Would you like to get more customers to your restaurant by simply boosting your rankings on Google with SEO? This is a rhetorical question. With 60% of consumers searching for cafes and local restaurants online, it imperative that you optimize your restaurant SEO strategy. Since 75% of clicks go to the first page of a Google search result, it is imperative as a restaurant that you are on the first page, as potential customers are looking for convenience above all else when they are hungry and trying to find a place to eat.
What Is Restaurant SEO?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one of the best marketing strategies apart from having a mobile/online ordering system for a restaurant in 2018. Restaurant SEO can be considered optimizing your restaurant’s website, social media, and overall digital presence by adding relevant content to your website like recipes and blog posts, engaging with your customers on your social media, and making sure information about your restaurant is consistent such as your address and phone number on local listings so that Google knows you are relevant. All you need to know are the basics to help you get started.
Disclaimer: Examples used in this blog are restaurants from my local area. None of these examples are my clients.
Determine Your Restaurant SEO Strategy and Keywords
When implementing your restaurant SEO strategy, the very first thing you want to do is to clearly define what audience and geographical location(s) you are targeting. By defining the targeting of your audience and geographical location(s), you are getting in the mind of what potential customers would type into Google when searching for your restaurant, and how to tailor your SEO strategy and content around those potential customers.
Once you determined your targeting, then you can research keywords that are centered around your potential customers to maximize your Google search results. For restaurants there are generally three keyword groupings which are: broad, niche-specific, and brand related.
Broad Restaurant Keywords
An example of a broad keyword grouping for a restaurant would be simply “Restaurant near me” or “Restaurant in Atlanta”. Depending on the geographical location your restaurant is located in, you would have to take into consideration how competitive your broad keyword is. There are hundreds of “Restaurants in Atlanta” as it is an enormous city, so by using a broad keyword in that city you would face more competition opposed to if your restaurant is in Billings, Montana you will have much less competition for a keyword like “Restaurant in Billings”.
Restaurant Niche Keywords
An example of a niche-specific keyword grouping for a restaurant would be “Vegan Restaurant” or “Thai Restaurant in Atlanta”. By being niche-specific you are narrowing down your targeting to your restaurant’s niche and will likely face less competition. Sometimes niche-specific targeting can be tricky for example if you have a Thai Restaurant in Atlanta do you use niche-specific keywords such as “Thai Restaurant in Atlanta” or “Asian Restaurant in Atlanta”? The “Asian Restaurant in Atlanta” might have more competition but the best course of action to determine what niche-specific keywords you should use for your restaurant is to simply look at sites like Yelp, OpenTable, and Foursquare to see the categories and criteria they use for your area. Or simply use the Google search result suggestions as shown below with an example of a niche-specific keyword search included.
An example of a brand-related keyword for a restaurant would simply be its name. Some of the most popular brand name restaurants we know are Olive Garden, Cheesecake Factory and many more. Don’t assume you’ll ascend to the top of Google rankings for your brand name because there are 2 common problems you can face. The first problem is sometimes two restaurants have the same name but are in different states. If one restaurant is maximizing their SEO strategy while the other one isn’t at all; even though it’s not likely especially since local search criteria takes precedent on Google, that restaurant may rank higher on search results. The second problem is that local directories and a restaurant’s social media pages may rank higher than their actual website. While some might not view that as a bad thing for their social media page to outrank their website, your website should provide more value and has ways where you can track the traffic that is coming to your website unlike social media pages.
Tool for Researching Your Restaurant’s Keywords
There are various SEO tools to help you monitor the position of your keywords and give recommendation on not only other keywords you should target but how to improve your rankings as well. One of best tools is the Google Keyword Planner. Here’s how you can use this tool for your keyword research:
- Log in or sign up for a Google AdWords Account and visit Google Keyword Planner on the dashboard.
- Input your target keywords, for example, “Thai restaurant in Atlanta”.
- Click on “Keyword” and you will be presented with a table that shows your keywords and their respective search volumes along with other helpful data.
By researching keywords, you are able to get first-hand information about your target audience, the search volume of the keyword, and the info they want to know and how they want it. This is crucial if you want to write content and headlines on your website that rank well in Google search results.
