

Don’t make these mistakes with your restaurant’s location data:

  1. Website does not have easy-to-find location, hours, content and menus.
  2. Website isn’t mobile responsive.
  3. No website at all!
  4. Conflicting data on top-ranking geolocation sites
  5. Multi-unit restaurants don’t have an easy way to browse all locations or a list by state.

The original version of this was from a presentation I gave as part of a panel at the LocationWorld conference in New York. Click here to download the PDF of the presentation.

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The 5 Things That Must Be On Your Restaurant’s Website

Most restaurant operators and owners make the exact same mistake when they design their website. The first thing they think about is pictures of food. While that’s certainly helpful and arguably pretty important, it’s not even in the top 5 most important things to have on your website.

First thing is first – before you start designing you site, ask yourself “who is our target customer?” A fine dining website and a coffee shop website have needs as vastly different as the target audience. Make sure your layout, look and feel speaks to the key customer you want to walk through the door.


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The Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar Pitsburgher – Housemade American cheese, shoestring fries, spicy garlic ketchup, leaf lettuce, tomato and red onion. Photo courtesy of Chef Tim Kast.


Once you’ve determined what kind of site you are going to make, there are a few key things to think about, and think about first when designing the layout for the website. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Most people to forget what it’s like to be a customer when they build out their restaurant website. To avoid this, think about when you are checking out the website for a restaurant either you heard about or maybe happened upon while traveling. Now ask yourself, “what is it you want to know?”

  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Hours of operation
  • Menu
  • Contact
  • Social networking links

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When people hit your site, they want to know, as quickly as possible, how to find you, what you offer and what time you are open. Yes, I said 5 in the title of the article but there are really 6 but the other 5 are absolutely, 100% crucial to your success. The social network links should be there for those who want to take it one step further. Here’s the key point to the whole thing, the magic moment if you will; make all of this easy to find by putting it at the top of the site.

DO NOT MAKE PEOPLE SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OR CLICK TO FIND THE INFORMATION THEY NEED THE MOST.

Something also to keep in mind, mobile search is on the rise, especially with local businesses. That’s even more reason to make these important items easy to find on your website. Think about how annoying it is to click around trying to find something on your mobile web browser when all you want is something to eat!

Check out this example from Saxon+Parole in NYC; they have everything you need, easy to find and even the ability to sign up on their email list.

5-things-must-be-on-restaurant-website-burger-conquest-8-20-42-pmKEY TAKEAWAY

  • Make the most important information on your restaurant’s website easy to find.

By the way, they have an excellent Burger at Saxon+Parole!

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Snapchat Is a Waste of Your Time and Here’s Why

Here’s the best advice you’ll ever get about using Snapchat to market your restaurant; Don’t waste your time.

Snapchat is an excellent, beautiful and very fun social network to use. It has a great audience. It’s very visual, it’s great for creativity and it is most certainly the talk of the town right now. With more than 150 million users (more than Twitter), it totally makes sense why restaurants would think about using it for a marketing channel.

It’s still not worth your efforts.

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It’s a content channel that’s very difficult to manage with a sizable learning curve. More importantly, effective use of Snapchat requires constant and consistent creative content. Even if you were a content production machine, and let’s face it, you aren’t, there is also no native way to track activity or engagement beyond views or comments.
If you’re a restaurant, bar or other hospitality business this means you can’t drive reservations, ticketing, coupon downloads, email subscriptions or really any other form of trackable ROI.

Snapchat is really only a viable marketing channel that very large restaurant brands, like Taco Bell or McDonald’s, should be in the business of using. If your brand has a sizeable marketing budget and a staff big enough that you can be extremely creative, post regularly and not really have concern for trackable ROI then, it’s absolutely a creative fun and engaging tool to put in your marketing utility belt.

Still thinking about using it? At the time I wrote this blog McDonald’s, the largest restaurant brand on the social network, had not updated their channel in the past 24 hours.

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Photo from Mashable.
Taco Bell only had this to offer:

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If you are a small business, restaurant or bar, even with multiple locations, you’re far far far better off spending your time doing any of the following:

  • Optimizing your website for local search
  • Updating Facebook or Instagram on a daily basis
  • Responding to ratings and reviews on sites like Yelp Facebook and TripAdvisor.

