What happens when you “Just Google it”?

The following post is part 1 of 2 introducing the basics of how Google operates and understanding this is extremely important to knowing how and why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is useful to businesses.

Google is everything and everywhere and is an indispensable part of the daily lives of billions of people around the world. And not too shockingly, most people have no idea exactly what happens when they type words in the search box and press enter.

Why is it important to know how Google works? Probably because we humans tend to be lazy and rely on others to do the work for us. If I want to know “Where is the best taco restaurant in Sacramento” all I have to do is type that exact phrase in Google and voila!

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After the paid advertisement, there’s a nice map and a list of tacos places in Sacramento. Now, if you owned a business selling tacos in Sacramento, wouldn’t you want to be on this list? That’s why knowing how Google works is so important for businesses.

How do we/you know they’re the best tho? Well, let’s pretend we’re looking for information to decide that. I assume that the “best places” are usually the most popular, the most talked about, the most shared and referenced. We might look for key words like “taco, best, Sacramento” and see how many of those words are grouped together. And in essence, that’s what Google does. Only the Google algorithm uses over 200 different criteria to decide what the answer to “Where is the best taco restaurant in Sacramento.”

Obviously, the process and algorithm Google uses to rank search results is complicated but I’ll try to simplify it to show the more important points. First, let’s do a little searching…on Google..for the answer to the question, “How does Google work”?

These are the rough steps google uses when analyzing a search query;

  1. Determine users needs such as location, country, and language
  2. Determine users intent and reason for the search including recent searches, past behaviour, popular search items,
  3. Rank search criteria such as the quantity, quality, reputation and relevancy
  4. Factor in penalties and filters such as online ads, untrustworthy sites, sites misusing or overusing keywords
  5. Display results 

There’s a great infographic on seobook that show’s a more in-depth breakdown of these steps.

Once you understand how Google works, it’s possible to optimize your website and increase your chances to be selected as the relevant answer to a search query. And by using simple search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and tips, I can help drive traffic to your website.

That’s the beauty of SEO.

~Rob

Follow my blog for part 2 when I’ll discuss ways that can increase your chances to be found first in a Google search query.

Introducing my new business venture, Rob Rosenblatt Consulting!

Hi everyone!

It’s with great pride that I’ve decided to start my own business, Rob Rosenblatt Consulting, specializing in marketing for restaurants, pubs, cafes and other hospitality businesses.

I started working in this industry more than 20 years ago when I became a busboy at Milwaukee’s Bar & Grill, a four-story, popular bar in downtown Toronto. It was a demanding job and running up and down four flights of stairs carrying 20 and 30 litre kegs for years took their toll. In time, my hard work paid off and I was promoted to service bar, then head bartender.

From there, I moved on to man the bar at some extremely busy pubs before moving into casual and fine dining. The reason, quite simply, was the hours. I was married at the time and for years I only saw my wife when I got home at 5am. In the end, I made the jump to casual dining where I could be home before midnight and actually get to spend time with my spouse. But I always loved the atmosphere of working in a busy bar with familiar regulars who would come in and see me after they finished their workday for a quick drink before home.

I decided to go back to school in 2010 and graduated at the top of my class with an honours diploma in Marketing Management from George Brown College in 2013. With my service background and my education, it became very clear just how poorly restaurants were marketing themselves.

Many places I’ve worked at seem to treat marketing as a passive, one-off thing you do occasionally when you want to promote something like a daily feature or special event. Post some pictures, make a flyer for the window…that sort of thing. The amount of missed opportunities and ill conceived and poorly planned events drove me crazy and I realized there was a need for marketing information specially designed and focused on restaurants and hospitality establishments. Many places are run by chefs who are passionate about cooking but lack a background in business and marketing. And it’s these businesses that I feel would benefit from having an experienced hand guide them on the right path to achieve their goals.

It’s with that in mind that I’ve launched my business, Rob Rosenblatt Consulting, and I hope you’ll take the time to read my blog as I’ll be updating it with tips and important information that will make it easier for you to get noticed and drive consumers to your front door.

~Rob

What You Say Isn’t As Important As Who You Say It To.

Today I’d like to share my thoughts on content creation and targeting.

It’s been drilled in my head that one of the basic tenets of marketing is choosing which piece of the pie is yours. And market segmentation and target marketing work on the premise that you’ve done your research beforehand. That means knowing who your customer is so you can deliver more value than competitors.

