With 65,268 Google searches performed every second, the race to get on Page One of Google is one of the main concerns your clients have.

When a business is in a competitive niche such as Restaurants, the road to Page One has many obstacles that you need to help your clients overcome. If you want to make an establishment more visible to online searchers, you’re going to need to work on a local-first SEO strategy for restaurants that helps position the restaurant online, attracting potential customers. In this guide, you’ll learn about local-first strategies, how to work reviews into your overall strategy, and how to optimize current and future website content for search engines. Let’s dive in!

Start with the Basics  

Getting started on SEO means taking a good, hard look at the restaurant’s current website. Does it immediately make clear what sets it apart from the rest? It’s hard to be a novelty when there are so many others competing in the same industry, offering the same products, with almost exactly the same names, in the same geographic location, and every single one of them claims to be the best.

[clickToTweet tweet="It’s hard to be a novelty when there are so many others competing in the same industry, offering the same products, with almost exactly the same names, in the same geographic location, and every single one of them claims to be the best." quote="It’s hard to be a novelty when there are so many others competing in the same industry, offering the same products, with almost exactly the same names, in the same geographic location, and every single one of them claims to be the best."]

One thing that can set it apart quickly is its location. ‘Restaurant near me’ is one of the top keyword searches related to the restaurant industry. To take advantage of the popularity of this search term, have this checklist on hand:

  • Upload the Restaurant’s menu to the website. Preferably, include a PDF version of the file that people can print.
  • If the menu changes daily, make sure to update the website with the most current version – every day if you have to. Additionally, social media followers should be updated through the establishment ’s different profiles.
  • The calls-to-action included in blog content will have to direct users to visit the restaurant, get on a mailing list, or invite them to make a purchase online if a delivery service is available.

Using SEO to get Found

A good SEO strategy for restaurants or any other kind of business always focuses on the correct use of keywords. They are not only the main ingredient in any good SEO recipe but also the best way to reach users who want to eat what you offer and are located close to you.

If your client wants to become known as an establishment that offers good food, a pleasant environment and good service - key points for the success of any restaurant - you have to make it easy for patrons to find the restaurant, and understand who is already searching for this kind of establishment. This can be done by choosing the correct keywords. Take your time on this - it is fundamental for your client’s online success.

Once you’ve got the keywords down, the rest is about using them to be found by the right people. Optimizing the restaurant’s profile in Google My Business improves its chances of appearing whenever a user enters keywords that reveal what cuisine they’re looking for as well as their location. GMB is the ultimate boost to your local search engine optimization strategy.

seo for restaurants

A complete profile on Google My Business for your client is a boost for their online presence since it offers detailed information about the establishment and shows the ratings given by the users, among other data.

To set up or improve a Google My Business profile, you should add the most useful and relevant details:

  • A complete section of questions and answers.
  • A photo gallery that reflects the quality, aesthetics, and originality of your dishes and establishment.
  • Additionally, make sure to closely monitor the number of visits and the interactions that the business page has had.

GMB interactions

In the GMB Dashboard, you can see how many people called, visited the website, or requested directions to the restaurant after viewing the GMB page.

Structured Data Makes a Restaurant More Visible

A menu is one of the things that sets a restaurant apart - but it has to be shown properly. A recent release of Schema.org allows the restaurant owners to add several new properties and types to mark-up their menus and get truly "structured" data. This method is very useful for a business that offers food or drink.

No matter what type of food your clients are serving, it's vital for them to show the information on the menu in the most search engine friendly way possible. A resource like Schema is a valuable option to show structured and well-presented information in search results. One of the most valuable benefits of structured data is that it helps search engines better understand your content, which in turn helps them rank it more appropriately in search results. To mark-up a restaurant menu using  Schema, it’s important to:

  • Define a menu type. Menus officially become entities in Schema.org with their own properties and subtypes.
  • Use the hasMenuItem property in the new menu type. This allows the webmaster to mark up individual menu items.
  • Pointing out the different sections or items with the MenuSection type improves the menu structure, for example, to differentiate a menu for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for dinner. At the same time, it’s possible to mark up the different sections of each particular menu such as the appetizers, salads, main courses, and desserts.

schema property

One friendly way of showing your menu to Google is with the Schema property. It will increase the chances of the establishment's information to be found by search engines.

