The restaurant business is notoriously tough.
We know that any steps you can take to ensure your success are vital. It is with this in mind that we have put together this guide to SEO for restaurants so that you can take your daily web traffic to the next level.
With a front-page ranking on Google, your restaurant will have the ability to attract more dine-in, take-out and delivery customers with ease. We’ll teach you why, as a restaurant operator, you need to consider your SEO.
This guide will also go over the benefits of SEO for restaurants, easy tips on the best practices for restaurant SEO and how to monitor your newfound traffic.
SEO for restaurants can be transformative, especially when you consider the fact that the vast majority of consumers find places to dine with a Google search. Few of those people venture past the first page of results, making a first-page ranking essential for the success of your business.
Consider the thousands of people who search for restaurants each day. With immense competition vying for their business, that top result on Google’s first page is going to send droves to the doors of any dining establishment in that city.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization and it is, simply put, the process of optimizing your website for search engines.
A site that is optimized is rewarded in the results of search engines like Google with high rankings for relevant keywords and, in turn, traffic.
For example, if you search Google for “dining in Austin”, you’ll see over 500 million results. That number is astronomical but not uncommon. A search for “food trucks in Austin” returns 70 million results and a more specific search like “bakery in Austin” is still returning over 70 million results.
There is a way to get your website to rise to the top of those pages, though, and that is called SEO.
Why is SEO Important for Restaurants?
SEO can have a profound effect on a restaurant’s bottom line. With over 1 billion searches for restaurants every month on Google alone, a top ranking on Google can significantly increase the foot traffic into your restaurant..
According to data collected by Google regarding local search patterns, 4 in every 5 consumers use search engines to find businesses near them whether they are at home or traveling.
30% of that traffic converts to paying customers right away, while 60% will turn into a customer within an hour and a whopping 80% of local search traffic will eventually turn into a paying and valued customer at some point.
These conversion rates are massive and can have a substantial effect on your sales. That is, it will if your site is optimized to appear near the top of the search results.
How do Restaurants do SEO?
Search engine optimization for a restaurant starts on that restaurant’s website, ensuring everything is designed and maintained in a search engine friendly way.
A good restaurant website will also need to be user-friendly, making it easy for your potential customers to find the information they need.
From there, SEO for restaurants extends into a myriad of tools online that exist to help local businesses get found.
For instance, Google My Business allows restaurant owners to input important information about their location, hours, menu and more, which is what appears in the local search results on Google. Optimizing your business profile and website to appear in relevant searches is important, while also ensuring your foodservice establishment can be found on other restaurant listings like Yelp, Tripadvisor and more.
Maintaining social media pages for your restaurant adds to your visibility on the web, especially if you keep your location, hours, contact information and menu up to date. But all of this just scratches the surface.
There is a lot that goes into SEO for restaurants that can have a tremendous effect on your dine-in, take-out and delivery traffic.
10 Restaurant SEO Tips to Boost Your Rankings
SEO for restaurants can be a complicated labyrinth of algorithms and details, but there are some straightforward SEO strategies that you can easily tackle today.
How does a restaurant get started with SEO?
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important and accessible SEO tips for restaurant operators that can make a difference to your rankings.
Create Your Restaurant SEO Strategy
As a business owner, you’re familiar with a business plan. Like your business plan, your SEO needs a map to ensure you’re headed in the right direction.
That’s why it’s so important to sit down before you begin your SEO efforts and come up with an SEO strategy. How can we develop a good SEO strategy?
Well, the first step in any good SEO plan is determining your target audience.
This includes their geo-location, age, income level and more. Figuring out who your potential customer is will help you to reach them in the long run.
From there, you may want to set some goals for your SEO strategy. Goals can help you measure your success as you progress with your plan.
Next, outline the steps you need to take to optimize your website both on and off-site as well as what you need to do on a frequent basis to maintain its search engine friendliness.
The tips below can help you determine which steps you’ll need to include in your SEO strategy. Once you have your plan mapped out, you’re ready to optimize!
Research SEO Keywords for Restaurants
Keyword research is crucial to any SEO effort.
