Published May 19, 2021
Over the past few years, it has become increasingly difficult to stand out on the Google search page if your site is not a top result.
According to a 2017 study by Ignite Visibility, the first search engine result on Google garners 20.5 percent of clicks, the second position gets 13.32 percent and the third receives 13.14 percent. Clicks drop to 8.98 percent for number four and continue to decrease the further down the page the searcher goes.
Derek Hales, editor in chief of Modern Castle and a former senior SEO strategist for ad agency iCrossing, said working to appear at the top of a Google search “absolutely is important” for a business of any size.
“Ideally, you want to be number one, but at a minimum appearing within the top three spots is critical, especially for critical keyword phrases or localized geographic terms. ‘Best gyro in Phoenix,’ for example.”
So, how exactly do you go about boosting your search rank, especially when you don’t have a large, corporate budget behind your restaurant
Here are a few tips from SEO experts on how to gain a top position and bring in more customers to your restaurant.
When people perform a Google search, the first thing they may see depends on the what they’re searching for. If it’s a product likely they’ll get a list of stores to visit. But if it’s something like “mice,” pictures and Wikipedia will get the top spots followed by a definition as well as a list of “people also ask” subjects (in this case the first one is “What do mice look for in a house”).
According to Keri Lindenmuth, marketing manager at web tech and design firm Kyle David Group, Google pulls the most relevant information from a high-ranking website to place in the Featured Snippets box.
If you want to land this coveted space in search results, she advised restaurants to “rework website content so that it showcases their menu, popular keywords, reviews, ratings, price range and location.”
Also, check with your website administrator to make sure you’ve included any special on-page markups required so Google can pull this snippet of information from your site. While it’s still up to the Google algorithm to choose which website wins this coveted real estate, ensuring your site has clear, up-to-date information relevant to the query and the proper markups will at least get you in the running.
“Then, next time someone searches ‘restaurants in Cleveland,’ ‘inexpensive places to eat in Philly,’ or simply ‘Italian food,’ restaurants in those areas may be able to see their information above the search results,” she said.
Related: How to Edit Your Restaurant's Menu in Google My Business
In order for Google to recognize your site, it must be properly coded and indexed. If this sounds foreign to you, consider hiring an SEO professional to help you in this area if possible.
To explain how indexing works, Seth Worby, CEO and founder of digital marketing agency Champ Internet Solutions said to “think of every page on your site as a book and Google as the library that houses that book.” Google needs to know your "book" exists—and that's where an SEO pro can step in to ensure your site is properly coded.
Google wants to see if other reputable websites think the information you provide is valuable and are linking to your site. If they are, you have a better chance of ranking high in search results. Build backlinks by turning to your social circle and professional network, including partners and other businesses, to see which ones are willing to link to your site from theirs.
“Businesses are built around relationships [and] so is the web and websites,” explained Hales. “Use your business relationships to help increase your backlinks.”
Another way to boost your Google ranking is by incorporating relevant keywords into your website that your customers often search for.
“Use data to be certain you know exactly what your customers are searching for when they are trying to find you explicitly (i.e., by your exact name) or implicitly (i.e., by relevant but generalized terms; ‘Chinese food near me,’ for example),” said Hales.
Utilize Google’s keyword planner to identify top keywords and phrases used in searches and then find places to include them within the text on your website. But beware of forcing or “stuffing” keywords into your content. Google’s algorithm is set up to catch “black hat” SEO techniques like these, which could actually penalize your ranking.
Related: How your restaurant can run a successful social media campaign
It’s going to be difficult to rank for big, broad search terms like “Chicago restaurants,” said Worby. So take a slightly narrower approach, to up your chances of catching that number one No. 1 spot.
“Focus on what makes your establishment unique,” Warby suggested. “Maybe you have the best whole wheat thin-crust pizza in town. Focus on your specialty and what makes you unique to improve your ranking.”