Restaurant SEO – Austin TX
For a free restaurant SEO assessment, contact Semantic Advantage today.
The key to successful restaurant SEO (and search optimization generally) is focus. Online marketing for diners, bars and coffee shops is intense. Focusing on these three aspects will eliminate competition and highlight your specialties:
- Geography (city, neighborhood name, street, ZIP Code)
- Cuisine Type (Mexican, Italian, Chinese, . . .)
- Menu Items (Pad Thai, Chicken Cacciatore, Fish Tacos, . . .)
Local Search Optimization for Restaurants – Diners – Fast Food
Restaurants employ our Local SEO services to optimize their websites to rank well for queries the search engines deem to be ‘local’. These include search phrases containing geographic references (name of town, neighborhood or zip code). They also encompass searches for items or services people generally prefer to purchase close to home. For example, Google presumes that searches for plumbers, auto repair, clothing shops – and restaurants – are local.
Local search optimization for restaurants enhances your website to highlight your location, cuisine and individual menu selections. Broader geographic references (e.g., states or large cities) may get more searches, but they pose higher levels of competition. This is a common trade-off in SEO services for restaurants. A website page describing a ‘West Austin hamburger stand’ is more focused than one about ‘fast food Austin TX’. Among other things, this mitigates competition from eateries in South Austin – and fried chicken drive-thrus.
Competing with Restaurant Directories and Ratings-Review Sites
As you have probably noticed, the SERPs for queries including ‘restaurant’ are generally full of business directory and ratings/review site listings. Companies like MenuPix, OpenTable, TripAdvisor, Yelp and Zagat. None of these is a restaurant (what the person searched for). But in the world of restaurant SEO, these are still your competitors.
We also note that most search engines do not make a semantic distinction between the singular and plural forms of eatery names. One could reasonably infer that someone looking for ‘macrobiotic cafeteria south austin’ is looking for a single restaurant, while someone looking for the plural ‘macrobiotic cafeterias south austin’ might be looking for a list of these (in which case showing twenty ratings/review listings would be reasonable). No such luck.
In many locales, there are no actual restaurants on Page One of the SERPs for ‘restaurant’! Ranking algorithms tend to give high marks to larger and older websites. This makes it difficult for a start-up to get to Page One for any significant keywords – no matter how much customers like it! Search engines make their money from paid search (Pay-Per-Click programs). And the big biz directories and review sites spend a lot on these ads. Search engines don’t like to bite the hand that feeds them. So, for the best possible restaurant SEO in Austin, we recommend running some Google Ads.
Increase Sales with Restaurant SEO Services
With each of the above factors, there are Big Fish-Little Pond situations you can exploit. For example, in Central Texas it’s a lot easier to rank on the first two SERP pages for ‘fettuccine alfredo 78704’ than for ‘austin italian food’. Yes, in some demand generation activities it’s good to cast a wide net. But for restaurant SEO in Austin and other large cities, it’s imperative to focus on keywords that differentiate your location, facilities, and menu offerings from those of your competitors.
Targeting the keyword component ‘fettuccine alfredo 78704’ instead of ‘austin italian food’ eliminates competition from pizzarias, grocery stores and recipe websites. And it gives you an advantage over Austin restaurant’s SEO rivals located in other ZIP codes. Multi-word search terms that precisely describe the beverages, meals and side dishes you cook are called long-tail keywords. These usually have lower search volumes than the more general (and more widely-used) short-tail keywords. But your chances for getting high rankings for the long-tail terms are much better.
Organic Search Engine Optimization for Restaurants – Bars – Food Trucks
Here in Austin TX restaurant patrons frequently seek out their favorite types of eating or drinking venues using store types, ethnicities or entrée names. So if your business is a food trailer, night club or French bistro – use these words in your online marketing. Your website’s domain name, meta tags, headers and page copy should contain variants of these keywords. As well as synonyms and other contextually-related language. Again, it is important to focus narrowly and stress unique or rare characteristics – to promote your forte and reduce competition.
