Finding a restaurant today is typically accomplished by typing in search terms like “Italian restaurant near me.” From there, the majority of people look at only the top three to six results served up by Google and other search engines to select their restaurant of choice. Understandably, the top six search results are the most coveted rankings for any business and are commonly referred to as the Google Six Pack. Implementing SEO strategies aimed at vaulting into the Google Six Pack can help restaurants increase visibility, remain competitive and attract business.
Search engines rank the most relevant results first and the average organic click-through rate (CTR) the very top Google mobile search result gets is 26.9 percent according to data from Advanced Web Ranking cited by Search Engine Journal. That’s a compelling business case for restaurants to focus on the following SEO strategies that can help achieve powerful placement in the Google Six Pack:
Google My Business (GMB)
Registering businesses like restaurants on Google My Business is critical to effective local SEO. That’s because most people search for information using Google. Google is by far the top search engine with over 87 percent market share in the U.S. Last year alone there were 6.9 billion searches on Google every day which amounted to a staggering 2.5 trillion searches for the year worldwide.
Claiming their GMB account can help restaurateurs manage how their business appears in Google search results and improve website rankings on Google Maps and local search results. Registering on GMB is free and taking the time to do this pays off for restaurants by allowing Google to recommend an eatery to people searching for dining options in the area.
To ensure a restaurant’s GMB page is performing well, the page should be kept up to date and include current business address, hours of operation, services (dine-in, carry-out, delivery, etc.), phone number, website URL, type of payments accepted, menu items, and photos of the establishment. Restaurants that use a third-party tool to manage bookings should add that information to the GMB listing, allowing users to book a table directly from the search results.
Restaurants can also their GMB page to engage with customers, highlighting special offers and discounts, publicizing events and promoting new menu offerings.
Restaurants should encourage happy diners to review the business on their Google listing. Reviews are a significant reason why diners choose a certain restaurant. According to Google, high-quality, positive reviews from customers can improve business visibility and increase the likelihood that a customer will visit a business location. Reviews are particularly important in the restaurant industry. Data from BrightLocal shows that 93 percent of consumers look at restaurant reviews and 87 percent believe that reviews are important.
Positive patron reviews are impactful in bolstering a restaurant’s online reputation, building trust and improving search engine rankings – all of which can vault a restaurant into the Google six pack.
Restaurants should be sure to manage their reviews on their Google listing. This means consistently responding to reviews both positive and negative.
Using clear, descriptive title tags is another SEO strategy restaurants can use to vault into the Google six pack. Search engines use title tags to understand what the web page is about and appropriately index page. A title tag, which essentially describes the content of a web page, is what is displayed on search results pages as a clickable headline. Google notes that title tags give users quick insight into the content of a result and why it's relevant to their query. Google also recommends that page titles be descriptive and concise. It is typically recommended to keep titles between 30 and 60 characters. A study by Etsy found that that shorter title tags performed better than longer ones and postulated “that might be because for shorter, better targeted title tags, there is a higher probability of a percentage match against any given user’s search query on Google.”
It is also a good practice to include key words in title tags but avoid keyword stuffing where the same words or phrases appear multiple times. A good formula for title tags used for restaurants is the main keyword-the second keyword-the name of the restaurant, such as “Italian Restaurant-Downtown Hartford CT-ZAZA Pizzeria”
Creating high quality content is another way a restaurant can break into the Google Six Pack. Search engines prioritize websites with fresh, engaging content, elevating them in search rankings. That is a compelling reason for restaurants to regularly update content to keep it relevant, useful and engaging to website visitors. Blog posts and articles on new menu items and promotions as well as videos on topics such as recipes or sourcing of ingredients and photos showcasing mouth-watering culinary creations are all opportunities for restaurants to create unique content that improves search rankings and helps them stand out from the competition.
Getting ranked in the top six Google search results is challenging in a crowded competitive business environment like the restaurant industry. To help achieve a coveted ranking in the Google Six Pack, increasing click-through rates, reservations and online orders, restaurants should implement an SEO strategy that leverages Google My Business, cultivates online reviews, uses clear, descriptive title tags and creates high quality, engaging content.