SEO and digital marketing for restaurants
Despite the rise and rise of internet commerce, one sector is never going to lose its high-street presence, and that is the restaurant trade. After all, people have to physically get to a restaurant in order to enjoy its menu. However, that doesn’t mean that restauranteurs can ignore digital marketing or SEO. On the contrary – it is vital to have a website that is working hard to drive traffic to it and generate interest amongst potential customers.
Q-Online has worked with restaurants in the UK and abroad to carry out a full review of their websites, as well as provide expert keyword research, SEO campaign planning and a full suite of digital marketing services. We can work alongside your team to offer a bespoke SEO service that fits your requirements precisely.
An introduction to restaurant SEO services
It has become very much the norm to search for a café or restaurant online these days. Busy people tend to look only on the first page or two for results, so it is very important that your restaurant’s website places as high up the rankings as possible. Potential customers want convenience as much as they want to be tempted by a delicious menu.
There are many methods that can help increase a restaurant website’s ranking, from careful keyword research, localised SEO and generating plenty of fresh, engaging content to attract regular visitors. Restaurant SEO is all about combining these in a comprehensive campaign that brings noticeable results and an increase in sales and customer footfall.
Ten top tips to make your restaurant SEO a success
So, how do you use SEO for your restaurant? Targeting people who are looking for somewhere great to eat in this way requires specialist knowledge of not only SEO, but how the methodology works in your chosen sector. Here are ten things to remember.
Check your website
Start by looking at your existing website. Or, if your restaurant doesn’t have a website yet, creating one is obviously your first step. Check that all the content is up to date and that you don’t have any defunct menus or details of events or promotions that have long since passed. Are the important details such as your opening hours and prices correct? Errors on your website will cause bad feeling when people arrive at your restaurant and word can spread, damaging your reputation. Ask existing customers to take a look through your site and give you their opinion too, as they are your target audience.
Searching on the move
Make sure your website can be read on a mobile phone. People can often decide to go out to eat on impulse and if they are already out on the town, they will be looking for inspiration via their smart phone or tablet. Websites that don’t work on a mobile device, or that take ages to load simply won’t make the cut as they move on to the next on their list of search engine results. Whenever you make a change to your website, always check that it works on smaller mobile devices as well as your PC or laptop. If you want to include videos, or other things that could take longer to upload, make sure they are compatible with mobile technology.
Do your keyword research
Central to a restaurant SEO campaign is your choice of keywords. These are the carefully selected words and phrases that you should include in both written content and hidden areas of your site, such as meta data, title tags and alt tags (text used to describe images on the site). He phrases should mirror those entered into search engines such as Google by people wishing to find a restaurant like yours. Start your keyword research by defining your audience and what they are most likely to search for. A great start would be phrases around your type of cuisine, the country or geographical area which it is from and tour own local area – town, village, suburb or street.
A geographical approach
This latter point is crucial for a restaurant seeking to establish its keywords for an SEO campaign. The overwhelming majority of searches for restaurants online is done using localised keywords to identify places to eat in a give local area. Include a variety of local keywords, from the broader area, such as a county or region. This will mean that you will be amongst a larger number of search results, but you could still gain some footfall from it. To secure more targeted sales, however, that have fewer restaurants competing under the same search results, add more specific phrases that cover your town or village. Then, you can become even more targeted with your street name. Combine phrases to include both the type of food you offer and your town. For example, ‘Thai food in Portsmouth’. Or do the same with your street name for the most targeted keyword phrases of all.
Local Maps SEO
Google Maps is a powerful tool for restauranteurs, as it really homes in on localised SEO as per the previous point. It is used for geographical searching by millions of users every week. When people enter a locally-based search on Google, the first thing that they will see is the Google Maps function. Even more importantly, they will see the first three highest ranking results. So, it is worth putting in some effort to become one of those three top ranked restaurants. An expert in SEO can help you achieve this, however there are several things you can do to make a start, including making sure your Google My Business entry is complete and up-to-date (see tip no. 7), including plenty of geographical keywords on your website and encouraging plenty of online reviews and backlinks as you can to offer added authority to your website.
Fresh content, delivered daily
In the same way as you change what’s on your menu from time to time to keep things fresh and interesting, so too must you update your website regularly. This has two benefits. Firstly, it encourages visitors to return to see if you have any new content, which keeps you in their minds for longer. Secondly, and more importantly when it comes to SEO, it works with the Google algorithms that crawl websites looking for new content and using what it finds to influence its rankings. Some ideas for fresh content include recipes, entertaining tips, advice about seasonal produce, reviews, celebrity diners or your latest offers and speciality dishes.
Google My Business – is the business!
Getting your restaurant onto influential lists and search directories is another great way to increase rankings and visibility. It also gives you that all-important third-party endorsement to increase trust. A key task to do is to claim your Google My Business listing. This is a tool linked to Google Maps and it allows you to input your business information, including a link to your website, for free. Add a high-quality photo and some compelling, keyword-rich text about your restaurant for full impact. Check this periodically to make sure it is up to date.
All restaurants live or die by their reviews – attract the attention of enough influential customers willing to write you some good reviews and your sales figures will grow and grow. Good reviews are worth their weight on gold and should be encouraged and nurtured – leave comments thanking people when they give you a good review online. Equally, if you get a bad review, you should acknowledge it and try to address the concerns being aired. Never ignore a bad review or post an antagonistic reply. Sometimes, a grievance can be the result of a misunderstanding and if you can be seen to address it face on, this can calm the situation and even garner you some online respect. If you want to attract more reviews, reach out to food critics and restaurant bloggers to invite them to sample your menu and report back online.
Links and backlinks
Other great ways to achieve some third-party endorsement and some free publicity is to build links to other, relevant websites to directly target their audiences. You can do this in a number of ways. An effective method is to provide quality content to trustworthy external websites, such as recipes, food reviews etc. for free, in return for them, placing a backlink from their site back to yours. This is a proven way to increase your organic rankings – for little to no cost to you! Ask your customers what other sites they enjoy, and what their preferred restaurant listings services are. That is where you should be aiming to appear. It might be worth investing in some paid-for advertising if any listings sites or directories are especially popular.
No SEO campaign, or indeed any marketing activity is complete without a thorough analysis of how things have gone – what went well and what you can improve in the future. Just as a chef relies on feedback to keep their dishes well-seasoned, flavoursome and popular, so an SEOP campaign only works if the ingredients are right and deed in the correct quantities. An honest, thorough feedback session will achieve that. Google has a number of tools to help you monitor progress, including Google Analytics, which monitors the type of visitors that your site receives, and how they found their way to you. Google Analytics is free and available to anyone who has a Google account.
How our SEO services can help your restaurant
Contact Our SEO Experts Today
Let Q-Online’s professional SEO and digital marketing team help your restaurant attract new customers and add value to loyal regulars through the magic of SEO. Get in touch to arrange your free, no-obligation consultation by phone, email or via our online contact form.