SEO for Restaurants: A Beginner’s Guide

By Alexis BenvenisteJun 20th, 2024

Google search on cell phone for "tacos near me"

Running your own restaurant requires much more than meets the eye. Aside from making sure everything is up and running properly and customers are happy, owning and operating a restaurant often means you work as your own marketing machine, and oftentimes, you have to get creative. That’s where SEO for restaurants comes in and can be incredibly important.

SEO can feel incredibly technical and overwhelming, especially if it’s new to you, but this beginner’s guide will help you get started.

What is SEO?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of using a combination of keywords, tools, descriptions, linking and headings to enhance a website’s visibility and ranking on search engine result pages. The goal of SEO is to bring in organic traffic to a website by making it more appealing to search engines, like Google. 

For restaurants, implementing SEO practices often drives more visitors to the business’ website, which ultimately brings more foot traffic to the restaurant itself. 

Why is SEO for restaurants so important?

Less than 1% of people searching for a restaurant click on the second page of Google results, according to Toast. Rather, they flock to the first result that comes up. 

Implementing a strong SEO strategy for your restaurant can help bring in more customers, improve your restaurant’s digital footprint and online presence and help you stay competitive and relevant.

Specific benefits of SEO for restaurants include:

  1. More Website Traffic and Increased Online Orders

    When people are looking for a place to eat, they usually go on their phones or computers for research. In fact, 62% of people use Google to research restaurants, so search visibility could be the key to your restaurant’s success. A solid SEO strategy will help your restaurant show up at the top of search results, which ultimately makes it easier for customers to find you.

  2. Improve Customer Satisfaction

    SEO is about more than search engines. It’s also about improving your website to make it more user-friendly and accessible for diners. This includes faster load times, a mobile-friendly design, and easy navigation. 

  3. Competitive Edge

    SEO helps your restaurant stand out from the competition, which there is plenty of. When you have a well-optimized website, you can attract more customers than your competitors who neglect SEO.

  4. Saving on Expensive Marketing

    SEO is a cost-effective marketing strategy. Once your website is optimized, it continues to attract organic traffic, saving you money on traditional, often pricey, advertising.

  5. Building Trust and Credibility

    High rankings in search results build trust and credibility. People tend to see top-ranked businesses as more reputable and reliable.

In summary, SEO is good for your business. It will help your restaurant attract more customers while boosting your online presence and helping you  stay competitive in a crowded market.

How to optimize SEO for restaurants

Enhance and optimize your website’s SEO

To optimize your website for SEO, start by researching relevant keywords and naturally incorporating them into your content, titles, and meta descriptions. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly, loads quickly and has an intuitive design for a better user experience. Creating engaging and regularly updated content, such as blog posts or special offers, will also help you attract and retain website visitors, and ultimately, customers.

Focus on keyword research

Restaurants can start focusing on keyword research for SEO optimization by identifying keywords that are relevant to their business’ cuisine, location, and specialties. It’s particularly important to prioritize local keywords that include the restaurant’s city or neighborhood in an effort to attract nearby customers. Considering keywords that reflect specific dishes, dining experiences, or unique offerings is also important. Incorporating these keywords naturally into your website content – including menu descriptions, blog posts and landing pages – helps improve visibility in search engine results. Regularly updating and refining keyword strategies based on analytics and trends helps bring in continued traffic. 

Dive into local search

Local search optimization helps your restaurant show up when people nearby are looking for places to eat or searching for specific cuisines. You don’t have to be an SEO expert to get started on local search optimization. Just claiming your business on major platforms-including search engines, social media, and review sites— is a great first step when it comes to boosting your visibility online. Learn more about local search in this article.

Optimize your Google Business Profile

Restaurant Google online ordering on a phone

Your Google Business Profile is important when it comes to your online visibility and attracting customers. Dive into creating a detailed and informational description for your restaurant – which includes your hours, a phone number that works, your website and a clear Q&A section – so customers feel informed and don’t have any unanswered questions. Also make sure your restaurant’s menu is always accessible and easy to find. 

Read more about how to optimize your Google Business Profile to attract new diners.

Lean on social media

Social media can enhance your SEO strategy by driving more traffic to your website. Sharing your website on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will help increase your number of website visitors and overall engagement. Likes, shares, and comments can also indirectly influence and boost your search engine rankings by indicating that your content is relevant and high-quality. Social media profiles also rank in search engines, which will provide you with additional opportunities for potential customers to find your restaurant. Lastly, engaging with your audience on social media will help boost brand awareness and loyalty.

If managing your restaurant’s SEO strategy feels overwhelming, ChowNow can help you get started. Our restaurant websites are built using premium Squarespace templates that have built-in SEO tools and are optimized to drive online orders. Plus, our discovery network of ordering channelsgets your restaurant listed on numerous high-traffic sites, like Google, Apple Maps, and Yelp, making it easier for customers to find you through local searches and place an order.

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