There is nothing more powerful or cost-effective for your modern marketing strategy than your website. This goes double if you are in a tourist-heavy city or a university city with tons of people coming and going regularly. Locals and visitors are looking for places to eat and savvy diners don’t rely on pamphlets or coupon books. More and more, they are using their mobile devices and finding the restaurants with the best local SEO.
Proper SEO (search engine optimization) ensures your business ranks high in the search results. There is a plethora of different SEO strategies which vary on type of business and objective. For a restaurant, optimizing for a local SEO is key. There are several things you can do within your website and several things you can do externally.
Get your house in order
First things first. The SEO foundation of your website must be solid in order to have any success. Think of it this way: if your back-of-house is a complete disaster, it doesn’t matter how together your front of house is functioning. Fortunately, it is not very difficult to get the basics in place.
Here’s the essentials:
- NAP (name/address/phone number) in the footer of every page
- City/neighborhood included on page titles and meta descriptions for each page
- Descriptive text on the home page
- If multiple locations, each one has its own location page
- Descriptive ALT tags for images
- Website MUST be mobile-friendly
The websites we do for our clients include these SEO best practices from the start.
Search engines love to see fresh content on websites (updating menus doesn’t really count). Having regular blog postings can give you a decided edge on the competition and help you rank higher. There are other marketing opportunities that arise when blogging but it has to be done consistently and regularly. A full post about blogging for your restaurant is coming soon.
Google My Business Page: The Gateway to local SEO
If you don’t already have a Google My Business Page, get one today. In fact, finish this section, and then click on the link and get one right away. This is the most important external citation you can have since these are the actual listings in Google Maps. It is critical to have your profile 100% complete and consistent with the information on your site. ‘Citation consistency’ is the #2 ranking factor in Maps.
- Use consistent NAP (name/address/phone) as listed on your website
- For multiple locations, list the location page (restaurant.com/locations/uws)
- Upload high-quality, professional photos including identity, food, interior, exterior, at work, and team photos
- List ALL relevant categories with your primary category listed first
- Write a unique 250+ word introduction, preferably 400 words
- List the correct www version of your website
- List an @yourdomain email (not a Gmail or Yahoo address)
- Verify your page
- Set a custom URL
- Enable customers to place orders or make reservations from your Business Page
- Duplicates hurt your ranking, search and report any duplicates to Google
Extra credit: Make sure you have claimed your Yelp business profile and make all of the information and links are consistent with your site and Google My Business Page.
Get Professional Help
SEO is complex and ever-changing. Most people would rather endure oven burns or prep their mise en place with a dull knife than spend time learning all of the relevant things about SEO. Fortunately, just the steps listed above will get you further than most of your competitors. Other factors include inbound links, linking authority, reviews, and social media signals. There are plenty of resources on the web about SEO and no shortage of companies providing SEO services including local SEO. Just stay away from anyone who tells you they have ‘tricks’ or can ‘game the system’. Google has a horde of geeks who’s only job is to make sure search results are accurate and relevant and they are way smarter than any SEO ‘expert’. There is no substitute for using best practices and a good, long-term SEO strategy.
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