Complete On-Page Restaurant SEO Practical Guide: How to Rank High

A practical guide with steps you can take today to rank higher in search engines

A practical guide with steps you can take today to rank higher in search engines

Investing time in SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) leads to increasing organic traffic to your website, thus boosting your brand awareness and turning it into sales. It’s easy to get lost in details, but SEO for restaurants and bistros doesn’t need to be a hassle. In this article, we’ll talk about on-page restaurant SEO, which involves all the things that you can do directly on your website to boost its search engine rankings.

SEO for Restaurants Keyword Strategy

Before you start looking for the best free SEO tools to help with keyword research, first think about your business profile. It’s the same exercise you did when you decided to become a restaurant owner. Which cuisine is your specialty? Where are you located? Do you offer takeaway and delivery?

When customers search the internet for businesses, they try to find something in their area. No one will search for a Thai restaurant in a different city (unless they’re planning a trip there). They will search for “Mexican restaurants near me,” or “Italian restaurants near me,” or… you get it.

Asking these questions will help you define which customers your website is addressing. Trying to get known in an entire country will not only dilute your traffic but also won’t bring extra benefits. Your target should be SEO for local businesses.

Related: Key Benefits of SEO for Restaurant Websites

Narrow your keywords

A big part of local search SEO is narrowing the keywords that you want to rank for. Before using keyword tools, try to write down some short phrases that you, in the position of a customer, would search for online (of course, applying it to your restaurant’s specs).

There is no such thing as the best keywords for restaurants in general. You have to find keywords for restaurants that are similar to yours in terms of cuisine, location, specific, etc.

Example:
Let’s say that Pronto Restaurant in Naples is doing Italian cuisine.

If they’re not searching for a specific restaurant, most users will type in restaurant keywords like:
“Italian restaurant in Naples”
“Best restaurant in Naples”
“Italian restaurant”

In this case, the best option for Pronto Restaurant is to optimize their website for the first two keywords. The last one is a bit too generic, and the competition too high.

Choose keywords wisely

Your main goal should be to rank #1 in the SERP for specific keywords. What does SERP stand for? Search Engine Results Page, so the page that you see when you search for a keyword on Google.

Trying to rank first for every word or search phrase related to your business will only dilute your traffic and overall website authority. A search engine like Google will display what’s more useful for the user. If another website has been adequately indexed for some very specific keywords, it will show that one first.

Try to rely heavily on one primary keyword (like “Italian restaurant in Naples”) and work on ranking first for that one. That is the key to SEO for small businesses.

SEO for restaurants - keywords

Best keyword tools you can use

Since you’re just getting started with on-page restaurant SEO, you’re probably looking for a free keyword tool, at least for now. Here are some of the best free SEO tools you can use:

If you’re willing to pay for more detailed keyword research, these tools are some of the very best:

Take your time and don’t get impatient

A thing that very few people will tell you is that indexing your page or website in a search engine takes time. The downside is that no one truly knows exactly how much it takes to index it. Indexation depends on many factors and can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. Getting authority, on the other hand, is a different thing, and can take entire months.

Practical Tips & Tricks for On-Page Restaurant SEO

These SEO basic tips will help your website get indexed and rank high in search results over time.

SEO for beginners: first tools of the trade

Before getting your hands dirty, you’ll need to sign up for Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These two essential tools will help monitor your website performance and keep you up to date with keywords that users searched for to reach your pages.

Give crawlers a robots.txt to read

To crawl a website, search engines use bots that scan your site and read its contents. They do so by following the instructions found in your robots.txt file, which tells them how exactly to crawl your website.

The data crawled by these bots is then collected, and the content is indexed so that it can be served up in search results when someone is looking for that information.

Submit a sitemap

A sitemap sends information to search engines about your pages and how your content is organized. It also tells them how often bots should visit them, how frequently pages are updated, and when the last change was.

The sitemap sends information like the importance of a specific URL in comparison to others on your website. For example, when it comes to priority, a page where you have the restaurant menu will be more important than a page where you list job openings.

It’s not mandatory to submit a sitemap to search engines. If your robots.txt file is in order, that alone will give search engines the information they need about your pages. However, it could help to crawl your website better, especially if it’s new and doesn’t have external links to it just yet.

Fix crawl errors

The Google Search Console tool has a pretty neat feature called “Crawl errors” which lists issues at page-level or site-wide. The latter is more urgent, as any problems that affect your entire website can cause severe damage.

But what you’ll mostly need to watch out for are URL errors – all those 404 (“Page not found”) errors that can signal a search engine like Google to stop indexing those pages.

Make sure that, instead of deleting a URL, you redirect it to another page. Otherwise, in time, these 404s will bite out of your PageRank, thus hurting your entire website. Besides, it’s not user-friendly, is it?

SEO for restaurants - fix crawl errors

Optimize performance to boost SEO

A page or website that takes ages to load is no friend of search engines!

Slow loading time does not only affect user experience but can also lead to poor crawling and indexing. This means that it will affect your PageRank, instead of taking you to the 1st position.

