Let’s be honest hiring a SEO specialist or consultant can be an added expense a restaurant owner doesn’t want to take, especially since your investments in SEO take time to pay off, even though in the long run, that could be the best marketing investment you will do to get people to come to your restaurant’s website and get brand awareness in your area. Most of all, since people check out a restaurant’s website before ordering, increasing your website visibility in the search engines can greatly affect your bottom line.
Your new creative menus won’t get the light of day, if people in your local area don’t know about your wonderful creations, if you don’t have an SEO friendly website that continues to get relevant traffic that turns into customers at your restaurant, whether it is in person, or just ordering from your own delivery or third party app.
With all these in mind, let’s dive into what SEO is and why you need SEO for your restaurant business website and economical ways to do so without breaking the bank.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the practice of optimizing a website or web page to increase its visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). The goal of SEO is to drive organic (non-paid) traffic to a website by improving its relevance and authority in relation to specific search queries.
Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo use complex algorithms to determine the ranking of websites in search results. SEO involves various strategies and techniques to optimize a website’s structure, content, and overall online presence to align with these algorithms and improve its chances of appearing higher in the search results.
SEO can be broadly categorized into two main types:
On-Page SEO: This focuses on optimizing individual web pages to make them more search engine friendly. It involves optimizing elements such as meta tags, headings, URL structure, keyword usage, content quality, internal linking, and user experience. On-page SEO ensures that the website’s content is relevant to search queries and provides a positive user experience.
Off-Page SEO: This refers to activities conducted outside the website to improve its visibility and reputation. The primary focus of off-page SEO is to acquire high-quality backlinks from other authoritative websites, as search engines consider backlinks as votes of confidence. Other off-page SEO techniques include social media marketing, influencer outreach, online reputation management, and content marketing.
Both on-page and off-page SEO are crucial for improving a website’s visibility in search results. By implementing effective SEO strategies, websites can attract more organic traffic, reach their target audience, and ultimately increase their chances of achieving their desired goals, such as generating leads, sales, or brand awareness.
What is SEO for Restaurants?
SEO for restaurants refers to the application of search engine optimization techniques specifically tailored to the needs and goals of restaurants. The objective is to improve the online visibility of a restaurant’s website, menu, and other digital assets in search engine results when potential customers search for relevant terms.
Here are some key aspects of SEO for restaurants:
Local SEO: Restaurants primarily serve a local customer base, so it’s crucial to focus on local search optimization. This involves optimizing the restaurant’s website and online profiles to appear prominently in local search results. It includes setting up and optimizing a Google My Business (GMB) listing, ensuring accurate NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information, and targeting location-specific keywords.
Keyword Research: Identifying relevant keywords and phrases that potential customers are likely to use when searching for restaurants is essential. Keyword research helps in understanding the search demand and competition, enabling restaurants to optimize their website content, menu descriptions, and blog posts accordingly.
Website Optimization: On-page optimization techniques play a vital role in SEO for restaurants. It involves optimizing meta tags, headings, URLs, and content to include relevant keywords. Restaurants should focus on creating unique and engaging content, such as descriptions of the cuisine, ambiance, chef profiles, and special promotions.
Menu Optimization: The menu is a critical component for restaurants, and optimizing it for search engines can attract more customers. Restaurants should ensure that their menu is available in text format on their website, as search engines can crawl and index this content. Optimizing menu descriptions and using structured data markup can also help search engines understand the menu better.
Online Reviews: Online reviews and ratings have a significant impact on a restaurant’s reputation and search visibility. Encouraging satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor can boost a restaurant’s visibility and credibility. Responding to reviews, both positive and negative, demonstrates engagement and customer service.
Mobile-Friendly Experience: With the increasing use of mobile devices, it’s essential for restaurants to have a mobile-friendly website. Responsive design, fast page loading speed, and intuitive navigation on mobile devices are crucial for a positive user experience, as it can improve search rankings and attract mobile users.
Local Directories and Citations: Listing the restaurant in local directories and citation sites can improve visibility and local search rankings. Restaurants should ensure consistency in their NAP information (Name, Address, Phone number) across all online platforms.
