SEO For Restaurants – Improve Local Rankings. Complete How-To Guide

by Toby

September 25, 2019

seo for restaurants and gastropubs

If you have been ignoring your restaurant’s presence in Google Search and in Google Maps, you’re leaving money on the table for your competitors. Likely that’s why you’re reading this post.

If you want to grow your restaurant’s Google rankings through SEO and show at the top of the page, then you’re in the right place. Read on!

What Is Restaurant SEO?

Restaurant SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of optimizing your website and brand presence throughout the web so that your site ranks at the top of Google’s search pages and within Google Maps for your target keywords. Results are achieved through great website content, off-site listings, optimized Google My Business profile, technical SEO, and review management.

Why Ranking Your Restaurant on Google’s First Page IsImportantThe first page of Google is a huge source of new low-cost customers! New customers coming from Google are the lowest cost leads your restaurant can get out of any marketing tactics.

Consider this:

  • Google is the number one search engine by a HUGEmargin
  • Android is the leading mobile phone operating system which is equally as dominant as Google search
  • Google Maps is the dominant online map service

Without ongoing SEO efforts to improve your search presence on mobile devices and desktop, your competitors that have invested in top of the first page Google results and search rankings are stealing your business.

Consider the skyrocketing growth in searches for “restaurant near me” that began in 2013. Are you interested in capturing your share of that search growth? That’s just one search term among thousands.

Restaurant Near Me Search Growth
Search Growth in Google for “Restaurant Near Me” Searches

Leads coming from Google organic searches are the lowest cost per lead source out of any marketing tactics you’re doing for your restaurant – bar none. Google is on 24/7.

Local SEO

ProximityAffects How You Rank

Keep in mind throughout the local SEO process outlined below that an element of how well you rank in Google Search and within Google Maps is dependent on your restaurant’s proximity to a geolocation (e.g., city name, town, zip code). Customers are looking for local restaurants. So if your restaurant is not physically located in the particular town the person is querying about (e.g., “Jewish deli in San Diego”), or the restaurant is on the borderline, you are not likely to rank well in Google Search (the local 3-pack that shows at the top of the search results) or Google Maps for searches with that city or town name, or zip code. This makes sense though – Google prefers to show searchers the restaurants that are nearest.

The highlighted area below is what Google considers San Diego. If you’re located outside that area it will be difficult to rank for searches related to San Diego.

Google Map San Diego
How Google Defines San Diego

Some queries have no geo qualifier terms like the city name. For example, “restaurant near me”  – this query has no geo qualifier term. In these cases, Google looks at where the searcher is relative to your restaurant among all the competitors. Those businesses with the highest relevancy to that searcher along with the closest proximity to the searcher typically end up ranking higher.

For Upcoming, New Restaurants: Start Pre-Open SEO Marketing Early

For a new location that is coming soon and under construction, create a speed-to-ramp digital marketing process that includes at least the steps below.

Start advertising the opening in advance to build awareness and market anticipation…it will plant the seed for people to search for you once your doors are open. People searching for you in Google and Google Maps will help your Google listing get traction in search results faster.

New Location Timing: The local SEO process takes 90 – 120+ days to get traction in search and on maps so start early and claim your Google My Business (GMB) profile as soon as possible if you’re in pre-open stages. You will need to have your phone number set up and access to your mail. Google will mail out a verification postcard with a pin number that allows you to claim your Google My Business profile.

Social Media Marketing and Google AdsWhile not directly correlated to SEO, make sure you place Google and Facebook pixels on your website to ensure you’re building up a remarketing list of anyone that visits the site during the pre-open marketing process. Once the doors are open, you can use remarketing campaigns to create immediate brand awareness with those past website visitors that your location is NOW open. This helps get you off to a strong start and is an essential tactic to a speed-to-ramp process. Read our related post on Google Ads For Restaurants and Facebook Ads For Restaurants.

