By Vivek Patel, Contributor
Digital marketing has become all-pervasive and almost every business is finding ways to use it to their advantage. This includes restaurants as well. By implementing restaurant SEO carefully, you can look forward to increased footfalls, higher in-store sales, and better chances of being discovered in local search. Considering that 46% of all Google searches are local, you may want to give restaurant SEO a try ASAP if you’re already doing so.
Modern customers typically search for businesses on search engines, particularly Google, whose algorithms systematically list the search results based on certain crucial factors. It is, therefore, imperative that your restaurant SEO helps you get displayed in the listings ahead of your competitors.
Mentioned ahead are a few tips on using SEO to improve your restaurant’s chances of being found on Google.
Keyword Research & Optimization
More often than not, guests use extremely specific terms when searching for a product or service on Google. 50% of search queries are four words or longer in length. These phrases are known as long-tail keywords in the SEO world. Your online content needs to reflect this intent.
Keywords are words or phrases that your customers use in search engines to find what you offer. In the case of restaurants, the offering is food or a specific cuisine. Moreover, most of your restaurant’s guests are going to be local people situated in your neighborhood. Hence, if you include geographically-targeted keywords in your restaurant’s website along with the cuisine your serve, you will make it easier for Google to list you in its search results every time customers use those keywords.
For instance, if you’re a Mexican restaurant located in Boston, your basic keywords can be phrases such as “Mexican food Boston,” “Mexican restaurant Boston,” “best Mexican restaurant Boston,” and so on.
You can use online tools such as Google’s AdWords’ Keyword Planner to research and find the most popularly-used keywords as well as identify the ones your competitors are using. Further, tools like SEMrush will help you track the keywords your website ranks on.
However, avoid stuffing your website content with keywords as Google will penalize you for it and your rank will plummet. Remember, SEO experts consider the optimum keyword density to be 1% to 3%.
Google My Business Page
Creating a Google My Business (GMB) page will enable you to add your restaurant to Google Business Listing. Doing so will increase your chances of featuring in the Google Local 3-pack. Further, when potential guests search for your restaurant by its name, Google will show a Knowledge Panel that displays detailed information about it.
You can do this by either creating a GMB page for your restaurant by signing in to your Google account, or claiming your page if is already exists by clicking on “Request Ownership” and filling up the related online form. Ensure that your restaurant’s business details such as name, address, location, contact number, and website URL are mentioned correctly, and that you choose a specific category for your eatery.
You will need to verify your business and can then expect to receive a verification code (via a postcard), which you will need to submit on your GMB page and click on “Verify Now.” Post-verification, you can enhance your GMB profile by adding details such as operational hours, discounts and special offers, a unique business description, and uploading high-quality images and videos of your restaurant.
Unique and Relevant Content
A common mistake that restaurant owners make is create content for their website and leave it there without updating or changing it. Stagnant and outdated content is not going to bring visitors to your website. In fact, it may give your customers a reason to turn to your competitors.
It is necessary to publish fresh and value-adding content on your restaurant website on a regular basis. The content should be related to topics from your industry that your website visitors are interested in.
Creating a stimulating blog and publishing compelling posts therein should work wonders as it will not only establish you as an authority in your niche, but also provide opportunities to optimize your website with relevant keywords.
Don’t limit yourself to publishing only text content. You can also publish videos, images, and infographics to make your blog and menu sections more attractive to visitors and stand apart from your competitors. Bear in mind that search engines rank unique content better and penalize anything that’s duplicate.
Positive Business Reviews
As per a research by ReviewTrackers, 49% of consumers always or often check online reviews, while Search Engine Land found that 72% trust reviews as much as they do recommendations from friends and family.
Online reviews will not only help spread the word about your business, but also convince search engines to elevate your rankings for pleasing your customers. Restaurant guests are constantly looking for social proof to feel reassured of their purchase decisions, and reviews provide them with this factor. In other words, if you want top rankings in SERPs, better click-through rates, and higher footfalls, you need positive customer reviews.
Google’s local business directory, Google Places, is a good place to start gathering reviews. The more positive reviews your business gets, the higher traffic your website will be, which in turn, will bring you more interested customers who are eager to know more about your offerings.
While some visitors will give your outstanding food and service stupendous online reviews, others may need a little push in this area. You can use email and social media for sending review requests to customers, along with a link to the concerned page as well the reviewing instructions. However, ensure that you don’t bombard your customers with such requests.
Potential customers will see your restaurant’s online reviews in almost every search result. Securing positive online reviews does take time, but it is an effective means to rank well in SERPs and earn customer trust.
On-Page SEO Elements
On-page SEO practices may be time-consuming but doing this is in your restaurant business’s best interest. Your business website’s pages will be indexed by search engines so they can categorize your content and customers can find you. It is, therefore, important that you evaluate your robots.txt and XML sitemap. Tools such as Google Search Console can help you identify the errors that need rectifying.
Moreover, your websites URLs, page titles, meta descriptions, headings, image alt tags, and page content should be unique and optimized with keywords. This way, your pages will show up in search results when customers search online using those words.
With the number of searches conducted on mobile devices going up, it is now crucial for restaurants to factor this aspect into their website. In other words, restaurant owners need to ensure that their website is optimized for SEO and mobile.
This is where having a responsive design comes into the picture. This means that your website will look and function with the same efficiency and speed regardless of the device it is being viewed on. This will help boost its rankings on SERPs. Also, websites that are not mobile-friendly are penalized by Google. Providing your customers with an excellent mobile user experience is, therefore, a must.
Tap Voice Search
With the arrival and proliferation of digital assistants such as Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Alexa, it makes sense for restaurant owners to optimize their business website for voice search. The secret to achieving success with this lies in your keywords.
You can start by considering the keywords you have been using. Make a careful distinction between the keywords used for regular search where customers type their queries in a search engine and voice searches where they directly ask questions.
For instance, if you wanted to visit the nearest Mexican restaurant, you may type “Mexican restaurant near me” in Google’s search bar. But if you were to speak into your phone, you’re more likely to ask “Which is the nearest Mexican restaurant?” For optimizing your website for voice search, your keywords must be suitable for the latter possibility.
Restaurants are mushrooming everywhere, and to stand out from the competition, it is necessary to attract the maximum number of eyeballs your way. SEO can help your restaurant get discovered online, especially since we live in times when almost everyone looks up businesses online before interacting with them. SEO optimization can go a long way in helping you gain an edge over your competitors. Hopefully, the pointers mentioned above will help you leverage SEO to increase your restaurant’s visibility on Google SERPs.
About the Author
I'm Vivek, Local SEO Marketing Consultant at E2M, one of the fastest growing digital marketing agencies in India. We specializes in content strategy, creation, promotion, and SEO for domestic and overseas clients. I look after local search optimization and link-building strategies. In my free time, I love to stay updated with the latest photography lessons and enjoy photographing on my cam.
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