Restaurant SEO – A Weekly Checklist

On average, restaurant SEO campaigns can see a 500 percent ROI after three years, so there’s massive potential for you to use SEO to grow your restaurant.

This article will walk you through a weekly restaurant SEO checklist that you can follow to improve sales in three months.

From there, you can grow more if you continue to work on this stuff.

1. Make Sure Your Google Business Profile Is Optimized, Up-to-Date, and Active

This is, by far, the most important part of your local SEO checklist as a restaurant owner.

Most people are using Google Maps to find your restaurant, not the Google search engine inside of a web browser.

Google Business Profiles help you get more customers by showing up for near-me searches

On the web, your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) can show up in the “Three-Pack,” of top listings. Because it increases visibility, you want to rank in the Theee-Pack, which is why optimizing your Google Business Profile should be a priority if you want to show up at the top of the search results when your customers type in things like “[YOURFOOD] near me.”

You can find step-by-step instructions for setting up and maintaining your profile in this Google Business Profile article, but in general you should treat it like a social media site.

Each week, do at least the following:

  • Update your business hours in case of special events, weather, or holidays so that customers don’t show up when you aren’t open. That can be frustrating, and many will blame you for this rather than Google, which can reflect poorly on your restaurant’s brand.

  • Respond to reviews with unique messages. Don’t use templates. The purpose of these is to drive engagement. Potential customers read through these reviews, so handle them with care to give an impression of good service. This will reflect positively on your restaurant and can dissuade someone from listening to a bad review if you handle it appropriately.

  • Add new photos whenever you have an event, change the decor, or offer a new menu item. Photos create engagement and can bait clicks away from competitors if they look delicious enough.

  • Make a post that’s similar to something you might post to Facebook. Post new menu items, offers, events, and any other updates you would post to a social media account.

2. Make Sure You’re Asking Customers for Reviews

Be proactive about asking customers for reviews.

If they’re a member of a rewards program you’re offering, when they place an order, send them a text or email later that day asking for a review. You can also post a sign at the register and put a sticker at the exit door of your restaurant to encourage reviews.

Along with an optimized Google Business Profile, reviews are one of the biggest local SEO ranking factors. If you aren’t getting good reviews, you can do things to improve that like working on your customer service or creating a better atmosphere.

3. Optimize Your Content

Optimizing your website content helps you rank in the organic listings below the Three-Pack. In most cases, restaurants tend to ignore their website because the organic listings are lists featuring lots of restaurants, so you don’t have much of a chance of putting your restaurant here.

However, when potential customers are doing their search, they might visit your website through your Google Business Profile and look for things like nutrition information.

They may also go back to Google for this, so the page should be searchable.

When building your pages, focus on creating content that fulfills what the searcher is looking for in the fastest, simplest way possible. This is known as search intent.

This improves SEO because it prevents users from going back to Google with a similar search because they didn’t find what they were looking for or it took too long. This behavior is called “pogo-sticking” in the SEO world and it is a negative ranking factor.

To figure out which pages aren’t doing this, simply look for the ones you aren’t ranking well for in Google, and fix them up.

First, find a keyword that you aren’t performing well for that you’d like to improve. 

When you find a keyword that you don’t rank in the top three for but are on the first or second page, think about how you can improve this page for the user. How can you help them get to what they’re looking for faster and in a simpler way?

After you make your content simple and readable, run your content through a content optimization tool to make sure the right keywords are in it. Don’t stuff them in, but weave them into the page copy naturally.

4. Do Local Digital PR for Local Backlinks

The best backlinks for local SEO are ones that come from local sources. This is because Google uses local backlinks as a local ranking factor.

Here are a few “local digital PR” ideas you can use to get backlinks from local websites:

  1. Give out free food, make a page on your website about it, and send it to the press to get links from local news sites.

  2. Give discounts to university students, make a page about it, and tell the student newspaper or the university about it.

  3. Pitch a guest post idea to a local blogger.

The best part of doing link building the PR way is that the PR itself will also draw in customers. 

Whatever you do, don’t pay for backlinks. This is against Google’s spam guidelines and they have lots of ways of catching you, such as competitors reporting you for link spam. 

SEO seems intimidating, but it’s really just an iterative process. As you work through this checklist each week, you’ll run into different things and find ways to grow your business.

You might review the Google Business Profile analytics and see more “get directions” clicks after a post.Or maybe you’ll find new page ideas for your website during your keyword research.

Whatever the case, this checklist should help you stay competitive in the digital landscape.