How To Optimize Restaurant SEO with a Google Maps Listing

Customers search online for restaurants near them. Google Maps optimization improves restaurant SEO and helps your restaurant appear in local searches.

13 min read
How to Optimize Your Restaurant’s Google Maps Listing

Customers search online before they order takeout or visit new restaurants — and 89% of dining research is done on mobile devices before visiting a restaurant. Google Maps optimization is one way to elevate your restaurant SEO, or search engine optimization, and ensure your business shows up in local searches.  

In fact, according to Google Trends, "restaurants near me" searches have increased 1,325% over the past ten years, rising to record levels after a dip in early 2020. 

Go ahead and search for "restaurants near me" in Google right now and you'll see the Google Maps listings of restaurants in your area. You may already have a Google Maps and Google My Business account for your restaurant, but how can you curate your listing to turn searchers into customers? Keep reading to gather tips and real-world examples of restaurant SEO best practices from Monster Pho in Oakland, California.  

Why your Google Maps listing is important  

In the United States, Google is the most popular mapping app and the fifth most popular mobile app overall with over 122 million unique visitors per month. Google Maps serves as a homepage for local consumers to learn more about your business, your cuisine, your reviews, and your location. With all of this information, customers can decide whether to order from your restaurant. 

Optimize your Google Maps listing to:

  • Boost online visibility for your business 

  • Appear in more searches from nearby customers 

  • Help customers find where they can dine or order takeout from in their area

  • Provide customers more ways to engage with your brand through reviews

  • Rank higher in the local "3-pack" — or Google's top three choices — for local searches like "ramen near me" 

Monster Pho Google Maps

How to get your restaurant on Google Maps in 3 steps 

If it's your first time setting up a Google Maps account, it's helpful to know that Google Maps and Google My Business are connected. All of the information you share in your Google My Business account will also appear on Google Maps and Google's Knowledge Graph — the column to the right of search results on Follow Google's recommendations for setting up both accounts. 

1. Search for your business on Google Maps 

First, search for your business on Google Maps. Even if you haven't claimed your business yet, Google encourages "Local Guides" to add businesses in their area so the app is up to date. They can also suggest edits to your listing. It's important that you claim your business so you can maintain control of your listing, ensuring customers see the most accurate information. 

2. Add a place to Google Maps 

If you don't see your business on Google Maps, you can easily add it. Click on the menu bar in the upper left, and then click "Add a missing place." 

Add a Missing Place

You will then be prompted to add the Business Name, Category, and Location. Make sure to be specific when selecting the "Food and Drink" category. You'll have plenty of options, from Barbecue Restaurant to Turkish Restaurant — and the more specific you are, the better your chances are of appearing in relevant searches.

After adding a place, it will take Google a few days to verify it. You'll receive an email when the place is added, and you'll be able to claim your business to get your restaurant on Google Maps.

Claim Your Place

3. Claim your business 

If your business is on Google Maps, but not claimed yet, you will see "Claim this business" on the listing. Clicking this will direct you to create a Google My Business account so you can reply to reviews, update business information, and more. 

Getting the basics right in your Google Maps listing

As soon as you've claimed your business, it's important to add basic restaurant SEO details to your Google Maps listing, such as: 

  • Service area

  • Address

  • Hours

  • Phone number

  • Website

  • Products and services

  • Description

The more information included on your listing, the more helpful it is for potential diners making a decision on where to eat. 

7 tips for Google Maps restaurant SEO  

Once you understand the basics of how to get your restaurant on Google Maps, you can focus your attention on a few additional ways to finetune your restaurant SEO. Let's take a closer look at what Monster Pho did to create a searchable and successful Google Maps listing. 

1. Add enticing photos (and encourage diners to upload their own) 

High-quality photos help customers learn more about your restaurant's atmosphere, food and drink, and seating arrangements. Google will automatically categorize these photos: see Menu, Food & Drink, and Vibe in the screenshot below. 

Your best customers will tell your best stories, so you can also encourage diners to upload their own photos through table tents or word of mouth. In marketing terms, this is called user-generated content (UGC). 