Some things that you and your webmaster can do to increase your website performance:

  • Use image optimization techniques such as compressing your images with tools like TinyPNG or Optimizilla, using the right dimensions, and the proper format (usually JPG or PNG).
  • Use font-icons or PNG sprites for your icons. Displaying each one as an individual file means extra loading time on your page.
  • Minify your HTML, CSS & Javascript. Google made a list of useful tools that help getting rid of redundant bits and pieces in your code, thus improving your loading time.
  • Leverage browser caching. Ask your webmaster to have a caching policy in place – you can set for how long you want specific information on your page to be cached. Browsers cache images, CSS & Javascript files to cut down on loading time for returning visitors.
  • Always check your page speed. Make sure to continually verify that your speed performance is in top shape for both mobile and desktop. Google’s PageSpeed Insights can determine an overall score of your website’s performance and suggest possible improvements. We’d recommend making sure your score is above 90.

Protect your customers with SSL

SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer” and it’s a certificate you can get for your website to protect your and your customers’ data. The SSL certificate is what gives your website URL the “s” in “https://”.

While you don’t have to get one, we strongly recommend that you do. First of all, Google penalizes non-https websites, which will hurt your search rankings. Secondly, your customers won’t feel safe browsing through your website if you don’t have an SSL certificate. Not to mention placing an order where they would have to input their credit card information.

Use schema markup to boost SEO

Schema markup is a bit of code that you put on your restaurant website to help search engines provide users with more accurate and informative results. If you’ve ever googled a restaurant and seen different smaller links under the main one, like in the example below, you know what Schema Markup can do.

For instance, in the case of restaurants, you can choose to display a quick link to your menu or your reservations page. Browse the entire selection of Schema properties for restaurants here. If you want to see whether you’re taking full advantage of Schema markup, use the Schema checker Structured Data Testing Tool from Google.

Focus on internal and external links

Both internal and external linking can boost your SEO. Internal linking creates relationships between your pages, which helps Google crawl your content. It also divides link value starting with your homepage, which usually has the most significant value because of all the backlinks it has. If you have two pages with related content, link to each other to show they are related.

External links can improve your SEO when they are from high-authority, highly-relevant websites. If the site is trustworthy, it will enhance your credibility as well. Similarly, links of poor quality will damage your website. On your restaurant website, you’ll probably use external links mostly on your blog.

Create a blog for extra SEO

Do you already have a blog for your restaurant? Good. If you don’t, it’s time to start one. It will help your restaurant appear in search results for more keywords, which might end up getting you more customers. Let’s say you want to write an article on “How to Grow a Restaurant from the Ground Up.” You might be featured on the first page of Google for the keyword “how to grow a restaurant.”

Learning on-page restaurant SEO for blog articles isn’t easy, but it’s also not impossible. Here are the basics of SEO in terms of notions you should be familiar with before you start writing your first post:

  • Title tag: This is an HTML tag that you can find on every webpage, in the head section. It gives search engines a clue as to what the topic of the page or article is. It’s also what users see in the SERP as the clickable blue headline. Title tags don’t directly impact organic rankings. However, not having one or having one that has nothing to do with the page’s subject matter can hurt your SEO.
  • Meta-description: You can find the meta-description in the SERP, under the page title. They give a summary of the page content, both for the search engines and for the users. You have to make it catchy and attractive so that users will click on your page.
on-page restaurant seo elements example
  • Headline: Your headline is the title of your blog post. It’s also known as H1, and it’s what users see when they open your article, at the very top of the page. This has no direct effect on SEO, so you should make it as appealing as possible for your readers.
  • Header tags (H1-H6): These HTML elements signal headings and subheadings in your text. They make the text easier to read by organizing it, and they also provide search engines with relevant keywords. So, to rank higher on Google, insert your most relevant keywords into headers.
seo for restaurants elements example
  • Alt-text: This element has to do with image optimization. What is image optimization, you ask? First of all, it’s compressing the image and choosing the right dimension and format to help the page load faster. Second of all, it’s image SEO. The most important part of Google image SEO is alt-text. This is short for alternative text, and it describes an image for screen readers and search engine crawlers. It helps your image get indexed, and it is displayed when the image doesn’t load.
alt text on page restaurant seo

SEO Marketing Beyond Google

What is YouTube SEO and how can you use it?

As the name suggests, YouTube SEO is optimizing your video content for YouTube. This is different from optimizing for search engines because customers will use different types of queries on YouTube.

Do you want to take your restaurant to the next level? Create video content with behind the scenes looks at how individual dishes are prepared or recipes that your customers can get inspired from, YouTube SEO is mandatory.

YouTube keyword research differs from Google keyword research, which means there are different tools that you can use to find keywords for food videos on YouTube:

Is Bing search engine optimization worth it?

Definitely yes. Even if Bing doesn’t have as many users as Google, local search optimization on both search engines can get you even more customers. Plus, it doesn’t take a lot of your time, and it’s free.

So, how does SEO on Google differ from SEO on other search engines? It doesn’t, in essence, in that you will have to go through more or less the same steps.