Social Media and Local Marketing: Leveraging social media platforms and local marketing initiatives can complement SEO efforts. Engaging with customers, sharing updates, promoting specials, and running targeted advertising campaigns can help increase visibility, attract customers, and drive traffic to the restaurant’s website.
By implementing effective SEO strategies for restaurants, they can increase their online presence, reach a wider audience, and ultimately drive more reservations, foot traffic, and customer engagement.
Why You Need SEO for Your Restaurant
In a perfect world, you can just open your restaurant and slap your signage and get so many guests and see your revenues skyrocket. However, in the real world, that rarely happens.
Below are some of the reasons why you need SEO for your restaurant.
- If you are not showing up or ranking on the first page of Google for your type of restaurant, you will be losing business to your competitor. People typically will type in “restaurants near me,” or more specific searches like “italian restaurant near me” or “thai restaurant orlando” and more. If you specialize on a niche for your restaurant or cafe, you should use that in your title tags, so that Google can index your website for that, for example: Thai Restaurant Orlando | Your Brand Name
- It increases brand awareness. The higher you rank on Google organically, the more favorable your brand is to many, since by ranking high on the first page enables people to see your restaurant name and location often, hence enabling them to more likely to remember your name for your type of restaurant, which in turn leads to more guest at your restaurant and more revenues and profits.
- SEO should be an integral part of your digital marketing strategy. I see many restaurateurs simply only gravitate to social media as the main part of their digital marketing since they think just posting as much as possible on Facebook and Instagram will simply bring lots of customers to their restaurant. But the real truth is that having a great social media strategy is great at creating brand awareness, getting actual customers is typically done on search engines, particularly Google, which helps you capture demand and get customers through the door or ordering online or via a third party online delivery app. In other words, if you don’t make that an integral part of your digital marketing strategy, you will be losing long term revenues and profitability.
How to do SEO on the Cheap
We know hiring an SEO specialist is not cheap, neither is an agency. However, you can do a few things yourself or hire a freelancer with a fixed monthly price for SEO. You may not get everything done quickly, but over time most of the basic SEO will be done.
Below are some ways to do SEO on the cheap.
- Make sure you have a blog on your website. WordPress is a commonly used blogging platform that comes with many SEO plugins like Yoast that helps you with on-page SEO. They also have SEO training articles and an SEO academy that can train you on the basics of SEO
- Write at least one blog post a week. Afterall, you know your menu and your business better than anyone, why not try to write a simple post every week. Good content writing can be expensive. I don’t mean those cheap article writers that you get on some of those freelance websites. Some of those writers just spin other articles that are probably not unique, which Google will not index or show, hence defeating the purpose. If you can afford it, get a good writer who can write roughly 1,000 to 1,500 words articles that are well researched with authoritative websites like the National Restaurant Association and others. A good writer for a well researched article described above may cost you about $100 per article or more, but you get quality that your audience will enjoy reading and not writing the so-called “SEO article.”
- For off-page optimization, ask your partners and vendors to link to you. Those are low hanging fruit for link building without resorting to buying links or any other tactics that can run afoul of Google.
- Also for acquiring links, which is an essential part of SEO, make sure you put your website links on all your social media properties also. People may share it on their website, hence giving you organic links that help your website rank higher on search engines like Google.
- Most of all, your Google or Bing local listing is key, so make sure you are found in your local area. Google My Business – also known as Google Business Profile, is a free and important way for every business to get discovered in search results and get new customers. Having a Business Profile is an essential part of local marketing strategies and must be on the radar of every restaurant. For your free Google Business Profile, visit https://www.google.com/business/
- Also add your restaurant on Google Maps. Here is a link on how to add or claim your business profile on Google.
In conclusion, you definitely need SEO for your restaurant, and based on your budget, which we know restaurant margins can be low, but creating an effective SEO strategy as part of your broader digital marketing plan, can enable you to reap the rewards of your investment down the road and grow your restaurant or cafe to the likes of big chains without the expensive marketing team or budget.