If your restaurant’s website isn’t in the first two pages of results when you search your cuisine and your city, I’m sorry to say: you’re doing something wrong.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complex topic–way too complex to cover completely in a single blog post! That being said, my aim here is to help you learn more about a few common errors that anyone can make and how to correct them.
Common Error #1: Your menu is in PDF format
If you own a restaurant, I’m sure you already know that your menu is your crown jewel! But no one is going to know that you serve only Oceanwise seafood or that your foodtruck has the only vegan hotdogs in the city if they can’t find your page when they use their favourite search engine.
I know you’ve got an awesome, professionally laid out, print quality menu in a PDF–that’s important for building your restaurant’s image. But while PDFs may be composed of text, that text isn’t being “crawled”, which means search engines can’t find it!
Solution: Build an online version of your menu
I know it’s intimidating if you’re not used to working with web publishing software like WordPress. But it’s designed to be user friendly, and there are a variety of tools at your disposal that can help you recreate your menu online in an attractive and accessible way. Here’s a plugin (WordPress add-on) that can help:
Shortcodes Ultimate – Build attractive site elements, zero HTML/CSS required! Make things like custom buttons, eye catching headers, calls to action, and many more. Check out the plugin page to see some demos of what it can do.
Common Error #2: You don’t make your contact info SUPER clear
A user shouldn’t have to click more than once to find this info! In fact, it’s best if they don’t have to click at all. The most important thing to ask yourself here is: what do I want folks to take away from visiting my restaurant’s website?
Visualize my restaurant and my cuisine
Know and understand my menu
Be aware of my location(s) and my hours of operation
The last thing you want is for a user to navigate away from your site or “bounce” before they can get that vital information.
Solution: Include all important info on your home page
Yes, a home page (or “landing page”) can be visually attractive AND include lots of information! Build with your goals in mind. Integrate elements where possible. There’s a few different plugin solution options here:
Soliloquy Lite – a responsive (AKA mobile device friendly!) image slider creator that is very user-friendly and low barrier. You could easily add images of your dishes alongside your important information and embed it in your home page or “landing page” so that visitors will see it straight away.
Sticky Header – a sticky header is one that follows the user as they scroll, so they can never accidentally navigate away from your important information. Easy to setup and customize.
Sticky Widget – this plugin is similar to the Sticky Header above, except it uses the sidebar/widget interface to make an element that follows the user no matter where they navigate. Be sure and only use one or the other for best results.
Common Error #3: Your keywords are too generic
You don’t just serve pasta at your restaurant, right? You serve handmade, fresh pasta. You serve gnocchi, you serve tortellini, you serve ravioli. So why would you use the keyword “pasta”?
People want to come to your restaurant for a variety of reasons: maybe they’ve heard the food is good. Maybe you one of the only purveyors of this cuisine in the city. Maybe you’re just open late and nearby! But the best way to hook someone is with specifics–the same goes for search engines.
Solution: Describe your restaurant as you might to a guest
I’m sure you have a lot to say about the items on your menu and why you founded your restaurant–so don’t suddenly turn tight-lipped when giving your pages titles, URLs/permalinks, and keywords. There are a wealth of generic SEO tools out there that can help you get this job done right, but it’s important to consider a bit of this theory first!
If you haven’t already, make sure you’ve got an SEO plugin installed on your WordPress site:
SEO by Yoast – this is the most popular option, and it has a pretty straightforward interface that “scores” pages with colour coded icons to let you know how optimized they are for your chosen keyword. It will also provide you with details on how to improve your page’s score if it’s low. Also, it’s free!
Premium SEO Pack – looking for a more high powered option? For just a one-time fee of $40, you can grab Premium SEO Pack, which even has a specific function dedicated to optimizing for local search results. That’s in addition to a variety of other features that SEO by Yoast doesn’t offer. The folks who developed Premium SEO Pack have an instructional video at the link, so even if you’re worried your tech abilities aren’t where they need to be to use it, it’s still worth a look.