Knowing what language your potential audience is using to find you is like knowing the secret ingredient in a famous recipe. They may not be using the keywords you think they are.
It’s easy to find out what people are searching for who might end up in your dining room, though, through keyword research.
The last thing you want to do is spend your time and effort optimizing your website for target keywords that no one is searching for. Y
our keyword research should tell you the search volume for relevant SEO keywords for restaurants, suggest new keywords to you and also indicate how difficult it is to beat the competition in the search results for these keywords.
In the following four points, we’re going to look more in-depth at selecting broad keywords, niche keywords and brand keywords and discuss how you can go about researching them.
A broad keyword relevant to the foodservice industry would be a search phrase such as “restaurants in Austin” or “dining in Austin”. There’s no mention of what kind of restaurant the searcher is looking for or where in Austin they may prefer to go.
In a city like Austin, with thousands of restaurants to choose from, the competition is going to be fierce for these broad search terms.
However, if you live in a smaller town, a broad search term may not have much competition at all. You can get a good idea of some of the broad search terms your potential customers are using by looking at Google’s suggested searches when you conduct a relevant search.
Choosing to target broad search terms can make your goals more difficult to attain than if you chose more niche key phrases, to begin with.
Niche keywords are more specific than broad keywords or key phrases.
They can be centered around the type of cuisine served in your establishment, how much it will cost to eat there, or, as in the case of our example, whether or not a restaurant is family-friendly.
Targeting niche keywords is always going to be easier than broad ones, and they do generate less traffic. But, there’s an upside upside to choosing to zero in on more niche search terms:t you can be sure you’re reaching your target audience in a more efficient way.
You can find niche keyword ideas using Google’s search suggestions.
Sites like Yelp and OpenTable can also offer some insight into niche keywords when you take a look at the categories used to organize the restaurants in your area.
Brand keywords are specific to your restaurant and are often searched for by repeat customers and people who have had someone else suggest your restaurant to them.
For instance, a brand keyword for Easy Tiger in Austin would be it’s name or variations of it.
Brand keywords for your establishment will include your restaurant’s name, perhaps a well-known dish or chef and variations on these. Find out what branded keywords your audience is searching for by taking a look at the suggested searches on Google.
Tools for Keyword Research
So, how can a restaurant owner get started with keyword research? Keyword research becomes a lot easier when you engage the use of an online keyword planning tool.
The web is full of free and paid tools that will tell you the approximate number of searches conducted each month for different keywords.
Google offers their keyword planner for free in your Google Ads account, and affordable tools such as Ahrefs.com are worth every penny of the cost. These ools will tell you which keywords and key phrases that are relevant to your business get searched the most often.
Google Keyword Planner can be accessed via your Google Ads account. When you input keywords into the tool, it will return your specified keywords as well as suggestions related to them.
Next to each keyword, you’ll see the average monthly searches as well as an assessment of the competition.
Low competition means it’s going to be easier to reach a top ranking for that keyword. A great keyword to go after would be one with high search volume and low competition.
Similarly, with Ahrefs.com, you’ll find the tool offers suggestions based on the keywords you entered, as well as an estimate of the monthly traffic.
You’ll notice one key difference is that with Ahrefs.com, the competition or “difficulty” is represented by a number, rather than a descriptive word like “low”.
The higher the number is, the harder it will be to reach a top placement for that keyword. Ahrefs also offers more in-depth suggestions and analysis of your keywords than Google Keyword Planner.
Optimize for Local Search
What is local SEO for restaurants?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your business’s web presence for the local results on search engines. When you look for geographically specific businesses on Google, the results page is topped by local listings marked on a map of the area you’re searching in.
These results have special features that allow consumers to know more about the business. For instance, you’ll see the establishment’s rating and reviews:
You’ll also see how expensive the business is considered, represented by dollar signs. The more that appear, the more expensive it is:
Hours of operation and services provided are indicated in Google local listings as well:
For restaurants, the vast majority of searches that will convert users into paying customers are going to be local searches.
Few people in Austin, Texas are looking for a quick take-out burrito in Honolulu.
