Trying to stand out amongst the pack is no easy feat for a restaurant. You constantly have new competitors popping up left and right, not to mention your long-time neighbor that offers the same type of cuisine.
Thankfully there is a way to gain additional eyeballs on your restaurant with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Google research shows that in the U.S., there are more than 78 million searches each month by people looking for a restaurant option in their area, and it should be your goal to get as big a slice of those searches to visit your website as possible. With these six tips, you will be on the right track to accomplishing that goal.
1. Make sure you have a complete Google My Business profile
Google is by far and away the most popular search engine today, totaling nearly 87 percent of all searches on the Internet. And for any search that might contain local businesses in the results, a website will actually rank with its Google My Business (GMB) profile. This is why it is extremely important to make sure your restaurant has a GMB profile that is active and up to date with all of the correct information. Items that are included in your GMB profile are your website, address, hours, phone number, reviews, and other information that’s relevant to customers.
2. Seek out reviews on Google, Yelp, and any other restaurant directory
This tip will help both your SEO performance, as well as your overall business. People use reviews to make final decisions, while search engines use reviews to determine which websites should rank higher. This is why it is important to encourage customers to leave thoughtful, quality reviews online.
Feel free to leave notes on the receipt, send emails to previous customers, or even ask at the end of someone’s meal. It’s important to note that we do not encourage buying five-star reviews. You can always incentivize with a free appetizer, discount, or giveaway, if you would like, but you should never require that review to be five stars. That being said, if you are offering an incentive, it is likely that review will be five stars.
3. Ensure there is a menu page on your site
One of the most popular pages on a restaurant’s website outside of the homepage is the menu page. This page often acts as the “conversion” page that gets someone to come to your restaurant.
Search engines are able to recognize this fact and will often rank menu pages high. This makes it important that your restaurant’s website contains a menu page that is relatively up to date. If you are a restaurant that changes its menu daily, perhaps provide a new “sample” menu every month or two.
4. Get listed in restaurant directories and online articles
Being listed in a restaurant directory or online article is another opportunity that will help your restaurant in multiple ways. It will help you gain awareness and visits to your restaurant, but it will also help your SEO by improving its rank authority. Rank authority is an umbrella term that essentially means how likely your website is to rank highly in search engines.
Any time another quality website links to your website, your rank authority increases. So, make sure when you are listed in any directory or article that they include a link to your site.
5. Update your title tags to include information about your restaurant’s offerings and experiences
This is a slightly more technical tip, but one that your webmaster will be able to handle with no problem. A title tag is a small snippet of information about a specific webpage (less than 70 characters) used by search engines when ranking a page.
We’ve seen plenty of restaurant websites that create pages with great content but are missing the title tag for the search engine to use when ranking a page. The easy fix is to add in a title tag and see an increase in visits to a website.
6. If you are a restaurant group, make sure each restaurant’s website links to the other websites at least once
This is another easy win that improves the aforementioned rank authority. While it may seem obvious to the normal restaurant connoisseur that a specific restaurant is a part of a group, it is not obvious to search engines. Implementing these links on each website will provide that connection for a search engine and lead to improved results in search rankings.
Get your website ready for 2021
Taking the time to implement these tips now will enable you to get your up-to-date information indexed by Google and other search engines, so your business will be ranked higher for customers looking for restaurants like yours. Don’t forget to revisit your website on a regular basis and add new information so customers will always have everything they need to make a purchasing decision, event booking, or reservation.
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Fall 2020 Issue of Seated magazine.