In Search

Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about helping potential customers find your business by creating brand awareness, while driving site traffic and sales. This is especially true for the restaurant industry. Following are some basic SEO tips for restaurants that can help you get the most out of your website.

Understand How Diners Search

People look for restaurants by location and type of cuisine—one way to drill down is by using This free tool can help you search relevant keywords and really target potential business. (Tip: Type in your city and the word “restaurant,” and Ubersuggest will help you see exactly how people in your area are searching.)

Go Mobile

It’s no secret that search is increasingly becoming mobile. In spring of this year, Google estimated that more than half of all queries were coming from small screens. This is especially true for restaurants—no other category gains more of its total search from mobile devices. According to a Telmetrics-xAd study, the majority of those searching have not decided where they want to eat when they begin searching.

Potentially as important: In mobile search results, Google now ranks mobile-responsive sites higher than non-optimized sites. Dive into your analytics and understand how people use phones to consume your web content. Make sure your site provides the information diners are looking for in a pleasing and useful way, and include easy to access click-to-call icons.

Optimize Your Menu

Menus are important content for restaurant websites. They are an in-depth look into your product, loaded with potential longtail keyphrases related to your cuisine specialty. Do you specialize in locally grown, organic or gluten-free? If so, make this clear on your site and include it in your copy. People who search for these kind of phrases may be in the minority, but they are often highly motivated buyers.

From an SEO standpoint, it’s generally assumed that menus presented as HTML pages are better than those formatted as PDFs, and for practical purposes this is true. HTML pages do have advantages. For one thing, people are often hesitant to download PDF files onto their computers or mobile phones. This can be a barrier. In addition, HTML pages should be optimized when created by an SEO professional and changes to the menu shouldn’t impact the optimization too much. Every time a PDF is made, you’re creating a new document to be optimized. Is the assistant chef going to consider this when she makes menu changes on the fly on a Friday afternoon?

Handling PDFs

PDFs can be optimized and many of the standard SEO rules apply. If you choose to use a PDF as your menu, make sure you are using a “text” format. Can you highlight the words within the PDF with your cursor? Can you copy and paste words from the PDF? If so, you are using a format that allows Google to understand the content of the page. Use a descriptive, keyword-rich file name like “summer-brunch-specials.pdf” (vs menu-7.pdf), as the file name will often become part of the URL and title tag. You can also customize title tags, meta descriptions and text, but let’s get realistic: your business is food not SEO.

NAP Consistency

NAP is an acronym for Name, Address and Phone. How you present the information is important in local search. By being consistent with NAP across the web, you’re helping search engines correlate your entire SEO footprint. Always list all of this information in exactly the same way on your website and social media pages, and in all your directory listings. For good measure, be consistent offline too, including business cards and signage. That way when people search for you they are more likely to reinforce your consistent NAP presence.

Directories and Review Sites

Register on restaurant directories like Urbanspoon, Foursquare, TripAdvisor and Yelp. You don’t want to ask customers directly to review your business online, but if the service and product are exceptional (good or bad), reviews will come. You can subtly suggest people submit reviews by adding the icons for these directories in your restaurant and on your website. While TripAdvisor and Yelp get the lion’s share of the traffic, Google reviews are displayed at the “point of purchase” right next to your brand in search results.

Be Social

Make sure you have a friendly and engaging presence on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

  • Respond to negative reviews—don’t delete anything
  • Educate your followers about your specialties
  • Use quality images to highlight your food and space
  • Share positive, unbiased reviews in a unassuming way
  • Speak in a brand-consistent voice
  • Be interesting

Brand and Deliver

Ultimately, nothing matters as much as delivering on your brand. For Dana, no one has captured the importance of fulfilling customer expectations as well as noted digital marketing consultant Samuel Scott, who said:

Take the query “best restaurants in Chicago” … Google’s goal is not for the SERPs to reflect that top ten restaurant websites based on keywords or links… Google’s goal is for the SERPs to reflect what the human beings who live in Chicago think are the top ten restaurants. And that comes from having the best food and the best prices and the best staff and the best atmosphere—and then getting the online news coverage and reviews and discussions that reflect all of that. You know, building a brand.

These SEO guidelines are just the tip of the iceberg dinner salad. Want to take your SEO efforts and content strategy to the next level? Dana can help. Email our Search Director or call us 609.466.9187 ext. 132 today.

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