Having a strong online presence is imperative for any restaurant to grow its business today. Over the past 2 years, owing to the pandemic, there has been a radical shift from dine-in to take away or delivery. This has increased competition with many new cloud kitchens and restaurants entering the space. At present, improving your visibility is important for both dine-in and takeaway/delivery businesses.
You can always gain visibility by running ads on various platforms to drive traffic. However, the most effective, long-term, and reliable way to increase traffic to your business is by rising to the top of the organic search results on Google. And how do we do this you ask? Well, this is where SEO or Search Engine Optimization comes into play.
Trust us, it is not as complicated as it sounds. SEO is nothing but optimizing your website so that when someone searches for a particular keyword, for example, “Best Biryani Restaurant in Bangalore” on Google, your restaurant appears at the top of the search results.
In this blog, we will cover 8 easy tips for you to begin your SEO journey and improve your restaurant’s visibility and organic website traffic.
1. Set a timeline and build an SEO & content strategy
The first step is to build a content and SEO strategy and plan the project timelines. So before you start exploring different tools, software, and platforms, you must first define what your content and SEO strategy will be. The best way to start is to narrow down your geographical target. This can be the entire country, city, or the area you are serviceable in.
The next and most important step is to do your keyword research. What are people in the targeted area searching for on search engines? There are plenty of free tools like SEOptimer, SEMrush, Wordstream, etc, that are available to help you narrow down your keywords list. Then, you need to build your content around these keywords. There are different levels of keywords - high-level, niche-specific, and brand-specific.
For example, if you have a biryani restaurant named Biryani Empire in Gachibowli in Hyderabad, some high-level keywords may be “Restaurants”, “Restaurants in Gachibowli”, “Gachibowli restaurants”. Examples of niche-specific keywords are “Biryani restaurant in Gachibowli”, “Best biryani in Hyderabad”, “Top Biryani in Gachibowli”, “Hyderabadi Biryani in Gachibowli”, “Top eateries in Gachibowli”, “Top biryani restaurant around me” etc. And lastly, brand-specific keywords are in the tune of “Biryani Empire in Gachibowli”, “Biryani Empire Restaurant”, etc.
2. Basic On-Page SEO Best Practices should be implemented
Without getting into the nitty-gritty of all on-page and indexing optimization approaches, I'd like to advise you to follow the basic on-page SEO action items first. You can devote a lot of time to developing a comprehensive SEO strategy, but if you're just getting started, I recommend setting aside the rest and focusing on the following:
- When it comes to on-page, ensure that you have unique and keyword-specific
- Page URLs
- Title Tags
- Meta description tags
- Page copy
- Image alt attributes
- Check your robots.txt and XML sitemap to make sure your site is indexed properly now and in the future
This may seem overwhelming, but start with your most important pages, such as your homepage, menu page, about us, and contact pages, and work your way down as time allows. Create a Google Search Console account to monitor the issues or use a free tool such as SEOptimer to check the health of your website and suggest basic corrections.
3. Build a unique content strategy
One must understand that content doesn't have to be only written copy. There are different formats. You may utilize video, photography, and graphics to show off your menus, in-house promotions, and more. The search engines are more concerned with the context of your site than with the keywords. You can keep the pipeline full of compelling information that helps you stand out from the competition by recognizing and consistently producing new content. If you own a niche restaurant, for example, embrace it and differentiate yourself from the generic chain down the street. Share details about the company's founders, culture, and, most crucially, its product. Check out this video by the restaurant chain “Biryani By Kilo” where they paid tribute to the delivery fleet in India.
4. Encourage testimonials and reviews
It's difficult to conduct a restaurant search without seeing reviews and rating scores among the results. This is because individuals are more likely to click on higher star ratings. Reviews are frequently encouraged on social media as an engagement tactic, but they also have a larger impact on visitors to your website via search results pages. You may have your star ratings appear in search results using organized data markup, giving users another reason to click on your site rather than your competitor's.
If your restaurant's internet ratings don't accurately reflect its quality, you must develop a strategy to obtain as many reviews as possible to help raise your score. A better star rating will almost certainly result in a higher click-through rate to your site, as well as increased foot traffic.
5. Experiment with content localization
Make sure you give users and search engines enough cues and context about where your business is and what area it services. You can assist everyone by offering content that is related to the community and does not simply presume that everyone knows where you are located.
For example, if you have a 100-site chain, begin with a single line for each location in the local language, written specifically for the business, according to the local history, neighborhood, and community engagement. This will make it easier to distinguish the outlets from one another.
6. Have a mobile-first approach
Nearly 60% of visits to websites are made on mobile devices, and it is as high as 70% in the food and beverage industry. To grasp a website's content, Google increasingly focuses on the mobile version. Hopefully, you've already built a responsive website or one that passes the mobile-friendly testing. But when it comes to mobile, that's just the beginning. It's also important to consider page load time, accurate rendering, and a positive mobile user experience.
7. Social Media Engagement
There is no direct correlation between you engaging with customers on social media and your SEO, but it can drive traffic to your website. Social media may be an important part of the consumer journey, demonstrating what clients can expect from your business. Because content, interaction, and popularity coincide with the crucial SEO pillars of relevance and authority, a strong social presence frequently corresponds with a high organic search presence.
Make an effort to interact with your followers and respond to them as soon as possible. Customer perceptions of your overall customer service and strategy are shaped by how you communicate online. Find your target audience, engage them, and persuade them to advocate for you. Finally, you will see an increase in visits from social networks as a result of engaging with fans and pushing material on social media that funnels users to your main website. This will then be linked to the benefits of your other SEO initiatives.
8. Your efforts should be measured
This could have been the first piece of advice, but I'm placing it as the final one as it's crucial throughout the process. There's stuff to do and implement with the previous suggestions, but before you start optimizing anything, be sure your efforts are measurable. When it comes to investing in your strategy, you want to know which elements are working, which aren't, and where your efforts were (and are) most effective in terms of generating a return on investment.
Track exposure, engagement, and conversion data as far as your business will allow. Beyond that, you'll need to determine the correct goal-related progress measures to ensure you're on the right track.
People need to be able to discover you online if you want to keep your restaurant full every day – or if you want to increase your delivery and carry-out business. You must rapidly win them over with an excellent online experience and motivate them to take action once they have found you.
Restaurateurs have to deal with multiple issues and increasing visibility with SEO is just another piece of the puzzle. What seems like an increasingly complex issue, can be demystified with the tips given above. Remember, the first 5 results on the Google Search engine results page accounts for 67% of all clicks. So what’s stopping you from getting into the top 5? Start your SEO journey today!