Local SEO for Restaurants
It is a common issue for restaurants across Australia and New Zealand; the struggle to increase ranks locally and increase local traffic to your website. If you follow these 11 steps, you will increase your presence locally and will increase your restaurants presence and reputation in your local area.
As a restaurant owner, Local SEO is a fundamentally important marketing approach to build the local presence a restaurant requires to compete. This is the comprehensive guide for restaurant owners, delivering a step by step guide which you can take to build local presence, ranks, visibility and reputation in local areas.
10 Steps to build local presence for restaurants:
- Ensure Website Includes Target Locations
- Your Blog Is Your Friend
- Utilise Schema Markup For Restaurants
- Use Geotags On Your Images
- Improve User Experience
- Contact Page Optimisation
- Build Restaurant Directories
- Secure Links On Local Websites
- Google My Business
- Social Media
Ensure Website Includes Target Locations
On-Page SEO will aid your local SEO and local presence and can play a big part if pushing your restaurant the higher local ranks. This can start with some simply adding your target locations into your home page and any relevant web pages.
- Your title tag is the page tag that users will see appearing within Google’s search results. Try and keep this tag between 50–60 characters long and utilise your location, for example:
Italian Restaurant Sunshine Coast | Alfresco’s
What you can see here is the use of restaurant type, “Italian Restaurant”, your target location, “Sunshine Coast” and your restaurant name, “Alfresco’s”. You are telling Google and prospective customers everything they need to know.
- Your H1 tag (Header 1) tells the user what the content within the page is about. Google also looks at H1 tags to understand page context and how to best to index the page. It is important to get the locational information within the H1 text, along with the relevant keywords and content. For example:
- Visit Sunshine Coast’s Favourite Italian Restaurant; Alfresco’s
- Alfresco’s Sunshine Coast’s Favourite Italian Restaurant
- Content that appears within your web page itself should also include your target location along with relevant keywords you are looking to rank under.
- Your ALT tags describe what your images are about and are often overlooked. Include an image description along with your target location within images appearing in your web page.
- Your Meta Description is the snippet of text that appears underneath the search results on Google. It is best practice to keep these text snippets to 150–160 characters and include target locations and relevant keywords for improved local rank visibility.
Your Blog Is Your Friend
Your restaurant is likely competing in a competitive space so it is important that your web pages and content is positioned to target a variety of search intents. You can achieve this through adding FAQs to your website, but a more sustainable approach is via a blog.
Your blog is the perfect tool to answer customer questions, demonstrate your position in the market, target search terms (in particular long tail keywords) and showcase your restaurant as a thought leader within your culinary genre. Remember, Google loves blogs and highly targeted, relevant and rich blog content can do wonders for your local brand visibility and local ranks.
Utilise Schema Markup For Restaurants
Google recognises the importance of local search opportunities in the hospitality industry which is why in 2017, Google released a specific schema markup for restaurants.
This schema markup allows Google to focus on specific and key pieces of information such as menus, directly in the Google results pages. You can implement a simple descriptive word redirecting to a URL, to detailed information such as calories and fat count within meals.
If you need help implementing effective restaurant schema markup, feel free to get in touch with our Sunshine Coast Web Development team, who will gladly assist you.
Use Geotags On Your Images
Many of your competitors will not be using Geotags, so this is a fantastic technique to increase your local visibility above that of your competitors.
A tool called the eXifer is very useful when optimising images. When taking photos, especially photos with modern cameras, large file sizes are often generated with immoderate metadata attached to them. If you put your photos through the eXifer tool you can alter the titles, descriptions and coordinates of your imagery.
Is this going to drive your website straight to the top of Google ranks? No… However, these little trust signal boosts and improved relevancy does help when building your SEO footprint.
You can geotag your images by uploading your images to websites such as Flickr, completing all the information including the all important location information. Not only does this deliver imagery of your restaurant and food to the audiences in Flickr, but also tells Google to show those images in local searches and increases your local SEO presence.
Improve User Experience
The main purpose of any website is the user. There are many techniques which can be adopted to increase the experience, journey and navigational fluidity for a user that will improve your standing with Google. With increased Google favour will come an increase in ranks and therefore traffic.
However, there is no point in getting 1000’s of hits to your website if they simply bounce off the pages and do not convert or interact with the content.
The purpose of user experience is to ensure that content that the user may find valuable or is looking for is easy to find. The user journey to source content should not be complicated. It should be a seamless navigation between segments and pages for the user, delivering trust and relevance so that the user has the confidence to convert.
Make your contact information, reservation information and menus easy to find and highly visible. Always remember that you have just a few seconds to keep a user engaged and that most users will have short attention spans so if the information is not right in front of them, you may lose them.
