Using these SEO tactics will help restaurant websites rank for a larger volume of keywords and develop more original content.
Restaurant marketers and brand managers obsess over variations of the question “Why isn’t my website ranking better?”. As a result, they are blind to the fact it misses the breadth of opportunity that SEO is built to capture.
For example, a brand manager might fixate on ranking for “Boulder Tacos.” They can certainly work to rank for that term, and over time they might actually rank and consider their SEO efforts successful. But think about all the keywords they missed.
It’s like commercial fishing with a spear and a snorkel.
In my experience, it’s best to develop a keyword and subsequent content net based on the following buckets:
1. Branded Terms – If your site was built with any technical prowess, and you’re not locking up branded terms in images and logos, these rankings should come easy. These terms are obviously the name of your restaurant, but should also include variations. Think IMM, IMM Bar, IMM Bar and Grill, IMM Restaurant, IMM Grill, IMM Food, etc. These days, Google is pretty good at contextual search, so don’t feel like you need to include all of these terms together. If your brand guidelines state that your restaurant should only be signaled a specific way in copy, that’s fine. Just be sure to include other keywords in close proximity (same paragraph, page, etc.).
Keyword example: Chili’s.
- Local Intent – A lot of restaurant searches have local intent. Have you ever looked for a good restaurant in a new city? Have you ever searched for a good sushi place? The behavior generally involves a combination of “city” + “keyword” or “keyword” + “near me”. A lot of restaurant websites miss the mark here. They focus on the food but less on the community. So, it’s important to have content both about your services, as well as the city and neighborhood you serve (maps, parking directions, address, things nearby, etc.). Obviously, it’s also helpful to have a local listings management platform, especially if you have multiple locations.
Keyword examples: Boulder BBQ, Boulder Steakhouse.
- Restaurant Category – It’s important to execute keyword research around what type of restaurant you’re marketing. For example, a BBQ restaurant has a group of closely related keywords: “BBQ,” “barbeque,” “smokehouse,” “pit bbq” or “smoke shack”. Figure out what keywords have the best opportunities and develop content around those keywords. Make sure you’re using related keywords naturally throughout that content.
Keyword examples: Smokehouse, pit bbq, smoke shack, barbeque.
- Menu Items – Most restaurants miss ranking opportunities around their menu items, simply because they don’t have enough content for each item. If you have regular menu items, it’s a good idea to give each item a unique page, with images, videos and quality content. If we expand upon our BBQ example, this tactic gives a restaurant a better shot at ranking for terms around ribs, brisket, BBQ pork, etc.
Keyword examples: ribs, brisket, BBQ pork, cornbread
- Happy hours/specials – While the competition is generally high around happy hour terms, most restaurant websites don’t have dedicated content. Instead, there might be outdated specials or happy hour times on an hours section of the homepage. If you have a great happy hour, write about it.
Keyword examples: best happy hour, “brand” + happy hour, “city” + happy hour.
- Delivery/To-go – It’s not enough to add a note to the top of your website that says you have delivery. Devote a page to it. Answer common questions users might have and do everything you can to keep engagement high.
Keyword examples: “city” + delivery, “brand” + to-go, “category (bbq)” + “delivery”
So, the moral of this story is don’t go keyword fishing with a spear and a snorkel. Cast a wide net and remain open to variety of flavors.
Sean Baker has 18+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.