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Managing the Map: How Local Search Is Driving Business to Quick-Service Restaurants


Building brand awareness for your quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain is simply no longer good enough. Successful QSR marketing now also requires location-driven marketing. With the rise of online searches on smartphones, people are now searching for not just well-known restaurant chains, but for those restaurant locations that are easiest to get to from their current location.

Consumers are pulling out their smartphones and typing in both branded and unbranded terms such as “pizza near me,” “coffee near me,” and “McDonald’s near me” to find the most convenient locations to visit. This explains why “near me” searches nearly doubled in 2015 over the previous year and increased by 34x from 2011 to 2015, according to a Think with Google report.

QSR chains need to optimize their web presence for these hyper-localized searches in order to get found by nearby consumers and to capture that business. Meanwhile, chains that fail to take such steps aren’t getting seen when it matters most—when an interested customer is right around the corner, ready to grab some lunch.

Getting Each of Your QSR Locations on the Map

While national branding is crucial for getting consumers to prefer your chain over others, localized marketing is a key driver in actually getting customers through the door at the right locations.

So how do you capture more foot traffic from near me searches? The answer is local search engine optimization, or local SEO. This form of online optimization makes each QSR location’s information more visible in search engines such as Google and Bing, therefore making it easier for the locations to get featured in local searches by potential customers.

If you do a good job building your local SEO, online searchers will see the following when they conduct near me searches that are relevant to your QSR location:

Map listing: When a customer types in a localized search term, such as “burgers near me,” a map appears high up on the search engine results page. This map teases the top three results and their locations on the map, with the option to view more results. Your goal is to not just get your QSR locations on the map for relevant searches, but also in the top three featured listings. Hungry online searchers may just click on the first results they see and make a split decision based on that information, so the more visible your location is, the better.

Listings on third-party directory sites: Consumers also heavily rely on sites such as Yelp, Foursquare, and TripAdvisor to help guide their dining decisions. Listings from these sites tend to come up in near me and other localized searches, and they impact business’ ability to appear in the map results, so it’s important that you manage your online directory listings for each of your QSR locations.

Start with Your Google and Bing Profiles

While there are numerous online directories, the most important ones to start with are your search engine-related directories: Google+ (Google My Business) and Bing Places for Business. These are the main directories that the search engines pull information for in their map listings.

For the best visibility in local searches, you need to ensure that each location’s Google and Bing profiles are properly filled out and kept up-to-date with accurate and consistent information. Then, do the same on other leading online directories, such as Yelp and Yellow Pages. The more accurate listings you have across the web, the more you build your credibility with search engines and the better your chances are of getting your locations found in localized searches.

A few other practices that help build local SEO are having a lot of positive online reviews (especially on your Google, Bing, and Yelp profiles) and using separate, locally optimized webpages for each of your restaurant locations.

Scorpion: Expert Digital Marketers Managing Your Local Presence

Optimizing the local presence and online reputation of all of your QSR locations is quite an undertaking. Not only do you have to manage the data of hundreds, or even thousands of locations, but you also have to keep up with the constantly evolving best practices set by Google and other search engines.

Scorpion can help! Our local SEO specialists and the rest of our expert digital marketing team can help you ensure that your QSR locations are getting the best exposure possible on the web. We provide website design and development, online listings management, online reputation management, and a full suite of other Internet marketing services.

Contact Scorpion today to find out how we can assist you with your QSR marketing!