According to research, 80% of our disposable income is spent in businesses and shops that are within 20 miles of where we live.
That means your restaurant’s success is going to be determined by those who live near it. Appearing at the top of local dining-related searches in your area is going to have a transformative effect on your business.
It all starts by creating and maintaining your restaurant’s profile on Google My Business.
To start, ensure you’re logged into the Google account associated with your business. You’ll be asked to either search for your business or add your business.
If your restaurant is already listed on Google Local search, look for it and follow the instructions to claim the profile.
If it’s not already listed, simply add it by following the steps Google will take you through.
Finally, when editing your restaurant’s profile, add as much information as possible to help your potential customers find you. Photos and a menu always win big on local search.
List Your Restaurant on Review Sites and Local Directories
Your restaurant’s search engine optimization is also boosted significantly when your business is listed on review sites and local directories.
Not only do websites like Yelp, OpenTable, and Tripadvisor provide valuable visibility within their own pages, but your listing on their website can actually appear high in the search results on Google as well.
Further, some of these websites curate lists that your establishment can appear on, such as “Best Bakeries in Austin” or “Top Family-Friendly Dining Experiences in Austin” that also have the potential to appear in the Google search results.
Make sure your listings on these directories are up to date with your correct location, hours of operation, menu, and phone number, and always remember to ensure your website is linked.
Encourage Your Customers to Leave Reviews
Reviews can have a substantial impact on where you appear both on Google and on local directories like Yelp and Tripadvisor.
Eateries with good ratings from a large number of reviewers get the benefit of immediate trust from most local search consumers.
87% of consumers read business reviews online and a colossal 94% of consumers said they trust a positive review.
Those lists we talked about in the last point, curated by sites like Yelp and OpenTable?
Restaurants with a lot of positive reviews make it to lists like those. Good reviews online can change everything for a restaurant. How does a restaurant get more reviews? It’s easy!
Encourage your customers to leave positive reviews by reminding them on your menu, on their receipt, and in social posts.
You can further entice them to leave a good review by offering discounts, a free menu item, or gift cards to those who have left positive feedback on Google, Yelp, Tripadvisor, or any other review site your restaurant may be listed on. (Note: some review sites don’t allow some of these methods)
It’s also an important practice to keep your eye on your reviews and respond as soon as possible if you ever see a negative comment.
Optimize Your On-Page SEO
On-page SEO is search engine optimization that takes place within the pages of your website.
This includes making sure your target keywords are appearing in critical locations around your website, eliminating any crawl errors that are occurring with the bots sent out by search engines and making sure your website is appearing in the search results in a way that will attract traffic.
While there is so much more to on-page SEO, tackling these important key factors can have a positive effect on your online visibility, website traffic, and ultimately, your bottom line.
Your first step in tackling your on-page SEO would be to set up Google Search Console. This is a free tool by Google that allows website owners to track indexing errors on their website and ensure the Google search bots are finding all the key information on your site. To begin, check that you’re logged into a Google account that you want to be associated with your business (the one you used for Google My Business is your best bet).
Head on over to Google Search Console and click Start Now. From there, Google will take you through a series of steps to set up your web property. Once you’ve got it set up, you’ll have a dashboard that will give you all kinds of information on your website, including crawl errors that should be corrected as soon as possible.
From there, you’ll want to prepare your website to be crawled properly. Steps to take to make this happen include creating a sitemap, submitting your sitemap through your Google Search Console account, creating a robots.txt file, and ensuring there are links on your website to and from all the pages you’d like indexed.
Finally, your on-page SEO is going to be boosted by placing your targetted keywords in strategic places around your website.
Your keywords should appear in the unique URLs for each page on your site, within each page’s title tags and meta description tags, in your pages headings and body copy, and finally, you should make sure keywords appear in image alt tags around your website.
Optimize Your Off-Page SEO
Your social media presence combined with any inbound links you’ve earned from other websites make up your off-page SEO.
Why is off-page SEO important?
The way the search engines see it is that the more other sites link to you and the more your website appears in social media posts and shares, the more authority your website has on the topic being discussed in said posts and sites.