Optimize Your Restaurant Website and Content for Conversions
What good is bringing traffic to your restaurant’s website if it is not optimized? It’s like going to a car dealership with no cars. As a restaurant you need to optimize your website. Here is a list of what every restaurant website should have and we’ll use Maple and Ash in Chicago for most of our examples:
Restaurant Brand Story
What makes your restaurant unique? Is it a family owned business that has passed down recipes for decades? Does your food come from the local farmers in your area, so it is always fresh and organic? Make sure that you capture your brand story on your website so that you make yourself distinct in the customer’s eye. Your brand story should be placed on your Home Page and if you make it a video even better!
Have Your Restaurant Address and Phone Number Clearly Visible
Your target audience should be able to find your address on your website easily. Thus, consider putting it on your homepage in the most visible place as most users will be searching for your restaurant on mobile looking to contact the restaurant in regard to reservations or quick directions on how to get there from the confides of their car, office, and home and do not have time searching for it throughout your website. Doing so will greatly increase your conversions.
Your working hours is another crucial piece of information. Are you open daily? What kind of meals of meals do you serve for breakfast, lunch etc.? It is a competitive advantage, as it might be the difference between a customer choosing your restaurant over another simply because you are open longer than them.
Optimize Your Website’s Menu
New potential customers will first check the menu before they can come to the restaurant. So, it is essential that users can easily find the menu on your website. Remember to include lunch and other seasonal offers you would want to promote. Also have, high-quality enticing pictures of your food so that it motivates a potential customer to come in. You may have high-quality food but if the pictures of your food on your website are grainy potential customers will not come into your restaurant.
Also, make sure that your menu is not in PDF format. The text on PDFs are not readable by search engine crawlers not only decreasing your rankings but not allowing your menu to be indexed by Google. Mobile devices have a hard time displaying PDF, and users who are on mobile will have to pin and scroll to look at your menu, therefore decreasing your conversions.
As seen below, make sure your menu is long form and on one page that doesn’t require any additional clicks. It is quicker and more convenient for mobile users rather than clicking and going to additional pages. It also gives you an option to download.
How to Make a Reservations
Make sure your site contains information on how potential customers can make a reservation with just one click of a button, especially on mobile. If your potential customers check your menu and location and were happy with what they saw, they would likely book right away without leaving the page. Make it easy for them, the more barriers you put in front of a potential customer the more likely they are not to convert.
Online Ordering App
With 79% of millennials (18-34) having ordered food through an online app, it is imperative that if your restaurant provides online ordering that it is conveniently located on your homepage. The reason being, 67% of people who have placed an ordered online at a restaurant are more likely to frequent that restaurant more, than those who haven’t an order. By having your online ordering app easily accessible, you will convert more transactions and foot traffic into your restaurant as it will be easy for mobile users to order food at a click of a button.
Add Photos of the Interior Throughout Your Website
Add eye-catching photos of the interior of your restaurant. Most potential customers will decide whether they want to spend their time in your restaurant by looking at the interior and its ambiance. Thus, consider making the best of it, going to a restaurant is a social get-away for most people so make them want to spend an hour or two in your restaurant.
Have Your E-mail List Sign-up Easily Accessible
As a restaurant, your e-mail list is an asset that allows you to continuously communicate and engage with your customers whether that be new events you are hosting or dishes you are coming out with. Having your e-mail sign-up easily accessible makes it easier for customers who are interested in your restaurant to sign-up so that they can stay up to date which builds loyalty.
One way to get your customers to sign-up to your e-mail list is to incentivize them. As shown below, Revitasize gives their potential customers a 10% discount if they sign-up to their newsletter.
Make Sure Your Restaurant Website is Mobile Friendly
Most of your users will be searching for a restaurant on their mobile device. The use of mobile ordering apps, the internet, and SMS text have accounted for nearly 1.9 billion food service visits and has grown by 18% this year. Thus, it is vital that you have a mobile responsive website for an enhanced user experience. Research shows more restaurant searches in the United States take place on mobile devices than desktops. Thus, it is crucial that your site looks great and functions well on any mobile device, whether it is a small iPhone or a large screen tablet.
Google actually ranks mobile-friendly websites higher in their search results. If you want to improve your search rankings, ensure you have a mobile-friendly website. Use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test tool to determine if your website is mobile-friendly. All you need to do is to type in your URL and click on “ANALYZE”.
The results will give you a list of the page loading issues it encountered, such as pages where robots.txt and redirection errors prevented Googlebot from crawling the page as seen below.
