"All businesses in local phone directories are included in the search engines' basic listings at no charge. Marketing experts say a small-business owner should spend a few hours making sure the search engines have up-to-date information on the company, such as its business category, accepted payment methods and Web address.
Some search engines and online directories also offer enhanced listings for a fee. For example, Melanee Thai Restaurant, on West Pico Boulevard, comes up when Yahoo users do queries for "Thai food Beverly Hills." The restaurant pays Yahoo $9.95 a month to display standard information plus a biography of its chef, a menu, coupons and photos of dishes.
"It used to be you were competing with everyone on the general search engine," said Thomas Mix, who built the Melanee Thai website. "Now it's localized, so your nearest competitor got a lot nearer. If they're in [the search engines] and you're not, you're going to lose business."
The article also cites this interesting statistic:
"Consumers, however, haven't held back, with 39% of those surveyed in February saying they used search engines for local shopping. Thirty-six percent said they used print Yellow Pages for local shopping, down from 51% in 2003."
There is a change in trends, and restaurants should be aware of having their information placed in the right databases. Most major databases will allow you to input your information for free. This is different from submitting your url to search engines, you are entering your restaurant information to be listed.
note: We will focus on ad services such as Google's AdWords for restaurant marketing at another time.