Author | Chatmeter TeamDate Posted | May 6, 2024

Restaurant SEO: 7 Tips To Boost Your Organic Performance

In the restaurant industry, competition is fierce. With so many dining options available, getting new customers through the door can be an uphill battle. That’s why nailing your restaurant’s search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial. SEO refers to different processes that help improve a business’s visibility in search engine results to bring more organic traffic to your website.

Think about it — when was the last time you searched for a restaurant online before deciding where to eat? Chances are, it wasn’t that long ago. With the modern consumer’s journey to your restaurant almost always starting with an online search, having a strong SEO strategy is no longer optional — it’s mandatory for survival.

The good news is that with some smart SEO tactics tailored to the restaurant space, you can dramatically increase your chances of being found online by hungry diners in your area. From claiming directory listings to building an optimized website, this guide covers 7 tips that will boost your restaurant’s organic search performance.

By the end, you’ll have a game plan for overhauling your restaurant’s online presence to drive more traffic, generate more reservations and orders, and keep your tables (and registers) full.

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The Business Case for Restaurant SEO

Before we dive into the specific tactics, let’s look at why investing time and resources into SEO for your restaurant makes good business sense:

  • Organic search and referral traffic “are the largest and most effective sources of marketing ROI for brands,” according to Semrush. If people are looking for a new place to eat, a Google search is likely to be their starting point.
  • Customers are 70% more likely to visit and 50% more likely to consider purchasing from businesses with a complete Business Profile. So you want your restaurant to show up prominently in search results with a well-optimized, completed profile.

As those numbers show, having a strong online presence that ranks well in search is critical for standing out in today’s crowded restaurant marketplace. When diners are hungry and looking for a place to eat, you need to be visible and enticing when they search — otherwise, you’re leaving money on the table.

But the benefits of great restaurant SEO go beyond just discovery. The steps required to boost SEO also build trust with potential customers. Which restaurant are you more likely to choose — the one with minimal online presence and outdated info, or the one with an enticing website, accurate listings, and a steady stream of positive reviews?

By optimizing your online visibility, you present your restaurant as a credible, legitimate business that customers can trust to deliver a good experience. This puts you in a prime position to turn searchers into diners and diners into repeat customers.

7 Tips To Improve Your Restaurant SEO

1. Build an Optimized, Engaging Restaurant Website

Your website is the cornerstone of your restaurant’s online presence and SEO efforts. By building a professional, optimized website, you create an online home base for your restaurant that ranks well, converts visitors into diners, and communicates your brand efficiently.

You need to make sure your website effectively showcases your cuisine and dining experience. But more importantly, it needs to be fast and mobile-friendly: almost 60% of all web traffic comes through mobile phones (as of March 2024).

Other elements of a well-optimized, user-friendly restaurant website include:

  • High-quality photos that showcase your best dishes and ambiance
  • Clear contact info, hours of operation, and directions
  • Engaging descriptions of your menu items, specialties, and what makes you unique
  • Up-to-date menus so customers can see your latest dishes
  • Informative content that helps you get found for relevant searches
  • Integrations with online reservation services so customers can book online
  • Integrations with online ordering services to capture diners when they’re hungry

If your restaurant chain has multiple locations, set up individual landing pages for each location. This can help you rank better for local searches (like “pizza restaurant near me”) if each page is well-optimized for relevant search queries. We’ll cover this in more detail later.

2. Claim and Optimize Directory Listings

While your own website is important, you can’t overlook the power of third-party restaurant listing sites and directories. Diners continually use directory sites to find, research, and get directions to restaurants: 36% of consumers click through to company websites from directory listing sites several times a month.

To optimize your online presence, first, make sure you claim and fill out your restaurant’s listings on all the major sites, including:

  • Google Business Profile
  • Yelp
  • TripAdvisor
  • OpenTable
  • Zomato

For each listing, make sure to include your complete Name, Address, Phone number (NAP) and Website (NAPW). Keep this NAP and NAPW data consistent across every listing. Search engines look for conflicting NAP/NAPW info as a sign of poor data quality, so it’s important that every directory has the same accurate details.

Once your NAPW information is correct, you can further optimize your directory listings to increase your chances of showing up in diners’ search results. Include relevant information and keywords in your restaurant descriptions. This could include categories like “vegan-friendly,” “outdoor seating,” or your specific cuisine types. The more context you provide, the better matching you’ll see with relevant local searches.

3. Optimize Your Google Business Profile

According to ReviewTrackers, there are three main factors consumers look at to decide whether to visit a local business:

  • Photos
  • Google reviews
  • Position on search engine results page (SERP)

Given Google’s dominance in search, ensuring your restaurant shows up well in Google’s local results can significantly impact your ability to attract nearby diners. 81% of consumers use Google to find reviews of local businesses, making it the most popular choice (by far).

To give your restaurant the best chance of ranking well in search results, you need an optimized and up-to-date Google Business Profile (GBP). 

To make the most of your GBP listing, start by verifying ownership so you can manage how your restaurant’s information appears across Google products like Search and Maps. From there, make sure your business name, categories, contact information, hours, and other core details are complete and accurate.

