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Win More Diners With These 9 Killer Restaurant SEO Tips

Is your restaurant brand easily accessible online? If not, you’re likely losing local diners to competitors. 

 

An easy way to gain in-person and carry-out diners is to increase your restaurant’s SEO. Improving your restaurant SEO (search engine optimization) means optimizing your restaurant’s online presence to appear on Google and other search engines when people search for where to eat.

 

While SEO might seem technical at first,  we’ll make it easy to digest and understand. At SOCi, we’ve analyzed over 8,6000 restaurant locations and 25,600 location pages — so we know how to bolster your restaurant’s online presence.

 

This blog will review nine restaurant SEO tactics to help your restaurant brand gain more online and in-person traffic. To further improve your restaurant brand’s online presence, you can also see how your restaurant’s localized marketing efforts stack up against the Top Restaurant Brands in Localized Marketing.

 

Download button for SOCi's 2021 Restaurant Localized Marketing Report with a blue background and green download button

9 Restaurant SEO Tips To Gain Diners and Increase Sales

Why should you care about restaurant SEO in the first place? Today, over 90 percent of consumers use digital tools to find information about a local business. If you do not appear in these searches, you’re losing potential diners.

 

SEO can help your restaurant in the following ways:

  • Improve brand awareness
  • Increase traffic to your website
  • Expand reservations and online orders
  • Strengthen customer engagement
  • Grow your profit and business

 

Below, we’ll dive into nine tactics that will help hungry diners find your restaurant online and boost foot traffic.

 

1. Optimize for Local SEO

 

As a restaurant brand, you must focus on local search since most diners are searching for places to eat in their current location or an area they plan to visit soon. To rank well in local search, you’ll need to optimize your restaurant listing(s) on the three most popular platforms: Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Conduct a local SEO audit to see where you can improve.

 

You’ll also need to standardize your business information across any page or restaurant directory such as:

  • Google Business Profile
  • Yelp
  • TripAdvisor
  • Foursquare
  • OpenTable

 

In addition, your NAP (name, address, and phone) data must be correct and consistent across all data sources and citations, which are other sites that mention your business. If your NAP citations are incorrectly listed, contact one of the four major data aggregation companies (Acxiom, Infogroup, Localeze, and Factual) with the correct NAP data. 

 

Focusing on local search demonstrates to Google and other search engines that your restaurant is a creditable business and helps your restaurant appear before competitors. Moreover, Google allows companies to include more information in their local listings. The more information you have in your listings, the better user experience searchers will have, which leads to a higher click-through rate. For a more in-depth look at local SEO strategy tactics, download our Local SEO Guide today!

 

Download button with a preview of SOCi's local SEO guide

 

2. Audit Your Google Business Profile

 

A Google Business Profile (GBP), formerly known as Google My Business, is a crucial marketing tool for local businesses — especially for those in the restaurant industry.  

 

A GBP allows your restaurant to connect with customers on Google Search and Maps. In fact, without a GBP, it’s impossible to rank on the Google 3-Pack. The 3-Pack shows up as the number one spot 93 percent of the time in local searches, so ranking in the Google 3-Pack when possible is key. If you haven’t set up your GBP across business locations, read our guide to claiming your Google listing and set up your profiles as soon as possible. In addition, you also want to integrate third-party food delivery services with your Google Profiles. 

 

With multiple restaurant listings, it’s essential to find a tool that helps you manage your local listings at scale. That’s where SOCi’s Listings comes in! You can leverage this tool to manage your listings across business locations and increase channel coverage across the top search directories and networks.

 

3. Start a Keyword Plan

 

Having a keyword plan is another vital feature of restaurant SEO. A keyword plan will help you target specific search terms or keywords that your restaurant’s website can rank for on search engines.

 

There are two main types of keyword searches for restaurants.

 

Locally modified:

 

Locally modified or geographical searches often contain a city, town, or neighborhood. For example, “Burgers Austin, TX,” “sushi in Brooklyn,” and “pizza restaurants near me” are locally modified search strings or keywords.

 

Here’s a more detailed example. If you’re a pizza restaurant in New Orleans, you’ll want to target the keywords “pizza party New Orleans,” “pizza restaurant New Orleans,” “family dinner Uptown,” or “pizza French Quarter.” Strategically targeting these locally modified search queries will help boost your online visibility and bring in local diners.

