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5 steps to improve your restaurant SEO

When a customer searches Google for local restaurants, they see a few results: a Google map, business listings, and articles about local restaurants. As a restaurant owner, your goal is to show up in as many of these places as possible. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in — it helps your restaurant website rise to the top of the Google search results, boosting brand visibility and bringing in more traffic.

New to restaurant SEO? Let’s explore how it works and identify ways to improve your search ranking.

What is SEO? and why do restaurants need it?

SEO is the process of building and refining your restaurant website to make it more visible to customers in search results. SEO strategy is usually tailored to Google’s guidelines — after all, more than 91% of all online queries go through this search engine.

When you perform basic restaurant SEO, you make sure the content on each page of your website is focused on a specific keyword. The keyword is the phrase people are most likely to type into Google: “restaurants near me,” “best Italian restaurant in Los Angeles,” or “vegan restaurants in Chicago,” for example.

Content is just one part of search engine optimization. It also involves:

  • Technical site elements. These factors include load time, mobile usability, security, and information architecture.
  • Page elements. On-page elements can include header structure, metadata, URLs, title tags, schema, and image and video placement.
  • Backlinks. Google assesses the websites that link to your pages for authority, quality, and relevance. It also notes links between your website and your social media profiles, podcast, online store, YouTube channel, Google Business Profile, and other digital assets.
  • Adherence to Google guidelines. The search algorithm determines how well your site aligns with Google’s recommendations.

When your site is optimized correctly and thoroughly, it’s easier for Google to show it in relevant search results. That way, when a customer types in “best Indian restaurant in Cleveland,” your business will be right there at the top of the list.

It’s hard to underestimate the importance of a high ranking — it helps you get more traffic, reach more customers, and build brand awareness. And when an existing patron comes looking for your online menu or current operating hours, they can find what they need quickly. 

Tips to improve your restaurant SEO

Restaurant SEO sounds technical, but many steps are actually relatively simple. If you know how to edit your website, you have all the skills you need to get started today. Then, you can look to a restaurant SEO services company to handle technical SEO.

As you start optimizing, keep in mind that Google measures searches based on five key factors:

  • Meaning. What’s the intent behind the search? What exactly is the user looking for?
  • Relevance. Is your content relevant to the person’s search? Does it match both the intent and the keywords?
  • Quality. Is your content helpful, original, and trustworthy? Can Google tell that you’re a legitimate business? Do other authoritative websites link to your content?
  • Usability. Is the page easy to navigate? Does it load quickly? Does it perform well on mobile devices?
  • Context. Is your content relevant to the searcher’s location, search history, and search settings? This is critical for restaurants because local business searches are typically based on the user’s location or location-based keywords.

Now that you have a sense of what Google’s looking for, it’s time to adjust your restaurant website accordingly. Start improving your restaurant SEO with these helpful tips.

1. Pick relevant keywords

Your keywords are the foundation of your SEO strategy — make sure they match what your current and potential customers are actually searching for. Common restaurant keywords include:

  • Cuisine type + city or neighborhood
  • Cuisine type + “near me”
  • Restaurant name
  • “Restaurants near me”
  • “Restaurants with delivery/online ordering near me”
  • “Best restaurants” + city
  • Restaurant concept + city
  • Dining area type (rooftop, outdoor, dog-friendly, candlelit, etc.) + city

For some businesses, keywords are pretty straightforward; for others, they can be more complicated. Customers probably won’t search for “Asian fusion restaurant in Chicago” — instead, they might type in “Asian restaurant in the Loop” or “Japanese food on the Magnificent Mile.”

Here’s the most important thing: Don’t try to optimize for every keyword you can think of. Pick a few to focus the content on for each page. Typically, the most important areas to focus on are the city and neighborhood, cuisine type, restaurant concept (diner, family restaurant, fine dining, etc.), and signature dishes. If you have an outstanding feature, such as a Michelin star or a rooftop lounge, you can also create pages with those keywords.

In a large market, you might need to use more specific keywords to stand out. In addition to “Thai restaurant New York City,” add more focused terms such as “authentic Thai dumplings West Village” or “Thai restaurant handmade rice noodles Chelsea.” Tools such as Google Keyword Planner can be a good place to start searching; Google Search Console helps you discover how customers are currently finding your website.

Alternatively, start typing phrases into Google. The “People also ask” section can inspire other keyword ideas for your search engine optimization practice.

2. Answer customers’ questions

As you write or edit content, think about the search intent of your chosen keyword. If someone were to land on the page, what would they want to know?

  • Current opening hours
  • Address and location
  • Parking information
  • Menu with descriptions
  • Information about gluten-free, vegan, and allergy-safe dishes
  • Upcoming special events
  • Current website promotions

Don’t try to pack everything on one page; organize it logically. Your “About Us” page could include a description of the restaurant, building, and history, while the Menu page might include dish descriptions, allergy information, and a link to your delivery partner or online ordering system.

3. Encourage online reviews

Online reviews signal to search engines that your business is both active and legitimate. If the majority of ratings are positive, they can also indicate quality — a key factor in SEO.

All good reviews can be beneficial, but for restaurant SEO purposes, focus on Google reviews. They influence your search rankings and whether you appear in the map listing at the top of a Google search results page.

How can you convince customers to leave a review? Usually, the best option is to ask. Put a QR code on each table with a statement such as “Reviews make a big difference for our small business. Leave yours today.” You can also include a link in the confirmation email for an online order.

Reviews in blogs and other publications matter, too — especially if they include a link to your website. These backlinks can boost your online reach and provide a powerful ranking signal to Google. To encourage this type of review, invite influencers or local food bloggers to try your cuisine.

4. Focus on local SEO

Local SEO is the practice of optimizing your site for local customers. That way, it’s more likely to show up when someone is searching for restaurants while physically present in your area. Because restaurants depend on local business, it’s a critical part of any SEO strategy.

Start with your Google Business Profile — it affects how you show up in Google Maps and Google Places listings. Because these sections come before the actual search results for many queries, a complete profile can give you a competitive advantage. Make sure to include as much information as possible, including an address, phone number, website URL, operating hours, and photos.

While the Google Business Profile is paramount, you can also add your website to other local directories and business listings customers might visit. Additional local SEO tips include:

  • Put your address in the footer of your website.
  • Embed a Google map of your location in your About Us or Contact page.
  • Claim your restaurant on review sites such as TripAdvisor.
  • Use keywords with the city, state, and neighborhood on your website.

5. Optimize other connected profiles

The other parts of your brand’s online presence can impact your website’s restaurant SEO. Make sure each profile is filled out completely, and include a link back to the main website whenever possible. This strengthens your brand and helps Google make connections.

Focus on completing the information on your restaurant’s:

  • Social media profiles and pages
  • YouTube channel
  • LinkedIn profile
  • Pinterest profile
  • Delivery apps
  • Online store
  • Online ordering website

Is your restaurant known for its chef? Make sure their professional profiles include a mention or a link to your website.

Grubhub: a top-ranking delivery tool

Improving restaurant SEO can send a surge of new traffic to your website and social media profiles. With all those extra new customers, you’ll need a reliable and efficient way to process delivery orders. Grubhub is the ideal solution — our powerful, stable platform can handle a large influx of visitors with ease. Partner with us to find new customers and build a better online presence.

Ready to test it out? Get started with Grubhub today.

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