Everyone wants to know where to have a good meal, and when they’re deciding on a place to eat a smartphone is usually involved. How do restaurants rise to the top of the list of Google? Search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is the art of making your restaurant’s information clear to search engines. It’s a complex topic, but it comes down to two things.

  1. Give search engines the information they need to categorize your restaurant correctly in the way that your audience is trying to find you.
  2. Avoid anything that tries to game their programming to give you an unfair advantage. If you get these two things right, the rest is just details.

The good thing about restaurants is that there are lots of easy ways to improve your SEO. Everyone searches for food, so search engines make it simple to search for in the local area. Here are ten steps you can do to enhance your restaurant’s SEO quickly.

Register for Google MyBusiness and Bing Places

This is the core thing every brick and mortar business needs to do to get their location registered on Google. Go to mybusiness.google.com and have the owner of the company register on the site. Once you’ve signed up and gone through the verification process, your location will start appearing on Google searches. The equivalent for Bing is bingplaces.com, which uses a similar process.

Verify your Listing with Data Providers

Google and other search engines will compare your submitted information with what is on file with large data providers. The closer these data sets match, the more legit your business looks. Claim and verify your information to prevent data conflicts that can push you down the rankings. As a bonus, many smaller search engines use this data to fill out their databases, so this simple step can give you even more exposure.

Give Them All The Information you Can 

Whenever you fill out a business profile online, the more information you give the better. You’d be surprised how one piece of information could be enough to classify you more correctly or will be of interest to others. Don’t hold back.

Use Quality Photographs

Pictures are important for any kind of profile. Take the time to take some quality ones. At a minimum, you should have a clear picture of the storefront from the parking lot, a picture of your interior, and a picture of your most popular product. Use these as part of your branding.

Respond to Reviews

Each review is another data point to a search engine, and so is each response to one. Google allows visitors to your location to leave reviews on their site. If you respond politely to everyone, that gives Google even more data and it makes you look good in the eyes of the customer. This doesn’t take very long. 15 minutes during the slow part of the day should be enough for most businesses to run through Google for new reviews and respond.

Use an SEO Scanner on your Website

If you’re running a restaurant, you don’t have time to learn all of the ins and outs of web programming. However, it’s easy to run a scan on your website for any blatant SEO problems. Moz’s Open Site Explorer is a good place to start and it’s free to use. If you don’t understand everything on there or know how to fix it, just keep a note of it for the next step.

Update your Website

How long has it been since you’ve looked at your website? Likely it’s been a while. The key for a restaurant website is finding the core information quickly. A visitor wants to find your menu, your hours, and where you are located fast. Don’t bury the good stuff behind a lot of pictures or fancy animations. At a minimum, make sure the information on your website matches the information you have in your MyBusiness profile. This will give you another boost.

Consider Hiring a Web Developer 

If you had a lot of problems in your site scan or you want to overhaul your website, consider dropping money on a quality web developer. Ask them to correct the issues on the SEO scan and make your site accessible to mobile devices. If you can find a developer that can put in Schema code, even better. Schema is a new website language that tells search engines what specific pieces of information on your website should mean.

If you Use Social Media, do it Right

Repeat after me: social media is not a billboard! It is a platform for interaction with your customers. Google is known to use social media signals for linked businesses as part of its ranking algorithm, but it is unknown which ones it is reading. Give your channels an update at least three times a week. A simple advertisement of the daily special is a good start. And if your customers start asking questions on your channels, respond. Start a conversation.

Don’t Give Up

If you’re a new restaurant or had a poor presence online, all of these steps will help you improve your rank. However, Google does take into account the age of a website and it is not an insignificant factor. It can take many months before this factor pulls your website significantly up the rankings. You should withhold judgment on any SEO improvements until at least six months have passed, and preferably a year.

Nothing in this list of tips goes against Google’s rules and none of them take terribly long to do. The next time you have a slow afternoon, give one or two a try. SEO is done a little bit each day. Assuming that there are no underlying issues with your site, you should see an increase in your ranking within a few months. If you don’t, then you may need professional assistance to diagnose whether there is something wrong with your site and what your competitors may be doing better.


Chris Hickman is the Founder and CEO at Adficient with 15 years of experience in search marketing and conversion optimization. Since 2006, he founded GetBackonGoogle.com, helping businesses and websites suspended in Adwords to Get Back on Google

  • There is numerous ways to improve your restaurant SEO. Social media marketing is best one of them.