 

Implicitly local:

 

Implicitly local searches rely on search engines’ ability to know someone’s current location and will automatically display local results. Someone might search for “chicken wings,” “best Mexican restaurant,” or “steakhouse.” Your business will likely appear on the search engine if you serve or specialize in one of these items and you’ve added keywords to your website and listings.

 

Sticking with the same pizza shop in New Orleans example from earlier, you might target the keywords “pizza party,” “best pizza,” or “pizza for lunch” for implicitly local searches.

 

Doing keyword research and targeting both locally modified and implicity local keywords will help your restaurant rank ahead of competitors and gain diners. To start your keyword research, you can use Google Keyword Planner, a free extension of Google Ads, or you can use paid keyword tools such as Ahrefs or Semrush. You can also develop a search advertising strategy with keywords.

 

4. Be Mobile-Friendly

SOCi local pages of Nektar Juice Bar on mobile phone and tablet

Mobile isn’t going anywhere. Today, people use their mobile devices to research restaurants, place to-go orders, and create reservations. In fact, nearly 9 out of 10 people search for a local business using their phone at least once a week. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re probably losing customers.

 

According to Google, 76 percent of all local smartphone searches led to an in-store visit within 24 hours. This holds true for restaurant brands as well.

 

Here are a few ways you can make your website mobile-friendly:

  • Confirm that your website is easy to navigate 
  • Ensure that the text is large enough to read
  • Make the menus easily accessible (don’t use PDFs)
  • Optimize all images for mobile viewing
  • Describe menu items in detail
  • Conduct page speed and mobile speed tests

 

Search engines consider page speed and mobile-friendliness when ranking sites. Therefore, your mobile experience must be up to par! You can run page speed tests for free using Google Search Console’s Core Web Vitals Report.

 

5. Interact With Diners on Social Media

 

Diners rely heavily on social media when selecting a restaurant. Research shows that 72 percent of diners use Facebook to decide which restaurant to visit. Thus, a solid social media presence can only help your localized marketing efforts. The two go hand in hand. Your social media should drive users and diners to your site and help amplify your brand awareness.

 

Below are the best social media practices for restaurants:

 

Images:

 

The saying, ‘you eat with your eyes’ holds true. It’s important to post images of popular or new dishes on visually-driven platforms like Instagram and Facebook. You should also post pictures of your restaurant’s atmosphere and decor. This helps diners to imagine themselves eating there. 

 

Hashtags:

 

Have one or two prominent branded hashtags that you and your diners can post on social media. Hashtags can help spread your brand name and increase your overall reach.

 

Updates:

 

Post critical updates such as new menu items or intriguing events. These posts can build up hype and excitement — especially with loyal followers. You should also post any hour of operations changes, especially around holidays. Lastly, it’s important to remember the power of local! Including additional localized content such as photos highlighting your employee of the month or partnerships with other local businesses is key. 

 

Restaurant margins are often fairly thin, so it’s not always feasible to hire a social media manager across your business locations. You can use SOCi’s social media platform as an affordable alternative. SOCi’s social media management software allows you to manage content libraries, instantly respond to social engagement, and analyze performance. 

 

If you’re a multi-location restaurant brand, SOCi’s social media solution gives both corporate and local teams the ability to create and schedule content. So while corporate may want to post about a nationwide promotion, local teams can share more localized content from their individual restaurant location.

SOCi social product on a laptop with a blown-up image of social media posts of a pizza restaurant

6. Encourage and Address Reviews

 

Did you know that 77 percent of consumers ‘always’ or ‘regularly’ read online reviews when searching for local businesses? Similarly, only two percent of consumers ‘never’ read an online review when browsing local companies.

 

Obviously, people are reading reviews, but how much do they influence consumers and diners? According to GlobeNewswire, 98 percent of consumers feel that reviews are an essential resource when making purchase decisions. Therefore, you must encourage patrons to leave reviews after dining in your restaurants. To ensure you’re getting positive reviews, you must provide diners with an outstanding experience! 

 

The more positive reviews and high-numbered star ratings, the better your website’s click-through rate, which leads to more foot traffic to your restaurant.

 

Not only is receiving reviews essential, but so is replying to them. In 2021, only 35 percent of restaurant locations actively responded to reviews. This low response rate allows your restaurant brand to get ahead of the competition by responding to every review (both positive and negative).