Snapchat when used for bars and restaurants to give a behind-the-scenes look or to share a great customer experience, could be really engaging to users, but definitely not as useful as some of the other tools designed specifically to help market in the restaurant business. When you have one or two locations, a small menu or a small staff, it’s hard to be consistently creative without just repeating the same type of material.

The other thing to keep in mind about Snapchat is that the content that you create disappears within 24 hours. For a restaurant to be searchable with good SEO practices, you’re going to want to leave a much larger footprint online. When someone searches “best Burger near me,” Snaps are going to do absolutely nothing to help you.

It would be better use of your time to post delicious photos of your food on your Google My Business or Yelp page than it ever would be to ever post an expiring video on Snapchat.

If you absolutely love the format of Snapchat videos, instead I suggest you check out Instagram stories. It operates inside the Instagram experience of your brand page, looks and feels like Snapchat and can be used to enhance the content you are already posting on a regular basis on the social network.

You are posting content on a regular basis to your Instagram account … right?

Call him Sponge Bob 🍔 #imready @seth_thornbloom

A video posted by S’macks Burgers & Shakes (@smacksburgers) on

KEY TAKEAWAY

  • In the life of a busy restaurant operator or marketing person, Snapchat has no clickable actions that can help you to drive actions. Better to spend your time responding to ratings and review sites or updating Facebook and Instagram on a daily basis.

Now go eat a Burger and think about it.

Schiller’s Liquor Bar
http://www.schillersny.com/
131 Rivington St
New York, NY 10002

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Schiller’s Juicy Lucy Burger – stuffed with muenster cheese, then topped with red wine onion-bacon jam and Schiller’s Special Sauce, served on a seeded Balthazar Bun. Paired with Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This has nothing to do with Snapchat, but you can register to win this Burger pairing and others like it by visiting the Somms and Sliders website.

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The 80/20 Rule of Restaurant Marketing That Five Guys Uses to Crush the Competition

Is your restaurant primarily known for Burgers? How about any other signature food item or a theme like sports? If so, you’re probably going about all your marketing wrong.

That might be a little extreme. I’m willing to bet your closest competitors are also focusing on talking about their pizza or Monday Night Football. That’s because they don’t understand the 80/20 rule of restaurant marketing.

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80% of your marketing should not focus on your signature menu item or theme.

If you are a sports bar, people are going to assume that you’ll be showing the “Big Game” or the play-offs. That’s not a message worth pouring all your efforts into.

If you are a pizzeria, an endless steam of of great looking photos of your pies is only kind of helping you market the business. Your family restaurant that is primarily known for children’s birthday parties, doesn’t really need to have its marketing message focus as birthday parties. The point is, if you are an established business, especially multi-unit, people know that these are your core offerings. Instead you should be focusing your marketing efforts on is what sets you apart or areas of your business that need help.

As an example, if you’re a sports bar, people probably assume that you’ll be showing March Madness games. There’s no need to shove it down their throats.  How’s your business look on a Tuesday? How about weekday lunches? Focus your marketing to your weak spots and once customers come through the door, then you can remind them about baseball play-offs or the Kentucky Derby.

EXAMPLE

What is the first thing that pops into your head when you hear someone say “Five Guys?” You probably think “Burgers.” Five Guys knows that, but they get it, they practice the rule.

Take a look at their Instagram account as proof. What do you not really see a lot of? Burgers. Instead they focus on kids dining, shakes, new store openings, customer appreciation quotes, etc.

80-20-rule-restaurant-marketing-burger-conquest-five-guys-instagram

People are already walking into their local Five Guys with a Cheeseburger on their mind. Once they get you in a store, Five Guys knows they need to maximize the visit so why not encourage you to bring your kids or add a vanilla shake to your order? That’s how you drive incremental revenue.

The Ainsworth is a multi-unit, high-end sports pub owned by Paige Hospitality, that’s known for their absolutely over-top and amazing Burgers. Their Mac and Cheeseburger, most notably, is well worth it’s weight in likes on social media.

They know that their customers already come there to drink nice cocktails and eat great food while watching their favorite team. It’s their bread and butter. Focusing on driving more attention to what people already know is not going to fill their dining room on Monday nights.

So instead of pushing Monday Night Football, they are marketing 1/2 off steaks. That’s smart! Get people to think The Ainsworth is not just a bar, it’s also a restaurant and good for dinner. That also gets customers in the door earlier, which leads to a bigger check average.