To optimize your content for Bing, start by doing these three things:

Focus on local SEO for Restaurants

Local on-page restaurant SEO can help you market your restaurant to people in your area. But what is local SEO? What’s the difference between local SEO vs SEO? Local SEO is optimizing your content for local searches. To better understand how local search engine optimization can help you, let’s look at a couple of general searches vs local searches.

These are all general searches:

  • how to make paella
  • tips on cooking a turkey
  • beginner’s guide to SEO

These are local searches:

  • best restaurants near me
  • fast food restaurants in Colorado
  • food near me delivery

As you can see, they either include a specific location or the keywords “near me.” The benefits of local SEO are plenty, chief among which:

  • Building visibility in your area.
  • Increasing foot traffic.
  • Increasing website traffic for relevant search terms.
  • Building visibility in Google Maps.

To learn how to do local SEO, check out our local SEO tips below.

Get listed in restaurant directories

Your local SEO strategy should include listing your website in directories like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, or Foursquare. There, you can post pictures of your dishes, more details about your restaurant, and, most importantly, get reviews by the community!

Strive to get reviews

A considerable part of local SEO marketing is getting reviews to rank in Google’s local pack (those three businesses that appear at the top of a Google search). Not to mention reviews increase trustworthiness and social proof. If you have many 5-star reviews, customers will be more likely to click on your business listing.

Google reviews are not the only reviews that matter. All local directories that aim to help customers find the business they’re looking for are a great place to collect reviews that will boost your online presence.

Create a Google My Business profile

Claim and list your business so that Google will display a content box on the right side of the search results page whenever a user searches for you.

Usually, this works for branded keywords (that involve your restaurant’s name). Still, in some instances, it can also be displayed for similar searches where you may be relevant for the user.

SEO for restaurants ranking in search results

Not only does it attract a lot of attention, but it will also level up your SEO efforts. However, don’t rely on these alone; everything has to work in tandem!

If you optimize your Google My Business profile right, Google will list your restaurant with all the useful information users might need, based on relevance and proximity.

Some things that you’ll need to have in place to stand out in the sea of Google local business listings:

  • Images of the place and the dishes you serve;
  • Location – both written address as well as a pin on Google Maps;
  • Opening hours;
  • Contact number;
  • Website address;
  • Business description.

Learn more about how to optimize your Google My Business restaurant profile in our full guide.

Create a landing page for each of your locations

You can improve local SEO optimization by adding different location pages to your restaurant website. If you manage several locations, each one should have its own landing page optimized with keywords relevant to that area.

For example, let’s say you own a pizza place that has 3 New York locations: one in East Harlem, one in the Theater District, and one in Lincoln Square. Create three landing pages just like in this example from our demo website:

Do local link building

Link building is an off-page SEO tactic that we’re going to explore in more detail in our off-page SEO guide for restaurants. However, it’s worth mentioning that one of the most valuable local search marketing tips is to do local link building. Look for businesses in your area that you could build a relationship with and that could link to your content, and get in touch with them.

Align contact details across all directories and social media profiles

Make sure that your website, your social media pages, and all local directories have been talking to one another before the interrogation :-)

It would be embarrassing to have conflicting opening hours, address, or phone numbers on all of these different directories and profiles. Aside from this, make sure that all of your local directory accounts have been verified, as this adds credibility.

Moz Local is a very nifty tool that can help you manage your location data across multiple platforms, delete duplicate listings, manage your reviews, and more.

Find the Perfect SEO and User Experience Balance

We know that having a website for a restaurant that meets all user experience criteria is tricky. Google recommends having quality and useful information on your website, focusing on relevant content instead of SEO-driven efforts.

Everyone in the industry agrees that SEO is a must if you want potential customers to discover your website. However, it shouldn't be the only focus when putting together the best restaurant website for your business. Needless to say, restaurants without websites are missing out on a large chunk of potential customers.

Instead of just focusing on SEO, try to include user experience in the mix as well. Here are some restaurant website requirements for positive user experience:

  • Beautiful yet clean restaurant website design
  • One-page template with easy-to-find information
  • Easy-to-find online ordering and table booking widgets
  • Google Maps integration
  • Mouth-watering images on your homepage and in your menu
  • Mobile responsiveness – mobile usage when browsing online has already surpassed desktop users

GloriaFood offers all these features and more in a neatly wrapped package for you. If you don’t believe us, you can check out our restaurant website sample, Pronto.

screenshot of the pronto restaurant demo homepage

For just $9/month, we can create a restaurant website for your business that is already user- and SEO-optimized.

Final Words

On-page SEO for restaurants doesn’t have to be a hassle. In fact, it can be quite exciting once you get the hang of it. Follow the tips in this on-page restaurant SEO guide, and you will see your website ranking high on Google and other search engines. If you have questions about anything related to doing on-page SEO, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Andreea Dobrila

Andreea Dobrila is a proven SaaS Copywriter & Conversion Optimizer. She has been featured in articles published on BigCommerce, G2 Crowd, Wikipedia, Orders2me, and many others. She's on a mission to provide restaurant owners with all the marketing tools & resources they need to skyrocket their sales.

Start by downloading her Ultimate Guide on Food Descriptions That Make You Hungry: Hypnotic Menu Writing Tips & Secrets.

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