How To Optimize Your Restaurant’s Google My Business Profile

Claim Your Google My Business profile for each location and optimize it

If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing, dothis now! Here are instructionsfrom Google on how to add or claim your listing.

Within your Google My Business profile page, several sections require your attention. Once you login to your GMB page (go to business.google.com), you will see a menu to the left that looks something like this:

Google My Business Menu of Information
Inside Google My Business – Menu Of Information To Fill Out

After you click on Info, you will see something like the below:

Google My Business Detailed Information
Google My Business Detailed Section About Your Restaurant

Google My Business Info Section

Name

Make sure your name is exactly how it should be listed – no variations.

It’s imperative that your restaurant name be used consistently throughout the web – from your GMB profile to Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, etc.

Variations in your restaurant’s name can negatively impact your SEO rankings in Maps and in Search. Part of local SEO signals for Google have to do with consistency in your restaurant’s NAP (name, address, phone)information. If Google sees variations throughout the web then it loses confidence that you are who you say you are.

Add your days and hours of operation

Add any special hours.

Add your phone number

Add a short name
Add URLs
  • Website
  • Menu URL
  • Order Ahead URL if you have
  • Reservations URL
Add menu options

Add Restaurant Menu To Google My Business
Fill out Attributes
Add a unique business description
Photos: add great images of your restaurant and the food
Choose the correct restaurant category

Additional Google My Business Primary Categories
Link to the correct location page on your restaurant website
Designate “owners” for your GMB profile
Q and A on your GMB profile

Question and Answers Restaurants in Google My Business
Google My Business Posts

What Google My Business Optimization and Local SEO success looks like

Google My Business 1 Month Impressions
Google My Business Impression Growth 1 year later

Citations: Claim and build out your profiles on other websites

Citation Competitive Analysis For Uncovering More Local Citations

Data Aggregators

Don’t forget about claiming Bing Places

Website Optimization

Quality Content – Text, Images, Video

Write descriptive content about your location
Keywords
Google Related Searches
Blogging
Amplify your content through social media

Identify Local Blogs and Websites

On-page SEO:

Title Tag and Meta Description
Embed GMB map of your business

  1. Search for your business in Google Maps
  2. Click on the hamburger menu in the top left
  3. Scroll down to “Share or Embed” and then click on Embed and copy the code
Optimize images for search: Add images with alt tags
Structured Data – Add Schema markup for your Restaurants
Google Rich Snippet Restaurant Menu
  • Name, Address, Phone (NAP)
  • Your restaurant’s menu
  • Reservations
  • Days and Hours of Operation
Restaurant Menu Rich Snippet in Google Example
Example of Restaurant Schema – JSON-LD
Increase engagement:

Mobile-Friendly Website

Mobile Usability Report Google Search Console

Technical SEO

Hosting
Robots File and XML files
Example XML Sitemap
Secure Website – https not http
Other

Reviews and reputation management – Google reviews show right in search!

Google Reviews Showing In Search Results
Restaurant Knowledge Panel Showing Aggregate Review Ratings

The Final Word

  • For new restaurants, start the SEO process early and in advance of opening if you can – create a Speed To Ramp process
  • Optimize your restaurant’s Google My Business Profile and monitor it regularly for changes and add new and relevant posts
  • Citations – list your business on other websites
    • Check the citations your competitor restaurants are getting
  • Focus on website optimization
    • Ensure you have quality content on your site – text, images, video
    • Does your site provide a good user experience
    • Implement on-page SEO
    • Make certain your website is mobile-friendly
  • Technical SEO: use a good host and preferably a dedicated server
    • Make sure you have a robots.txt and XML file
  • Reviews and Reputation Management – respond to all reviews and encourage your happy customers to leave reviews for your business

Other Restaurant Marketing Articles

About the author 

Toby

Toby is the co-founder of 39 Celsius. He has over 20 years of digital marketing experience and has started several different companies throughout his career.

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