We’ve all seen examples of ads in unfortunate (or terrible) locations. It’s particularly funny for OOH ads that juxtapose an image or message with the most unlikely or inappropriate environment. But it can happen anywhere and in any context that advertisers try to deliver their message to consumers.

Now I know that there are advantages and disadvantages of both mass marketing and niche marketing but in the end, I believe this boils down to how well you know your customers. I often ask myself when I see an ad, how can you be the best choice in a sea of possibilities when you don’t even know me or what I want. Are you speaking to me directly?

I’m not saying that content doesn’t matter, of course it does. Say something offensive and just watch how fast the public backlash happens in response. Content is king and offering something of value is what will win you market share over competitors. The key is to make sure you’re choosing the right eyes. And you should always be customer focused with the end user in mind. Otherwise what’s the point? You might as well advertise light bulbs in a dark room.

One size does not fit all.

I always remember the Five Ws of journalism, “who” comes first and that’s the way I think it should be.

4 Business Lessons from a Waiter

Being a waiter can be brutally hard sometimes. You’re on your feet all day, running around the restaurant taking orders, bussing, serving, cleaning up, resetting. On a busy day you wish you had a third arm so you didn’t have to make as many trips back and forth from the line or the dish pit. I’m haunted by the words “Pick-up!” being screamed at me. And let’s be honest, being a server doesn’t exactly get you a ton of respect.

But after 18 years in the hospitality industry working in all the FOH (front of the house) positions, I’ve learned these 4 important lessons for your business.

1. Problem popped up? Don’t bury your head in the sand.

I can’t stress this enough, if you make a mistake or the kitchen makes a mistake…it doesn’t matter to the customer. They want their order fast, hot and fresh just like it’s supposed to happen. You can’t ignore them, walk by them and put them off, embarrassed to apologize for something that maybe isn’t your fault to begin with. But you have to go to them sooner or later so make it sooner.

If you see something isn’t working out as planned, or maybe keeping the schedule is going to be impossible or costs are starting to balloon, try to be upfront with the client. Chances are they can see things aren’t running as smoothly as they should and you have a chance to address concerns before they become full blown stressors. And your client will appreciate your being proactive instead of reactionary. In short, try to defuse a problem before it explodes.

2. Prepare for the busy season.

7:30 pm on a Saturday night is prime time for restaurants. It’s the busiest day of the week at the time that’s the most sought after by customers. But besides the importance of having everything you need prepped and ready, it’s also really important that you keep things simple. That means no big menu changes, no new trial software, or different server sections. Your staff need to be familiar and work comfortably to be as efficient as possible.

In business that means that you have the foresight to plan ahead and have staff hired and trained for the busy season. Anticipate your needs, prepare for the most common problems and follow these two well-known adages, the Law of the 7 Ps and KISS.

3. The customer may not be right, but they’re paying you so make it right.

This is a toughie because, in the end, the customer is paying for a good/service that you’re providing. It’s really that simple but sometimes customers can make this simple transaction way too complicated and stressful. Bossy, pushy, arrogant, and demanding customers are an almost daily occurrence for most servers. Yet it is possible to sharpen your communication and negotiation skills such that you can satisfy (most) guests.

And that’s the secret, communicating your desire to your guest to make them happy in a calm, polite manner. Instead of saying “but” or “can’t”, tell your guests what you will do for them and show how that it’s above and beyond what you normally provide. It’s accommodate, not acquiesce. Realize that helping your customer pays dividends and that you both benefit in the end.

4. It’s all about the experience.

Whether or not a guest comes back to a restaurant depends on their own criteria but more often than not it’s about value, personal tastes, and the experience. While you can tinker with prices and portion sizes and try new recipes every once in a while, you interact with your guests every day and a great deal of these interactions form the overall experience they have with you.

Every contact point with your customer should be checked to ensure that you’re providing a positive experience. Do your staff know proper phone etiquette? Do you have a list of important information that staff may need to know (so they don’t have to put someone on hold to find out what your hours of operation are, which happens a lot)? Is there anything broken or in need of repair? Is your business clean and welcoming? All these things are routinely overlooked but so important.

It doesn’t take a genius to be a good server, but surprisingly there are many terrible servers out there. The same applies to any business and yet we’ve all heard horror stories that have left us wincing. But if you remember to acknowledge and communicate, prepare, accommodate, and create a positive experience, I believe you’ll cement your reputation in the hearts and minds (and wallets) of your customers.

~Rob

For close to 20 years, Rob has worked in bars, pubs, pool halls, fine dining restaurants, bistros, banquet halls and everything in between doing every job there is to do.