SEO For Restaurants: Little Things That Make a Big Impact
The restaurant industry is so cutthroat that any advantage over the competition is as good as gold; in today’s digitally driven world, that gold is Search Engine Optimization — or SEO for short.
No matter how big or small your restaurant is, SEO needs to be a part of your digital marketing strategy. Restaurants are the most searched industry by consumers, and 75 percent of them chose a place to dine based on those results. So, if your business isn’t showing up in the search results, how will you capture the attention of potential customers?
Let’s take a look at restaurant SEO, what it is, and the little things you can do to help improve your Google search results and make a significant impact on your bottom line.
What is SEO?
Before we go any further, let’s take a quick minute to define search engine optimization and why it’s essential to your business.
The SEO software company, Moz, gives us a great definition of SEO:
“Search engine optimization is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”
The key term in this definition is “organic.” Whether it’s Google, Bing, or Yahoo, every search engine displays natural (organic) links to web pages they deem most relevant to a search term.
For instance, if a user queries the term ‘Italian restaurants Miami Beach’ search engines will display blog post links from the likes of Yelp or TripAdvisor that boast the top 10 best Italian restaurants in Miami Beach. Additionally, the user is presented with a map of local business listings that match the query term.
If your restaurant isn’t near the top of that local search map, you’re missing out on hundreds of potential customers per month. Ninety percent of web pages get no organic search traffic from Google, but do you know why? It’s simple math – only 10 percent of the content lives on page one of Google – the other 90 percent is on page two and beyond.
For example, take your search habits. When searching for something on Google or any other search engine, how often do you click on page two? We’re willing to bet hardly ever. You’re probably more likely to refine your search term before you click the second page. If these sound like your search habits, you can most certainly bet your customers have similar ones.
Claim Your Business Listing on Search Engines and Directories
Before you even launch a website, claim your company and standardize information across all search engines and business listings such as:
- Google My Business
- Yahoo Local
- Bing Places for Business
- Yellow Pages
Also, any other local business directory that you find relevant to your business.
Make sure that every platform displays consistent data and that all contact information is accurate. Additionally, you also want to optimize the content with specific keywords for your eatery so that you show up in queries. Some search engines display the top three most relevant “places” in a query based on keywords and the user’s location — which brings us to our next point.
Growing your restaurant business with search engine optimization boils down to local SEO. All the SEO best practices still apply, but geography and physical location are especially significant for local restaurants. If people want to dine-in or takeout at your establishment, they need to be physically in the neighborhood to do so.
A Mobile-Friendly Website
These days, the number of mobile searches outweighs the number of searches performed on a desktop. This consumer behavior has led search engines, or at least one major search engine (Google) to use mobile-first indexing.
For instance, let’s say there are two Italian restaurants and they both have websites. All things being equal, except, one site is mobile-friendly and the other is not. Someone nearby searches for an excellent place to eat pasta. With mobile-first indexing, the mobile-friendly site will certainly display first and probably rank higher than the other. So, guess who gets the business? The Italian restaurant with the mobile-friendly site will win every time.
Luckily, the majority of modern website themes are created with this mobile-friendly caveat in mind, which gives you a variety of choices and makes it easy to implement.
Additionally, make sure that your site has user-friendly navigation and most importantly, a menu page. Don’t forget a page to capture customer contact information, as well as a clear call-to-action button. People love exclusive clubs and coupons, so that is a great way to generate leads on the capture page.
Customer Reviews and Testimonials
As children, we are always taught that it doesn’t matter what others think of you. As business owners in a digital world, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Seventy-seven percent of consumers pay more attention to other consumer reviews than professional critics. Therefore, what other customers say about your business does matter – and it matters a lot.
Every mention of your restaurant reflects an experience that someone had, so shoot for the stars. Encourage customer reviews and testimonials across all your digital platforms.
National restaurant chains and big box stores do this all the time. Have you ever gone shopping (in-store or online) or dined at a corporate restaurant and then receive an email a few days later asking you to rate your experience? Have you ever looked at the footer of a receipt and saw the company asking you to complete a survey or follow them on social media?
These methods are ways to get you, the customer, talking and engaging with the brand. As a small business owner, you can do the same thing. Use a CRM to find your most loyal customers and send them an email asking them to review your eatery. Customize the footer of your receipts and encourage customers to follow and review your business on social media.
After all, if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
If your business isn’t on social media, yesterday was the time to start. Like your website and business directories, social media pages are another way for customers to find your business.
Have you ever searched for a local business’ website and only find their social media profiles come up in the results? More and more social platforms are popping up on search engine results pages (SERP) when a business does not have a dedicated website.
Although marketers will argue that social media may have a direct or indirect impact on Google rankings, the bottom line is social profiles give you one more footprint in the digital world — and eventually search engines (and customers) will find it.
For restaurateurs, the five core platforms you’ll want to take advantage of are:
However, don’t get overwhelmed and try to set up every channel simultaneously. Start with one and build from there. For example, set up a Facebook Business Page, gain a following, and then tell that audience to go over to Instagram and check out your new page over there.
Most likely your followers use more than one social media platform so you can leverage existing followers to help build an audience on another social channel.
The Bottom Line
Just about every industry is sharpening their SEO skills, but restaurants and eateries often overlook the power of optimization. SEO for restaurants can bring valuable growth, stability and repeat business. It could make the difference between open tables and a full house.