“Over half of restaurants spend less than 10% of their time on marketing, and just 12%even have personnel dedicated to it” – TripAdvisor
Restaurants are operation heavy businesses that focus mostly on ironing out operational kinks and customer service. While most restaurateurs would agree that having a brand is important, most are so pre-occupied with operations that they have no spare time to focus on marketing strategy. Owners, if you want your restaurant to be full, you need to find a way for clients to come to you.
So, here’s a few SEO quick fixes for all restaurant owners out there. Or, if you’d like us to tl;dr this for you, book a short-15 minute call here.
This article today discusses the current state of the F&B Industry and a case study on one of our SEO client restaurants with an owner laser focused on operational efficiency. We will focus primarily on Search Engine Optimization, with emphasis on Local SEO, then end off with some short tips on how to get your F&B Website up to scratch quickly.
Thanks to research done by TripAdvisor, SEO for Restaurants is something that is not taken as seriously as most would think. The result of this is a front-page full of slow loading speeds, and mobile un-optimized websites. When we tried to examine the first few pages for “Chinese Restaurants near me”, most of the top sites did not optimize their load speeds, nor did they make it easy for pages to load on mobile phones. We will get to more on how to deal with this a little later.
60% of users first search online for a local restaurant or café before heading out.Combined with the statistic that 88% of users head out on the same day that they decide on their restaurant, this is not a small number of F&B customers that restaurants are missing out on purely due to SEO alone.
Hence, because most searches are location based, the best SEO strategy for Restaurants will be Local SEO. Although this works best for single-location restaurants, this strategy forms the search engine optimization campaign base for food chains that have more than 1 location. This SEO campaign will apply more than once in those cases, but it would get trickier the more outlets there are.
One of the criteria we love to use to select niches, is the level of competition. If the level of competition is low, then less resources are necessary to hit Page 1, and stay there. In F&B SEO, the advantage is to the First Movers; if our clients are able to move quickly and use the right strategies before other restaurants catch on, then it becomes easier to rank higher for specific keywords as the incumbent (in this case, sites which already rank highly) are seen as more trustworthy in the Search Algorithm’s assessments. This is therefore a potentially high-return investment.
Hence, in an industry where Search Engine Optimization has not taken owners by storm, it is a great niche to settle in and specialize. Then, with our assessment of the industry, we embark on improving the metrics of one of our Client Restaurants.
First off, the metrics for our clients starting off was something like this.
As they already had a good local following on Social Media thanks to word of mouth, we had the fortune of support from a solid Facebook Page if we needed to run any promotions.
While this seems strong enough (ranking for 127 keywords already) something seems a little off – they were only getting 56 organic traffic. On top of that, their bounce rates were high, at about 85%, which implies that they were getting relevant traffic – but they were not getting quality traffic. It then comes to another question – where do the good traffic go?
1. Lack of Google my Business – Focus on your Local SEO!
One very glaring error that our client has made from the start is the lack of a GoogleMy Business (GMB) entry. When we mention “quality leads”, it points to those users who search for “Restaurants near me” related searches. To rank on theses paces, which is labelled as “Position 0”, restaurant owners must first have a registered business with Google.
In this case, search engines favor restaurants who are active, and have gathered significant good reviews. While the review gathering stage would take some time, the first step to get on the SEO rankings would be to snag a verified business listing onGoogle My Business.
The quick fix: Sign up for a verified Google My Business and run a promotion on SocialMedia to get a 10% off next meal if a Google Review was left by the customer.To organically get more 5-star ratings, a local campaign is usually the best idea. Offer a direct incentive to your customer base to leave a review, and as long as the food chain’s food quality isn’t bad, customers usually have no reason to say no. From an initial 0 reviews, we have moved up to 120 reviews, with an average rating of 4.89.
2. The Lack of Focus on Technical SEO
Our client’s webmaster had not heard of the term “Local Schema” for their website before, and never applied it on the website. This local schema markup helps the restaurant’s SEO campaign, as it tells the search engines clearly what type of organization the owner’s business is. With clearer data, the search engine can rank a website easier and hence, better data increases visibility of the website to search engines.
TheWebsite’s speed was also not remarkable, taking a long 10.9 seconds to load the first bits of content. This means that a user had to wait 11 seconds to understand what this F&B website offers, and this could be the main reason to explain the 85% bounce rate on the Restaurant’s website. Customers don’t like to be made to wait.
The fix: Our F&B SEO Specialists implemented the Local Schema for “Restaurants” on the website. This is the most direct way of telling Google, “Hey, look. I’m aRestaurant serving this particular area in Florida!”, and hence boosts the local ranking power for the vicinity. This works very well for single location restaurants and helps add to the search engine visibility of the restaurant’s website.
The restaurant’s menu photos were 2 MB in size and that caused the site’s loading speed to slow down. We managed to stagger the photo loading times, with the least important contents loading last, and also minimized the photo size by 90% to decrease load times from 10.9 Seconds, to a respectable 6.4 Seconds.
3.Abundance of Non-Authority Links
As in the screenshot above, there were only 7 referring domains, none of which were authority, and has a total of 127 Backlinks coming, mainly from two domains. We suspected that this flurry of low authority follow links are a negative SEO factor. Hence, we thought that one actionable could be to contact this webmaster, or if not, disavow some of these spammy links.
However, given that we only had two months to write this Case Study, this is still a work in progress, and we are aiming to get in some high domain authority links.This will help a lot in the site’s authority and lead generation.
The fix: We managed to get rid of and disavow a bunch of spammy links. We have also managed to get two high Domain Authority Links (food reviews) to the site.
In general, there’s still a lot of work to be done, even though there’s still a bit of an increase from the start. There has been a definite tank in the middle, but we checked that there was no significant change in the ranking, and hence, can be attributed to the sudden onset of COVID-19. The traffic has increased from a56, to a stronger 152.
While all this within two-months is no mean feat, we are still serving this client happily and confidently. There will be a point when COVID-19 ends, and when that end comes, our Chinese restaurant client will be primed and ready to catchall the eating-out craze that will grip the United States of America.
There’s huge potential out there to tap on for restaurant owners. Using Local SEO, the aim objective is to show up not only on the first page, but also the maps for your county, and your area.
However, please bear in mind that marketing is only backed up by great service quality and even tastier food. If your business fundamentals are not strong, perhaps this is a good time to work from the ground up and ensure your F&B Chain is supported by solid operational processes, and delicious food. The results for each restaurant will not be consistent - depending on your competition.
If you’re confident that your food will leave your customers begging for more, schedule your short call with us right now, and we’ll tell you how to get your hungry customers through the doors.