Every restaurant wants to attract new customers and stay top of mind with existing customers. Most restaurants probably already have the most powerful tools to accomplish this – restaurant websites. But are potential customers finding yours?
Hungry customers will search online (on their phone, on their computer, on their tablet) for restaurants, and they will hopefully find your restaurant in the search results. But is your website optimized for search? This means: will potential customers find your restaurant online if they are not searching for your restaurant specifically? Will it even rank among thousands of other restaurant websites in search results?
Sure, your restaurant website will probably show up in search results if someone searches for it by name, but what if they are searching for something more general, such as “Italian restaurant in Youngstown,” “places to eat seafood in Springfield,” or perhaps “bridal shower locations in Mount Prospect”?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of your website in a search engine’s results. This refers to “organic” search results, (i.e. the unpaid results).
The search engines don’t know if you are that Italian restaurant in said city, or the perfect place to hold a bridal shower. Your website has to tell them. It really is that simple. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of complicated algorithms that go into it, and they change all the time. But the bottom line is always this – be sure your restaurant website is answering the questions asked in searches by customers, using the words they would be using.
Here are some general tips to help optimize your website for search:
Be sure that your content is actually content – not images. If the graphic on your site says “Seafood Restaurant,” it may look great, but the search robots can’t read that. They can only read text. Be sure that in addition to graphics, the majority of your important (descriptive) content is actual words typed into the page (i.e. into the code), not just set in graphics. This means:
- Menu items should be typed in, not downloadable PDFs or scanned images
- Your restaurant address, including city, should be listed as content on at least one of your pages, even if it’s also in the footer, in the sidebar or in a graphic
- Tell the customers (and search engines) what they would find or experience at your restaurant. For example, if your restaurant is a great place for a bridal shower or a birthday party, be sure you have those ideas typed in as content.
- Restaurant awards and recognition are great exposure, but if they are only loaded in as graphics, links or PDFs of articles, search engines can’t read them and use their content in search results. Be sure to type in a brief description of the article along with the PDF or link to the full story, using important key words such as the name of the publication and the name of the award in conjunction with the name of your restaurant.
When you do use images, they should be tagged appropriately. When a graphic is uploaded to your site you can title that image and you can also provide a description of that image. Think in terms of what customers may be searching for. For example, if you are a seafood restaurant in Springfield, when uploading a photo of your famous salmon dinner to your website, title it something like “Salmon seafood dinner” and give it a description such as “Our restaurant salmon dinner is the best seafood dinner in Springfield.” These descriptions hit on some of the most important words that a potential customer may be using in search while staying descriptive and true to what it is.
Provide an accurate page description. Most website management platforms give you the opportunity to write the “meta description” for each page on your site. This is the 150 character description that is used in search results. This is an opportunity for you to type in exactly what the user will see in search results and to hit on those key words that are most important, reiterating those in your page content.
Again, going back to the seafood example above, a home page meta description could be: “Eat at Susan’s Seafood restaurant on RN Street in Springfield, IL, when you want to eat the best seafood in Springfield.” This description uses the restaurant name, the city, the street, and key descriptive words, all in less than 150 characters and in a meaningful sentence. These are all key words to tell the search engine and the customer that you are a restaurant, what kind of restaurant you are, and where you are located. And it hits on some of the more common searches a potential customer may use, such as “seafood restaurant in Springfield” or “places to eat seafood in Springfield.”
Remember, what’s good for customers is good for search engines. Be descriptive in your text and in your descriptions – it not only tells the customer who you are, where you are, and what you do best, but it also tells the search engines.
Contact Rewards Network to learn more ways to attract new customer and retain loyal ones.