#RestaurantGrowth: 10 Actionable SEO Items to Grow Your Restaurant
Just as any restaurant aims to do, Food Tribe is all about connecting good food to good people. With the rise to prominence of restaurant review platforms and social media platforms, it’s more important than ever before to have a solid digital marketing strategy in place in order to bring hungry people to your sanctuary, and no digital strategy is complete without a strong SEO foundation.
Foot traffic and word of mouth isn’t enough anymore.
The common notion surrounding SEO is that it is simply all about ranking No. 1 for your target keywords, which is great, but is not the only thing that matters in 2018. Carving out your own niche online takes a lot of strategizing beyond popping up first for “best restaurant.”
Lucky for you, we have these 10 actionable and deliSEOus tips to help grow your restaurant!
1. Put Your Updated Menu Online
The first tip is a strong one that will make you not regret sticking around after reading such a terrible pun.
There are a number of SEO factors that will help you get the most out of your menu. It isn’t enough to just throw each item up there and call it a day.
You need to include a link to the menu from your homepage as a standard SEO practice. You also want to avoid having a Flash-animated menu, as it can be too complicated and pose unneeded challenges for search engines.
Stylistically, it’s important to use larger fonts (always think about the mobile user) and to include prices. All of these things will make your online menu more palatable.
Finally, menus in PDF form were once a no-no on Google, but recent algorithms have made it so that search engines have no issues crawling PDF menus. Some customers even prefer this in order to make menus easier to print out.
If you do go with the PDF menu, make sure to include an address, phone number and website link in it just in case the menu gets saved onto another website. You also don’t want to simply scan an image of the menu and make that the PDF, as that is a simple mistake people make that causes your PDF to be no-indexed by search engines.
2. Get Your Menu Ranked
On your website, you’ll have enough room to support multiple menu pages if need be. The more pages a site has, the wider net you’re able to cast on the search engines. Having more pages on a website makes it easier to be search friendly.
Don’t hesitate to go into detail. If your restaurant prides itself on providing only farm-to-table or organic ingredients, run with that. Tell the whole story of where the food comes from and work those keywords in because that will help make your restaurant more trusted to the SERPs.
It’s also not a bad idea to divide your menu into different pages for appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, desserts, and more. This all helps you cast a wider net and appeal to potential customers with different preferences.
3. Define a Local Keyword Strategy
Determine what your best-selling menu items are and do some research on them to make sure you are targeting correctly. Long-form will likely be the way to go in order to target keywords that are high in search volume, low in difficulty and 100% relevant to your restaurant.
For example, if you Google the term “burgers,” sadly your restaurant has almost no chance of ever ranking at the top of Page 1 for that. What you want to do is try to rank for, “best burgers in Los Angeles” or something of that nature.
Ways for you to do this aside from simple on-page optimization is to utilize proper title tags, image ALT tags, and meta description tags. Title tags are between 50-60 characters, while meta descriptions need not exceed 160-200 characters. You’ll want to utilize a tool like SEOmofo to ensure you are abiding by the proper laws when creating these aspects of your site.
Ranking locally is an all-encompassing strategy that takes much more than keyword research, which will be addressed with some of these other SEO tips. For more info, check out this keyword research guide from Search Engine Journal.
4. Implement Basic On-Page SEO Practices
There is an endless amount of ways to do on-page SEO optimization which could take forever, but restaurant owners should at the very least take interest in the most important aspects.
You can take big steps forward in this area by simply focusing on your robots.txt and XML sitemap, which can be done by setting up Google Search Console.
Many of your on-page efforts will be taken care of by implementing unique URLs, title tag, meta descriptions, and image ALT tags, but you can take that a step further by prioritizing your XML sitemap and robots.txt files to provide a solid foundation.
5. Engage on Social Media
Social media is not a direct avenue for improved SEO, but it is undoubtedly part of a strong, all-encompassing strategy. Interacting with customers on social media will bring them to your website...and then your SEO will ultimately benefit.
Social media is the virtual window into your restaurant. Strong social presences go hand in hand with a strong organic reach. Simply relying on a number of followers to boost your business is lazy. You’d rather have one devoted, engaged customer as a follower as opposed to 20 followers who never interact with your brand. You aren’t just hunting for likes - you are hunting for interactions.
If you connect with your audience, you can keep them coming back and improve the likelihood of them turning more people onto your restaurant. Funneling customers off social is a pillar of a sound SEO strategy.
6. Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews and Testimonials
Anyone who searches for your restaurant online is going to make a beeline directly for your reviews and testimonials.
In this Yelp-obsessed world we live in, more and more things in life revolve around a star rating. You wouldn’t get in an Uber with a 1-star rating for obvious reasons, so why would you eat at a restaurant with one star?
You can use structured data markups to make your star ratings appear in search results, making your website more appealing to potential customers. Whatever direction you choose to take, reviews are crucial. Many restaurants will offer discounts, free desserts, or any other incentives in exchange for a 5-star online review.
7. Schema Markups
This is a tip catered to the more experienced SEO, but newbies needn’t feel intimidated. Schema serves as code that conveys necessary details to search engines regarding your website. This blog post from Kissmetrics serves as a resource for how you can go about your markups.
You can add schema markups throughout your site, but it would be wise to pay extra attention to the menu page. This will make it easier for search engines to see where your menu is, as well as how the menu items are divided.
Check out the Schema site for a full list of menu properties you can use on your site.
Citations are everything. Backlinks are always a huge SEO determinant, and your citations will serve as not only backlinks, but also directly shoots people into your sales funnel by providing up-to-date info on your restaurant.
If you don’t know where to start aside from typical places like Yelp and FourSquare, get on all these sites below;
These all serve as online references that your restaurant exists. Each citation is another nod to the SERPs that add to your own legitimacy. It’s simple to get set up on any of these sites.
9. Set Up Google My Business
This really should be the first tip. If you aren’t yet on Google My Business, you’re missing out.
Google My Business even has unique features that are only available to restaurants, one of which is known as Google Posts. With this feature, you can add up to 300 words of text in addition to links to sign up, learn more, get special offers, and other perks.
You can even create events within Google Posts that contain start and end times to promote restaurant specials!
If you need further information on setting your restaurant up on Google My Business, check out some tips straight from Google.
10. Quick Links
Google My Business recently released an update that provided small business owners with another opportunity to snag more real estate on a given page.
As you’ll see in this snippet of our lovely friends at Sidecar Doughnuts, they have a link to their menu as well as a link to order online. If you are a sit-down restaurant, you can also add a link to your reservations page!
All these links add to your visibility and trust factor online, so don’t neglect them. Each of these pages on your site will get a little love and add to your overall presence. This is a boon for all small business owners, but even a better tool for restaurant owners given the diversity of the link potential.
Turn Up The Heat!
All of these SEO tips will get your restaurant cooking on the search engines. You can go deeper into each tip and really milk it for all its worth, but each of these SEO pillars will serve you well in the long run even if you simply give each one some surface level attention.
If you need help with your SEO, don’t hesitate to contact Food Tribe for a free consultation!