Restaurant Positioning with Reviews

Differentiating yourself from competitors means gaining a great advantage, but to do so, you need to be where your competitors are – and one of those places is a review site like Yelp. Optimizing the presence of the company on Yelp, which has more than 80 million visitors each month, many of which write reviews about a particular business, is a great way to have a presence where your clients can stand out from competitors.

To open a business profile on Yelp or claim a listing is fairly simple. Your client’s website should clearly reflect its main information: the name of the business, address, telephone and hours of service. This will tell Google that the site has the information that users need to locate it.

Yelp listingYour client’s website should reflect its identity very clearly: the name of the business, address, telephone and hours of service.

Yelp isn’t the only review site online - you’ll need to have your client claim or establish their profile on Zomato, OpenTable, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, and monitor your Google Reviews which will appear in search results, often in higher positions than Yelp.

If you’re going to position your client above the competition, you need to make sure they listen to their customers. Just a few years ago, people used to complain to the chef or the maitre’d if they didn’t like the service. On the other hand, if they had a pleasant experience, they’d compliment them and tell their friends about the restaurant, which commonly resulted in new customers for the business.

Now, the story has significantly changed. People turn to technology to tell the world about their overall experience. Their mobile phones are usually the most immediate tool to post their opinion about the business. Therefore, it is highly important to do some social listening and acknowledge the clients’ opinion by responding to reviews.

Will it help? Yes! Studies show that 92% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. Imagine that 92 out of 100 customers that went to your client’s restaurant leave their opinion for potential visitors to see. Whether you want it or not, reviews happen and statistics show that unsatisfied people feel more like leaving a bad review than those who really enjoyed the experience.

Your best move is:

  • To include reviews in your client’s SEO marketing strategy. Take control of every review left on directories and answer them or make sure your client does; especially because 84% of people out there affirm they base their online choices on positive reviews.
  • Take every bad review as an opportunity to grow the business and improve the customer experience, and take each positive review as a way to reinforce what works best for the target audience.

[clickToTweet tweet="Take every bad review as an opportunity to grow the business and improve the customer experience, and take each positive review as a way to reinforce what works best for the target audience." quote="Take every bad review as an opportunity to grow the business and improve the customer experience, and take each positive review as a way to reinforce what works best for the target audience."]

Remember to make sure your client responds to all reviews, even negative ones.

If they feel a review misrepresents their service, they need to make sure they clarify without getting defensive or aggressive.  Restaurant owners going back and forth bickering with a reviewer looks petty and wastes an opportunity to make a good impression with potential patrons - 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews.  

Most importantly, they need to encourage customers to leave a review after their visit.

yellowpage reviews

Listen to your customers and learn what they want so you can exceed their expectations.

Find out how Vendasta helps companies’ local business clients with their listings, reputation, social media, and more by exploring the Marketplace.

Get on the Map

The times when people used to learn about new restaurants by word of mouth have greatly changed. Nowadays, people trust their gastronomic destinations to web searches. This is when you reap the rewards of your local SEO strategy.

Certain types of businesses like restaurants need to constantly remind their regular and potential customers where they are located. Even after ranking on the highest search positions, it’s necessary to show the establishment’s location on every directory in order to let people know how, where, and when to find it.  

Directory Marketing is a good way to guide locals and visitors to a particular restaurant. We’ve already mentioned the main review sites that will help you get on potential customers’ radar, but you can also create a profile on directories like MapQuest, GrubHub, Manta and Yellow Pages, and every other local directory. Keep in mind that these profiles are often the first contact with potential clients. If you have doubts on how to make the most of a profile, follow these tips from Yellow Pages and improve the restaurant’s chance to be chosen by new customers:

  • Having up-to-date information, including the menu is critical.
  • Include visual material (images and videos to draw the attention of the audience).
  • Add information that tells your audience how to find the establishment. Include the website URL, phone number, address, business hours, and even a Google map to help them find it faster.
  • Sprinkle the profile with appropriate keywords that are relevant to the business and that could match a client’s Google search. But don’t stuff keywords!
  • You can pay for ads to appear among the top results. A great way to evaluate whether ads are worth it, is to speak to other restaurant owners to see what results directory and review site ads have worked for them, in a forum such as Alignable or AMEX Open Forum.

yellow pages listing Be concise and informative so people can easily find the restaurant!

special features

Include special features that make the business unique and attractive like pictures and the restaurant’s menu.