Contact Page Optimisation
There are a few things you can do to aid your local presence directly through the optimisation of your contact page.
One of the fundamental trust signals that Google looks for when ranking websites locally is the consistent use of company information such as Company Name, Address and Phone Number. This is known as NAP data.
Keep your NAP data consistent across your entire digital footprint. The NAP information which is showing on your website should be the NAP data that is showing on Google My Business, in directories and anywhere else across the internet.
Consistency with your NAP data across all your assets, marketing collateral and links & directories across the internet is a very high trust signal and overtime can elevate your website significantly in local ranks.
Case Study — Shahi Indian Restaurant
This is a great example of how sustained, consistent and accurate NAP data can do wonders for your website in local ranks.
Shahi Indian Restaurant operates in Bracknell, a town in the UK with a population of about 100’000 residents.
Bracknell is an extremely competitive location for restaurants with 1000’s of locations across a wide range of cuisines; in particular Indian cuisine.
Shahi was strugglings to build its reputation locally, despite having a very good reputation with regular patrons.
What could be done? Implement a Local SEO campaign.
- Building a highly optimised Google My Business page, not just adding the logo, website URL and opening times, but adding fantastic internal and external imagery, a 360 interactive walk through and direct access to the menu and online booking tools
- Using Google My Business as the vehicle to build reviews, which included emailing previous customers and asking them to come back and leave their feedback
- Creating local directories (and national directories), including localised citations and using the NAP data found on the website and Google My Business page, to promote the restaurant.
- Creating rich content and Guest Posting to local influencer blogs including the NAP data within the content CTA’s
There is no miracle solution or overnight process to build authority locally. It requires grit and patience.
6 months late the result was as follows:
- Ranked #1 on Google Places under a variety of search terms including India Restaurant Bracknell
- Ranked #1 on Organic Search Results under a variety of search terms including Indian Restaurant Bracknell:
Google Places Snapshot
Google Organic Search Snapshot
Finally, think about why people may want to visit your contact page. Yes, to make a booking or find out your opening hours, but possibly to ask another question.
Try and predict what your prospect is going to ask and try and answer it on your contact page, such as:
- What are your opening times
- Allergy information
- Dietary requirements
- Location details on a map
- How to book a table
Build Restaurant Directories
I have touched on the need to build directories to create trusted local authority but try and take this one step further by creating profiles in restaurant specific directories or websites.
Backlinks and NAP citations are the key areas to focus on for local SEO and can also have very positive effects on wider search results.
Ensure your restaurant website is visible on the following and similar directories:
Secure Links on Local Websites
Local link building is the hardest and most time consuming part of building local ranks on Google. These local citations are a mention of your company, restaurant and NAP data in a third part location, including directories such as Yell and Yelp.
They are another trust signal which from an SEO perspective, will increase your trust and relevancy with Google, increasing your website rank.
However it is not just in local directories that you want to secure links. Search for food bloggers in your local area, places to eat in your local area and reach out to source inclusion information and where possible include your restaurant, NAP data, website on these valuable external websites.
This is going to elevate your trust factor with Google.
Google My Business
Google My Business is the vehicle for local search rankings and a great tool to build your NAP trust factor. Google reviews are also shown through Google My Business and although you can not control them, the reviews are automatically crawled by Google and directly reflect the knowledge panel on Google search results. However, the effectiveness of this crawl depends on the web presence of your Google My Business page, so it is important to optimise your Google My Business page effectively.
Here are some quick optimisation ideas:
- Go through each section of the Google My Business page and update each section. The more information available within your Google My Business page the better optimised your page will become.
- Direct customers to leave reviews
- Add a detailed library on image about your brand, services or products and also include insight into your restaurant. Menu images, inside your restaurant images, images of your dishes.
- Use promotional Google posts and keep going at it. Results will not come instantly so persevere, keep the posts going and eventually Google will reward the level of insight you are showing with increased local ranks
Critic Reviews also come with a great deal of trust scoring. If you can secure Critic Reviews on your Google My Business page you are significantly improving the effectiveness of your local ranking efforts.
The following are Critic sites that Google views as reputable:
- The Infatuation
- Michelin Guide
- The Nudge
Check the Critic Review website to make sure they are using the correct markup which will help Google find the review.
With regards to images, where possible add the following image types into your Google My Business page. Keep in mind presentation and showcase your restaurant to your prospective customers.
- Cover Photo
- Interior Image(s)
- Exterior Images(s)
- At Work
Social Media is a great tool for a restaurant, with Facebook, Instagram and Foursquare in particular offering fantastic opportunities to promote your restaurant, build a community or patrons and reach new customers.
Remember to be consistent with your NAP data. Google will look for that consistency across social media and if accurate will recognise your restaurant as a legitimate and trustworthy establishment.