 

SOCi has another solution to help track and promptly respond to reviews across locations, our reviews software. SOCi Reviews works with all significant reputation and review networks so that you can catch, prioritize, and address every online review.

 

7. Boost Your Authority by Gaining Links

 

Backlinks are links from other sites that link back to your website. Backlinks are an important ranking factor for search engines. Multiple backlinks from high-quality sites signify to search engines that your website and brand are trustworthy — which will move you up their rankings. 

 

You’re likely wondering how to get backlinks. Here are a few strategic tactics:

  • Ask your partners and suppliers to link to your website on their blog or newsletter. 
  • Ask online food publications or review sites to link to your restaurant, especially listicles such as “The Top 10 Italian Restaurants in San Diego.”
  • Request food bloggers to visit your restaurant.
  • Support local charities to receive backlinks from the charities and local media coverage.

 

Note that bad backlinks do exist. These stem from irrelevant or spammy domains and can hurt your SEO efforts.

Screenshots of SOCi's Reviews software on a laptop and mobile phone

8. Update On-Page SEO

 

A vital part of SEO is ensuring that search engines can index your website.  Only indexed pages appear when someone searches a specific query on Google or other search engines. If your pages aren’t indexed, neither Google nor anyone online can find them. You can check indexing issues for free with Google Search Console. This guide to indexing on Google will be helpful.

 

You might be wondering how Google indexes pages? They “crawl” pages for keywords, metadata, and other related signals. 

 

Thus, optimizing your on-page SEO is essential, which you can do with the following tactics:

 

Title Tags:

 

A title tag is an HTML tag that labels your page for search engines and people. In general, title tags should maintain the following:

  • Contain the targeted keyword(s)
  • Are short, under 60 characters
  • Be attention-grabbing by communicating a benefit

 

Meta Description:

 

The meta description appears on the search engine results page (SERP) under your title tag. It should provide a brief summary of your web page. Think of it as a tweet or hook enticing someone to click on your link. Meta descriptions should follow these guidelines:

  • 50-160 characters in length
  • Include the targeted keyword 
  • Act as an advertisement to lure searchers

 

URLs:

 

Each of your website’s pages (home, menu, landing, blog, etc.) should have a short and descriptive URL. Your URLs should follow these protocols:

  • Include the targeted keyword 
  • Include words people can quickly comprehend 
  • Don’t include special characters, capitalized letters, or the text, “index.html,” or spaces and underscores

 

Images:

 

Your website will likely contain tons of images of your restaurant’s ambiance and food. However, it’s crucial to name images appropriately and use descriptive alt text. Here are a few tricks to optimize your web pages’ images:

  • Compress your images to reduce their size and increase page speed
  • Name images after what they’re documenting. For example, a menu item would be named “Jersey Mike’s Portobello Cheese Steak.”
  • Include alt text, which is a detailed description of an image

 

These on-page SEO and indexing tips will improve your click-through rates and allow search engines, and therefore people, to more easily recognize your restaurant’s website and pages.

 

9. Improve Your Schema Markup and Rich Snippets

 

Similar to on-page SEO, your schema helps search engines recognize your website. Schema is a data framework that allows search engines to learn more about your site. It helps them recognize and differentiate your menus, hours of operation, and reviews. 

 

Use the Schema.org restaurant library to confirm if your restaurant’s website includes the necessary schema properties. You can also use Google’s free Structured Data Testing tool. You’ll likely need a web developer and a web content management system with robust plugins to change your schema. 

 

Now you know how to improve your restaurant SEO, and it’s time to get started. We understand if you feel overwhelmed managing a restaurant brand’s SEO strategy across all of your business locations, but it doesn’t have to be!

 

SOCi’s team and products can help your restaurant brand manage some of its SEO tactics at the corporate level while allowing local restaurants some oversight. From local listings to local pages to reputation management, local social, and beyond, SOCi has you covered. Together, we’ll optimize your local restaurant’s SEO strategy and help you win more diners. If you want to learn more about how SOCi can strengthen your restaurant SEO, request a demo today!

 

 

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Chi Whitley

Chi Whitley is a content marketer who specializes in local SEO. He’s passionate about helping multi-location businesses grow their brands and online presence in the ever-changing world of localized marketing.