One of the questions I get asked about often is SEO. There are a number of things that go into SEO for any website in any number of industries, but I like to follow a simple rule.
When you focus on your target customer and giving them the information they need to know who you are and what you have to offer them then you’re going to naturally do a lot of good SEO things. That’s what the search engines are looking for – they want to provide the best result for searchers.
So the first tip I have is to think about your consumers and what they want instead of thinking about what Google wants.
With that in mind these are the tips I would share on how you can better position your restaurant website for successful SEO that is focused on providing good information to your target customers.
1. Push Your Brand Name First
There is a tendency to focus on keywords when adding content to your website and I’m thinking mostly about titles tags, which is the big blue headline you see on Google results.
You might see a title tag that looks like this:
Eau Claire Restaurants | Joe’s American Restaurant Has The Best Burgers
I recommend that you promote your brand first and focus on the taglines and other SEO-type stuff second or later in the priority.
Many of your customers will hear your brand. They’ll search for your brand. And I think when you see a result on Google you expect to see a restaurant’s name first.
So always add your restaurant’s name first for title tags and for other times when you’re introducing your brand to someone new.
It might look like this:
Joe’s American Restaurant: The Best Burgers In Eau Claire, Wisconsin
2. Put Your Address, Hours and Phone Number In The Header Or Footer (And On The Contact Page)
A good number of people will come to your website to find these items. Make it easy for them to find on just about every page they visit. Your website’s pages will often share a header and footer so adding this info there ensures your visitors can find it on every page.
Also add it to your contact page, which is a page people visit to find contact information.
And adding these items in text on the site is important. Search engines often use this information to quickly provide it on a results page for searches like Joe’s Restaurant Eau Claire Phone Number.
3. Use Text For The Menu
You’ll still see .pdf menus up on a few restaurant websites. Google is getting pretty good at reading .pdf documents, but it’s not ideal for Google and it’s not ideal for your customers in most situations.
And it’s not ideal for you either. When you create a page or pages for your menu items and use text you can go in and make changes whenever you want. You can add and remove items. Your designer can create an engaging experience for your visitors, which is what they want – your customers don’t want to see a .pdf that is out of date and they certainly don’t want to download a .pdf in most cases.
4. Describe Menu Items In The Customer’s Language
It’s all about balance when it comes to writing descriptions for your menu items. You want to use words that really entice people, but you also have to use language they understand and language they might search for on Google.
You might want to call it a Portobello & Swiss Burger, but calling it a Mushroom & Swiss Burger and describing that you use Portobello mushrooms in the description might be the better way to go since a potential customer would like search for Mushroom & Swiss Burger in your city.
5. Follow “The One Second Rule” On Every Page
The One Second Rule is when someone brand new to your website opens each page and thinks, “What is this website and what’s in it for me?”
The main headline on each page is key for this. Fun headlines like, Kickin’ It Up can be fun on the homepage, but they are often confusing at first glance.
Focus on your brand and the key selling points of what you offer like:
Joe’s American Burgers – Local Beef With Special Seasonings And Unique Sides
6. Identify City And Area Keywords
It is important to add city and area keywords to various places on your site. On your about page you want to discuss the city and area where you’re located. I live in Eau Claire, Wisconsin so I look for restaurants using keywords like “Eau Claire Restaurants”.
You don’t want to use these keywords awkwardly throughout your website. Instead, use them in ways that make sense to the customer.
For example, you can say: Joe’s American Restaurant: An Eau Claire, Wisconsin Favorite Since 2001
7. Create Regular Blog Content
Not many restaurants maintain a regular blog so it’s an opportunity to get a leg up on the competition. If you use Google to search for information you’ve probably noticed that they are showing more fresh content for some searches.
The reason is that people seem to have a preference for recent content for some types of searches versus content that is more timeless.
A blog is a great way to get regular content on your restaurant website. Find one person that will be in charge of the blog. Start them off with one post per month. Aim for weekly posts.
To start, brainstorm the top 20 questions you get from customers. Answer them and you have 20 posts to publish throughout the upcoming year.
Also write about local events and special events you’re having at your restaurant.
8. Mention Individuals And Complementary Businesses In Blog Posts
In those blogs posts, mention and link to individuals and complementary businesses in your area. This will encourage those individuals to share your post, which gets exposure on social media and can have a role in raising the authority of your website, which helps with SEO.
It also encourages goodwill with others that can lead to links to your website.
9. Have One Primary Call-To-Action On Each Page
Confusion is a big reason why visitors will leave your website. When people leave your website it can be a sign that they didn’t get what they need, which is what we discussed in the intro of this post.
For each page on your site, think about the step you want the visitor to take next. Then make one call to action that stands out above all the others for this next step.
You can have secondary actions, but design them to be secondary.
For example, the primary call to action on your homepage might be to get people to click on your menu page. And from the menu page it might be to take them to your contact page where they can see the map to your restaurant.
10. Create Separate Pages For Secondary Customers (Event Hosting, Catering, etc.)
Many restaurants make additional revenue by hosting events or offering catering. You will have visitors looking for this information so make unique pages for these offerings. Provide all the information these customers need. Add secondary calls to action on the homepage so it’s easy for these visitors to quickly get to the page they want.
11. Mention And Link To Your Partners
We looked at linking to complementary businesses in your area. That’s for something like a local retail shop or photographer and things like that.
But you also want to link to your partners. An example would be a local brewery whose beer you have on tap and the local farm where you get your beef. It’s helpful to them to add their information and link and they’ll often do the same for you on their website.
12. Splurge On Professional Photography
Food photography is really tough. I can’t say why it is, but think about your customers and a good experience for them is professional photography. If you’re looking at creating a website you’ll want the best images so hire a professional.
Good photography is a big part of a good website experience for your customers, which we mentioned is important for SEO.
13. Use Branding And Descriptive Customer Language When Naming Photos
When naming your photos, name them appropriate to the content in the photo. Most photos will default to something like IMG1001 or something like that. Or you might upload it as homepage_1 or something like that.
Give images titles appropriate to the content and you can also add a description to the image. Something like The Livery Mushroom and Swiss Burger is a good title for an image.
14. Create An Enjoyable Smartphone Experience
More people are using their smartphones to access websites and to search for information. One study found that 69% of people delete emails if they aren’t optimized for mobile. People feel the same about your website.
Talk to your designer about getting a responsive website that will give your customers a good smartphone experience.
15. Use City-Specific Taglines In Title Tags On Pages
We’ve kind of mentioned this throughout the post, but it’s important to mention your city and area on your site, but usually the best place to do that is with taglines.
We did this earlier when talking about your title tag for something like:
Joe’s American Restaurant: The Best Burgers In Eau Claire, Wisconsin
I think of that first part as the Title and the second part as the tagline.
Just a reminder to think about your customer first when making SEO changes. Think about the language and words they use when you interact with them. Think about the words they would be searching for in relation to finding food in your city.
Then follow the tips above to setup the content on your website. That should put you in good shape for getting more traffic to your site and more customers through your door.
Image: Mark Ramsay