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KEY TAKEAWAY

If your bar or restaurant has an established brand, use the 80/20 rule of restaurant marketing:

  • Focus 80% of your marketing efforts on a strategy to bring attention to the things you are NOT most commonly known for.
  • Spend 20% of your marketing efforts on your signature menu item or core theme.

Now go eat a Five Guys Burger and don’t forget the vanilla shake.

80-20-rule-restaurant-marketing-burger-conquest-five-guys-burger

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3 Easy Ways To Rank Higher In Search Results

First, a little background. Then the marketing tips will follow.

On October 17, 2008 I launched this blog as a tribute to my love of Burgers, restaurants, the hospitality business and dining with friends. It was intended as a way to get my creative juices out as I’ve always enjoyed writing. I also liked helping restaurants I really enjoyed and wanted to have an outlet to sharpen my content and social media marketing skills.

With each year that passed, I tried to set a new goal and achieve new things with the blog. Whether that was merely writing better content, taking better photos, starting an interview series, launching NY Burger Week or getting myself on TV, I always wanted to the blog to be in a state of continuous improvement and offer quality content.

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Before I took a hiatus, I was starting to change the manner of content from restaurant & Burger reviews to marketing tips and insights. Since then I have learned so much more about social media, digital and especially hospitality marketing and I would like to share it with others.

Arthur’s Tavern
http://www.arthurstavern.com/
237 Washington St.
Hoboken, NJ 07030

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Arthur’s Steaks bacon Cheeseburger.

MARKETING TIP

We’ll use Arthur’s to teach a little lesson.

Google “best Burger Hoboken.” Actually, you don’t have to, just click here, I did it for you. Arthur’s does not come up in the first 3 results.

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If you click to expand further, they don’t even come up in the top 20.

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Let’s talk about how search engines work. As it relates to restaurants and key words, 2 things are happening.

  1. When you type in “best Burger in Hoboken,” the search engines look for any restaurants or uses of “Burger” in the geographic of “Hoboken.”
  2. Once they’ve done that, they are looking for relevant, recent data.

If your company, and therefore website URL, has the word “Burger” in it, that’s going to be a positive note for a search engine. If they then find it on your menu, find it in mentions of your restaurant on review sites or social media, that’s also going to be positive.

Once they’ve indexed that the word “Burger” is relevant to your business, the engines are then going to look for frequency and most recent use. Therefore if the latest review on Yelp mentions Burger or you use updated your menu, that’s going to proof positive.

That’s the easy stuff. What happens next is where most people screw it up.

Once the search engines recognize the word “Burger” as being associated with your business, they start to look for data about your business; location, hours of operation, phone number, etc. If the search engines find conflicting information on different sites like your Facebook page, Yelp and your website, their algorithm throttles you down in the results.

Google does not want to send their search customer bad information. Instead, Google (and the other search engines) move onto the next relevant business and once it’s found what it’s look for, it publishes the results.

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KEY TAKEAWAY:

If you want to rank high in search results, you need to do three things:

  1. Use relevant keywords on your website
  2. Update your website and review sites often
  3. Make sure your location data is correct

Here’s a photo from that very first blog post. My food photo skills have come a long way since then. But that’s a blog post for another time.

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Posted in Marketing, New Jersey, Search | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Schweid & Sons – New Home To The Very Best Burger Blog

Dear Friends of the Burger,

It is with great excitement that I announce the return of the Burger-oriented content that I shared on my blog what it was since its inception in 2008. If you have ever enjoyed, shared or liked anything that has graced the cyber walls of this blog, thank you. It’s because of you that I can now proudly announce that I will be creating new Burger-oriented content for Schweid & Sons.

SS-Logo-horizontal-whiteSchweid & Sons is a family-owned and operated fourth generation ground beef purveyor located in Carlstadt, N.J., supplying the highest quality of product and customer service in the food service and supermarket industry. Schweid & Sons offers a range of quality products including Certified Angus Beef®, Angus chuck, prime and ground chuck patties and ground beef. Schweid & Sons: The Very Best Burger.

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Schweid & Sons is owned by Burger Maker, Inc. In November of 2013, I was hired as the Director of Marketing for Burger Maker, where I’ve helped create and launch the Schweid & Sons brand.  Since coming to the company, I stopped reviewing Burgers for Burger Conquest — but it hasn’t stopped me from sharing my Burger adventures and insight with the known burgerverse, mostly through the Schweid & Sons social media profiles.