Food and Social Media: Close Friends

Social media is flooded with foodie content and DIY recipes that entice even the most discerning palates. Everywhere we look, there’s a picture of a dish that looks irresistible. Even fast food chains post the most incredible pictures of their meals, which oftentimes look very different in real life.

The first step to making your social media a useful tool to your SEO strategy is to understand how to use each one and to determine which one works best for your business. Keep in mind that:

  • You should develop a consistent voice for your posts that is in tune with your overall branding. If your client has an upscale, serious restaurant, perhaps it’s not a good idea to be cheeky or playful on social media, which on the other hand is something that works well for Wendy’s.
  • Twitter and Facebook are perfect for images and videos, but they are also good for business-related content and calls to action. Stay away from lengthy content.
  • Instagram and Pinterest are ideal to post images, videos, and media campaigns. Try not to post lengthy content, and focus on aesthetically pleasing images with captions that encourage engagement.
  • Some ways to encourage engagement are to ask a question, feature user-generated content into your feed, and ask for feedback in the comments.
  • All social media platforms have a dashboard that lets you see your metrics and engagement per post - use it to determine best times to post, what content is resonating and what your online audience looks like!
  • You can research social media influencers in your area and evaluate the return on investment you might get if you partner with them to feature and promote a restaurant.
  • Advise your client to look for budget friendly ways to adapt and area in their restaurant that is ‘instagrammable’.

The age of posting all your meals on social media has arrived and it’s the perfect opportunity to show the world what a restaurant has to offer.  

Adding The Ultimate SEO Ingredient: Content

Content is king. You’ve probably read or heard that phrase multiple times and are sick of it, but it’s true. Even though Google’s algorithm remains a secret, it has been proven that Google ranks best those websites with better content to offer.

How? The time a customer spends on a website reading content can affect ranking. The better your content, the more time people will spend on a website, which can have a positive effect on its search positioning.

An optimized restaurant website should include a blog. Posts can vary from recipes to food trends and everything in between. Blogs are an essential element of online visibility. Consider that a large number of people love reading blogs, 77% of internet users to be more specific.

[clickToTweet tweet="Why is blogging important? Because 77% of internet users LOVE reading blogs." quote="Why is blogging important? Because 77% of internet users LOVE reading blogs."]
Now, creating quality content for your online business leads to a wide variety of benefits but only if strategically planned. Let’s take a look at some guidelines:

  • Write engaging titles - use a tool like the Headline Analyzer.
  • Search for keywords that are relevant to the business and try to write around those topics. Remember to include those keywords in your titles and introduce them along the text.
  • Make the content readable and user-friendly. Try to find a style that suits your audience, but is consistent with your brand.
  • Boost blog posts on your social media. It’s a cost-effective way to increase your chances to get backlinks from trusted sources and increased traffic.
  • Include links in your content from other trusted sources. It will help you with your networking, while giving authority to your website.
  • Guest blogging is awesome to mix things a bit. Plus, the opinion of different people will refresh your blog and attract more readers, because the guest author will also promote to their own audiences.

Takeaways

Restaurants belong to a highly competitive niche. Provide your clients with a localized SEO strategy and aim to beat competitors on Google.

Remember these key aspects of SEO for Restaurants:

  1. Check the loading speed of the website and make sure it’s responsive.
  2. Keep menus and site content up to date and relevant.
  3. Use structured data to improve your chances for better positions in search results.
  4. Claim a profile on all major directories and review sites.
  5. Pay special attention to monitoring and improving your Google My Business profile.
  6. Optimize every image you post on the website: include the keyword when possible.
  7. Interact with your audience through social media and by answering reviews and Q&As.

And if you just don't have the time to provide this service in house, then consider outsourcing the work to SEO experts like Boostability who will do the heavy lifting for you, all under your own brand.

Now, tell us about you! Is there anything you would add to this guide?
Are you in a competitive industry you want SEO guidance on?