It’s a way to build your authority outside of your website.
Consider each inbound link from someone else’s site as a vote of confidence in your expertise, your product, and your service. The more you have, the more valuable your website will appear to search engines like Google.
As such, your website can be rewarded with higher rankings in search results. Not all backlinks are created equal, though. Some will carry more weight than others, so, in any attempt to build backlinks, ensure you’re targeting high-quality websites that Google already seems to like.
Obtaining backlinks from high authority websites can be tricky and time-consuming but some of the most tried and true methods include guest posting for high-quality food or review blogs, creating content that is likely to get shared on social media, and of course, ask bloggers and influencers for links, reviews, feature posts and more.
Despite the time it takes to build backlinks, the results can be enormous.
Optimize for Mobile-Friendliness
60% of all internet searches are conducted on a mobile device, but when you narrow the focus down to the food and beverage industry, that number increases to 72%. Further, 78% of mobile searches result in an offline purchase of some kind.
Just stop for a moment and think about the number of potential customers you may be alienating if your website is not mobile-friendly.
What’s more, Google actually rewards those websites that are optimized for mobile use. A responsive website set up to serve both mobile and desktop users is absolutely crucial to the success of your restaurant’s online presence.
You can find out if Google views your website as mobile-friendly or not by using this tool.
The good news is that a mobile-friendly website is easy to achieve whether your website is built on WordPress, Wix, Squarespace or any other web software.
Most of these suites have plugins, themes or add-ons that enable mobile friendliness and will allow you to edit your pages in both a mobile view and a desktop view.
Most of your potential customers are going to find you while using a mobile device. This is a crucial step in SEO for restaurants.
Implement Schema Markup
Schema markup, sometimes referred to as structured data, is code used to communicate more clearly with search engines so that they can more clearly understand the content of your website.
Optimizing schema markup is heavily rewarded by Google in the search results, which means implementing this data can boost your rankings.
Implementing schema markup that is restaurant-specific is key. You’ll get the most out of using markups such as “Accepts Reservations”, “Serves Cuisine”, and “Currencies Accepted.” As you can likely decipher, this data is used to clarify the finer details of your restaurant. To learn more about Schema for restaurants, visit the Schema website.
This is pretty advanced stuff and if you don’t have a good understanding of your website’s code, it’s probably best to hire someone to complete an SEO audit and implement schema markup for you.
Alternatively, most web software suites have plugins available that can help with schema markup.
Track Your Efforts in Google Analytics
Alright, now it’s time to check the fruits of your labor. An easy way to track any increase in search traffic to your website is by installing Google Analytics on its pages.
You’ll be able to track real-time visitors on your site, as well as deep dive into metrics on how they found you, which pages on your site they visited and how long they spent there.
You’ll want to keep a close eye on the traffic that comes from organic search, as this is what determines the success of your SEO marketing for restaurants.
Easily find out how many people in your city are discovering your website by viewing your Location Google Analytics.
You’ll also be able to determine what portion of your website visitors are finding you on mobile, tablet, and desktop devices by going to Audience > Mobile > Overview.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free tool that tracks the visits to your website as well as the behavior and demographics of the users.
Analytics gives you data on where your visitors are in the world, how they found you, which pages on your site they visited, how long they spent on your website, what actions they may have taken on each page, their language, device, operating system, browser and so much more.
This data is infinitely valuable and can paint a detailed picture of what you need to do to improve your restaurant SEO efforts.
Final Thoughts on Search Engine Optimization for Restaurants
In today’s tech-driven world, search engine optimization has become a part of a restaurant’s marketing that cannot be ignored.
We’ve gone over the fact that most consumers find restaurants through search.
We’ve discovered that those searches have shockingly high conversion rates. We know, without a doubt, that the success of your restaurant is tied closely to its web visibility.
So, while many of these SEO tips can be time-consuming, especially for someone running a busy restaurant, they are crucial to continued success.
If you need help with your restaurant SEO or you just want to find out how well you’re doing in the eyes of the search engines, or learn more about restaurant SEO services reach out to Propellic for a free SEO consultation and kick your restaurant SEO into high gear.