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Several recent factors have increased the need for restaurants to optimize their online presence. The COVID-19 pandemic created a shortage of dine-in customers for most of them even after the lockdown was lifted up.

Once they were allowed to open their doors again, consumers were still reluctant to come to the restaurant. That is why improving online visibility as a local business became crucial for the food and beverage industry. Most restaurants had to switch to delivery models or curbside pickup through online orders.

Restaurant owners can use paid ads, referrals, and professional services to gain online traffic. Many companies also offer full-fledged and affordable SEO packages for restaurants and other businesses.

However, many restaurants have a limited budget now, which means not everyone has a budget to spend on online marketing services. So we will discuss some affordable SEO tips that restaurant owners can use to gain more visibility and traffic. 

A Well-Defined SEO and Content Strategy

Before getting into complex tools, platforms, and channels, restaurant owners should define their SEO and content strategy. They can start by defining a geographic area where most of their customers live.

Next, they can use a trusted keyword research tool to find the terms and phrases they should use in the content. Several efficient tools offer limited keyword research for free. Restaurant owners should look for three types of keywords to target, such as:

  • Generic variations of keywords that are searched a lot, such as “restaurants” or “San Francisco restaurants.” They can specify the geographic region to obtain regional variations of these high-volume keywords. They should also consider using current high-volume keywords like “contactless delivery” or “curbside pickup.”
  • Niche terms that relate to specific categories of restaurants, such as “Japanese restaurants” or “Italian pizza restaurant.” Restaurant owners can also refer to Google Maps, Yelp, or TripAdvisor to find specific categories or terms.
  • Restaurant owners should always target their brand terms, irrespective of whether they rank high on keyword research are not. It will allow them to build the restaurant’s brand reputation on the Internet.

Dominate the Local Search

Optimized listings are crucial to dominating local search for restaurants. The first thing restaurant owners should do is claim the free Google My Business account and register the accurate name, address, and phone number (NAP). They should also register the business details on Yelp and TripAdvisor, as both are free.

Owners can check if there are other local business directories for restaurants that offer registration without charges. Restaurant owners should ensure that the business details are consistent on all the listings. They should also upload photographs of their restaurants whenever possible, along with appropriate alt tags.

Social Media Engagements

Most experts deny the impact of social media on SEO. However, they cannot say that social media does not improve the online presence of any business. Social media platforms offer great opportunities to post details about the restaurant, gather reviews from customers, and engage with existing or future clients.

Restaurant owners can also showcase their ambiance, menu, dishes, and popularity through social media posts to optimize their online presence. It also offers an opportunity to connect with local influencers and engage with them to promote the restaurant. An increasing social media engagement will eventually benefit the rest of the SEO efforts too. 

Positive Reviews and Testimonials

It is almost impossible for consumers to visit or order food from a restaurant the first time without reading online reviews these days. People would always prefer to eat from a place that has high ratings and positive reviews. It also helps in creating a positive online brand image, which will support all the other SEO efforts.

Many restaurants fail to see positive SEO results because they do not have enough positive reviews or testimonials. That is because Google will always prioritize credible businesses that can optimize the user experience.

A higher start rating will also attract more attention, thus increasing the restaurant’s click-through rates and online traffic. Creating a Google My Business account also helps in providing a platform to invite reviews and testimonials.

Optimize the Restaurant Website With On-Page SEO

Many restaurant owners tend to ignore the basic on-page SEO and indexing optimization. That is because they feel that most of their customers would rather check business listings like Yelp or TripAdvisor than visit their website.

However, they should realize that the on-page SEO on the website can help to increase their ranking for search queries like “restaurants near me” or similar ones. They should also make sure that their website is technically optimized for SEO with the right robots.txt file and XML site map.

The pages should include SEO-oriented page URLs, title tags, and meta descriptions. The content should also be optimized with proper headings, keywords, and alt image attributes. Restaurant owners should also ensure that their mobile website offers a good user experience.

It may be difficult for restaurants to be packed day in and day out in the current scenario. However, that does not mean that their revenue should suffer. They can still get the pre-pandemic revenues with the right online presence. The methods we discussed can prove useful to optimize SEO and online visibility for restaurants with any marketing budget.

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Lorenzo Gutierrez
Digital Marketing Consultant
Lorenzo Gutierrez is a Digital Marketing Consultant and a certified Google Partner. He helps small businesses and corporations grow their revenue online. He does this by mixing passion, innovation, & expertise.