On a recent trip away I found myself searching for local restaurants on both my phone and laptop almost every single day, I found that the type of restaurants I wanted to visit were not optimised for Local SEO and often very difficult to track down. Large restaurant chains dominated the search results making it tough to stumble across small, family run eateries that myself (and i'm sure a lot of other hungry searchers) are wanting to find.
Here’s a simple guide to help you put in place a local SEO strategy for your restaurant. By following these steps you will be able to improve your chances of getting found locally and, more importantly, increase reservations/enquiries and get the phone ringing.
1. Claim Your Google+ Business Page
Let’s search for burgers in nottingham on Google:
These are Google+ listings, profiles that are free to set up and are delivered at the very top of the organic search results for certain search terms. If you have not done so already, head over to the add your business page and get your restaurant set up. As part of this you will have to verify that you are the business owner via the phone number provided or by confirming a unique code which will be delivered on a postcard through the mail.
Multiple restaurants in different locations? No problem. You can manage 10 or more locations from one single dashboard. Google have published a super easy guide on how to do this here.
2. Optimise Your Google+ Business Page
Filling all out the following fields is highly recommended, try not to leave any of the following blank:
- Business Name
Annie’s Burger Shack has filled out all the fields correctly and so their listing is detailed and useful to the user:
Choosing the most accurate business category is also key in helping Google understand the type of food your restaurant sells. Annie’s Burger Shack use ‘restaurant’ as their category – whereas Gourmet Burger Kitchen have used ‘hamburger restaurant’:
The more specific the category the better, however, options are limited and many restaurants serve a number of cuisines making it hard to pick just one category.
If your restaurant uses either bookatable.co.uk or opentable.co.uk you are able to add a link to your profile page, allowing users to make a reservation within three clicks of the search results page. This reinforces how important it is to include up to date information on your Google+ Business page!
One area that is often missed/optimised poorly is imagery. Many restaurants include dreary pictures of their empty premises or a company logo. Get into the shoes of the customer. When you are sat on the train trying to find somewhere to get a burger in Nottingham, what is going to catch your eye apart from the brands you already know? High quality and relevant imagery is a simple and effective strategy for optimising your Google+ profile. Include pictures of the food, busy events/times of day, classy images of your premises and your staff (front and back of house). A good example of this can be found with ASK Italian:
Google+ allows you to gain business reviews that appear directly next to your business name:
These are highly visual and help to attract potential customers. However, Google requires the customer to create a Google+ account (if they do not have one) in order to post a review, which could hinder the number of reviews you receive. A good strategy to get this kicked off would be to either ask customers if they have a Google+ account and if so request a review. Alternatively, approach regular customers, family or friends of your restaurant and politely ask them to sign up for an account and leave you a review.
It is vital to ensure that all of the above information is up to date. A slight change in opening hours/menu can have a direct impact on your business. Imagine you are a customer looking for a burger in Nottingham, you find a restaurant that is open, call them up and it is closed, even worse – you head to a restaurant to find the menu is completely different to the one you viewed online… I could go on.
3. On Page SEO
There are a number of on page Local SEO factors which play a part in helping your restaurant rank locally. Adding your target city/location to the following on your homepage (or relevant landing page if you have more than one location) is highly recommended:
- Title Tag – This is the title of the page that the user sees on Google, for example ‘Jamie’s Italian Restaurant in Nottingham City Centre’ (between 50 and 60 characters long)
- H1 – This is the heading of the page, telling the user what the content is about, for example ‘Jamies Italian in Nottingham’
- URL – This is the text in the address bar containing the website name, for example ‘https://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/restaurants/nottingham/’
- Content – This is the text written on the page, it is recommended to include the target city/location within here with a relevant keyword at least once.
- Alt Tags – This is the text that describes what an image represents, include the target city/location within the description here, for example ‘jamies-italian-restaurant-bar-nottingham’
- Meta Description – This is the snippet of text underneath the search result on Google, include the target city/location with a relevant keyword at least once (between 150 and 160 characters long)
Here’s a great example.
