SEO is a buzzword that you're probably familiar with. If not, let's define it.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It's defined as the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine's unpaid or organic results. Basically, SEO helps your website rank higher in search results.
Why does this matter? Everyone has competition. When people are searching for a keyword or a business online, you want to be found in search results when the search is relevant to you. If your restaurant has a website (and it should!) you should be aware of the benefits SEO can provide for your business' online visibility.
How do you go about tackling SEO? There are plenty of companies who specialize in search engine optimization who can do the work for you. If you want to hire a third-party, here is a list of the Top 50 SEO Companies of 2018. Of course, you'll have to pay for these services. But, if you want to take matters into your own hands, there are ways to do that too! Today we'll discuss 6 easy, "DIY" tips on how to enhance your online presence through SEO.
Post Quality Content
You want customers to WANT to read your information. The amount of time a customer spends on a website actually does have an influence on how your website is ranked on the web. It’s important for your website to have relevant and interesting information because this will encourage visitors to spend more time reading and interacting with the site. Aside from the core information about your restaurant, you should also have a blog. There, you can create blog posts that are relative to your audience. As a restaurant, you can post about new specials and events, ideas for recipes, local community endeavors, or even current industry food trends. You may be wondering why having a blog is so important. Let's talk for a minute about content marketing.
As of late, content marketing has become an increasingly important part of an overall marketing strategy for companies everywhere, large and small. Content marketing allows a brand to gain not only visibility and higher SEO, but trust and loyalty from website visitors and customers. Consider this: Small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without. That right there should be enough for you to want to start (and maintain) a blog! Not to mention, 77% of internet users read blogs.
Be sure that you're blogging smartly and strategically. Don't just write about things that are irrelevant to your audience just to say you have a lot of blog posts. Make sure the content you're providing is useful, informative, and will draw the reader in. Strive to make your posts longer, too. You used to only need about 300 words for a blog post to rank well online, but times have changed! Try to have at least 1,000 words per blog post. It's all about quality here, so remember that when you're creating new content.
Link to Outbound Websites
Of course, your own website’s information and blog posts are important, but you should go a step further by linking out to content from other sites. Good content will include references, facts, and statistics from other websites in order to strengthen the information you're providing to your reader. Linking out to other websites will not only add some depth and alternative opinions to your website, but will increase the legitimacy of your site, and Google will definitely take notice of this when ranking for SEO.
When linking to outside sources, do so strategically. Don't link to irrelevant content just for the sake of linking. Make sure the sites you're linking to are relevant and provide additional insights to the reader. As you start to provide more and more outbound links to other relevant websites, you'll be able to form a network of other websites, bloggers, and companies. This is great because once other websites start linking back to you, it'll help boost your SEO even more!
Provide Links That Actually Work
I know, this seems like common sense. But you would be surprised by the frequency of 404 error codes people run into on the web. 404 error codes happen when someone searches for an incorrect or removed URL. I'm sure you've come across something like this before on the Internet:
There is no greater frustration than clicking on a link that is supposed to show you a restaurant's weekly specials and getting a blank page. How is the customer supposed to know what you serve if they can't find it anywhere on your website?
When you're posting a new page or blog, make sure the links work! Not only will broken links deter customers from staying on your website (and therefore seek out other businesses with information that does in fact load) but this also does have an impact on how you are ranked on Google. Basically, broken links = BAD. Test the URL yourself before promoting the new page to your customers. This will help to avoid frustration and confusion from your followers.
Luckily, you can find online tools to help verify your links work correctly; I highly recommend the Google Webmaster Tool for this exact purpose.
Of course, mistakes happen, and when someone is typing a URL, the chances of a typo are high. Because of this, there's a chance your website visitors will run into a 404 Error page on your site. Lighten the mood by personalizing the page. Here are two creative examples of customized 404 URLs:
Have a Mobile-Friendly Site
It’s no surprise that a cell phone is as essential to some individuals' survival as food and water these days. Look around as you walk down a street - most people will be holding a phone, whether they're texting, surfing social media, looking up directions, or making a call. And they’re not just playing games and texting friends, they are also looking up information on what to do and where to go. In fact, 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours.
It is incredibly important that your website is mobile optimized, as we are a generation where we find a majority of our information on mobile devices. 57% of people will not recommend a business to others if the business has a poorly designed mobile site! Yikes. Not only does a mobile-optimized site raise you in Google’s search rankings, but it also makes the user experience easier.
I can guarantee that a customer will be more likely to interact with your website if it is well formatted to the phone screen, quick to load, and does not require you to zoom in on a menu PDF (the most frequent frustration I myself run into). Not only does Google find mobile-friendly websites to be more legitimate, but they actually began penalizing websites that are not mobile optimized, which will lower that actual website in search results.
Have Social Media Icons
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram have proven to increase SEO, while also allowing you to self-advertise socially. The more social media available, the better. Customers like to know what they’re going to get, and social media sites often help exemplify what it is you offer. You can post high-quality photos and videos, use relevant hashtags, and even link out from social media to your website to drive traffic.
You should have social media links on your website to your social media accounts. This is a great way to market your information because customers will be able to easily share the social media links themselves, therefore giving your business free marketing. It’s easy to install social links on a website, and they often have cute little icons that are easily clickable to direct the customer to the more creative content of the business. The social media sites for brands are also often shown in search results for that business. This is great because people can easily look at your social sites to get more of a feel for your restaurant through the content you post socially.
You can also create social links that allow people to share your website content on their own social media channels. This is a great way to help your blogs and other content gain traction online (without you doing the work!)
Include Keywords (But not too many!)
Customers are looking up different phrases on the internet constantly. You want your content to include the keywords and phrases customers are searching for, that are relevant to your restaurant, because your site will appear in search results more frequently for those keywords. Try to stick with phrases (also known as long-tail keywords) instead of a single word, as customers are more likely to search for “strong spicy margaritas” as opposed to “margaritas.” Plus, long tail keywords are easier to rank for because they're more specific and less generic.
Google’s ranking algorithm puts the importance of keyword’s at 15%, clearly stating that it’s an essential element of a website’s SEO.
While I stress the importance of including keywords in your content, try not to overdo it or else it can appear that you're unnaturally marketing, and Google will penalize you for doing so. If you're putting "strong spicy margarita" in every sentence, Google, and your readers, will catch on.
Choose keywords that you want to rank for, that are relevant to your business, and that you can create content around. You can even start off by doing your own keyword research to find out what people are searching in order to discover your website. Use Google's Keyword Planner to help do so. Then, make sure you're using those keywords in the copy on your site and incorporate them into blog posts (but remember, don't "overstuff" your web pages with a keyword).
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential process to consider when maintaining a business website. It is important to know how you rank in search results and how you can improve your ranking online. As mentioned, there are plenty of companies that specialize in SEO that would be happy to help you, but there are also DIY ways to get the job done. Use these 6 tips for improving your website's SEO. Good luck!
Thanks for reading. Interested in improving your restaurant’s online presence? We can help! SinglePlatform puts your menu and business information accurately on the search, review, travel, and social sites people are using to find new restaurants. Get in touch today to learn how we can help you stand out everywhere that matters online.