Search Engine Optimization for Restaurants: 6 Tips to Rank

Marketing 20 minute read 21st November 2023

Pamphlets and restaurant menus are great for catching the attention of the general public. But they’re not enough to bring them to your restaurant if you don’t have a strong online presence. Hence, search engine optimization for restaurants is now a necessity rather than an option.

Think about it. What do people do when they first hear about a restaurant? They reach for their phone and search it online.

They want to see what people are saying about you. Plus, they visit your social media pages to get a feel of your offerings. How would they be able to get this information if you don’t have an online presence?

But don’t let this information intimidate you. By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to get your restaurant out in the open.

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What Is the Role of Search Engine Optimization for Restaurants?

Let’s start by understanding what search engine optimization is. It is a toolkit of techniques that aim to rank your restaurant’s website on search results pages. By doing so, you can amplify the chances of attracting more visitors organically. This is especially true for local businesses that can attract customers with local SEO.

However, some people think running a restaurant is only about good food and ambiance. While that’s the main thing, how would potential customers know you have what it takes?

Of course, you could resort to paid advertisements for your restaurant. But why not use SEO and save some money on your marketing? Nevertheless, that’s not the only role of search engine optimization for restaurants.

Firstly, it gives you a chance to appear in the local search results. It’s a huge achievement as a restaurant since that’s where most of your customers are. After all, people searching for food near them won’t want to see a restaurant three towns away.

Secondly, when you optimize your social media and post valuable content, it plays a part in your SEO.

This increased visibility drives customer engagement and lets you connect with the people that matter. Consequently, your visits, reservations, and orders will increase, giving a boost to your revenue.

Thirdly, a strong digital presence and appearing at the top of the search results build credibility for your restaurant.

You’ll probably be managing your Google reviews for SEO. And what better way to gain customer trust than a stream of positive reviews that bear witness to your offerings?

And lastly, SEO has the potential to position you as the thought leader of your industry. How? Because of the knowledgeable information you put out for search engines to find!

6 Search Engine Optimization Tips for Restaurant Websites

Studies have revealed that 77% of diners check a restaurant’s website before dining or ordering out. Now, it’s great if your website is full of appetizing shots of your food and picturesque ambiance.

But if that amazing content appears on the third or even the second page, it will instantly lower your credibility.

People will assume that you don’t have good reviews or the appropriate knowledge.

To save you from that, here are six search engine optimization tips for restaurant websites. Mix and match the ones that best fit your needs and scope to get the best results.

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Don’t Start Without Goals and Research

Researching and setting goals is a top priority for SEO. Yet, most restaurant owners overlook it in their haste to start selling. They don’t realize that copying and pasting their competitors’ SEO strategy won’t work. Of course, you can take inspiration from others. But your restaurant is unique, and so are its needs.

Therefore, the first step is to consider what you want to achieve with your SEO. Do you want it to increase customer engagement, boost revenue, or simply stand out?

Not getting clear on these goals can make it tough to track progress and make the right changes.

Then, there’s target audience research, which is just as important. Not all restaurants want to appeal to the same type of people.

If your specialty is fast food, you probably won’t want to waste your efforts on people who are health conscious.

Once you have your target audience picked out, it’s time to research SEO keywords. These keywords must resemble the language your target audience uses to search for restaurants like yours.

It’s no use appearing on the first page of Google if nobody searches for the keyword you rank for. A quick tip: there are three types of keywords in SEO: niche keywords, broad keywords, and brand keywords. You must use a combination of all three to get the best results.

Broad keywords are general search terms or phrases with a wide range of related queries. A good example would be “Restaurants in Texas.”

Niche keywords are more specific, and it’s easy to rank them, like “pet-friendly restaurants near me.”

Lastly, brand keywords are specific to your restaurant and target existing customers. Use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, UberSuggest, or SEMrush for a smooth process.

Build a Website and Optimize It for Mobile Users

While optimized social media profiles make a difference when it comes to SEO, having a website makes it easier. It takes less time, effort, and money that you can better spend on other resources.

So, if you’re hoping to increase online visibility by simply posting appetizing pictures on Instagram, you’re on the wrong track. Here’s what your restaurant website needs instead to boost SEO.

Start by creating a dedicated landing page with updated information about your restaurant. Add your address, menus, contact information, operating hours, and special offers to make it more accessible.

Moreover, use your website to stand out. Tell people your unique selling points that set you apart from your competitors.

However, the section that will hold the most value to rank your website is the blog page. This is where you can post articles, recipes, and tutorials to inform your customers and engage with them.

But you must publish content that people actually want to read, which means you can’t cram keywords in it. That will only make it sound robotic and cause your audience to bounce back.

Additionally, you must optimize your website for mobile since that’s the device most people use to search for restaurants.

Nothing makes a person leave a website more quickly than having to move around the page on a small screen. Plus, Google frowns upon websites that are not mobile-friendly.

Therefore, make your website responsive for all devices and decrease the amount of effort on the visitors’ side.