Optimize the Speed of Your Restaurant’s Website
Most users visiting your website will be on mobile therefore your pages need to load at a fast rate. Google now punishes websites who have slow loading pages as that not only makes for a bad user experience but it also makes for an increased bounce rate.
Most restaurant websites have slow loading speed due to their images. Make sure you are optimizing your images before uploading them onto your website. Tools such as Optimizilla can decrease the file size of your images without effecting the quality of your photo.
Ensure Your Website is Secure
If your restaurant website has an e-mail sign-up, catering, or online ordering app you more than likely collect personal information. To keep visitors protected on your website you need to make sure that it is SSL secure. By making your website secure, you are ensuring that information stored on your website such as personal information is protected from outside threats such as hackers who try to steal information. Furthermore, as of July 2018, Google now identifies non-https websites as non-secure which can also affect your search engine rankings. Below, is an example of a restaurant whose website is SSL secured:
Install Analytics to Your Restaurant Website
You need to make sure that all what you are doing is working for you. There are many tools you can use to monitor and analyze your website’s SEO efforts.
First, you need to install Google Analytics onto your restaurant’s website. Google Analytics help you determine the number of visitors your website is getting and where they are coming from. More organic visits mean that your Restaurant SEO strategy is working.
Another tool you need to install is Google Search Console, as it allows you to increase your visibility on Google by being able to add your website to Google’s index. To see if your website is properly indexed on Google, simply type: Site: “your website URL” in the Google search bar as shown below:
Optimize Your Local SEO with “Google My Business” and Other Local Listings
It is imperative that you maximize your local SEO efforts as a restaurant. Restaurants depend on local search more than any other type of business. Google gives local businesses priority when a user does a local search. Thus, it is absolutely important for your local restaurant SEO. According to Bright Local, 97% of consumers used the internet to search for local businesses. There are many local directory listings that your restaurant can be in. Start dominating in local searches by adding your restaurant to the biggest and most relevant platforms, the most important one for Google search ranking for restaurants being “Google My Business”.
Google My Business for Restaurants
Listing your restaurant on “Google My Business” should be one of the first things your restaurant does to improve its Google search rankings. The first thing you will see on most local restaurant search results on Google will be the Google Maps with a restaurant location, as seen below.
Google My Business offers the best and most versatile features for your restaurant including:
Google My Business allows you to add your own URLs for specific actions, such as viewing the menu or reserving a table. Quick links not only help your customers find the right information fast, but also give you more space in local search results. They also enhance your conversion rates as customers can book a table directly from your listing. Google has partnered with OpenTable to make this implementation onto your Google My Business even easier.
Q and A
The Q and A feature enables you to ask and answer questions about your business. It is imperative you only ask and answer questions that might be useful to your users. More importantly, monitor your customer’s questions and be first to answer them when they appear on your business listing.
With Google Posts, you can add posts of up to 300 words with pictures and link to it with call to actions like “get offer”, “buy”, “sign up”, “reserve”, and “learn more”. You can use these posts to advertise your specials, promote events or publish news about your restaurant. This makes it even easier and convenient for you to convert customers because if they want to redeem an offer or buy something it’s at a click of a button.
Google also tracks how busy a restaurant is in real-time. This allows customers to know what kind of traffic to expect in your restaurant every day of the week.
Boost Your Restaurant’s Reviews and Ratings
Over 60% of customers trust reviews as a resource when choosing a restaurant. Encourage customers to leave a review. Be sure to respond to all your online reviews whether negative or positive. It is important that you showcase good reviews on your website as this will help you rank over competitors on local searches in Google.
If your restaurant has poor online ratings, get more positive reviews to help improve your score such as offering a 5-dollar gift card to your restaurant every time someone gives you a 5-star review on Google. High star ratings and positive reviews mean a higher click through rate to your website and consequently more foot traffic to your restaurant because of your higher rank in the local searches on Google.
Add Your Restaurant to the Top Relevant and Local Listings
Any reference of your restaurant on a local listing is called a citation. By adding your restaurant to local and relevant listings, you are increasing your creditability and trust with the search engines. Some of the most relevant listings that your restaurant should be on is Yelp and Trip Advisor, as most of these listing will actually have a higher ranking on search engines than the actual restaurant website. The more citations that appear on the web, the higher authority your website will receive which will result in higher rankings especially on local search.
