Your Guide on Restaurant SEO to Increase Website Ranking

Restaurant SEO refers to optimizing a restaurant's website and online presence to improve its visibility in search engine results. Learn how to do it!
Kamryn Elliott

“Restaurant SEO.” What does it mean? Is it just a buzzword? How does it affect my restaurant? Can I get more customers or have increased visibility on search engines? How do I optimize or implement SEO for my restaurant? You might have asked these questions already and learned more about Restaurant SEO or still need some insight. This is a complex topic for anyone, whether you’re a restaurant marketer or someone who isn’t highly tech-savvy. Restaurant SEO refers to optimizing a restaurant's website and online presence to improve its visibility in search engine results. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it involves various strategies and techniques aimed at increasing organic (non-paid) traffic to a website.

We believe that all restaurant brands, no matter their size, should be seen by customers looking to enjoy a memorable experience. That’s why we’re here to tell you that you can rank higher on organic pages with Google Rankings for increased visibility and traffic. We’re also here to help you learn why this matters and how to do it.

Here's what we'll be covering:

Google Search and SEOs Constant Evolution

Google Search has been evolving since its creation. Google’s algorithm, a complex system that allows Google to find, rank, and return the most relevant pages for a certain search, continually gets built upon and changed but the fundamentals have stayed the same. There are many Google updates like the knowledge panel (introduced in 2012) and featured snippets (2014), that you can use to your benefit to enhance your restaurant’s visibility and traffic. Gone are the days of optimizing for the “10 Blue Links” (hello, endless scroll)! Now, there are four main best practices to rank higher on Google.

  1. Rich Results: Enhanced organic search results that add information to a plain text search and expand on the answer with images, videos, steps, or more.
  2. Featured Snippets: Also known as “position zero,” they are concise summaries of information shown at the top of Google's search results and are designed to present a direct answer or solution.
  3. Knowledge Panels: Information boxes that appear on the right side of Google's search results and provide concise and structured information about a specific entity, such as a person, organization, place, or thing.
  4. Google Business Profile/Local Business Results (Local SEO): Formally known as “Google My Business,” Google Business Profile or GBP allows local businesses to manage their online presence whenever someone searches for their business, product, or service.

As a restaurant owner or operator looking to optimize your restaurant SEO, Google Business Profile and Knowledge Panels work wonders for your brand to increase visibility and traffic. To get on any one of these listings you should be producing relevant content to the search, be a vertical industrial segment or category (flights, hotels, restaurants), use the correct structure for content, and produce quality content.


How is Google Using My Restaurant SEO?

You’re here to optimize your restaurant SEO so we’ll stick to that, but you do need to know a little more about how that works so you can optimize it for your benefit. Let’s break this down a little further, without getting too deep into the weeds.

  1. Google uses schema to generate and update the Knowledge Panels.
  2. What is Schema?
  1. Shema is structured data that makes your website's content more easily understood by Google. 
  2. So basically, it's providing search engines with specific information about your restaurant's website content.

A matter of fact is that search engines are always trying to learn more about your business. So posting information such as the type of food you serve, your hours of operation, your contact information, and more is crucial to helping search engines learn more about your restaurant.

How can I use my Restaurant Information for Local SEO?

Adding your restaurant’s information to multiple channels that Google is actively pulling information from is key to increasing your visibility. If you want your restaurant to be seen online, then head over to restaurant review sites, directories, and social media platforms.

  • GDP: Google Business Profile makes up roughly 30% of all Google Traffic. That’s very powerful for restaurant brands and it’s completely free. This is where you can easily turn people who find you on Google Search and Maps into new customers. Simply add your restaurant information like location, business hours, contact information, photos, and menu to get started. Spend some time getting all of the details in and making the listing as complete and accurate as possible so you get the best ranking results.
  • Social Media: You can also find new customers through social media channels that offer brand visibility and awareness in your local community. UGC (User-Generated Content) is content shared by everyday users about a place, product, or thing. This increases the number of people viewing what you have to offer because if they share a dish from your restaurant and rate it highly, you’ll attract more potential customers– after all people trust those who look and act like them over paid content that seems fake.
  • Restaurant Review Sites: Follow this by adding your restaurant information on restaurant review sites such as Yelp, OpenTable, and TripAdvisor and encourage reviews! Reviews are an indicator for Google when ranking local search results. Google shows the highest-rated restaurants and can show your rating right on the search results page, helping you attract more customers.

Adding valuable information like your restaurant’s phone number, hours of operation, location, menu, photos, and more across these channels will significantly increase your visibility online and help your local SEO. Remember, you want to answer what customers are searching for or need answers to. A large percentage of the searches where the knowledge panel and GBP listings appear with your restaurant’s information is fulfilling the search needs of the visitor.

So you have information on Google Search and restaurant SEO, why they matter, and how they impact your restaurant website. You might be thinking, a) SO much information, b) this seems like a lot of work, c) I still have more questions, or d) all of the above. For the sake of helping you understand restaurant SEO and optimizing it for your restaurant to increase traffic, I’ll go with “d) all of the above.” By the way, you can take an intermission, this article isn’t going anywhere. Just don’t exit the page, otherwise, you might have to find it again and that can be a hassle. Thanks, Google and SEO!

