Beginner’s Guide to SEO for Restaurants

If you haven’t heard of SEO – or search engine optimization – you’re missing out on an extremely powerful tool for content marketing. SEO is a marketing field aimed at maximizing turnaround for your business on the major search engines – essentially pushing you further up the search engine results lists, increasing your business’s visibility to customers. Even brick-and-mortar businesses should pay attention to SEO as a major tool. So how does SEO for restaurants work?

Leverage Keywords

The oldest trick in the book for SEO is effective keyword use. A search engine keyword is a term that people search in Google or other engines that pull websites related to that particular word. For example, if a person were to google “restaurant,” a search engine will pull the top SEO hits for restaurants – though this pulls a specific case relating to localized results, which we will touch on later.

Getting the most out of your keywords means prioritizing specific words from the beginning of your marketing strategy and orienting your website toward those terms. Google Keyword Planner is a useful tool for finding out what people search, and how to tailor your campaign.

Let’s face it, though, you probably won’t dominate the search engine results for the word “restaurant.” This means you need to hone your SEO for restaurants down to a narrower, niche category. A good first step is to narrow your keywords down geographically. A multi-location restaurant in Texas, for example, might want to focus on “Texas restaurants” or more specifically, the cities you have locations – “San Antonio restaurants” and so forth.

Categorize your SEO strategy even further – what type of food do you serve? Are you fancy, casual, upscale? Find the right niche and optimize for that specific target. Casting too broad a net might work if you are an established brand with hundreds of locations, but, for smaller chains or single-location restaurants, you’re going to want to fill your own niche for the time being.

Embrace Localization

As we hinted earlier, googling certain keywords pulls up the local stack – a list of nearby businesses that fit the searcher’s query and are located within the same area. Since they rely so heavily on foot traffic – no matter how technologically advanced the world becomes – SEO for restaurants benefits the most from having a strong local SEO strategy.

One of the first steps is to establish your business as a Google-verified local business. This means filling out your Google My Business and other pages completely and accurately, so Google knows who you are and when to pull your information for web searches. This has several other benefits for your restaurant as well, including allowing your customers to call directly from their phones if they’re on mobile. Keeping your phone, address, and name up-to-date is key – if anything changes, make sure to update your business page, so customers always have the most accurate information available.

Create User-Friendly SEO

SEO for restaurants has the unique advantage of adding your menu to search results. Take advantage of this feature as soon as you start your SEO campaign. Customers expect convenience and ease of use when they search for any business, and making your menu available online means they’ll have a better idea of what to expect at your location. Going above and beyond for your customers on the search engine results page (SERP) may not have a direct ranking benefit, but the more clickthroughs you receive, the better your SEO becomes.

Google recently started adding small SEO bonuses to sites that are mobile friendly. This is because the faster a page loads, the higher Google ranks it. If you don’t optimize your website for mobile, Google’s algorithm will penalize you for the slower speed. It’s also inconvenient for customers, meaning they are less likely to read and choose your restaurant.

Citations

Sites like Google My Business, which we discussed earlier, are business directories. In the context of SEO, having consistent information on all directories and business listings means that search engines will understand exactly what your restaurant is called, where it is, and how to contact it. This means that Google won’t misunderstand one element of your company’s information, in which case you would lose valuable SEO ranking because Google didn’t realize your Yelp listing is the same as your Foursquare info.

Accurate directory citations also mean that customers looking through sites like Yelp will have an easier time finding your restaurant’s menu and reviews, as well as getting to the site itself.

Web Design

There are also a few major web design choices you can make to seriously enhance your SEO for restaurants. This includes designing a website that search engines can easily crawl through. Minimize text inside images, as Google won’t read it as text, and limit your use of languages like Flash within your design structure.

An old-fashioned SEO tactic is the creative use of meta descriptions and titles. A meta description is the text you see below the headline on a SERP. While Google states this has no direct SEO benefit, it highlights keywords, and this can increase your clickthrough for users.

You should optimize your homepage for one specific keyword or keyword phrase. For example, your homepage could focus on “Charleston seafood restaurant” or a variant of that format. Restaurants may not need to focus on effective landing pages as much as other businesses, so long as your homepage has clear links to your menu and other important information.

When you create content, avoid repetition or copying information. It may seem straightforward, and you may not have much to say between web pages, but whenever the URL changes on your restaurant’s site, Google will count it as a different page. One of the worst penalties for SEO is a duplicate content marker, and repeating content – even from your own site – will flag this to Google.

Structured data is a more intensive solution, but using markup schema – a system to tell search engines exactly what your page is about – will make it easier for Google to pull your restaurant’s info for SERP.

Take Your SEO to the Next Level

Vizion is an experienced SEO agency that can do SEO for restaurants of all genres, filling an important role in your marketing campaign and driving traffic to your website. Our experience will maximize the benefit you receive from search engine clickthroughs and translate web traffic directly into high-volume paying customers.

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