Photos are another crucial element. Your GBP listing should have a healthy array of attractive photos showing your signature dishes, plating, dining areas, and more. Google even recommends updating photos monthly to keep things fresh.

Leverage Google Posts to promote your latest specials, events, menu changes, and other updates that can catch the eye of potential customers. And be sure to respond to any new reviews and questions promptly — this can improve your local ranking while building customer rapport.

You’ll also want to dig into the Attributes section and select all the applicable options for your restaurant, like cuisine types, amenities (WiFi, outdoor seating, etc.), and more. This provides useful context about your offerings for Google’s algorithm.

Finally, enable messaging through your GBP so customers can easily communicate with you for reservations, orders, and inquiries right from Google’s interface.

With a fully fleshed out and optimized Google Business Profile, your restaurant will be primed to show up prominently on Google when nearby diners are conducting local searches for places to eat.

4. Optimize With Relevant Keywords

Now that we’ve covered optimizing your website and third-party listings let’s talk about how to seamlessly integrate relevant keywords throughout to boost your visibility in search.

You’ll want to undertake some keyword research to identify the terms and phrases that your potential customers use when searching for restaurants like yours. Think about the cuisine types, neighborhoods, streets, delivery areas, and other descriptors that align with your business.

For example, an Italian restaurant in Downtown Seattle might want to target keywords like:

  • “italian restaurant downtown seattle”
  • “best pizza near me”
  • “romantic italian dining seattle”
  • “private event spaces downtown seattle”
  • “gluten-free italian food seattle”

The key is to sprinkle these priority keywords throughout your website and listing content in a natural way. Use them in your meta titles and descriptions, headers, body copy, image alt text, and more. But don’t overdo it to the point of keyword stuffing — Google is smart enough to recognize that.

Image source

On your Google Business Profile, in particular, using Location and Service keywords appropriately in your business title, services list, and other descriptive fields can really boost your local ranking.

You’ll also want to update your listings any time you add new services or offerings. If that Italian restaurant starts delivering pizza, for example, updating listings with “pizza delivery” can drive new visibility.

With some strategic thinking about the words and phrases diners use to find restaurants like yours online, you can optimize all your digital properties to capture that qualified search traffic and turn them into paying customers.

5. Create Localized Landing Pages

If you operate multiple restaurant locations, one of the most effective SEO tactics is to create localized landing pages for each individual site. These are pages on your website that serve as location-specific hubs that Google and customers can easily find when searching for restaurants in a certain city, neighborhood, or zip code.

A good local landing page for your downtown Seattle Italian restaurant, for example, might be The page should contain details like:

  • The address and getting there (directions, parking, etc.)
  • Opening hours (including service hours for breakfast, lunch, dinner if appropriate)
  • Contact details for this location (phone number, email address)
  • Special pricing, promotions, or menus just for that location
  • Professional photos showcasing the actual dining space in this location
  • Local highlights about the neighborhood/area
  • Local SEO optimized title tags, headers, image alt text, etc.
  • Links to social media accounts for this site

Having localized pages allows you to concentrate all the relevant details about each restaurant in one place, rather than burying it on your homepage or locations page. This provides a much better user experience for locals researching your spot.

From an SEO perspective, localized content helps reinforce your relevance and authority for searches in that geographic area. Be sure to weave in location keywords like neighborhood names, major landmarks, streets, zip codes, and more.

You can also pursue local link building opportunities by getting your single location pages listed on neighborhood guides, chambers of commerce websites, event calendars, and other local online resources.

If you use a platform like Chatmeter’s Local Pages, you can streamline creating, optimizing, and maintaining a localized web presence across all your locations. You can generate multiple local landing pages at once, helping you quickly establish your local search presence. 

Chatmeter also has API partnerships with leading search engines, maps, and online directories. This means that when you update your local pages, any changes are automatically pushed to your local listings rather than needing to update them manually.

6. Build Links With Other Local Businesses and Organizations

While optimizing your owned website and listings assets is important, another key component of a successful local SEO strategy for restaurants is building local links. 

From Google’s perspective, the more quality inbound links you have from other reputable local websites, the more authority and relevance your restaurant has in that geographic area. That means your site will likely show up more prominently in searches for “restaurant near me” and other local search terms. And from a consumer perspective, it provides another way for people to discover your restaurant.

There are a number of tactics you can employ to systematically build a portfolio of local links pointing to your website:

  • Sponsor local events and organizations. Look for opportunities to sponsor local events, sports teams, nonprofit organizations, and more. In exchange for your sponsorship, you can often get a link back to your website on the event or organization’s website.
  • Join local business associations. Become a member of your local chamber of commerce, restaurant association, visitor’s bureau, etc. These groups typically have a dedicated online directory of their members that includes a business description and website link.
  • Partner with complementary local businesses. Explore co-marketing opportunities with other non-competing local businesses like hotels, breweries, venues, etc. You can cross-promote each other by linking between your websites and running joint packages and special promotions.
  • Get listed on city and neighborhood guides. Most towns and cities have well-trafficked online visitor’s guides. These typically contain neighborhood guides, business listings, event calendars, and more. Get your restaurant listed on as many of these as possible to gather more links to your website.

