I was going to Burger Co last week, and I didn’t know exactly where it was. As any sane geek would do, I googled it with hope to find a map. Granted, a map was found. But check this, I also found its foursquare account, and 4 reviews about this restaurant.

When searching for "Burger Co Lebanon" on google

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What do bloggers have to say? Should you care as a restaurant owner?

Restaurants in Lebanon should be thinking about what people are writing. For example, as you can see in the above image, there are reviews from bloggers about Burger Co.

Why are blogs a source of information when it comes to something such as a restaurant being reviewed, a hotel, a movie… and all these mundane things? It is simply because people like you and me, want sincere opinions, and not polished ones by people who do this as a daily job, unlike bloggers who write passionately and only for fun.

Moreover, restaurants should be thinking about these bloggers, because blogs usually have a good rank, such as a blog hosted at blogger.com or wordpress.com, and since google has 70% of internet share, and since people now prefer to google (search for … online) things, even searching for website URLs instead of actually typing them in the address bar. In consequence, if your restaurant gets reviewed by a blogger, there are very high chances that the review is going to be featured on the first page of Google.

Is your restaurant on foursquare?

In addition to all that, there is foursquare and your restaurant is most probably on foursquare, if it’s not, it means no one created it, neither you nor a customer, which only shows that your restaurant isn’t that well known. Which means you really need to market it, and what better place than the market it online?

Anyway, if your restaurant is on foursquare, e.g. Burger co, chances are customers have written a tip or two about your food or service or speed etc.. don’t believe me? Check photo below:

Foursquare page of Burger Co Beirut

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So, as you can see, two of the tips actually recommend “Classic Burger Joint”, a competitor to Burger Co. But if you scroll down, you get many positive tips. But hey! Who scrolls down really?

So blogs and foursquare tips, what if they show bad reviews?

This is where your job comes in as a restaurant owner, or marketing guru of that restaurant. You either anticipate your presence online, and avoid such reactions, or you try to fix them after they took place, for the reason that when someone who wants to try your restaurant for the first time, they will stumble on this kind of information, and my bets are they’re going to turn to the other side, possibly go to Classic Burger Joint, that is only at a 3 minutes walking distance.

What would I do in your shoes!

If I were the restaurant owner, or the marketing guru, I would contact them bloggers again (disclaimer: I am not saying the reviews are negative in the above image, as a matter of fact I did not even check them, this is merely an example, not even a real case study, just trying to emulate a restaurant reviews gone bad) and invite them, and show them a nicer experience and avoid repeating the whole Benihana suing blogger fiasco, like seriously, google Benihana Kuwait, and see what you get!

What if I am opening a new restaurant?

Well, look no more, contact those bloggers who like to review restaurants, invite them + 1, or + 3, and give them a good experience (keyword: Engage). You should take into consideration that bloggers hold their blogs very dear to their hearts and mostly strive hard to remain credible to their readers, therefore they will be honest about their review. Consequently, they will be doing their jobs well, while you should do that too, if you want positive reviews that is.

Outcome? When someone googles the name of your restaurant, they will get those reviews, and hopefully they will be good, because well… because you care? and you trust yourself to be a very good restaurant!

Do you have a website? Heard of SEO? SEM?

If you don’t, it’s a big WHAT? A website is crucial, putting your restaurant’s menu, the map to your location, any special events, contact page, etc… and if you got them good reviews out there, make sure you link to them. It is no longer the era of placing an ad in a magazine or newspaper, now, you want your name to be “naturally” present in people’s content, and what better than credible blogs?

Now back to that website, after you hire a designer, then you put up the content, you should hire an SEO expert in order to make sure that your website shows up “organically” and “naturally” as top 1 in Google results. There are best practices for making a website “SEO” friendly. SEO is search engine optimization, in simple words, it means your website should be optimized in a way that it turns up on the top in searches on search engines, most importantly Google – since Google has the most internet share.

Searching for "burger restaurant in Lebanon" on google

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For example if you specialize in Burgers in Lebanon, wouldn’t it be awesome if your website comes up at rank 1 when someone googles: “burger restaurant Lebanon” or “restaurant that sells burgers in Lebanon“? (see above image)

In addition to SEO, you can also consider SEM (Search Engine Marketing), it’s basically those sponsored links and ads that show on top or on the side bar (see above image) near the Google search box. These ads basically are served depending on what the user is searching for. Google matches those ads to the keywords the user wrote, and this is great since you know that you are targeting the right audience. This is called paid search, meaning you pay for these ads to appear for the user, unlike SEO which shows up for free (however you pay for the consultation by the SEO dude/ette)

And of course there are facebook ads, which are pretty great as they can target audiences by specific demographic information, such as location, and also by age, gender and interests…

And now Social Media!

Now what about your presence on twitter, youtube, etc… Well those will be elaborated about in another post, I am falling asleep here. Plus it’s a very long post, not sure you even made it so far. If you must insist, this is a quick classic successful twitter strategy you can apply.

p.s. If you’re surprised that I used “google” as a verb, then you must really be a newbie online!

My Review BTW

I really liked Burger co, excellent service, kitchen is open, very clean, very nice decor, great location, but it’s pricy. I made a mistake in ordering “medium” meat, knowing that I always eat it well done, so I didn’t enjoy the burger that much. I only owe it to myself to try it again.