The importance of Restaurant SEO

The importance of Restaurant SEO

  • By: RPower POS
The importance of Restaurant SEO

Whether you run a pizza delivery restaurant or a counter-service bakery, it's no secret that more and more hospitality businesses are going digital. With the rise of third-party delivery apps, curbside pickup, and online ordering systems, customers have more options than ever. But as good as your food may be, you'll have trouble capturing digitally-driven revenue if customers can't find your website. Restaurant SEO (search engine optimization) is essential for driving traffic to your website and getting the visibility your business deserves. Here's everything you need to know.

What is Restaurant SEO?

SEO is short for search engine optimization. It's the process of optimizing a website and its content in order for it to appear in search results on Google and other search engines when people search for terms (keywords) related to your business. The better your website is optimized, the higher it will rank on search engines, and the greater the chance of customers finding your website instead of your competitors'. Restaurant SEO drives traffic to your restaurant website, which could help you increase restaurant sales.

Why do you need restaurant SEO?

Restaurant SEO is beneficial for any business as it helps them gain more visibility among audiences who are actively searching for local places to eat and drink. Beyond that, there are some industry-specific benefits of Restaurant SEO that you might not have considered, including:

  • Increasing traffic to your website
  • Building a loyal audience that may later become customers
  • Increasing online ordering and reservations
  • Building brand awareness
  • Increasing customer engagement
  • Becoming a resource in your community

4 tips to improve your restaurant SEO strategy

Restaurant SEO is a complicated process, so many businesses decide to hire marketing agencies or SEO specialists to do it for them. However, if you're willing to put in the time to learn how to do it yourself, you could save thousands of dollars. Here's a quick starting guide on how to do restaurant SEO for your website.

1. Keyword research

The first step in optimizing your restaurant website for search engines is determining which keywords to use. These are the words that you want customers to search in order to find your website. For example, if you have a restaurant in Salt Lake City and you mainly sell Southern BBQ food, you might want to focus on a keyword such as "Southern BBQ Salt Lake City." But that's just the start. The more specific you can be, the better. If you sell great ribs, you might want to add a term like "best southern-style BBQ ribs Salt Lake City" to your list of target keywords.

We would not advise coming up with SEO keywords based on assumptions or what you think new customers might be looking for. Why? Because your assumptions of what people might be looking for versus what they are actually searching for on Google might be entirely different. It’s best to align your restaurant SEO strategy with strong user-intent keywords that are relevant to your business and have high search volumes. Of course, your understanding of your customer preferences will help you narrow down the keyword research and choose the most appropriate options to focus on. 

In order to improve your chances at ranking, there are multiple tools that can help conduct the best keyword research based on existing search data. Tools like UberSuggest, AHRefs, and SEMRush are a few of the most popular options to help you see search trends. Google Keyword Planner will also enable you to reverse lookup competitor websites or specific competitor landing pages in order to see what keywords they are targeting as well. 

Don’t forget that local SEO is critical for small local businesses. Beyond optimizing your website for the keywords most appropriate to your food or drink specialities, be sure to also include your city or specific neighborhood in your website in order to enhance your visibility among local audiences. 

2. On-page SEO

Now that you've determined which keywords you want to rank for, it's time to put them into action. On-page SEO involves incorporating keywords into content that appears on your website and the descriptions of your website. This includes the writing on your home page, menu, blog posts, page titles and meta descriptions, and anywhere else there is text. In order to do on-page SEO, you'll want to add keywords to the text on various pages on your website depending on the subject. You can also use free SEO plugins like Yoast or Rank Math for a faster way to incorporate keywords into your content.

For example, on the homepage of the website for your southern BBQ restaurant in Salt Lake City named "Smokey's," you might want to include something like, "Smokey's -- The Best Southern BBQ in Salt Lake City". This will help you increase your chances of getting found by potential customers who are looking for the best southern BBQ in Salt Lake City. You could also describe your menu items in detail. For example, a rack of ribs could be listed as "Full rack -- Smoked for 4 hours and covered in whiskey BBQ sauce, these might be the best BBQ ribs in Salt Lake City."

To go a step further, you could create a blog and post relevant content that incorporates the keywords you found in step 1. You could write blog posts about how you came up with the recipe for the "best bbq ribs in Salt Lake City" or a list of the "best restaurants in Salt Lake City" (with your restaurant at the top, of course). The bottom line is that the options are endless, so feel free to get creative and try to think of content that local customers might be interested in.

3. Off-page SEO

The last major pillar of SEO for restaurants is called off-page SEO. It involves driving traffic to your restaurant website from other websites, hence the name "off-page." It is done by having external websites link to your restaurant website. Local directories can be a great starting point for off-page SEO, as they're usually free to get listed on and see plenty of traffic. After you're all set up on local directories, get your business listed on popular review websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. Finally, you'll want to create a Google My Business profile to let Google know what your business does and where you're located. With Google My Business, you can view and respond to customer reviews, publish relevant posts and promotions, as well as answer common questions that customers are asking on your Google business profile.

The most important thing about off-page SEO is consistency. Search engines need to ensure that your business is trustworthy and credible enough in order to rank your website, so you'll want to ensure that you maintain consistency on your business' NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) anywhere that information is listed.

4. Technical SEO

Always remember that Google’s Algorithm will favorably rank websites that are helpful, informative, secure, and easy to navigate. Make sure your website fits the bill while also placing emphasis on the user experience, especially mobile responsiveness and page loading speeds. If your website does not render right on a mobile device, Google will likely serve up your competitor with a better mobile experience instead. 

Beyond that, mobile page speeds are also factoring into Google’s overall rank of your site because customers today expect fast, seamless experiences on their phones. In fact, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less while 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. 

If you want to see how your site is performing from a mobile perspective, then check out Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. 

Final thoughts

Restaurant SEO is a great way to drive traffic to your website and build an online presence. And the best part is it can be done for free, provided you're willing to put in the time. Now that you understand the basics of SEO for restaurants, you can start working on optimizing your own. Whether you decide to do it yourself or hire some outside help, you might also want to think about optimizing more than just your website. Restaurant point of sale software can help you streamline your operation and get the most out of your newly-optimized website.


Have any questions? We are happy to help!