Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a crucial element of modern digital marketing efforts, and is an especially important concept for restaurants.
Restaurant searches are often some of the highest search volume terms in the world – 6.5 million searches for ‘restaurants near me’ are performed every month in the U.S. alone. On top of that, in any given city, there will often be significant competition with other restaurants to stand out from the crowd and win a new customer. Restaurants are also notorious for having razor thin margins that demand being at capacity almost every night of the week just to turn a profit.
So how does a restaurant perfect their SEO and get to the top of Google?
There are actually a range of different things restaurant marketers can do to get ahead of the competition when it comes to Google searches. Read on to see everything you need to know about SEO optimizing a restaurant today!
One of the absolutely essential elements of optimizing you restaurant for Google is ensuring all the on-page SEO elements on your website are up to scratch.
On-page SEO refers to any element that you have direct control over that lives on your website. This would include things like:
Your meta information includes title tags and meta descriptions for all of your pages. These will be the blue clickable text and the text directly underneath it that shows up in a Google search. You want your title tags to include your desired keywords, for example, “chinese restaurant toronto”, and you want to ensure that your brand name is included in every title tag too. Your meta description doesn’t directly impact your SEO, but you need to make it enticing enough that a user will want to click through to your site to learn more.
Another element of meta information is alt text, which is the written description of an image that is used by both Google and people with visual impairments to better understand your website. You want to ensure that every image on your website has associated alt text and that it not only describes what is in the image, but also includes a keyword here and there that you want to rank for.
Another thing you will want to optimize is the site speed, which is the amount of time it takes to load your website.
Slow page load speeds are one of the leading causes of a high bounce rate (the percentage of people who click on your website but then leave within 3 seconds without interacting with anything). Your page speed can be improved by compressing image files, implementing lazy loading, and other more technical processes. Consult with your developer on how you can optimize your page speed for SEO improvements.
Having a clear and consistent navigation structure is a must for any well optimized restaurant site.
This could be through clear drop down menus, implementing “breadcrumbs” that allow users to trace back their steps, or through an HTML sitemap in the footer of your website. By making your website easy and clear to navigate, you will not only improve the user experience, but also likely send positive ranking signals to Google as people will spend more time on your site and your bounce rate will decrease.
Another huge element of restaurant SEO is ensuring you have consistent NAP across your entire web presence.
NAP stands for Name, Address, (and) Phone number, and is one of the key things Google’s algorithm looks for when it comes to local businesses. Google wants to ensure that when it sends one of its users to a physical location, they are absolutely sure that that place really exists. If Google kept sending people to outdated or inaccurate addresses, people would stop trusting Google for their local searches!
That’s why Google takes a very critical eye to inconsistent NAP. As a local restaurant, you will want to ensure that every citation your restaurant has matches up perfectly with what it says in your Google My Business profile. If Google can be entirely confident that your business name, address, and phone number are accurate, it is more likely to rank you for your desired search terms.
Another element that many restaurants do not do properly is actually writing out their menu in plain text on their website.
A popular way of communicating a menu to potential customers is through hosting a PDF of the menu that can be downloaded to displayed on the website. While PDFs can be made to look very attractive and can be beneficial for customers to download, Google’s algorithm can’t read PDFs in the same way as HTML code. Your menu can also act as a great source of contextual information for Google, as the kinds of dishes you are serving will likely reflect on the kind of restaurant you are.
Ensure that your menu is posted in HTML on your website so that it can be properly parsed by Google. You could also have a download PDF option to add further utility to your potential customers as well.
Reviews continue to be hugely influential in consumer behaviour, and perhaps nowhere is this felt as keenly as in the restaurant industry.
With over 84% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, it has never been more important to ensure your business is generating as many positive reviews as possible. Google My Business is one of the best places to garner these reviews, and will show up attached to your Google Maps listing whenever someone goes searching for your restaurant. Google’s algorithm preferences listings that have not only good reviews, but also lots of reviews as well, so try to encourage your happy customers to jump online and leave you a few nice words!
Google My Business isn’t the only important place to be gathering reviews. Try and get as many as you can on sites like Tripadvisor, OpenTable, and Facebook as well to boost your overall online reputation.
Finally, embracing the power of influencer marketing can be a fantastic way to boost your brand and convince Google that your restaurant deserves to be at the top of the page.
With the rise of social media came the rise of the influencer – individuals online who have created a personal brand that has attracted thousands of people to follow them and listen to their opinions and recommendations as if they were from a close personal friend. This represents an incredible opportunity for brands to piggyback off this influence and get their name out in front of a large collection of their target audience.
Restaurants can use this in particular by inviting influencers to come and dine at their restaurants and document their experience for their audience. By showing their followers what a great time they had, as well as including links to your website and Google My Business listing, you can not only increase brand awareness and traffic to your site, but you can also generate some really powerful backlinks to your site for Google to see.
Restaurants stand to gain (or lose) a huge amount of foot traffic through SEO. A properly executed SEO setup and maintenance can result in improved Google rankings, increased brand recognition, and busy nights every day of the week. Combined with an effective influencer campaign and digital marketing program, and your restaurant could become the hottest place in town!
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