Bring in more diners with SEO for restaurants

Fresh & tasty tech tips

Having a great website for your restaurant isn’t just about putting together a nice design. You need to optimize your site so it can be found by potential customers looking for you online. To do that, you first have to get search engines like Google to find and index it. Without SEO for restaurants, your website is like a billboard in the desert. No one will see it.

Without SEO, your website is like a billboard in the desert. No one will see it.

 

While Search Engine Optimization may seem like a daunting subject, it’s really easy to employ some basic techniques to get your website listed by search engines. The intended purpose of SEO is to enable the search engines to serve up your website to relevant searches — in other words, to recommend your site when potential customers are looking for a restaurant like yours.

Understanding what search engines look for is important in determining what SEO tactics you need to use. Here are some simple ways to optimize your site for better online visibility.

SEO for Restaurants Cocktail
Photo: Visualhunt

Six ways to get Google’s attention

  1. Improve your website content.

  2. Research your keywords.

  3. Make your website mobile friendly.

  4. Create profiles on local listings like Google My Business.

  5. Mind your NAP.

  6. Showcase good reviews.

Let’s look at each SEO for restaurants strategy in-depth.

1. Improve your website content

The top job of a search engine, such as Google, is to deliver results that are relevant to what the user is looking for. Search engines continuously “crawl” the web, indexing websites for the next time someone searches for that kind of information. They use a number of criteria to determine which sites are the closest match to what is being searched for.

Google loves words, people love pictures and videos. Plan to include both.

 

One of the most important of these is content, particularly the words on your site. Great content is defined by its high degree of relevancy to the theme and purpose of your site as well as it’s uniqueness. In other words, your content should be well-written, all about YOUR restaurant and completely original. Good content for restaurants comes, first and foremost, in the form of your menu. Search engines have gotten very good at crawling menus and have the ability to return results on specific menu items. To make it easy for the web crawlers to digest them, be sure to create web-based menus.

Aside from your menu, be sure to include reviews, awards, social media posts, recipes, photos and videos on your website. By showing real people enjoying themselves in your restaurant, you can bring in new patrons.

Other content important for restaurants are reviews, awards, social media posts, recipes, photos and videos. Restaurants have the ability to create rich, engaging visual content that’s both appealing to potential customers and tasty to search engines. For example:

  • Create action videos in your kitchen.
  • Post video demonstrations of seasonal recipes.
  • Capture events in your restaurant (you’ll need a release from participants to post this online).
  • Encourage your website visitors to create content for you by designating a place on your site to share photos and videos of their time at your restaurant.

In short, there is no substitute for good content. Time spent creating and refreshing it will pay big SEO dividends now and in the future.

SEO for Restaurants Menu
Photo: Ron Dollete via VisualHunt / CC BY-ND

2. Research your keywords

Keywords are central SEO for restaurants. Do some research to see which keywords, relative to restaurants, are most commonly searched for in your city. There are a number of tools you can use such as the Google Adwords Keyword Planner to help you identify the keywords to include on your website (you’ll need to create a Google account for this). To use the Keyword Planner, just:

  1. Select “Search for new keywords”
  2. Enter your city name, along with the term “restaurants”
  3. Select your product category, then click “Get ideas.”

This will show you the number of times a particular keyword or phrase is searched each month. The goal is not to stuff your pages with as many keywords as possible, but to be strategic in choosing keywords that have a good amount of searches without a lot of competition. Work just three or four of the best ones into your pages at a rate of one keyword for every 100 words.

3. Make your website mobile friendly

Having a mobile-friendly site is a must for restaurants. Most potential customers are making their dining decisions on the go and will therefore be searching for you on a mobile device. Having a responsive site that adapts to whatever device is accessing it will make your restaurant’s website easy to view on a cell screen and hopefully convert those searching for a place to eat into actual customers.

SEO for Restaurants Cell Phone
Photo: Visualhunt

A number of website builders, including GoDaddy GoCentral, will automatically convert your website to a mobile-friendly format when it’s accessed from a smartphone or tablet. Designed for smaller screens, mobile-optimized websites display important information such as menu, location, hours and phone number in a streamlined, easy-to-navigate format. Google also elevates mobile-friendly sites in their search results and actually downgrades websites that lack mobile formats.

4. Claim or create your profile on local listings

Claiming your business listing on Google My Business is an easy but important part of SEO for restaurants. By adding your information, you can be sure that you show up prominently when customers are looking for a restaurant like yours. You can make sure your information is accurate, add pictures and respond to reviews. You can also view analytics that give you insights on clicks, calls, views and who has asked for directions to your business.

SEO for Restaurants Listing

Additionally, you’ll want to create profiles on other directory sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and OpenTable. Adding your menu and other important information about your restaurant will improve your chances of being found. Remember, if you don’t create a profile for your business, one will be created for you. Take the time to make sure these listings are accurate and working for you.

5. Mind your NAP

NAP is an acronym that stands for name, address and phone number. Having consistency in your business information across the various business listings is imperative to achieving, and maintaining good SEO for restaurants. This is more of a challenge than most restaurants realize and, if not properly monitored, can have significant adverse effects on your digital presence. For example, if you’re listed as Tony’s Pizza in one directory and Tony’s Pizzeria on your website, the search engines will treat them as separate entities and will not assign authority to your website for being listed several times.

It’s important that your restaurant name, address and phone number are correct everywhere they appear on the web. If your hours change, make sure you update them on all the major business listings.

Be diligent in making sure your business information, including your hours of operation, is consistent and matches your website wherever it is added on the internet. Utilize a schema markup on your site, which is simply a small line of code, that pulls your business information and serves it to the web crawlers in a language that they easily understand. It produces a cleaner looking listing for you in search engine results and guarantees that your information is displayed accurately.

Want a little help keeping your listings current across the web? Try our easy DIY tool, Get Found. It simplifies the process of getting your site listed on Google, Yelp, FourSquare and other popular business listings. Make updates once in your GetFound dashboard to have them published across all sites.

6. Show off good reviews

Reviews are now a primary decision-making tool for consumers. This is especially true for Millennials and the up-and-coming Generation Z. Therefore, it’s a good idea to create a space on your website to showcase your good reviews. Generally, it’s best to feature them in a prominent position, such as on the homepage or in a sidebar, because they carry significant weight in the minds of potential customers.

SEO for Restaurants RatingYou can take your best reviews from those left on directory sites such as Yelp and Grubhub, but don’t just copy and paste. This will create duplicate content and potentially damage your search engine ranking. Instead snap a screenshot and add them to your website as an image. As with any photo you use, be sure to size them properly, name them with relevant keyword titles and add alt text so there’ll be a description of the image in case it doesn’t display.

Check out our free checklist: 5 ways to get more local customers

Get our list of things you can do to make sure your restaurant shows up when hungry people are looking for chow.

Make SEO for restaurants work for you

With these easy tactics, you can make good strides towards ensuring your website shows up on the top page of Google search results. SEO is not a get-rich-quick scheme. True optimization only comes with time, diligence and sound processes — there isn’t a quick path to the top of the search results. With that said, restaurants can work off a strategic plan that uses SEO to attract web traffic, fill seats and ultimately increase revenue.

Image by: Visual Hunt

Leslie Lynn
Leslie Park Lynn is a 16-year restaurant industry veteran. As a freelance writer and restaurant consultant her work is internationally known. Working in Fortune 500 companies she has gained extensive expertise in restaurant marketing, operations, management, brand development and culinary and beverage. Leslie has held management and operations positions with YUM! Brands, Darden Restaurants and Burger King Corporation and as a corporate consultant. She is currently working on her first book on restaurant startups.