Using services such as BrightLocal make adding your restaurant to these listings seamless as they have a submission service which will greatly decrease the amount of time if you did them manually yourself.
NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) Consistency on Listings and Directories
Ensure that all your online listings are consistent. Most search engines like Google don’t like inconsistent listings and negatively impact your Google search rankings. Thus, you’ll want to make sure that all your important information is updated and is the same everywhere. Make sure that you use the same business name, contact information and address across the web, including on social media platforms, directories, and other business listings you may have. Potential customers would not be too fond if they drove to your old location. The free tools at MOZ Local can help check complete, inconsistent, or duplicate listings as shown below.
Local Link Building
Communities love when local businesses give back. As a restaurant, you can do free catering to kid’s soccer games, host networking groups, or even provide free lunch to an elementary school. Not only does this benefit the community and build local awareness for your restaurant but it also allows the opportunity for you to be featured on high authoritative local websites if media outlets happen to pick up on the stories. High authoritative local websites include: .edu or .gov links that can greatly boost your local rankings if they link to your website as this tells Google you are well recognized in the local community.
On-Page SEO for Restaurants
Assuming that you know which keywords, you want to target, you need to perfect the on-page SEO of your website to maximize your performance on Google’s search results. Here are some of the key considerations:
Optimize Your Title Tags
Title tags have a huge impact on the performance and search rankings of your restaurant’s website. As a restaurant ensure that all your title tags are descriptive, unique and catered to your target keywords so that Google has an easier time finding your website. Do not use the same keywords and title tags repetitively as Google will punish you in the search rankings for doing so.
Here is an example of a restaurant with a good title tag:
Optimize Your Meta Descriptions
Although Google does not analyze them for search rankings, the meta description is what appears to convince users to come to your restaurant’s website. A good meta description should explain in 160 characters what your restaurant is all about. Are you a Fine Dining Restaurant in Atlanta that serves French cuisine? Your meta description determines if a potential customer chooses your restaurant over another. Always make sure you make it as informative as possible by highlighting some of your keywords. Even if you do not set your meta description, Google will fill it for you by taking whatever text comes first on your home page.
Here is another example but their meta description:
Use Schema Markup (Structured Data Markup)
Schema markup is a form of micro-data that goes on your website that assists Google in understanding what your content is on a webpage. For example, if you have schema implemented on your menu page, your menu page may show up on Google search results. The more optimized your structured data markup is, the more Google will reward you in driving traffic to your website. Schema gives users more relevant info in an organized manner. To implement the schema markup onto your restaurant’s website, use the Google Structured Data Markup Helper.
Additionally, showcase your star ratings in search results using your structured data markup. This will give your users a compelling reason to click on your website versus your competitors’ site. You will also have a greater impact on your site’s traffic through search results pages as well.
A must use for restaurants is implementing the library full of schema tailored just for restaurants at Schema.org/Restaurant.
Understand that implementing schema is advanced level SEO and to implement this data onto your website it will take an experienced developer or a website platform that has the essential plug-ins or built in options. Consider hiring a freelancer on Fiverr if you don’t have anybody in-house to accomplish this. The faster you get this done, the faster you will rank ahead of your restaurant’s competitors.
Add Keywords to Your Alt Text
Alternative text helps search engines describe the content of an image as well as find you in the right context. A good local SEO strategy is to implement your keyword in the description of your images. If a potential customer searches for your keyword and comes across a quality image of the food at your restaurant on a Google Search result, they may be even more inclined to come into your restaurant and that image will link back to your website. Take credit for your work!
Have Unique Content Such as A Blog
Producing unique content on your restaurant not only contributes to a good user experience, but it also tells the search engines that your site is relevant and authoritative. As a restaurant you should have a blog in which you can discuss and create unique content that interests your customers. Some examples of unique content that you can curate on your restaurant blog can include, the process of making one of your signature dishes, health benefits of certain foods your restaurant provides, and even about another local businesses in your area as they may feature you on their website as well. By making this unique content you are giving your restaurant website an opportunity to get backlinks to these blog posts from other websites. One of the first determinants of search engine rankings is the backlink profile of a website, the more backlinks, generally the higher ranking.
