By now, restaurants, hotels, and unique venues acknowledge that Search Engine Optimization plays a large factor in scaling your business, but the process of optimization can often be overwhelming. So much technical jargon and conflicting opinions on strategy can leave you stuck in the mud.
Our goal with this article is to simplify one of the pillars of SEO strategy for you so that you can get those wheels turning and begin capitalizing on all the opportunities organic search can provide you. That pillar is keyword research. We’re going to help you determine what free tools to use (paid options can be recommended at a later date), and how to begin identifying keywords for website content.
There are dozens of keyword research options out there and all of them have their pros and cons, even the expensive options. Below are the three options that I use and trust the most to provide impactful information, and — most importantly — they’re free.
1. Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is my preferred tool on this list, as it often has the most accurate information and allows you to filter by specific locations (such as state or city). It also allows you to add in your website URL and will come up with recommendations based on the pages on your site. The only requirement for this tool is that you must create a Google Ads account to access it, but you do not need to spend any money on ads to use it.
If you did not want to create a Google Ads account to utilize Google Keyword Planner, then Ubersuggest is the next best thing. The information it provides also tends to be among the most accurate, however, it does not allow you to filter by locations any more specific than country. When it comes to restaurants, caterers, hotels, and event venues, this can be problematic since location-based searches are the most impactful for your business.
3. Google Search Console
Google Search Console (GSC) should be used in addition to one of the aforementioned research tools. This tool is more of a microscope into what keywords your website currently shows up for on Google and tells you the specific average position Google shows you in for any given keyword. The tool can also help identify any issues your website might have that can negatively impact how Google views your website. To set up GSC on your site, you often have to install a piece of code onto your website, which is often easy to do through the platform your website is on or with the help of a developer.
It can be a difficult task to try to put yourself in the minds of others, thinking “If this were me, how would I try to look this up on Google?” But thankfully we don’t have to be perfect and think of every single variation of search. That is where the keyword tools above do the bulk of the work. For businesses that depend on local customers, identifying how people search in or for your specific area is critical.
One great trick to help identify these local searches is to use near me, nearby, or near “insert your location” language. These tend to be the most popular types of location-based searches that show up frequently in these tools. A reason that these terms are great to focus on is that they are often easier to achieve a good SEO ranking for. Google does a great job of allowing local businesses to show for location-based searches. Also, if you are a hospitality business with multiple locations in different areas, then it is important to specify those different locations in detail by creating separate pages for each location or at least call out each location with a little detail that is unique to it.
Once you have your list of keywords, the next step is to group that list by the different topics and create different pages for those topics. For example, a restaurant might have keyword topics related to menu, private dining spaces, hours of operation, type of cuisine, etc. For each of these topics, it would be best practice to create an individual web page that provides answers to the keywords.
Keywords are the first step in a solid SEO strategy
Keyword research can be one of the most intimidating parts of SEO, but if you follow this guide and dedicate a little time to exploring the different variations, then you will be one step ahead of most of your competitors in the area and be prepared to increase your business through organic search.
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of Seated magazine.