By describing your store to the search engines as a ‘taco stand’, ‘fast food restaurant’ or ‘crepe bistro’ you differentiate it from cafeterias, chop houses and other types of eating establishments. This will improve your website’s SEO for the keywords that best describe your business. And produce higher rankings and more traffic.
Facebook – Google My Business – Yelp Listings and Reviews
Many restaurant marketers believe their listings on these SEO competitor websites are beneficial. But at best, they are a mixed bag. Yes – if someone decides to begin their search on for ‘austin italian restaurant’ on Yelp, finds your link there and clicks through to your website, that is a win.
But if they start searching with Google or Bing for ‘mexican restaurant austin tx’ and click on a Yelp listing, the landing page presents the user with a list of your competitors. And probably not including your Taqueria Classica. This is not helping you to attract more website visitors or gain new customers.
On balance, it’s good to have a business listing (optimized for your major keywords) in these restaurant and business directories. People looking for similar places to eat will see your listing. But it’s a lot better to induce prospects to land on your website.
To do this we optimize some website pages for productive search terms that are not named Categories in the major online directories. By ‘productive’ we mean the keyword has significant search volume – no point optimizing for a keyword phrase nobody ever looks for. Keeping the OpenTables, TripAdvisors and Yelps out of the SERPs is probably worth 10 positions in the rankings.
For example, Yelp has categories for dozens types of ethnic cooking, specific main dishes and sides. They also have Categories for the type of concept — Breakfast & Brunch, Buffets, Cafes, Cafeteria, Chicken Shop, Comfort Food. Also Delis, Diners, Dinner Theater, Gastropubs, Pop-Up Restaurants, Steakhouses, Sushi Bars – and a generic Restaurants category. If you describe your place as one of these named Categories, you’ll be competing with Yelp (a heavy lift). However, if you call your business a ‘bistro’, ‘taverna’ or ‘luncheonette’, you may be able to dodge this formidable adversary in the SERPs.
Best Restaurant SEO – Menu Items and Cooking Styles
If you have signature menu items like ‘Chateaubriand’, ‘Linguini Fra Diavolo’ or ‘Big Bertha Burrito’, create pages optimized for these keywords. These three are not designated Categories on the ratings/review websites. So an SEO focus on these items can escape competing with those sites. There aren’t many searches for these keywords; so it’s easier to achieve a top ranking. But if you have a dozen low-volume keywords like these, the aggregate search volume can be significant – and bring you quite a bit of traffic.
The same applies to particular culinary specialties (that aren’t named Categories). Keywords like ‘home made’, ‘pan roasted’, ‘hibachi grilled’ or ‘teppanyaki’ can help you evade the national and local directories in the SERPs. Also useful are terms like ‘steamed’, ‘poached’ or ‘roasted’ in conjunction with a menu item name. ‘BBQ’ and ‘fried’ can also be productive keyword components. Except in Texas where these terms characterize nearly everything we eat. ☺
Competing with Food Delivery Services
Similarly, it’s best to avoid competing with food delivery service companies – where you can. Many Austin restaurants utilize services like DoorDash, Eat24 and GrubHub to fulfill takeout orders. That’s great; but as with the business directories, you want restaurant searchers to land on your website. Not the delivery company site (where they are also promoting your rivals).
Like ratings/review sites, the food delivery sites have designated Categories. And we recommend listing your business in these, using the Category that best corresponds to your restaurant. But if you focus all your website content on one of those Categories, you’ll be competing in SEO with these well-heeled businesses. Should you elect to do this, be sure to include keywords like ‘take out’, ‘to go’, ‘takeaway’, ‘take-away’ and ‘prepared’ in your page URLs, meta tags, headings and copy.
To reduce competition with food delivery organizations, emphasize the sit-down nature of your place with phrasing like ‘German restaurant’ or ‘catfish parlor’. [This will also reduce competition with recipe websites.] And try to include specific cuisine names and/or menu items that are not among the designated Categories for the food deliverers.
Don’t let problems with Austin restaurant SEO prevent your website and social media from getting good search rankings, website traffic and new customers. Contact Semantic Advantage today!