SEO Beginner-Tips for Restaurants

Boost your restaurant's online visibility with these SEO beginner tips. From keyword optimization to local listings, learn essential strategies to enhance your search engine presence and attract more customers.
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Restaurant SEO and its importance

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and describes optimising your restaurant website for visibility in search engines such as Google or Bing. The main goal is to further your site in the search results. 

This article will outline SEO basics for restaurants and guide you through the next steps.

Understanding SEO

SEO is often broken down to using keywords, but there is more to it than that. Keywords are surely part of it, but the overall goal in SEO is not to use the right keywords, but to provide good value and communicate right with your user. 

To do good SEO you need to have a clear idea and purpose for what your restaurant is actually about, marketing, branding and design are often overlooked factors in SEO. To achieve long-term results and improve your ranking on Google & Co, you'll need to start with a strong basis for your SEO. 

SEO can be broken down into On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO and Technical SEO. Let's have a closer look at those: 

On-Page SEO

The famous keywords are part of the on-page SEO, but the term includes all changes done directly on your web page including: 

  • Setting backlinks
  • Adding Images
  • Adding meta descriptions and titles
  • HTML tags
  • Content quality
  • URL/slug
  • ...

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO SEO refers to all measures you undertake outside of your website, such as having people link to your site, using social media, guest posts on other sites or PR activities.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO refers to measures that happen in the backend and affect the UX (User Experience). This includes: 

  • Security (SSL certificate)
  • Site Speed
  • Indexation
  • Schema mark-ups

Let's dive into the steps you can undertake to boost your SEO, now that we have set the foundation. 

1. Communicate your niche

The most important step is picking your niche. Not just if you are a cafe or a restaurant, but be specific about it, i.g. 'Vegan cafe in the west end of Glasgow'. Examples like this are often great to use in your tagline. 

Assuming you have already picked your niche, I labelled the first step to communicate your niche, meaning you want to have design and content that supports what you do. Perhaps you have a deeply rooted motivation or you have values that give your restaurant or cafe an identity. All this should be communicated on your website. Following this you should do some research to find the right keywords...

2. Use the right keywords

Another important factor is using the right keywords and being specific about them. Do your research and take your time... There are generally three questions you should ask yourself when researching keywords: 

  • Does my site match the search intent of the user?
  • Is there traffic for this keyword? 
  • Is it possible for me to rank for this keyword or is the competition too strong? 

Ideally, you should pick your main keyword and use it in your H1 heading and then use slight variations of this keyword in your H2 headings. For restaurants, it is also useful to use your location/city in your keywords. It is important that you stay specific when doing so and not just use 'vegan cafe Scotland' but be more specific and rather use something like 'vegan cafe Glasgow' or even 'vegan cafe Mount Florida' (part of Glasgow's southside).

3. Utilise individual landing pages

It will be important to use multiple landing pages where it makes sense for your restaurant. Each landing page again gives you the option to rank for different keywords. A good example is if you have multiple locations, you will be able to use one landing page for your location in the West End and one for the Southside.

4. Google My Business profile

A Google My Business Profile is fairly easy to set up, you can do so here and you should also consider setting up your business on Apple and Bing.

Those profiles should be filled in completely by you and they are a great (free) way to find your way in the search results of your user. On Google for example you are also able to directly book people in your restaurant.

5. Use Schema Mark-ups

Schema Mark-ups such as the local business mark-up and the menu mark-up offer great opportunities for businesses to improve their online visibility and attract more customers. By implementing schema mark-ups on your website you can provide search engines with more detailed information about your restaurant, menu and location, making it easier for potential customers to find them in search results.

Additionally, schema mark-ups can also improve the appearance of search engine listings, making them more attractive and informative for users.

6. Set up Google Search Console

Setting up Google Search Console for your restaurant's or cafe's website and submitting an XML sitemap can have a significant effect on your site visibility on Google as well as give you valuable insights into where and how your site appears in the Google Search.

CMS such as WordPress, Squarespace or Wix provide you with a sitemap for your website. Alternatively, you can create one with this XML Sitemap Generator.

To set up Google Search Console for your website, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Google Search Console website (https://search.google.com/search-console) and sign in with your Google account.
  2. Add your website by clicking the "Add Property" button and entering the URL of your restaurant or cafe website.
  3. Verify ownership of your website by choosing one of the verification methods provided by Google Search Console. This may include adding a meta tag to the HTML of your website, uploading an HTML file to your website's root directory, or using Google Tag Manager.
  4. Once your website is verified, you can access the Search Console dashboard and start managing your website's presence on Google. 
  5. Submit an XML sitemap of your website to Google Search Console. An XML sitemap is a file that lists all the pages on your website, helping search engines like Google understand and index your site more effectively. If you don't have an XML sitemap already created, you can use a sitemap generator tool to create one.
  6. Use the various tools and reports provided by Google Search Console to monitor your website's performance in Google Search. This includes checking for any indexing issues, viewing search analytics, and receiving alerts about any potential issues with your website.
    By setting up Google Search Console and submitting an XML sitemap, you can improve your website's visibility on Google and gain insights to help optimize your site for better search performance. This can ultimately lead to more traffic and customers for your restaurant or cafe. 

6. Optimise Images

Images are very important for your restaurant site as people want to see the food they will be served. 

When uploading images make sure you are using a web-friendly format such as WebP or JPG and reduce the image file size to an acceptable minimum. Smaller files will load faster and enhance the user experience. 

Before uploading the images you should also give them appropriate file names and once uploaded apply a suitable title tag and a descriptive alt description. This will help the search engines to 'understand' your image and make it more likely that it is served in Google Image Search

7. Utilise Social Media

Show presence on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Pinterest. You can use free tools such as Meta Business Suite's scheduler to plan your posts for Facebook and Instagram so you do not have to post updates manually. If you would like to manage all your social media in one place you can use a (paid) scheduler such as Hootsuite, Buffer, Social Pilot or Later. You can find a more comprehensive scheduler comparison in this article.

Especially Pinterest is often underestimated as it is one of the most used image search tools and a powerful SEO tool.

8. Optimise your website speed

Keeping your website up to speed will improve your user experience and therefore positively affect your ranking. There are a few steps that can help you improve your page speed: 

  • Optimise images and other media files to allow fast loading
  • Enable lazy loading for images
  • Use a caching plug-in (WordPress)
  • Use high-quality hosting (WordPress)
  • Keep third-party Java Script (Google Tag, etc...) to a minimum and deffer it if possible

9. Regularly update your website content

Regularly updating your website content shows the search engine that your site is active and maintained. This is a crucial factor to be shown on top of the search results.

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