Title Tag, URL and Meta Description:
Content and H1:
This example did not contain an image with an ALT tag attribute, it only contained a map and a sliding banner of images relating to the general brand.
Remind Google (and Your Customers) Again & Again
Throughout your site ensure you include your name, address and phone number (NAP) on your ‘Contact Us’ page, and, if you only have one location make sure you stick this information in the footer so that every single page on your site contains this readable information.
4. Off Page SEO
These next few points can help drive valuable traffic to your restaurant website, increase your local rankings and more importantly get the phone ringing.
Directories, Directories and Directories
Firstly, have a look at ALL of the directories that are linking to your restaurant’s website, check that each one is relevant and remove yourself from any that are not. Now you have a clear list of directories that are currently linking to you, go through each one and check that all the information is correct – a good tip here is to follow the fields you have filled in for your Google+ page (name, address, phone number etc.) Ensure that you have a go-to list for when any changes occur – extended hours, moving location etc.
Claim Relevant Business Listings
There are a tonne of relevant listings for restaurants that you can submit your information to for free, these will help increase Google’s certainty about your business location and information. Examples of general directories/listings include:
In addition to the general restaurant directories, take a look at all of the local directories available to you and add a listing in these, for example:
- Newspaper sites (e.g. Nottingham Post Directory)
- Tourism sites (e.g. Experience Nottinghamshire)
Local Link Building
Within the area/s that you are located there will be a great deal of location specific sites that you can reach out to to gain some high quality links, such as;
- Local Newspaper Sites (Food/Dining Out/Reviews etc.) – e.g. Nottingham Post, Derby Telegraph etc.
- Local Bloggers (Food/Things to Do/Lifestyle etc.) – e.g. The Nottingham Food Blog, Noshingham etc.
- Local Awards/Festival Sites (Best New/Best Burger/Value etc.) – e.g. Nottinghamshire Food and Drink Awards, Nottingham Heritage Food Festival etc.
- Local Sponsorship Sites (Charities/Sports Teams/Events) – e.g. Nottingham Dragon Boat Race, Nottingham Community Foundation etc.
Typically link building for SEO focuses on gaining links from sites with high domain authorities (DA), with local SEO this is still a very important factor, but it does not have to be as strict. Many local sites such as blogs, sponsorship & independent award sites and more will not have high domain authorities – what they do have however is a clear keyword focus on the city/location that you are looking to rank for. What these local links will do is help show Google that you are specifically operating your restaurant in a certain city/location and more importantly – these are links that humans will actually click on as they are coming from quality local sites.
Always be Consistent with your NAP (not the siesta type)
NAP – Name, Address and Phone Number.
Wherever you list your restaurant, whether it’s a directory, social profile or the back of a matchbox – be sure to remain consistent. A great way of making sure that your NAP is always up to date is to create a spreadsheet of all the sites you are listed on, articles you are mentioned in, award sites you are featured on etc. This way you can be sure that your NAP (at the very least) is up to date, and, no customers will be left looking at the dreaded ‘We Have Moved’ sign when they drop by for lunch.
Life in the restaurant business can be manic, and time to sit and think about the performance of your website may be hard to come by. I’ll be the first to admit that local SEO is not a quick fix that can be executed and left alone. However, implementing a well planned strategy that is focused around your target area/location is not as time consuming as you may think.
By claiming and optimising your Google + business page, updating a number of aspects of your website and keeping on top of citations/links you will be able to improve your chances of getting found locally. Moving forward, requesting links from local authorities, blogs and awards sites will help show Google that your restaurant is a local food hero and further guide you up the search engine rankings to compete with the big players.
One final thing, make sure your Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) is up to date! Be consistent whenever you are posting, sharing and giving out your information online, leave the customer with a full belly – not in the dark.