SEO Basics for Restaurant Owners

As a restaurant owner, your website can do a whole lot for you.  Your site can act as a hub for all of your different homes on the web, linking to each of your social media profiles, your Yelp page, and every other place your restaurant’s name appears on the Internet.  It can serve as a sort of online business card, providing contact information and location details for your eatery.  And, in the best case scenario, your website can bring entirely new customers through your door who discovered you through the internet and have never had contact with your business before.  But, to see that “best case scenario” come true, you will need a basic understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Every time you search for a term on Google or another search engine, the results that you see returned are determined by some very specific and advanced computing.  Google  has a whole list of metrics it uses in order to decide which websites will be placed high in search engine results.  Obviously, the higher your website places, the better chance you have of getting visitors to your site.  Search Engine Optimization is the study and practice of consciously doing things to help your page rank higher in search engine results.

As a restaurant owner, this can mean a whole lot of business through your doors.  If you run an Italian restaurant in San Jose, California, for example, and your website is the first one that people see in Google’s search results when they search for “Italian Food in San Jose,” that level of exposure can lead to a huge swell in customers.  SEO is a whole field of Internet study that could take years to perfect, but even a basic understanding of Search Engine Optimization will help you get ahead of the competition.

Optimizing for Keywords

Most of what you do to “optimize” your site for search engines revolves around specific keywords.  Keywords are what Google will use to link visitors to your site; they are what real customers search for with a search engine.  For example, if you are talking about Italian food, some relevant keywords might be spaghetti, marinara, and the phrase “Italian food” itself.

Before we get any further in sharing details about optimizing your website for search engines, you will need to identify some keywords that you want to tie to your website.  Good examples are the name of the area where your restaurant is located, both the exact town or city name and the larger metro area or county.  Other good ideas are the type of cuisine you serve and related terms like in our example above.

Incorporating Keywords in Content

Once you have identified the keywords you want to have linked to your website, the basic goal of SEO is to incorporate those keywords into all of the content that you generate.  Blog posts are one of the best ways to do this, as you can write longer posts (Google likes to see longer content) that include all or many of your keywords.  For example, our example Italian restaurant in San Jose could write a blog post about the history of Italian restaurants in the Silicon Valley, focusing on the way the establishment fits into the larger history of the area.  Just make sure that you write naturally and don’t include TOO many of each keyword in each piece of content, or Google will think you are spamming and abusing their system.

Creating Content that Ranks

Creating blog posts for your website that have pre-identified keywords in them is an important step, but if you really want to see the SEO ranking, you will have to put effort into creating high quality content that Google will rank high in their results.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating content that will boost the SEO ranking of your overall site:

For starters, put some effort and attention into the writing quality of your content.  Google will rank your pages lower if they have lots of spelling and grammar errors. Also, if your posts aren’t interesting no one will engage with them, which will hurt your SEO ranking further (more about this soon).  From there, make sure that every blog post that you write includes multimedia content.  Google and other search engines love to see that posts are more engaging than just plain text, and including pictures of your food and videos related to your writing is a great way to help your posts rank.

Share Your Posts!

The more people engage with your content, the better it will rank in Google results.  Make sure to promote every piece of content you create on your social media site and through your email lists, and encourage people to share and comment on your posts.

When you create content based around specific keywords, and put effort into making that content high quality, your site will rank higher as a result.  And, by boosting your SEO rankings, you will see more customers come through your door.