Besides, building a website and making it responsive has become quite easy with so many free website builders available. Squarespace, WordPress, and Wix are just to name a few.

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Register Your Business on Local Directories and Reviews Sites

People turn to online directories and review sites when deciding which restaurant to dine in or order from. And when they do, your restaurant must welcome them with a shining reputation.

Besides, these websites provide customers with a platform to talk about your restaurant, building credibility for you. But that won’t be possible without registering yourself in these places.

To begin with, create a Google My Business profile to appear in local Google search results.

It’s free, easy to make, and gives you a chance to appear on Google Maps. When people search for “restaurants near me,” Google will check your location through maps and rank your restaurant higher.

However, that’s not the only ranking factor. You must also display complete and updated information in your Google business profile.

Include the address, contact information, an about section, website, menus, pictures, and descriptions to make your profile enticing.

Besides Google, people will likely search for your restaurant and its reviews on Yelp, Yellow Pages, and TripAdvisor. Therefore, create a profile on local review sites and optimize it according to the platform.

You must also manage your reputation on these sites, but that tip deserves its separate section. So we’ll touch more on that later.

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Consistently Create Fresh Content

Your restaurant SEO can’t be complete without this next tip. After all, how will Google know whether your website matches the search results if it doesn’t have any content?

As mentioned earlier, your blog section will play a huge role in making you rank for keywords.

So, use this section to your advantage to post knowledgeable and interesting content. You can post quick recipes for your readers to enjoy. Or you can give cooking and other kitchen tips because people search for those.

You can even share nutritional information about the dishes on your menu. This way, your customers will know exactly what goes into the food you serve and how it benefits them.

Moreover, have a comment section there to let readers share their thoughts, questions, and suggestions.

Additionally, your articles must have professional pictures and alt tags for each. Add some of the keywords in these tags and meta descriptions to let Google know that your content is relevant.

Social media never fails when it comes to customer engagement. So, divide your blog content into smaller pieces to post on social media. Also, take advantage of paid advertisements there.

But don’t just leave it at that. Engage with them to learn what they want to read next. Do the same on your social media posts. This will help you create a content planner that interests your readers.

Lastly, you must be consistent with your content. If you stop after some time or if your content loses its charm, your competitors will outrank you. Once that happens, it’s hard to get back on track, though not impossible.

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Manage Your Online Reputation

Reviews are another ranking factor that is as important for SEO as quality content. Especially when it comes to local search results, Google ranks the restaurants with the best reviews higher.

At the end of the day, Google wants its customers (the searchers) to visit the best place. It won’t rank your restaurant if you aren’t doing anything to manage your online reviews. At this point, you might think you can’t control people’s opinions about your restaurant. Then what is there to manage?

Well, it’s all about how you react to feedback and what you do to encourage more positive reviews. Here’s how to manage your online reputation on Google.

Start by responding to each and every review, whether it’s positive or negative. For the former, thank the reviewer and show your gratitude.

But for the latter, you’ll have to make an effort to solve the issue. You must show genuine interest to let onlookers know that you care. In fact, the right response will get you repeat customers.

Therefore, apologize for your mistake and offer feasible solutions like discounts, exclusive dishes, etc.

Don’t blame the reviewer, and try to take the conversation to a more appropriate medium. Sometimes, you can’t control the situation through text, so a live meeting or a phone call will work best here.

Remember also to flag reviews when they sound fake or suspicious. However, to encourage more reviews, aim to provide a fantastic customer experience. That’s the best strategy hands down.

Lastly, conduct surveys and create opportunities for customers to share their opinions. Acting on those suggestions will put you in a special place in your customers’ minds.

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Track Your Efforts by Setting up Analytics Tools

Lastly, you must keep an eye on your efforts when you’re doing search engine optimization for restaurants.

The goals you set as the first step in your restaurant’s SEO strategy will tell you what metrics to measure.

Some of the most common metrics for a restaurant business are visibility, customer engagement, revenue, and conversions. But how do you track these efforts?

Well, you’ll obviously be using an SEO tool to come up with keywords. These tools have tracking features that can paint a picture of how well your SEO efforts are working. Or you can simply use Google Analytics, which is free and comes with each Google business profile.

However, as your restaurant grows, you’ll have to make investments in advanced tracking tools.

Tracking these metrics along the process will also help you make the appropriate changes. Don’t delay tracking because then you’ll have to completely alter your strategy rather than make small, achievable changes.

Make Search Engine Optimization the Ace up Your Sleeve To Attract More Traffic

Search engine optimization for restaurants can seem intimidating when you’re first starting out. That’s because there’s a lot that goes into SEO. But if you follow the right strategies and tips, it becomes somewhat effortless.

When it comes to SEO for local businesses, reviews are crucial. If you want to automate the process of getting reviews, try Beambox. It allows you to get more reviews and prevent negative ones from going online. Moreover, with Beambox, you can manage your reputation from one dashboard and automate the best marketing campaigns for local businesses.

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