If no one knows you’re there, no one’s going to come. A good location on the Internet might be virtual, but the customers you get from it are very real. When people are considering where to go to eat, they’ll often search the Web for ideas and recommendations. If your restaurant isn’t listed on the most popular sites for diners, you’re missing out on a huge segment of potential customers. Here are some of the most important sites for restaurants to have a presence on.
- Chowhound: Chowhound is a discussion board format site where food lovers rant and rave. These people are serious about their food, and engaging them in conversations can give you a little exposure and a lot of insight. Respond to posts and be sure not to spam the boards.
- Urbanspoon: Urbanspoon is a very popular site with restaurant goers and is one of top 1,000 sites in the US. They also have a great mobile app available so, be sure your restaurant is in their database.
- Restaurant.com: Restaurant.com is a little basic compared to some other sites, but it’s still got significant traffic and people love the discount coupons.
- Dine.com: While it’s not as popular as some other guides, it still gets enough traffic to make it worth your while.
- Zagat: Being ranked and rated by Zagat still carries quite a cache. If you’re in a major city where the competition is fierce, a good survey rating on Zagat can help you stand out from the crowd.
- MenuPages: People love to be able to browse menus. Make sure yours is included on MenuPages.
- Yelp: Yelp has taken over as the top dog in city guides. A listing here is a must for any restaurant. It’s free to list, and they offer some great tools too.
- Citysearch: Citysearch is still one of the more popular city guides. You can pay to advertise or get a basic free listing. To get a free listing, search for your business and either claim it if it appears or add a business if your restaurant isn’t yet listed.
- Metromix: Metromix is the new kid on the block, but listing with them is free.
See what local sites are popular in your city. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Search for "restaurants <your city>" and see what the top 10-20 results are. Some of them are sure to be local magazines, Web sites and newspapers. Get listed.
Some Web users won’t bother with a specialty site and rely on their basic or local searches to do the job. Make sure your restaurant is listed on Yahoo! Local, Google Local, Bing Local and Local.com. Basic listings are free and you can get quite a bit of Internet “walk-up traffic.”