We’ll start from the start with Restaurant Local SEO, since it’s easy to get caught up in jargon and acronyms, particularly when it comes to digital marketing. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is the process of getting traffic to your website from results on search engines, without paying to promote your website. The fact you don’t pay to appear in these search results is known as “organic search results”.
In basic terms, search engines use algorithms to work out if the content on your website is relevant to what a potential customer is searching for on a search engine like Google. By providing the right content on your website, it’s possible to ensure that these algorithms see the value in your website and send customers there. It’s no longer about stuffing as many keywords into your website content as you can (hello SEO in 2008) but is instead about offering relevant and well-written content on your site that’s useful to the audience.
Local SEO is the next step in the game of marketing your restaurant or food business effectively and it’s what it sounds like – the steps you can take online to make sure that your local business shows up in search engine results for your area.
Have you ever carried out a search on Google that ended in “near me”? The results you see are as a result of local SEO, and 46% of all Google searches are local. If you’re a business serving a community, or operating within a specific geographical region, then getting to grips local SEO is one of the most important things you can do for your business.
Local SEO – the basics
There are some easy ways that restaurants and food businesses can improve their local SEO. Some of these are pretty straightforward to implement, others require more specialist skills (we’ll leave the cooking to you, you can leave the marketing to us).
Here’s our top 10 ways to improve local SEO for your food business:
- Claim your Google My Business listing – 56% of local retailers haven’t done this and it’s so easy to do. You just need to perform a search on Google for your business, and then hit ‘Claim My Business’ to run through a step-by-step guide. It takes minutes and means that you show up on Google maps and in Google searches.
- Think further than Google – Ok, so 95% of people in New Zealand use Google but it’s not the be-all and end-all. That’s still 240,000 people who are using Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Ecosia or Baidu. List yourself on Bing Places (Microsoft’s version of Google My Business) as a starter – check you’re not already listed on there or you might run into problems.
- An Apple a day keeps the customers on their way – although Android has a bigger share of the NZ market, 41% people of use Apple devices and many will use Apple Maps, Spotlight and Siri automatically to find what’s nearby. Add yourself on there here.
- Make sure your website looks decent on a mobile – now that we all have a smartphone on us at all times, it’s no surprise that most “near me” searches are on a mobile device. Make sure that the content shows up properly and is readable.
- Optimise the content on your website for your local area – stop us if we’re going too fast. This is a fancy way of saying “think about how people will search for your business and reflect that in the content of your website”. That’s simplifying it a little/a lot but that’s what it means in a nutshell. Say you’re a restaurant in Auckland serving Indian food – if a customer’s looking for a new place to get a curry, what are they going to search for? Well, it’s probably going to be something like “curry in Auckland” or “Indian Restaurant in Auckland city centre” (or, “near me” – see previous point). This needs to be reflected on your website, but in a natural way. This is something that a SEO specialist or digital marketer can help you with, as it can be a bit of an art if you’re not used to it – it sounds straightforward but good SEO content can be the difference between getting loads of web traffic, or people not being able to find you at all.
- Check out your competitors – what’s the content on their website looking like? What stands out? What are they doing better than you? What are you doing better than them? Use this as a publicly available resource to nab ideas from if you need to.
- Make sure your info is consistent – consistency with name, address and phone number across platforms is important when it comes to local SEO. Check Moz Local (Check My Listing), it aggregates information from the most common sites on the web used for SEO and highlights any inconsistences so that you can fix them and display them the same.
- List your business elsewhere – find online business directories that display local – or industry specific – information and make sure that your business is listed there (consistently to the rest of your content). TripAdvisor is a great one for restaurants, as are local tourism sites. Neighbourly, Localist, Yelp, Yellow Pages online, Fyple and Eventfinda are good general ones for businesses in New Zealand too.
- Structure your content correctly – we mentioned the search engine algorithms that work out whether your site is relevant for search results earlier. They do this by crawling the site using a bot which “reads” the content and categorises it for search. Clever huh? You can make the bots life easier by structuring your content in a way that makes it easier to read – H1 tags, landing pages, URL structure, optimising the content on your home page…the list is long. There are literally books written on how to structure content for SEO, so we won’t bore you with the detail here. If you want to know a little more about the basics, check out Neil Patel’s blog here.
- Build links on other sites – search engines are more likely to send traffic to your site if they deem the content as authoritative and meaningful. A great way to do this is by getting your website linked to from other legitimate and authoritative websites. Is there a local news site or community website (like a local ‘best of’ guide or events listings) that you can contribute to to get other websites linking back to your own?
A good local SEO strategy is essential for a restaurant business in today’s market – according to Google, restaurant-related searches have grown by double digits in the past two years, with 89% of them using a mobile to carry out these searches (see point 4 above!). You need to be visible, and easy to find, where your customers are searching, especially operating in a competitive market.
People’s online search habits – as well as their eating habits – are changing too, making SEO and an online presence even more important than ever before. Here’s some stats that back up why making sure your business info is up to speed:
- Millennials – making up 21% of the population in New Zealand – are not only more likely to eat out, or grab a food delivery, they’re also way more likely to look at online reviews and social media (which contribute to SEO) before deciding where to eat
- 68% of people tried a new restaurant based on positive online reviews
- 45% of people check out reviews before trying out a new restaurant
- 42% of New Zealanders order food to take away (either pick up or home delivery) and online ordering was on the rise even before the global pandemic took over
- Searches for “restaurants near me” have increased significantly over the last 5 years
- Locally sourced food is important to almost half of all restaurant-goers – and who’s better to supply this than a local eatery?
- 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit that business within 24 hours
- 97% of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else
There’s a really strong case for making sure that your local SEO is up to scratch – unlike more traditional stores who can deliver non-perishable items around the globe, this isn’t really an option with a lot of fresh, local food that our amazing restaurants have to offer. So, for restaurants and food businesses a local audience needs to be your target, and local SEO is just one of the tools in your arsenal to be able to bring those customers in.
Does this sound like a lot of work to market your restaurant business locally? Get in touch with us today for a full SEO audit and advice on how we can help.