6 Essentials for Successful Restaurant SEO
When it comes to getting noticed, competition is fierce for restaurants. On top of that, many independent restaurants just don’t have the time or the budget to devote to creating marketing campaigns, so they rely on diners finding them through word of mouth marketing or expensive listing apps. But, getting noticed happens more and more online—and with that, I’d like to introduce you to one of the best champions of your restaurant: online search results.
You can think of search results through Google or Bing as an employee that works 24/7 to get more people looking at your restaurant. The way you do that is by enhancing your restaurant SEO (search engine optimization). This might sound confusing, but there are tons of simple and more in-depth ways to help your restaurant’s SEO. That way, when local diners search for restaurants in their area, they’ll find yours.
Restaurant SEO Basics: NAP
When it comes to restaurant SEO and local SEO, your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) are so important. Most of your potential customers are probably located in the same city as you, and many of them will include terms like “near me” or other geographically-based phrases in their search.
That’s why you need to make sure your NAP is consistent across all of your channels—including directories, social media accounts, and your website. This makes it easier for search engines to locate your business and serve it in results when users are trying to find restaurants like yours.
When your NAP information is consistent, search engines can understand your approximate location(s). By listing it across several channels, you are more likely to appear higher on search results.
For example, if a small pizza chain in New York City has 3 stores, say, one in Brooklyn, one in Queens and one in Manhattan, a searcher in Queens may not get served the same results when doing a search for the restaurant as a user in Brooklyn. The search engines will likely provide the closest option because its most suitable to the users’ location.
Google My Business Listing
Most people have searched for local businesses and have found businesses directly on the search engine results page that display a company’s essential information, photos, and reviews. This is known as a Google My Business listing. These listings allow business owners to display their NAP, provide hours of operation, link to a menu, categorize their business (i.e., brewery, bakery, etc.) and write a short snippet that summarizes the company.
An important note is that this also enables your company to appear on Google Maps. Furthermore, this listing allows business owners to post photos of their restaurant and reply to customer reviews, all of which fall into best practices.
Directory Listings and SEO Citations
Even though you may not have known it, there’s a good chance you’ve used directories before finding businesses. A mention of a business in a directory like Yelp, Zomato, or Trip Advisor is known as a “structured citation,” which plays a part in helping businesses gain exposure online. Some directories carry more credibility than others, but the three listed above weigh heaviest into the ranking equation for restaurants.
In addition, a structured citation includes information about your company, such as its name, address, and phone number. Listing your business in multiple directories helps search engines categorize and understand a company. It also provides consumers with an outlet to review and rate your restaurant. There are different types of SEO citations though, all of which can benefit your restaurant SEO. Do some research to see what works best for you.
For diners that don’t get business recommendations from friends, reading reviews is their go-to. In fact, 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Search engines are likely to value reviews as well – both positive and negative. And because nobody wants to get referred somewhere that will lead to a poor experience, ratings have become part of the ranking algorithm. Because of this, you must be active in following up on popular reviewer sites to either show gratitude for kind reviews or address negative ones that could turn potential customers away.
Mobile Responsive Website
At their core, search engines exist to provide meaningful results that help address user inquiries. Since most users who are searching for restaurants are performing what’s known as “on-the-go” searches, these people are likely to be on their phone. For your restaurant to show up in mobile search results, your website must be completely mobile responsive. You should know that 72% of searches performed in the food & beverage industry are completed on mobile.
Search engines aren’t likely to rank websites that give users a bad experience. After all, that would go against why they exist in the first place. In order to rank well on mobile search, responsiveness isn’t optional.
While responsiveness can provide a quality user experience, that’s only the foundation for a successful restaurant website. Now you must fill in the blanks with meaningful content that’s easy for your diners to locate and navigate toward.
Over half of visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on a site. This can be for several reasons—good and bad. Either:
- Users can’t find what they want and decide to leave
- Your web teams are doing a good job of providing clean and simple user experiences, only warranting a few seconds of their time.
While everyone wants to believe it’s the second option, it’s the former that’s the most likely.
To fix this, you need to know one thing: what kind of content does a user want to find if they’re on your site? It all depends on your industry. For restaurants, the most important items are their menus, location (consider embedding a map), any potential ongoing specials and – if applicable – reservation booking. This content should be accessible, and could potentially be included in the main navigation.
Boosting Your Restaurant SEO
SEO for restaurants can be a daunting task, especially when considering the daily responsibilities of running a business. But if you’re taking all of the steps necessary, you can improve your visibility and boost your bottom line. If you’re interested in other channels as well, there are plenty of restaurant marketing opportunities available.
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About the Author
Garrett oversaw QSR’s digital marketing strategy. With restaurants and technology being two of his favorite things, choosing to work at QSR Automations was a no brainer. Outside of work, he enjoys traveling, sports, and comedy.