Local SEO case study: Amy's Baking Company
What's trending right now? Amy's Baking Company which is a restaurant located in Scottsdale, Arizona and it is trending for all the wrong reasons. Why? Because it was featured on Gordon Ramsay's popular Kitchen Nightmares episode.
The irony in this whole process is the amount of publicity this restaurant is getting might actually keep it in business and for the wrong reasons.
If these restaurant owners behave the same way in real life as they do on television, who wouldn't want to go there to experience one of the worst restaurants of all time for laughs?
Jokes aside this restaurant is probably doomed but if you are a restaurant owner, there are plenty of great things to take away from this case example especially from a local SEO point of view.
If you don't know anything about this show it is hillarous.
This article from Buzzfeed summarizes the whole thing very quickly if you haven't seen this already, it has gone viral worldwide and Amy is now a star:
Lets start with reviews
Tips on reviews and social media for restaurant owners
The great thing about the internet right now is that if you have a poor service or product, it becomes difficult, almost impossible to hide from it.
You can't hide if someone gives you a negative review criticizing your service, value or food quality.
If one person complains, well it is a single complaint but if you have consistent negative complaints, it is up to the owner to fix this because these negative reviews are probably never going to disappear and at some point will become impossible to change.
Think of it like a report card always attached to your restaurant, in the future if more people rely on these reviews, then you won't be able to hide from this.
So good and great restaurants will get rewarded and the bad restaurants will probably end up going out of business with another one waiting to replace it.
So if you are a restaurant owner, you need to pay attention to good reviews and bad ones.
There are too many owners that don't comment on any of these.
Using tripadvisor.com as an example, owners can leave comments to complaints and if the restaurant was in the wrong in anyway, this is your chance to show that you care.
Reviews are never going to disappear so restaurants need to stay on top of these, if they are negative think of it like free consultation that didn't cost you money of the things you need to do to improve.
For some restaurants this could mean a difference of total failure or becoming a profitable one.
Avoid fake reviews
It seems obvious that this Amy character is creating more positive reviews for herself as a means of offsetting the negative reviews.
This is not recommended at all especially if you get caught. If you do get caught, you add fuel to the fire and people now want to go out of their way to ensure more negative reviews appears.
No need to create more enemies.
In some websites and review services, if you do this in a very sloppy way, they will know you have done these fake positive reviews for yourself and they could remove all of them and ban your account preventing you from defending yourself or talking to your customers.
Some people will blindly read reviews but in these days you have to give credit to people being smarter than you think.
If a review seems forced or fake, people get the feeling when they read it and if this happens you lose trust automatically which will never be regained.
People also trust reviews from people that have a history of writing reviews.
If we use tripadvisor as an example, it would look fake to have 5 or 6 positive reviews with obscure people that have no profile picture and have only 1 review.
I've had one SEO client ask me to give him a positive review for his wedding photography services in New York City but I said I can't do this as I haven't married anyone nor used his services.
Ironically enough he mentioned that his posting rights were removed for a while as he was probably giving himself positive reviews.
Tips for Local SEO: on page optimization
Their website www.amysbakingco.com, which at the time of writing this article is becoming difficult to view as it is constantly getting hacked does have some things done right to help their local SEO efforts to be found.
If we look at their page title it contains Scottsdale, AZ and their postal code which of course make up some of the search terms for people looking for restaurants in that area.
Page title: Well written and contains local information related to their website.
On top of this, they have their address and phone number listed on the website itself which makes it likely they would show up for search results involving some of those keywords whether it is 'Scottsdale' or their postal code 85260.
Below is the google search result for 'Amy's Baking Company' which of course the number one result for her restaurant name is all about the negative publicity received from the Kitchen Nightmare episode, which you can read here:
Below is what you see when searching for something like 'pizzeria Scottsdale 85260'.
Descriptions: I didn't find a description on the homepage so assuming it doesn't exist on other pages.
This is a mistake, maybe not a critical one as google can sometimes auto generate one for the site but you never know what is going to appear.
It is recommended for all webmasters to fill in a proper well thought out page title and description.
Their page title is done very well, description was missing and they have their address on the homepage.
Local information as content: I have worked with webmasters that want to rank for a topic that is local and if there is no mention of the location and the webmaster tools they haven't assigned their location, how is a search engine supposed to know if say for example, your photography services are for new york city if this isn't mentioned anywhere?
Normally you can find local directories just by trial and error but sometimes local directories keep popping up all the time.
Fortunately for restaurants as extremely popular as Amy's Baking Company, you can find tons of examples that maybe you didn't know exist.
Of course there are popular ones like TripAdvisor.com and Yelp.com but there are certainly more of these appearing all the time.
The good thing is if you are a restaurant owner and you do a search for something like 'Sushi Restaurants Toronto' you can see which websites are ranking high and which directories do as well.
Since Amy is extremely popular, people are rushing to give them the latest review whether positive or negative.
If we want to try to find all of these reviews just search for 'Amy's Baking Company review' or try reviews as another keyword alternative.
Here are some of the reviews I have found looking for reviews of her company:
Actually to be honest it is now very difficult finding all of the reviews as too many news sites and blogs are all talking about it but if you want to find almost all possible places for reviews and local directories this is one resource you find.
Every city and country has their own different types of local directories and listings for a topic like restaurants for example.
Other local directories of interest
facebook.com - yes, Facebook now wants to share where your friends have been
Local directories are valuable sources for businesses and restaurants.
These bigger directories sometimes give you a link back to your website, they can also send traffic to your websites as they generate their own traffic and many times their listings rank well in search engines.
As mentioned every country is different so just search for your topic and location and see which local directory or website ranks high.
Amy's Baking Company is probably doomed for failure.
This Hells Kitchen episode has gone viral and that is not good for their restaurant. They have negative reviews which it is their responsibility to fix and they have been caught many times giving themselves fake positive reviews.
Their on page optimization is better than most sites in terms of local search.
They now seem to be listed on almost every review site possible related to their restaurant and location in Scottsdale, all of their local news sources have them fully covered and for the wrong reasons.
If they were positive reviews then this restaurant would be set for life and could probably be managed on autopilot.
They also have plenty more links for their websites and their social media pages but again, this is terrible for them.
So if you are a restaurant what should you be doing for local SEO and reviews?
- Make sure your website is optimized for local: Page titles, descriptions and content
- Ensure you are listed in the main local directories and get setup with google.com/places
- Get locals news and bloggers to write about your restaurant, preferably in a positive light
- Ensure you have good food and service to get positive reviews
- Encourage your customers to share the restaurant with their friends: Facebook like, follow in twitter, google plus, get them to check in with FourSquare, rating and reviewing in other directories like yelp, tripadvisor and other restaurant related websites
As for Amy's Baking Company, the only thing they could do at this point to survive is apologize to everyone for being assholes, stop being assholes and change their attitude and beg for Chef Gordon Ramsay to come back, help fix their restaurant and menu.
Last but not least they need an overhaul on how they treat customers.
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