Off-Page SEO For Restaurants
Off-Page SEO can be described as the authority you have away from your website. The two most important factors Google takes into consideration when it comes to Off-Page SEO is a website’s backlink profile and social media.
Link Building for Restaurants
As discussed earlier, the more relevant and high quality your backlink profile is, the higher you will rank in the search engines. A backlink is when an external website links out to your website. If Google and other search engines see that relevant and high-quality websites are linking to your site, you are establishing authority and trust with the search engines. Building backlinks can be time consuming but here are some ways that you can go about obtaining them:
Create Engaging Content
Engaging content is a magnet for backlinks. If you create content that is informative or entertaining to users, they are more than likely going to share your content which will naturally drive backlinks to your website. Users love sharing and mentioning content with others especially if it solves their problems.
E-mail Outreach to Restaurant Influencers and Bloggers
Research the biggest influencer and bloggers in the restaurant industry and your local area. An example could be your local foodies who have blogs and are looking for restaurants to promote which could be an opportunity to receive a backlink or feature. Remember, provide value first when outreaching influencers and bloggers. Nobody wants to link to content that is not valuable or somebody who does not link to them as well.
You can also use reputable blogger outreach services such as Gotch SEO to do the outreach and writing for you.
Guest Post on Other Websites in the Restaurant Industry
If you are having a hard time with outreach you can foster mutually benefiting relationships by posting your content on their website, with it linking back to you. This not only helps out both parties, but it also develops relationships as that website may even want your restaurant to become a regular contributor.
At Better Bistro Media, we did a guest post on Modern Restaurant Management, on “Restaurant Strategies to Attract Customers”. This not only helped us build a relationship, but it also increased the awareness of our brand on an established website.
Social Media for Restaurants
Although there is no definitive correlation between social media and how it is associated with your SEO, it can only be beneficial to optimize your social media profiles as a restaurant. Your social media is the direct outlet you have to engage with your customers on a daily basis while creating buzz in your market and can funnel your following to your website.
The two main social media platforms a restaurant should optimize are their Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook SEO for Restaurants
Facebook is home to 2.19 billion users and is a tool as restaurant you should maximize. With the installation of Business Manager businesses are capable of running ads on Facebook that are not only targeted to their following but people outside their following in their local area and national area as well. As a restaurant you can take advantage of this and run Facebook ads for your restaurant of your daily deals, giveaways, and offers and create a sales funnel that leads customers to your website as you can see below:
Instagram SEO for Restaurants
Instagram is not only the fastest growing social media platform, but it also boasts 500 million users just second to Facebook. A way your restaurant can capitalize on Instagram is by posting compelling pictures of your interior, employees, and food of course but also utilizing the geo-tag feature as well. Most millennials check out a restaurant’s Instagram page before they even decide to eat there and 30% won’t if the pictures don’t look compelling! Instagram also has a geo-tag feature in which users can tag the location of your restaurant in their pictures, that not only allows their following to see it but if you look up your restaurant in the “tags” section of Instagram you could see all of the photos your restaurant is tagged in. Make sure to have your restaurant’s Instagram profile as business so that you are able to add your link in your bio, because you can move this traffic organically onto your website as well, which helps your Google search rankings.
In addition, make sure that all your restaurant’s social media profiles have your physical location, along with restaurant name, menu, hours, popular hours, and a URL back to your site. Remember to keep these consistent across all platforms as these platforms will naturally funnel to your restaurant’s website. Use your social media profiles to get your target audience talking about your restaurant and sharing your content. Create relevant, interesting and unique content and encourage readers to share and like it. This can help you grow more organically and acquire more followers and fans while boosting your ranking on Google search results because of the number of social shares you are generating, which in Google’s eyes they see as authority and trustworthy.
We know you are busy running your restaurant as it takes more than just appetizing foods to attract new customers to your restaurant. With most people looking for new places to eat online, it is imperative to stick to your restaurant SEO plan and always keep your website optimized. Now that you have an idea on how to get started and a guide you can reference here, go back and start implementing the strategies you have learnt. Search Engine Optimization takes time to deliver results, the earlier you start the better off your restaurant will be in the long run.
We know as a restaurant you are very busy with a multitude of things. If you want to decrease the amount of time it takes to see the results of your Google search rankings exponentially, contact us today as we are a premiere Georgia SEO Agency and have worked with many restaurants in the past, so we know what will work for you!