Did you know that 97% of online searches are done to find local businesses? This statistic is especially important for restaurant owners, as three out of four diners use the internet to find a place to eat. More interestingly, some 80% of local searches have been found to lead to actual conversions or purchases.
With that being said, having a strong online presence isn’t just an option anymore. Typing “near me” into a search engine has become the norm for people looking for any type of business, and that includes those in food services.
But what do these trends all mean for a restaurant owner or manager? They mean that if you want your business to be found online, you need to optimize your website for search engines. That’s where local search engine optimization, or local SEO, comes in.
In this article, we will talk about what SEO is, how local SEO is being used for businesses, and the benefits of employing these strategies for restaurants.
What Is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of improving the visibility and ranking of a website or web page in search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher your restaurant’s website appears in SERPs; the more likely people are to find and visit your business.
There are two main types of SEO: on-page and off-page. For a food service business, on-page SEO would include things like having the correct keyword density in content, titles, image tags, and descriptions. Off-page SEO, on the other hand, is all about building backlinks and increasing your website’s authority.
SEO is a broad term to cover all possible ranking factors, but for the purposes of this article, we will focus on local SEO, which is what restaurants need to get in front of their target customers and ahead of the competition.
How Does Local SEO Work?
Local SEO is a type of SEO that is focused on optimizing a website to rank higher for local search results. According to Google, four out of five customers use local search to find business information, such as a restaurant’s address, phone number, or hours of operation.
GMB or GBP Listing
One way to make sure your restaurant appears in local searches is by claiming and verifying your Google My Business (GMB) listing. Your GMB listing, now also called Google Business Profile (GBP), is what appears on the right-hand side of SERPs when someone searches for a local business.
To claim your GMB listing, you’ll need to create a free Google account and then go to google.com/business. From there, you can either search for your business or add it manually. Once you’ve found your business, click on the “Claim this business” button and follow the instructions.
After claiming your listing, you’ll need to verify it. Google will send you a postcard with a verification code, which you’ll then enter on the GMB website. Once your listing is verified, you can start optimizing it by adding photos, descriptions, business hours, and other relevant information.
Another way to optimize your local SEO is by adding structured data markup to your website. Structured data is a type of code that helps search engines understand the relationship between different pieces of content on your website.
For example, if you have a recipe on your website, the structured data markup would tell Google that the title is the name of the dish, the author is the chef, and the ingredients are a list of items needed to make the recipe.
Adding structured data markup to your website is a technical process, so it’s best to hire a web developer or SEO specialist to do it for you. However, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can find more information on Google’s Developer Guide.
The 10 Benefits of Local SEO for Restaurants
Why does local SEO matter for food service businesses? Proximity and reach! Here are the reasons why you should use it.
1. Improve Visibility and Ranking in Local Searches
As we mentioned earlier, a local restaurant SEO strategy can help improve your visibility and ranking in Google Search. By optimizing your website for local search, you can make sure that your restaurant business appears in the top results when people search for businesses like yours in your city or town.
2. Reach More Customers
According to Google, four out of five customers use local search terms to find business information. This means that if you’re not using local SEO, you may miss out on a lot of potential customers.
3. Cost-Effective Marketing Strategy
Local SEO is a cost-effective marketing strategy because it allows you to target specific cities or towns rather than broad, national keywords. This means that you can save money on your marketing budget and put it towards other areas of your business.
4. Increased Website Traffic
By ranking higher in local searches, you can expect to see an increase in website traffic. This is because people are more likely to click on a listing that appears at the top of the search results.
5. Boost Sales and Revenue
More website traffic can lead to more sales and revenue for your restaurant. If you’re able to get even just a handful of extra customers through local SEO, it could make a big difference for your bottom line.
6. Improve Brand Awareness and Recognition
Local SEO can also help improve brand awareness and recognition for your restaurant. When people see your business appearing in local search results, they’ll start to become more familiar with your brand.
7. Enhance Customer Loyalty
Customers who are able to find your restaurant easily online are more likely to become loyal customers. Local SEO can help you build a base of loyal customers who will keep coming back to your restaurant time and time again.
8. Generate More Online Reviews and Testimonials
Another benefit of local SEO is that it can help generate more reviews and testimonials for your business. Reviews and testimonials are valuable because they act as social proof and can help convince potential customers to choose your restaurant over the competition.
9. Improve Customer Service
Local SEO can also be used to improve customer service. For example, if you have a website with a restaurant locator, you can use local SEO to make sure that your locator is accurate and up-to-date. This will ensure that customers can find your restaurant easily and won’t get frustrated when they can’t locate it.
10. Stay Ahead of the Competition
Finally, local SEO can help you stay ahead of the competition. If your competitor isn’t using local SEO, then you’ll have a leg up on them in the local search results. This gives you a chance to attract more customers and grow your business.
Local SEO Checklist for Restaurants
If you want to make sure that your restaurant is using local SEO effectively, there are a few things you should check off your list. Here’s a basic checklist of things to consider:
- Make sure your website is optimized for local search. This includes adding your city and state to your website’s title tags, meta tags, and header tags. You should also add relevant keywords throughout your website’s content.
- Make sure your Google My Business listing is optimized with up-to-date and accurate information. This includes adding your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). You should also add images, categories, business hours, and other relevant information. Do the same if you have multiple locations.
- Claim and optimize your listings on other local directories like Yelp, Foursquare, and Yellow Pages. This includes adding your NAP information and images. You should also add categories, business hours, and other relevant information.
- Encourage customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business listing and other local directories. The more positive customer reviews you have, the better chance you have of ranking higher in local search results.
- Monitor your online reputation and address any negative reviews as quickly as possible. This will help improve your chances of ranking higher in local search results.
- Use social media to promote your restaurant and encourage customers to leave positive reviews. Social media can be a great way to connect with potential customers and generate more positive reviews.
- Stay up-to-date on local SEO trends and make changes to your strategy as needed. Local SEO is always changing, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends. This will help you keep your restaurant visible in local search results.
Contact Markitors for Local SEO For Restaurants
If you’re looking for help with local SEO for your restaurant, contact Markitors today. We specialize in local SEO and can help ensure your restaurant is visible in top online searches. We have helped hundreds of businesses grow their online presence, and we can help you too. Talk to us today to learn more about our local SEO services.