Local SEO tips for restaurants

Local SEO tips for RestaurantsEvery industry has its own Local SEO challenges and opportunities. While looking on Google or Bing you can easily find lots of insight about SEO in general, it can be quite hard to find industry specific information.

I have put together some examples of how restaurants can boost their Local SEO performance. By boosting your listings in search engines, it is going to mean that your business will be appearing higher in search results, in turn bringing in more customers to your business.

Google My Business

Hands up if you’ve heard of Google My Business? Well if not it’s a free tool from Google that you can use to add all your businesses information to make sure its listed correctly in Google. It has lots of great features there are a lot of new and non-obvious features under the hood of your Google My Business listing, and some of them are only available to restaurants!

Google Posts

Posts are accessible via your Google My Business listing editor page and provide an opportunity to add a post of up to 300 words with a picture and a link to:

  • Learn more
  • Reserve
  • Sign up
  • Buy
  • Get offer

You can also create events with start and end times. When people look up your business, they’ll see your posts in the knowledge graph on desktop but, perhaps most importantly for restaurants, on mobile they’ll see something like:

Google Posts

Quick URLs

And speaking of claiming more real estate for free, on August 10, an update to Google My Business rolled out that allowed businesses to add additional links to deeper pages on their site.

While this capability is open to all businesses, restaurants seem to get the best of it. Where a lowly SEO consultant can only add a link to an appointment scheduling page, restaurants can add additional links to their menu, to their order-ahead URL and to their reservations URL.

As you can see, these links give you additional real estate (especially on mobile) but, more importantly, they help users get to the part of your site they’re most interested in, perhaps saving staff time on the phone by promoting the reservation page.

And you’re even allowed to link to a page that isn’t on your own domain if you use an outside vendor to provide some transactional functionality.

Citations

Citations are important for most, if not all, local SEO, but in no sector, is it more important than for restaurants. This is because for restaurants, citations are not only a local SEO signal but also a solid traffic source.

Sites like FourSquare and Yelp drive significant views, direct calls and traffic, and they’re particularly strong in queries for restaurants. For this reason, I can’t recommend strongly enough that you personally claim and control your FourSquare and Yelp listings, ensuring that:

  • they contain up-to-date information.
  • are complete with favourable image.
  • and that all reviews are responded to in a timely manner.

Beyond those big players, it’s often more cost- and time-effective to hire a citation firm to handle the rest. I’m not going to list any favourites here, but Bright Local has done a solid comparison guide.

It doesn’t (and can’t) consider every feature of every company in the list, but it’s a great starting point, and I recommend looking at what each company is doing, comparing costs and making your own decisions as to the best fit for you. You can read their description of citations and comparison chart here.

Get your menu in the results

Way back in 2014, which seems like a lifetime ago in SEO, Google added menu data right into their search results.

This feature seems to be largely overlooked by restaurants, yet it’s a highly valuable area of the results. For those unfamiliar (likely due to its massive underutilization), it appears for menu-related searches and looks like this:

Everything you might want to know about a location’s menu is accessible right in the search results.

You may, of course, ask why you wouldn’t want the visitor to come to your site instead, or you may point out that the menu in the search results doesn’t include images. Both are valid points.

I would suggest that the purpose of showing up in search results is not to get traffic to your site but rather to drive business through your door. If this gets you extra real estate in the results, it’s inherently good. Of course, it would be better if images were included, too, but the pros outweigh the cons overall. If someone wants to see what your food looks like, they’ll visit your site using the quick link that you set up above.

At present, this data is apparently being pulled from third-party sites, which has a significant downside. If you don’t keep your menus updated with these third parties, or if they take a while to update their cache, Google will display outdated information.

What’s important to remember here is that you NEED to keep your listings consistent. If your menu appears on sites like Yelp or AllMenus, it’s imperative that they’re all updated as quickly as the menu on your site and in your location. And why not submit those URLs to Google (for a quick and easy way to do it that gets cached in seconds, just Google “add url to google,” and you’ll be given a submission field in the results) as soon as they’ve been updated?

Of course, Google doesn’t like having incorrect data either, and some recently announced markup may just be the answer to this problem.

 

Time to get cooking

While these four tips can help, you rank better and get you more exposure where you do rank, they are obviously not a magic bullet.

Traditional on-site optimisation and links are almost always necessary, but these areas have been covered often and well here on Search Engine Land.

So, now it’s time to get to implementing all these things. Some are fast and easy, and some can be very time-consuming. Start wherever you like; the only important part is that you start. Google will appreciate it, and so will your bottom line.