Your restaurant SEO strategy can help increase your business brand awareness and, ultimately, bring more customers to your tables.
Building a strong online presence is fundamental to ensure your customers get all the information they need about your restaurant. On your hand, this can translate into a more efficient reservation process, increased traffic to your website and positive engagement with your clients, and ultimately, higher revenues.
The higher your restaurant ranks on search consoles like Google, the more likely you are to welcome new customers. It is therefore important for managers to dive into the topic of SEO for restaurants and update their restaurant online profiles from time to time. This also entails encouraging positive reviews and ratings, or even creating blog content.
Let's see how you can do it.
But first...what is SEO?
The term SEO stands for search engine optimization and refers to the process of making your website rank higher on platforms like Google or Yahoo . This helps drive more traffic to your page and, ultimately, direct new customers to your service or product.
SEO is one the most important parts of digital marketing. Search engine platforms use bots and algorithms to cluster and organize websites according to factors like keywords and content quality. In this way, people can be directed to the most accurate result when they are looking for something online - for example, your restaurant.
How to show up on Google search
Different factors determine the position of your restaurant website on search platforms like Google. Here are the main steps to get started with and implement your restaurant SEO.
1. Determine your customer demographics
Knowing your customers is key to building your restaurant marketing strategy. In the case of SEO for restaurants, this is finalized to building the list of keywords that are used in your website, mainly based on your geographic location and type of clientele, as well as understanding what people type in exactly when searching for your restaurant.
When thinning about who your customers are, don’t forget to take a look at your social media followers or restaurant review websites.
2. Choose the right keywords for your restaurants
SEO keywords are the keywords or phrases in your web content that make it possible for users to find your site. In other words, they are ideas and topics that define what your content is about. Optimizing your website for keywords simply means that the content of your restaurant page matches what your potential visitors type on Google.
There are three main groups of keywords that are relevant for your restaurant website:
▢ Broad restaurant keywords are the most competitive ones, especially in metropolitan areas where there are lots of restaurants. A simple example is any phrase containing your city or district like “restaurant in downtown Miami“. These can also include commonly used adjectives such as “new“, or “best“.
▢ Niche restaurant keywords are essentially used to define your type of restaurant and target audience. These include your type of cuisine and offer - for example “Asian restaurant in Miami“, “Chinese restaurant in Miami“, “vegan breakfast in Miami“. Make sure that you consider all the aspects that make your business unique, including attributes like “outdoor seating“, “live music“, “family restaurant“, “where to watch the game“, and so on.
▢ Branded keywords are the ones that are directly associated with your restaurant such as your business name, owner, or chef. Not a rule of thumb, but you might want to make sure that your restaurant website ranks higher than your social media page or other listing platforms such as delivery services.
By simply typing different keywords on Google and looking at the main suggested results, you can get to know the most popular phrases that are used to find restaurants like yours. You should also check on related searches at the bottom of your search results.
For more accurate results, you can use keyword planning tools like Google Keyword Planner. This tool gives you the possibility to input your selected keywords and obtain a list of related keywords with their related number of average monthly searches and competition.
Once you have refined your list of keywords, make sure you implement the different structural parts of your restaurant website, by including keywords on title tags and body text of your main page, menu, or contact page, as well as in the meta descriptions and alternative texts. When deciding on the title of your restaurant website, you should consider preceding your name with more popular keywords including your location and type of restaurant.
3. Implement your local SEO via Google My Business
Google gives users the possibility to search location-based results and deliver results featuring a Google Map carousel. There are many websites such as restaurant directories, restaurant review sites, or restaurant delivery platforms, that you can use to list your business and grow your online presence:
Google My Business is the most popular and useful tool for local SEO for restaurants. The platform allows you to display all the main restaurant information like address, opening hours, phone number, type of offer, as well as manage online reviews or answer questions from your customers, allow them to book a table or find a direct link to your restaurant events for free.
You can also manage multiple locations and create single pages for each restaurant.
4. Get shortlisted and collect positive reviews
Restaurant review websites and restaurant directories like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Urbanspoon, Foursquare, and Yellowpages help build your online presence and shape your reputation.
Positive ratings and reviews help your restaurant SEO since Google uses them as indicators to rank your website higher - therefore, encourage your customers to leave positive reviews (many restaurants offer special deals like free ice cream or coffee in exchange).
Your restaurant SEO can also improve by having your website linked on other platforms such as blogs, online newspapers, or even on your suppliers' website. Make sure that you engage in different testimonial activities and regularly check on opportunities to promote your business.
5. Work with a SEO agency
Restaurant managers can hire a SEO agency for different services like auditing your site or developing a tailored SEO strategy according to your goals. The average costs of hiring a SEO expert in the US is $100-$250 an hour.
6. Last but not least, create a smooth and engaging online experience
There are different ways to implement your online customer experience. Focus on creating an easy-to-navigate website and implement your restaurant mobile menu.
Also, create blog content around your restaurant mission statement or the latest industry trends. Although traffic does not directly impact the ranking of your restaurant website on Google, writing SEO-optimized blog posts can increase your brand awareness.
Consider that, for restaurants, mobile traffic accounts for a high percentage of potential visits and orders. Therefore, always double-check that your restaurant page is mobile-friendly, especially when you direct visitors to it through social media.