Restaurant SEO and Google Search recap image for Incentivio's Restaurant SEO blog.


Back from intermission? This is where we’ll get into some strategies on exactly how you can optimize your restaurant website with keywords to target specific customers and improve your local SEO. Finally! We just wanted to give you more information before jumping into the how so it was clear. If you jumped to this section using the table of contents either you’re ready to jump right in or you don’t have all the time in the world (obviously– you work in the restaurant industry), or both!

Keywords are everything and you should have a strategy for them

Keywords are specific words or phrases that help search engines understand the content of a web page. So if you own a pizza brand, you should probably have a lot of keywords around “pizza.” By optimizing a website for relevant keywords, you can increase your visibility in search results. With strategizing keywords to use, you should target search terms that you want your restaurant’s website to rank for. As just mentioned, if you own a pizza brand, a search term can be “pizza.” Keep in mind that while keywords can be single words (pizza) they should often have two to three more search terms. So, keeping with the pizza brand, and if you’re located in Austin, a keyword on your website could look like this “best pizza in Austin.” Here’s a quick breakdown of the types of keywords commonly used in SEO:

  • Broad keywords: General terms that relate to a broad topic. For example, "pizza." Broad keywords tend to have high search volumes but can also be highly competitive. That’s why you should two-three more keywords for “pizza.”
  • Long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are more specific and longer phrases that target a narrower audience. For example, "best thin crust cheese pizza.” Long-tail keywords often have lower search volumes (because it is more specific) but can result in higher potential customer rates.
  • Local keywords: These keywords target a specific geographic location and are essential for businesses targeting a local audience. For example, "best pizza in Austin" or "pizza delivery in Austin." Including location-specific keywords helps search engines understand the geographical relevance of your content.

When you’re optimizing your website with these keywords you don’t want to use just one for an entire page. This won’t help you rank higher. However, you also don’t want to use “best pizza in Austin” after every other word because this strategy can hurt your ranking. It wouldn’t read write and your quality of content could drop. Imagine reading “We have the best pizza in Austin. If you stop by our restaurant on x road, you’ll try the best pizza in Austin. We proudly serve the best pizza in Austin.” That can make you seem less credible and you’re not saying much about why you started your pizza business, how you might be different, and what potential customers can expect from dining with you. Focus on creating high-quality, well-written content that incorporates relevant keywords in a way that reads naturally and provides value to your customers. After all, Google uses the quality of content as a major factor in rankings.

Where can I find relevant keywords for my restaurant's website?

Keeping with the pizza brand theme (because who doesn’t like pizza?), you should have some keywords that you think would work best for your restaurant’s website. “Best pizza in Austin,” “best thin crust cheese pizza,” or “free pizza delivery in Austin.” These are great to include on your website on the right pages. But you’ll probably need more keywords that target your location, other menu offerings, your restaurant’s history, and more. If you’re stuck trying to find those, don’t worry, there are keyword tools that exist to help you generate more. A couple that can be useful and are either free or have free trials are Google Keyword Planner and Semrush.

When you use these tools, you’ll want to research keywords using the common types (broad, long-tail, and local) so you have a healthy mix of relevant search terms to rank for. You can verify whether these search terms are getting high volume (searched a lot) and how hard it can be to rank your website using certain keywords.

An image showcasing restaurant SEO using Semrush, a keyword research and online ranking data tool.


Strategizing keywords based on my target customers

So let’s say you have some keywords that fit your restaurant’s website. You’re starting to see your rankings change, maybe seeing an increase in your online traffic. Just a heads up, this will take some time. If you updated your website yesterday or even last week and don’t see a change, don’t worry. Google’s algorithm for reading your content and making relevant search changes so you appear higher can take time, there really isn't a set timeframe where anyone knows exactly when SEO changes take effect. Gotta love SEO… right? 

Now back to you having keywords. You have some local and niche-specific keywords that are relevant to your restaurant. What if you can find keywords from another angle? Maybe some that target exactly who you want to see walk through your door or order from your online ordering system. There’s a way! Just make a list of potential customers and identify their needs or pain points to reach their specific demographic. Here’s a visual example that follows the pizza brand we’ve come to love (even though it has no name).

Restaurant SEO mockup for a pizza brand showing potential customers with relevant keywords to target.

You’ll of course want to check if these keywords get enough search traffic but this is another key strategy to build a foundation for your restaurant SEO.

SEO Strategy For Restaurants

After learning about restaurant SEO and Google Search on why it’s important, how it impacts your restaurant website’s visibility, and what you can do to increase online traffic, we hope you now have a foundation to build out your restaurant SEO. Continue to monitor your traffic with the free tools because remember SEO and Google Search, along with other search engines, are always changing. Once you start seeing that traffic, you’ll be serving more and more customers!