This article was written by Katie Fairchild, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Restaurant365 and featured in Hospitality Technology.
Don’t leave it to chance that search engines will automatically return your website when a search is conducted. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a great way to increase your revenue by growing your customer base with patrons who may not have otherwise found your restaurant.
92% of consumers will choose a business on the first page of local search results and 60% of users click on one of the top three search results, which means it’s extremely important to be at the top of results when consumers conduct a search.
How? By increasing your SEO. And great news – it’s free! All major search engines rank listings based on relevance to users, and search engines want to keep their users by providing the best search results possible. To do this, they scan websites for specific keywords and topics, rewarding sites with clear messaging with the highest rankings.
Getting started with an SEO strategy can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Below are eight simple tips that will boost your SEO rankings.
Use localized keywords in the content on your website pages
For example, by specifying “BBQ take out in Austin,” or “Chinese food delivery Plano,” you will face less competition compared to using a broader keyword set such as “restaurants in Austin.” You can check out what keyword opportunities are common by looking at what Google autocompletes in the search bar for your area. You can also get ideas and volume estimates through Google’s free Keyword Planner tool.
Claim and boost local listings
This will be the bread and butter of your business, as it’s essential to have local listings. Moz offers many free tools to support easy creation and management of your listings on Google, Facebook, and other sites to help consumers find and choose your restaurant.
Make sure your listings are consistent in online directories
Don’t assume you can update contact information on your website once and be done. Details are added to many online directories automatically and it’s important to review, claim, enhance, and perfect each individually. Review each listing for accuracy on name, address, phone, email, food type, and hours of operation for all locations. Remember, search engines are trying to build loyalty to their brand. If bad contact information is provided to consumers, they will stop using their search engine; and the platform may stop listing your details.
Good reviews help your business thrive. Search engines love third-party and crowd-sourced information because it shows an unbiased opinion. Be sure to check your reviews often and respond to negative reviews with a positive resolution.
Create a share-worthy experience to drive social engagement
Social engagement creates inbound links, brand mentions, and repeat readers, which are important SEO signals. The more people interact with your site, content, and business, the better you will rank.
Make sure your restaurant website is fast and mobile-friendly
If your website isn’t optimized, you’ll have a lower chance of landing in search engine results. Include thoughtful title tags, meta descriptions, and headers to help search engines understand the content on your web pages and determine if they are relevant for a particular search query. Tools including Screaming Frog can help you find opportunities for improvement on your website. There are also a variety of plugins for common CMS platforms like Yoast that can guide you on best practices to optimize your website.
Optimize your URL structure
Your URLs work as your address on the web as it’s the most direct way for a consumer to visit a page on your website. Customize each URL with simple language based on what’s on the web page. Restaurant365 customer, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, does this effectively:
- To improve ranking for best-selling combos, “combo-meals” is included in the URL: https://freddysusa.com/category/combo-meals/
- To show up in location-based results, “magnolia-tx” is included in the URL: https://freddysusa.com/store/magnolia-tx/
- To rank for delivery, “delivery” is included in the URL: https://freddysusa.com/delivery/
Offer a unique “subscribers only” incentive to increase your email base
Offer special incentives or email receipts to collect email addresses for marketing purposes. Regular emails promoting specials and events will increase your website traffic and keep your brand top of mind.
There are many factors related to how SEO rankings are calculated, and success is a moving target. But with organic search being a main revenue source for many business owners, it’s worth making the effort to master cost-free SEO as part of your marketing strategy.