The following article is a guest post by Tim Sunderland and our friends at NetWaiter.
If you want to gain more publicity for your restaurant and get more customers through the door, you’ll want to do a little SEO for your website. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) may seem intimidating for someone who isn’t familiar with it, but it doesn’t have to be.
In fact, it’s one of the top marketing strategies for restaurants (besides having an online ordering system). You just need to know the basics! To help you out, we’re sharing a few SEO tips every restaurant needs to implement on their website. It’s sure to send more traffic (and customers) your way!
Claim Your Google+ Page
One of the first things you should do is to claim the Google+ listing for your restaurant. Google will rank listings with a Google+ page higher in their search results. So, how do you claim your Google+ page? Do a quick search for your restaurant on Google or Google Maps. If you see your restaurant is listed on Google+, navigate to the page, select “Manage This Page,” and sign-in with a Google account.
Once you’ve signed in, you will have to verify that you are in fact the owner of the restaurant. There are two ways you can verify ownership. You can choose to receive a phone call at the phone number that’s on file or you can have a postcard mailed to the address on file. The postcard will contain a verification code you’ll need to enter online for confirmation.
If you don’t see a listing for your restaurant already, you can set up your own Google+ page. It’s free!
Do Keyword Research
When you want to rank higher in search results, it helps to optimize your site for specific keywords related to your business. (More on that in a minute.) But how do you choose the right keywords that your target customers are actually searching? After all, you aren’t a mind reader! Fortunately, there are a few tools that can help you out, including the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
Try searching for strings of keywords that relate to your business. For example, search the name of your city along with “restaurants.” You will see the number of times that keyword is searched each month and the competition it has.
You can use this information to choose which keywords to target on your website or use it to choose which keywords you’d like to run Google ads on. The goal is to choose keywords that receive a lot of searches, but have low competition.
Optimize Your Homepage for a Specific Keyword
When search engines crawl your website, they don’t see the nicely designed page you and your site visitors see. Those crawlers actually see the HTML of your website. Search engines will use that information to determine what your webpage is about and will decide which keywords you should rank for in search results.
And if you want to attract more visitors to your website and increase the amount of customers coming into your restaurant, you want to make sure you are visible in search results. People will be more likely to find you that way. So, once you’ve chosen the keywords you want to target on your site, you can optimize your homepage accordingly.
It’s best to focus on just one or two keywords when optimizing your page, instead of trying to rank for a large variety of keywords. If your website is on WordPress, you can use plugins, such as the Yoast SEO plugin, to help you optimize your content.
Publish Your Menu on Your Site
If you don’t have your menu published on your website, you’re potentially missing out on a lot of new customers. People commonly use search engines to find menus for a specific restaurant, so you want to make sure yours is on your site and has been crawled by Google.
Include a “Menu” page on your site so it’s quick and easy to find. Don’t use an image for your menu though. Use HTML instead, which is how search engines will crawl the page.
Reviews are obviously a good way to get new customers to dine in your restaurant, but they’re great for search engines as well. When Google sees that you’re getting great reviews, it’s possible you could get a boost in search rankings relevant to your business.
Create a “Reviews” page on your website so it’s easy for search engines (and your site visitors) to discover. Encourage your customers to leave reviews and feature the best ones on your site. Customers can submit text, video, or even image reviews.
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Considering so many people rely on mobile devices these days, it’s no surprise that your site should look great and function properly on mobile. Plus, Google actually ranks mobile-friendly websites higher in their search results.
If you want to get a boost in search rankings, make sure you have a mobile-friendly site ASAP! You can actually check your site with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool.
And finally, make sure all of your online listings are consistent. Search engines do not like to see inconsistent listings, so you want to ensure all your important information is updated and the same everywhere.
You want to use the same business name, address, and contact information across the web, including on your website, social media profiles, and any other business listings you have.