Monster Pho Photos

2. Earn positive Google reviews 

Restaurant customers on Google Maps see your Google reviews first — even before TripAdvisor or Yelp reviews. Google also automatically categorizes these reviews by topic (see "to go" and "broth" below), and customers can sort reviews or search for specific terms. Because your Google listing may be the first thing customers see when searching for your business online, make sure to garner positive reviews by simply asking for them from your existing customers either in person or via your email list. If you provide good food and good service, the good reviews will come. 

Many restaurants have a love-hate relationship with reviews. On the bright side, a study from the Harvard Business Review found that a one-star rating increase on Yelp can increase a restaurant's revenue by 5-9%. But that also means it's equally important to manage bad reviews as they come. Reply to every review — good and bad — and try to turn the bad reviews into good ones by offering to make it up to the customer. You could give them a discount on their next visit, and if they have a stellar experience, they may rescind or update their review. 

Monster Pho Reviews

3. Add top menu items to your listing 

Did you know you can add menu items to your Google listing? Customers may upload photos of your menu for others to browse, and Google may pull out images that correspond with specific menu items. 

Add top menu

You can also add categories and prices to your menu on Google. Below, see Monster Pho's dessert menu, which includes enticing menu descriptions to help customers understand what they can order. 

Menu description

4. Include local keywords on your listing 

Restaurant SEO practices help you rank higher in the search engine results pages, or SERPs. Include local keywords in the About section of your Google Maps listing so your restaurant appears in more relevant searches. Some examples of keywords in Monster Pho's listing are:

  • Contemporary eatery

  • Traditional Vietnamese 

  • Beer and wine 

To get ideas for your restaurant's local keywords, search for your restaurant on Google, then scroll all the way down to the bottom to see Google's related searches. Cuisine (e.g. Vietnamese), restaurant type (e.g. fast casual), food offerings (e.g. ramen), and location (e.g. in Oakland) are all examples of important keywords to include both in your listing and on your website. 

About Monster Pho

5. Publish updates to your Google Maps listing 

You may post updates on your Facebook page or to your email list, but did you know you can share information on your Google Maps listing as well? Restaurants use this space to share promotions and discounts, new menu items, upcoming events, and more. Think of it as another social media channel — without the comments. Updates will show on your Google Maps listing and your Google Knowledge Graph when customers are searching for your restaurant on Google. 

Monster Pho uses Updates to let customers know when they've modified business hours, especially around the holidays. Like Monster Pho, you may use Updates as a "change log" to track your restaurant's updates, or as a way to point customers to different menu items and promotions. 


6. Embed Google Maps on your website 

To increase your local restaurant SEO, you could also embed a Google map in the "Contact us" or "Locations" section of your website. This strategy not only provides a resource for visitors looking to find your restaurant, but also signals to Google that you are optimizing your listing. 

To embed a Google map on your website:

  • Find your business on Google Maps.

  • Select "Share," then choose the "Embed a map" tab.

  • Copy and paste the generated link onto your website.

Make sure your embedded Google map uses the same address as the information on your business. From Google’s perspective, this consistency indicates reliability — while giving customers accurate information about your business.

Embedded map

7. Point any traffic to your online ordering site 

Online orders are here to stay. A 2023 National Restaurant Association report found that 66% of adults say they’re more likely to order takeout food from a restaurant than they were before COVID-19 hit, and 55% say purchasing takeout or delivery food is essential to the way they live.

That's why it's important for restaurant SEO to optimize your Google Maps listing for customers looking to order delivery or takeout. 

Order online

You can choose "Order Online" or "Order for Pickup" or "Reserve a Table" links in Google My Business. Link directly to your DoorDash listing, or use DoorDash Storefront to set up commission-free online ordering from your own website. Storefront has no monthly fees or commission fees. Instead, you pay payment card processing fees of 2.9% of the total transaction amount + $0.30 per order.

Get found with an improved Google Maps ranking 

Now that you know how to get your restaurant on Google Maps, you’ll find it’s easier than ever for local customers to connect with your nearby restaurant. When you invest time in restaurant SEO, you improve your brand awareness and make it easier for new customers to find you and place orders. 

The next step? Optimize your restaurant website. A restaurant website that is fast, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly will rank higher in Google search results. Download The Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Website Marketing today to learn how to build a restaurant website that attracts new customers and drives sales. 


Allison Van Duyne

Allison Van Duyne

Content Marketing, DoorDash

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