Build a Real Website
It may not seem necessary since you can use social media to advertise your business, but let me assure you, it is. When you rely on social media, you’re building your business on rented land – and when you build a website, that’s your own piece of the internet. You never know when Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms will change practices or close your page down for some random (and possibly false) violation. When you have a website, you’re ensuring your customers can find you – and you can link to all your social media and directory listings there.
Get a Google My Business Listing
Search for your restaurant in Google, and I can just about guarantee you’ll find a listing. If you’re so new you don’t have a listing yet, go create one. If you haven’t already claimed it or created it, you need to do it right now. I’ll wait. Edit your listing to make sure all the information is correct. Information that Google has in your listing comes from third party sources, and though they work to verify it, it may not always be valid. Periodically check your listing to ensure it’s current and up to date. Use the Google My Business Posts feature to share daily specials or other promotions you have going on.
Claim Your Business Listings in Directories Around the Internet
Claiming your listings, as well as removing duplicate listings in directories lets the search engines know they can be more confident about the information they have about your business. When you claim your listings and edit them, make sure you keep the information consistent across all of them in terms of name, address, and phone number. There are tons of local directories out there, but many are specific to restaurants. Take some time to see if you’re listed on any or all of these sites:
- Bing Places
- City Search
- Zomato (formerly Urban Spoon)
- Yellow Pages
- Yahoo Local
- Trip Advisor
- Merchant Circle
- Dex Knows
- Insider Pages
- Shop City
- Judy’s Book
- Yellow Bot
Each of these listings will build a backlink to your website, which helps improve your ranking over time.
Schema, along with other microdata is a way to turn your website content into a content that the search engine robots can better understand. Search engines are constantly trying to learn more about your business, such as the type of food you serve, your contact information, your hours of operation, what’s on your menu, the reviews from customers, your blog posts, and so on. By taking the time to learn schema and code your website appropriately, or pay a web designer to do it for you, you are making the search engines job easier. Therefore, there is the potential for your website to rank higher when someone in your local area searches for your restaurant. You can use schema to format your address. Before you add schema, an address looks something like this: <address> 1234 Main Street Somewhere, CA 12345-6789 phone: (123) 123-4567 fax: (123)123-7890 </address> With schema, it looks more like this: <address itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”> <span itemprop=”streetAddress”>1234 Main Street</span> <span itemprop=”addressLocality”>Somewhere</span>, <span itemprop=”addressRegion”>CA</span> <span itemprop=”postalCode”>12345-6789</span> phone: <span itemprop=”telephone”>(123) 123-4567</span> fax: <span itemprop=”faxNumber”>(123) 123-7890</span> </address> But, that’s not all schema can do for your restaurant’s website. You can also use it to:
- Code your menu into your website – more on that in the next section.
- Tell search engines whether or not you accept reservations.
- Tell search engines what kinds of payment you accept, as well as the currencies you accept.
- Tell search engines the hours of operation.
- Tell search engines your price range.
This is what your listing would look like if you included ratings, pricing, and hours schema in your website. See all the things you can do with schema for your restaurant and what codes to use here.
Add Your Menu Everywhere You Can
I cannot stress enough the importance of using schema if you’re going to include your menu on your website. Yes, it’s easy to throw a PDF of your existing menu on your website for people to download, and it works – but it doesn’t help your SEO. It can be a pain to put all the code in, especially if you have a large or complex menu. And it can be difficult to keep up to date if you change your menu often. But, that’s the easiest way to get your menu directly in the search engine results – which may help your ranking depending on what people search for to find your restaurant in the listings. Even if it doesn’t directly improve your rankings, it will improve the user experience for people who want to learn more about your restaurant and what it has to offer. If you include your menu on your website without schema, or on third-party websites like the ones I listed above, Google will pull this information in. That’s okay, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the data will be correct or consistent. It’s better for your user experience if the listings are consistent and current. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided to go check out a restaurant I’ve never tried before based on something I saw on their menu online, only to go and discover they don’t serve the dish anymore. It’s disappointing, and while I generally find something else to try, it still upsets me a bit. If I had known it wasn’t an option, I probably would have gone to my second choice restaurant instead. Include your menu on Facebook, and links to it on your other social platforms. You can also use SinglePlatform to handle your menu in multiple places at once – like Facebook, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Foursquare, and Trip Advisor.
Encourage Patrons to Review Your Restaurant
Wherever they review you, other people who find your listing can see it, so it can help you. But, reviews in Google will do the most for your SEO. Even if there’s a bad review, that’s better than no review at all. You can take the time to reply to a bad review to smooth things over with the reviewer, which lets anyone who views it in the future know that you’re paying attention and taking steps to improve.
Incentivize Guests to Check in on Social Media
Offer something small for free, like a basket of rolls, or free cheese dip with your chips and salsa, to people who check into your restaurant on social media platforms like Foursquare, Swarm, Yelp, and Facebook. Put up a sign on the door that tells customers what they’ll get if they check in, and advertise it on your social channels, too. This boosts your social signals, which is important to growing your organic reach on Facebook especially. When you check in, your friends see where you are. If they’ve not tried the restaurant before, they may be more inclined now that they have your recommendation.
Get Active on Social Media
Social media activity doesn’t directly influence your search engine ranking. If it did, simply creating a Facebook profile would help you rank better. Instead, the activity – sharing links to your website with their audience, and thereby increasing your traffic. Use social media to share daily specials, share photos of your food, get ideas for new menu items from your loyal customers, and so on. Twitter is great for food trucks that are constantly moving from one place to another.
Rankings Won’t Improve Overnight
Local SEO takes time and effort. Making one small change, or claiming your listing on Google My Business won’t make much of a difference right away. And if you don’t have good food and service, there’s not much point in focusing on SEO – because you want what’s out there on your business to be a positive buzz. Sure, you’re not going to be able to keep 100% of your customers happy 100% of the time, but focusing so much on SEO that you’ve forgotten about the restaurant itself can’t be a good thing. If you need help with your restaurant SEO, get in touch with me and we’ll come up with a plan to help you blaze ahead of your competition.