Owning a successful restaurant is never as easy as one may think. You may serve some of the most delicious entrees in the area, but if no one knows where to find your establishment, you will never reach your full potential. While solid reviews from satisfied customers and word-of-mouth marketing can always be helpful, it is important that restaurant owners cater to their target audience.
With so many people using the Internet and its many location features on their laptops or smartphones to find local businesses, it is vital that restaurants update their websites using the latest improvements in search engine optimization. The following resources can help any restaurant get the word out about their grand opening, their daily specials, or recent dining area renovations. These tips can also ensure that restaurant owners always connect with their target audience.
10 SEO Tips for Restaurant Owners Hoping to Reach Out to Potential Customers
You may feel that you are an expert in search engine optimization, or there could be some areas where your website could improve. No matter if you are just starting out in the hospitality industry, or taken over the well-established family business, there is always room for improvement when it comes to marketing and reaching out to your target audience. Here are ten helpful tips that will improve your restaurant’s reputation and appeal online.
1. Never Forget NAP or Citation Data
Imagine that you are a customer and you are planning a fun night out with friends who are all craving authentic Mexican food. You’ve heard about a great new place in your area, but when you check out the website, there are no location details. It may seem like an obvious piece of content to place on a restaurant’s website, however, forgetting to add vital details that many customers look for are a common thing.
NAP, which stands for the business name, address, and phone number, is a helpful acronym for website creators and marketing professionals. These three details should appear somewhere (either at the top or bottom) of every single page. That way, you never lose potential customers due to lack of contact or location information.
2. Research Keywords
Those who have an experience with SEO have a good understanding of the importance of keywords. However, the rules for the reoccurrence, length, and presentation of keywords changes from time to time. One thing that remains consistent is the way that customers use search engines.
To ensure that your restaurant’s site link is at its highest point on the results page, you need the right keywords to appear on your website, blog, social media pages, and business listings. If you are looking for a restaurant in your area, it’s common to search using the food you want such as Italian, Chinese, or American, followed by the city you are in at the time.
No matter how much the SEO rules change for the best ways to use keywords in your content, remember to focus on the type of food you serve and the city you are in (or major cities you are close to). Taking time to research the top keywords using any of the free keyword research tools available online to improve your online visibility is the key to your internet marketing success.
You should also pay attention to the interests of your target audience. If you own a kid-friendly restaurant that features arcade games or a play area, be sure to add relevant keywords so that families can find your establishment easier.
3. Optimize Your Site to Work with Your Keywords
Keywords may be the ‘key’ to getting your website out there to your target audience. However, if you fail to optimize your website to work along with them, you aren’t accomplishing much. Website optimization helps to ensure that your keywords are all in the right place so that they will work for you and help bring more customers to your page.
Title tags are still important for SEO purposes. However, META descriptions have lost their validity thanks to updated algorithms. They still provide restaurant marketers with a good place to put their creative skills to use. The META description is the ideal place to compose a compelling copy that will attract clicks from your target audience, such as describing your most famous menu item.
4. Include Your Menu on Your Website
If you currently do not have a menu on your restaurant’s site, you could be losing customers without realizing it. You can create a text file or upload a pdf of your menu to ensure that search engines pick it up. Don’t use an image file extension such as a .png or .jpg to display it because that will defeat the purpose of improving your site’s SEO.
Another tip to consider would be adding a downloadable .pdf file of your menu so that your customers can print it out, hang it in the company break room, or even share with others. You can also build backlinks to your website by posting your menu on other relatable menu websites or local blogs.
5. Add Fresh Content
No one wants to visit a site that has the same content all the time. A lot of industries use blogs and guest writers to help add new and interesting content to their page to eliminate that problem. Not only will a blog keep your visitors interested, but it will also make your site highly visible in search engine results.
Make sure that your content contains priority keywords and include on-site links from your blog articles to relevant pages on your site to keep readers on the website longer. You may want to add a blog about the advantages of starting a low-carb diet and include a link to your page dedicated to your menu’s low-carb items. Or, if your restaurant offers Southern home-cooked meals, you could add content based on family values or Southern traditions.
6. Use Your Keywords Naturally
When SEO first became popular, many people were trying to wedge the top keyword phrases for their company into a sentence unnaturally. If you have ever read something like “Visit our Cajun restaurant Baton Rouge today!” or if you had to write something in that format, you understand what it means to use keywords unnaturally. It’s confusing for both the reader and the writer.
Fortunately, search engine giants and marketers have realized that keyword stuffing isn’t the way to go. These days, that method will bring your rankings down instead of up. Keyword density isn’t as popular as it was several years ago. Therefore, if a sentence doesn’t make sense, change it and try to naturally integrate keywords into your content.
7. Don’t Pay for Inbound Links
There are several ways that you can improve how many inbound links your site has. There are numerous offers online where companies can buy or sell links, but this isn’t the best tactic or the safest since it is against Google’s rules. Search engines are also cracking down on unnatural links therefore if you believe you are manipulating SEO by purchasing inbound links, you are wrong. Instead of doing things the hard way, save your money and use it to create worthwhile content that will interest your website visitors and allow you to earn inbound links from local blogs and similar sites for free.
8. Map It
Many restaurants and other companies have an image from Google maps on their page so that their new customers can easily find the location. However, you should make sure that you are using the correct Google Maps, which would be one that links to your restaurant’s Google Plus profile.
If you haven’t already, you will need to set up a Google Plus profile, have it optimized, and verified. Then, click on the gear icon on your updated map, click on Share and Embed map, and grab the code. Paste the code into your website, and you now have your restaurant’s name on the map instead of just your address.
9. Improve Your Website’s Speed
If you have ever spent too much time waiting for a slow website to load when you are in a hurry, then you understand the pain that your customers endure if your site’s speed is at a crawl. It doesn’t matter how fast a user’s broadband internet at home may be, if you have too much clutter on your page, it will still run slow every time and affect your bottom line.
Exactly how important is page-load speed regarding sales? Studies have shown that as many as 40-percent of website visitors will abandon a page and look elsewhere if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
There are a few things that you can do to optimize your website’s speed. You may want to downgrade some of your high-quality images and remove any video files that automatically start as the page loads. Upgrading your website host to a dedicated or VPN setup can also help make your load times faster.
10. Earn from Positive Reviews
Online reviews can increase your sales and bring potential customers to your location thereby helping you boost your restaurant marketing efforts. Review sites are often the deciding factor when customers are searching for a new place to eat. Search engines are known to improve a company’s website rankings if they have high ratings. Be sure to have a page included on your site where you show off your best reviews.
Keep in mind: for Google reviews, you should take a screenshot of the review and add it to your page since they don’t want anyone to copy and paste their reviews on other sites. You could create a slideshow or video using the images to make the reviews stand out.
Providing great food inside a friendly and relaxing atmosphere can make your restaurant a popular place for locals to enjoy a meal. However, you could be serving up your best entrees to tourists, visitors, and out-of-towners, who wouldn’t have known about your restaurant if they hadn’t found it online. Be sure to use these helpful SEO tips to improve your restaurant’s website to earn more profit and reach out to your target audience.
About Author: Sameer Panjwani is the Founder & CEO of Mondovo, an online marketing toolset that helps you track your rankings, monitor your site stats, and research your competitors. A man of many talents, Sameer is currently on a mission to help 1 million businesses grow organically through his products and services.