With the launch of the new Schweid & Sons blog, I am now once again creating burger content — but better than ever. The content I will be creating for the Schweid & Sons blog will focus on expert insights, useful tips, news, events and a guide to ground Beef. Through this opportunity, I am going to be able to explore the world of ground Beef with the mission of helping to educate everyone (myself included) on all there is know about Burgers, ground Beef — and the people behind the Burger business.

Coming along with me to the Schweid & Sons blog will be one of the most popular and fun features from Burger Conquest, The Cattle Call. The Cattle Call is a series of interviews with the people who make us, bring us and tell us about Burgers. Check out the very first Cattle Call interview to appear on the Schweid & Sons blog: Dr. Phil Bass, the Corporate Meat Scientist from Certified Angus Beef ®.

So with that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting my Burger enthusiasm and ultimately providing me with this opportunity. I hope to keep the conversation going with you via Schweid & Sons.

Stay tuned to the Schweid & Sons blog for announcements on The Burger Week in NYC, Florida & Charleston.

Sincerely, your Burger lovin’ bud,

The Rev
I’d like to thank a few people who made this possible.

GEORGE MOTZ
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George has a lot of credentials:

Some even call him the “Indiana Jones of Hamburgers,” but to me he is my friend and Burger buddy. I’ve never met anyone in my life is whose passion for Hamburgers is more intense and more unwavering than George’s. But beyond that he is an excellent photographer, amazing filmmaker, wonderful father / husband and most importantly to me, a great friend. If it were not for his advice, guidance and support, I would not be in this position. I will forever be grateful to Adam Kuban from Margot’s Pizza for introducing me to George.

JAMIE SCHWEID & BRAD SCHWEID
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These two brothers have spent their entire lives surrounded by Burgers and still wake up everyday as passionate as ever about the product, the company and the people that make them. They are a constant source of inspiration, drive and creativity. There are 3 things that they hold to the highest standards at Schweid & Sons:

1. Quality of product
2. Outstanding customer service
3. Employee empowerment

It’s because of this I don’t feel like I work at the company. Rather, I feel like I am a part of the company. Ideas and motivation are encouraged and a passion for Burgers is certainly encouraged.

DAVID SCHWEID
david-schweid-and-sonsThe man, the myth, the Burger legend. He would never say that because he is so humble and appreciative, but it’s true. I am thankful that back in 1978 David decided to start making fresh, high-quality, ground Beef Burger at his little shop on Gansevoort Street in New York’s meatpacking district and start delivering them to restaurants in NYC. David was all about better Burgers before it ever became a restaurant segment and still to this day strives to make the very best burger at Schweid & Sons. I learn more and more from him every day.

WANDA CIANCIO
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Yeah, that’s my Mom. She loves Hamburgers. She also happens to love me so it all works out. My passion for Burgers, in part, comes from my Mom’s love of Hamburgers, especially sliders. When I was growing up, we used to go get them on special occasions like birthdays and Mother’s Day. It was a treat I always looked forward to.

DAVID ALLEN (RIP)
david-allen-dadMy Dad LOVED Hamburgers. We ate them all the time and I learned a lot of my grilling skills from him. I’ll never forget the day he decided it was time for me to start on my path to grill mastery:

“I’m going to teach you how to grill,” he said to me.
“How hard can it be?” I looked back at him, shrugging it off. “You put the burger on the grill. It turns brown. You flip it … and it’s done.”
“Oh yeah?” He looked at me defiantly. “Go inside and get me two eggs.”

He then made me an omelet on the grill and my young mind was blown. That’s exactly where my love affair with grilling, particularly Hamburgers, began. The only thing my Dad liked more than eating Burgers was eating them with his friends — and that is the original inspiration behind the Burger Conquest.

CARA LYNN SHULTZcara-lynn-shultz-rev-david-ciancio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cara is my best friend and my wife, and she is also an incredibly talented author. I have never in my life met someone who is as creative, funny and caring as she is. I am deeply in love with Cara and appreciate every day that I get to spend with her. Despite the fact that I won’t eat Seafood and she loves it, Cara has supported my Burger obsessiveness through and through.

Posted in Burgers, Food Film Festival, Gourmet Burgers, New Jersey | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment