Increasingly, consumers are turning to the internet first to direct their dining decisions. In fact, 90 percent of consumers research a restaurant online before dining; but with so many restaurants to compete with, how do you make sure yours comes out on top?
According to Moz, search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic. Put simply, optimizing for search helps your restaurant attract more people who are more likely to order from your restaurant website.
How does SEO for restaurants work?
Like any practice, SEO takes time and content to see results and cultivate growth.
The quantity of organic traffic is driven by optimization factors like:
- Page speed: How fast the different pages load when guests click around.
- Mobile-friendliness: How well a website translates onto devices other than a computer.
- Activity: How often the pages are interacted with by guests or updated by owners; this is measured through things like reviews, calendar updates, new menu items, announcements, etc.
- Photographs: How visually appealing the website is—Google knows guests want to see more than just static text.
- External links: How the website interacts with other websites that have a similar relevance.
- ADA conformance: How well the site meets/exceeds accessibility standards.
Increasing the quality of website traffic and exposure to your restaurant is dependent on the quality of the content of your website. In other words, does your website give guests what they’re looking for? Before you say “yes,” consider these questions:
- Is my menu easy to find and read? Is it visually engaging? Up to date? Easily sharable?
PopTip: 30% of diners will automatically move on to another restaurant if they see a PDF menu online when using a mobile device—ie, guests are looking for menus that look a a little less stale and a lot easier to use.
- Is my location easy to find? Is it connected to my Google Business Profile?
- Are my hours up-to-date? What about the holiday closure schedule?
Ensuring your website stands up against the questions above is crucial, but it’s also the bare minimum you can be doing to optimize your restaurant website for search. Here’s what else you need to know:
Google and SEO for restaurants
Google is hands down the #1 driver of traffic, so it’s important to “keep Google happy.” A website that makes it easier for guests to navigate and find desired information will always rank higher on Google than one that does not.
The rule of thumb is the more pages your website has with relevant content for a particular search (like “sports bars near me” or “best tacos near me”), the higher you will show up in Google results for that given search. To give you a little more context around this, an online PDF menu generally counts as one page of content. An interactive menu, which treats each dish on the menu as a unique page of content, provides multiple pages for Google to “review” for relevance and increases your chances of appearing in the top ten results (i.e., page one of results). This brings us to our next point of discussion…
How we make the menu drive SEO for your website
Popmenu’s platform was designed with SEO for restaurants in mind. Our websites and menus prioritize that relevant content, ensuring it’s easily identified by guests and search engine’s to improve your results rankings.
Remember those optimization factors? We make sure your website and menu have all of them. Our interactive menus display stunning photos, mouthwatering descriptions, and real-time reviews and likes from past guests—so potential guests have everything they need to make a dining decision right on your restaurant’s website. And, because we create individual web pages for each dish, Google not only ranks your restaurant in results but also specific menu items.
Our SEO secret sauce—the interactive menu—in action.
All of the features mentioned work hand in hand with optimizing your search engine results rankings, so you generate greater brand visibility, more traffic, and, ultimately, more paying guests.
Here are examples of how, with the interactive menu, every dish is displayed as its own website page in the eyes of a search engine. Notice how each dish is positioned to collect an ever-growing supply of reviews and likes? With each review left by your guests, Google will recognize that activity as “new” and then review it for relevance. Since a food review living on a specific dish is almost always relevant, Google determines that the new website activity (the new review) is valuable for guests searching for restaurants with that dish, and starts to move the webpage with the new content (your specific dish) higher in the results.
SEO in action: Culhane’s Irish Pub
Culhane’s Irish Pub has been a Popmenu client for three years, and their organic traffic and search rankings demonstrate the power of Popmenu:
Bringing in a monthly average of 2k+ in organic (free) web traffic from Google, Culhane’s Irish Pub shows up as the ‘best’ for results in Google searches like:
- Best Irish pub in Jacksonville, FL
- Irish restaurant in Jacksonville, FL
- Best Irish in Jacksonville, FL
What’s more? Culhane’s most reviewed dish—with 35 reviews and growing—is their delicious shepherd's pie; and it comes up in search engine results when someone goes to Google looking for “best shepherd's pie in Jacksonville.” The result is displayed with a photo thumbnail captured directly from their website.
Pretty cool, huh? What you are seeing in the results is Google displaying a preview of the dish with a photo thumbnail and star rating based on average reviews and likes generated on the interactive menu.
This “search for whatever you are hungry for right now” model is how guests are searching for their dining destinations; so, as the restaurant experience continues to start at the search bar, it’s important that your website is optimized to show up in the search results.
*Eric Cacciatore of Restaurant Unstoppable.
Things to remember about SEO for restaurants
You will not be at the top of search engines overnight. It takes time, engagement, and persistence, to rank well in search engines. Here are a few quick tips to speed up the process a little bit:
Google Business Profile Integration
Google is the #1 driver of traffic to your website; it’s important to keep your restaurant’s business listing up-to-date. Popmenu's Google My Business integration makes it easy for you to control your Google listing right in your Popmenu dashboard—so you can keep the information on your Google listing and website consistent without logging in to multiple accounts.
Popmenu’s events feature promotes the latest of what’s going on at your restaurant, specials you’re highlighting, and any upcoming events (virtual or in-person) right on your website and Google My Business. Events display as individual pages, similar to dishes, and appear directly in Google Search results for customers to discover when looking for something to do.
The more times your website comes up in response to people's questions and searches in Google’s search engine, the stronger your organic search engine rankings. Blogs are an excellent opportunity to display your brand personality and generate your own content to show up in search engine results organically.
External links on a website help boost SEO for restaurants. A press page not only builds credibility by showcasing the publications your restaurant has been featured in, but it also amplifies your SEO with inbound and external links.
PopTip! Inbound links (i.e., when another website links to your website) are termed the “currency of the Internet” and help further establish a website's reputation in the eyes of the search engines.
Popmenu puts restaurants first
Popmenu’s platform is uniquely equipped to transform visitors into guests at all stages of the dining cycle. So, when guests search for what they’re craving, they’re enticed by your delicious dishes in the results, leading them to your website to engage with dish photos and reviews directly—all that’s left to do is place their order online!
Popmenu has all the tools necessary to build strong SEO for restaurants—come learn how we can drive more traffic to you!