While local link-building is an ongoing effort, earning these types of high-quality local links can significantly boost your restaurant’s online visibility in local search results. Just be sure your links come from reputable, trusted local sources for maximum impact. Don’t be tempted to buy links to your site, as these can actually harm your reputation and search engine rankings.

7. Create a Review Management Strategy

Online reviews have become incredibly influential in diners’ decision-making process when choosing a restaurant — restaurants live and die by their reputation.

63% of consumers would lose trust in a business if it had mostly negative reviews online. In other words, if your restaurant has a low overall rating and negative recent reviews plastered across sites like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and more, it’s going to make it extremely difficult to get new customers through the door.

On the flip side, actively managing your online reviews can provide a major SEO advantage. While the number of reviews and average rating don’t seem to have a direct impact on your search rankings, they can affect click-through rates from directory listings to your site. Frequently receiving positive reviews shows you’re an active business providing a great experience. This boosts the likelihood that people will see your listing on Google Maps, Yelp, or other directories and then make a reservation or visit your site.

So what does an effective restaurant review management strategy look like? It starts by monitoring all major review sources like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and Facebook for new reviews as they roll in.

Next, you need a process for responding promptly and thoughtfully to every new review — positive or negative. For positive reviews, a simple “thank you” can go a long way in reinforcing their experience. For negative reviews, aim to provide a professional, empathetic response that resolves the issue if possible. If you’re not sure how to respond, we’ve put together a list of customizable review responses your brand can use right now.

It’s also wise to have a system for actively soliciting new authentic reviews from your happy customers. For example, you could hand out cards when customers pay, with a QR code that links to your reviews page.

The more fresh, positive review content you can generate, the better your online reputation and local ranking potential becomes. Just don’t incentivize reviews in a way that violates Google’s policies.

Finally, provide exceptional service and an outstanding culinary experience — because genuine negative reviews happen when you give customers a reason to leave them. Look for common themes that come up in complaints or negative reviews, and focus on improving in those areas.

Additional Restaurant SEO Tactics for Multi-Location Businesses

All of the tips we’ve shared so far can help restaurants improve their SEO, whether you’re running a one-branch independent or national chain. But if your restaurant brand has multiple locations across different cities or markets, there are a few extra steps you’ll want to take to maximize your local SEO efforts:

  • Keep local listings up to date. You’re constantly changing opening hours, updating menus, and running special promotions, and any change needs to be accurately reflected across all your online listings. If your online listings still show outdated information (like old menus or incorrect opening hours), trust in your business will be eroded.
  • Automate directory updates. Manually updating all your listings across dozens or hundreds of locations is extremely time-consuming. Look for a listings management solution that allows you to make bulk updates and push changes across all your locations’ listings simultaneously at the click of a button.
  • Invest in local pages. As covered earlier, having location-specific pages on your website is critical for local SEO when you have multiple locations. This hyper-local approach allows you to optimize web content for the neighborhoods and cities around each restaurant. Make use of local landing page tools to streamline building these out.
  • Prioritize reviews at the location level. While your overall brand reputation matters, most diners focus on each location’s reviews when deciding where to eat locally. Have a process for soliciting and responding to reviews for each individual restaurant to maximize their local rankings and appeal.
  • Create location-specific social accounts. Rather than promoting all your locations through one main social media account, consider creating dedicated accounts for your highest-priority markets and locations. This “geo-localized” social presence helps you connect with and advertise to local audiences.
  • Use a website builder. Creating and maintaining individual websites for each location can be a major challenge and drain on resources. The solution is to use an advanced website builder or platform that allows you to efficiently create, manage, and update professional-grade websites for each of your locations. This ensures every restaurant has its own online presence for local SEO without having to develop and host hundreds of sites from scratch.

The unifying theme here is tailoring every component of your online presence — listings, website, content, reviews, social — to each local market rather than using a completely centralized national approach. It’s more work upfront, but provides significant local SEO dividends.

Start Serving Up Better Local SEO

From building an appealing local website to managing reviews to syndicating your listings across directories, executing on SEO best practices can pay dividends in increased website traffic, reservations, orders, and, ultimately, more revenue.

If you’re a solo restaurant operator or part of a smaller group, techniques like on-page optimization, directory listing management, and review generation may be enough to move the needle when executed consistently.

For multi-location restaurant brands, however, successfully scaling local SEO is extremely challenging without the right resources and technology solutions. Manually managing listings, reviews, local pages, and messaging across hundreds of different properties is simply unsustainable.

That’s where an all-in-one multi-location intelligence platform like Chatmeter can be a game-changing investment. Chatmeter’s tools and services make it effortless to manage your brand’s local search presence at scale with features like:

Want to see it in action? Check out Chatmeter’s interactive walkthrough to get a first-hand look at how the platform can supercharge your brand’s local search efforts and bring more diners through your doors.

Or, if you’re ready to take the next step, book a personalized consultation with a Chatmeter local SEO specialist to get started. With their tools and expertise powering your local search marketing, you’ll be able to spend more time perfecting your culinary craft and delighting diners.