Life is short. We’re given a fixed amount of time on this earth, and I think it should be filled eating the best food you can get your hands on.
As subjective as “the best food” can be (I got judged for liking McDonald’s Double Cheeseburgers the other day), local people, of all types, seek out good food. Your job as a restaurant owner is to help expose local customers to what your restaurant has to offer.
Why Does Local SEO for Restaurants Matter?
Typically, people searching for things online end-up making their purchases in a brick and mortar store, making local SEO a huge priority – if a consumer can’t find you, they can’t come buy something from you.
In fact, Neustar reported that 4 out of 5 local searches on a mobile device resulted in an in-store purchase. And what type of businesses are people searching for? A whopping 67% were searching for restaurants.
Plainly: Restaurants can’t afford to ignore the power of local search engine optimization. If done right, appearing in local search results is like free advertising for people to eat at your restaurants. This is a good thing.
Local SEO Checklist for Restaurants
Restaurant owners are like a lot of business owners — they’re often so busy dealing with the day-to-day business of keeping a successful restaurant open that they forget to deal with things as specific as local SEO for their restaurant. My approach here is to give you, the owner, a really simple checklist of items that shouldn’t take too much time and that make it easier for people to find your digital presence online — whether that be a website, Facebook page, or even just a Twitter account.
1. Have Your Menu Somewhere, Preferably With Photos
The worst sin of local SEO is not having a digital presence at all, especially when people want to know what you have on the menu. Before I’ll even consider looking at things like reviews, I want to know if you’d have items I’d consider eating.
There’s a place around Salisbury that I like a lot called Christo’s, but the only menu they have is a downloadable PDF. This is bad for SEO since the PDF isn’t accessible to crawlers and is generally poor form for information that’s just as easily displayed in HTML.
In the same vein, photos of your food actually matter. Spend a few minutes, hire a photographer, and make the best versions of the dishes you’re serving. A good photo goes a long way to entice people to come to your restaurant. When you think of bad, washed-out-from-florescent-light photographs of a Panda Express that makes the food look disgusting, you don’t think “I want to eat that.”
Preferably, a website is the best way to display your menu, but you might be able to create an alternative by using Facebook or another restaurant specific service.
2. Claim Your Google Local Page
Even if you don’t have a website, you should take the time to claim your local business with Google Local. Claiming and verifying your local business means you’ll appear as a result in several Google products like Google Maps and Google Places.
Again, this is huge, because even without a site, people searching for your type of business will be able to see that you exist in their area. Plus, this method does not have to be attached to a website — meaning you get a practically instant digital presence for free in the biggest search engine on the planet. What’s not to love?
3. Set Up Proper Schema For Your Page
For the past few years, Google has supported microformats. In a nutshell, microformats are simply ways to tell Google and other search engines how to interpret portions of your website. While there’s some debate on how well supporting Schema increases your SEO profile, there’s some solid data that exists to say it could improve the number of people clicking on your link.
Basically, while Schema support won’t make your page rank higher, of those people that do see your site an estimated 30% will click on your link.
This option is only an option if you have your own website and may require some help from a web developer or a plugin.
This Is Everything I Need To Do, Right?
True Story: Probably Not. But just doing these three simple things are a great start for a larger strategy for building the digital presence of your local restaurant.