You want people looking for your restaurant online to be able to find you. Simple, right? But with more competition than ever before to top search engine results, you need to be smart about your web presence.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is key to ensuring your website is front and center when a potential guest types in your restaurant’s name. For tips, we asked our own SEO team at OpenTable how restaurants can optimize their own websites, give people the information they need, and bring in new guests. Here are seven ways to win the game.
1. Make your website mobile friendly. 50 percent of all OpenTable restaurant reservations are made on mobile, which means you may be missing out if your mobile experience is sub-par. Plus, back in the spring Google announced an update to its search algorithm…include info here. Search is competitive on mobile devices, since you have to scroll to see results and people stop paying attention. Prioritizing the mobile experience is a must for reaching diners. We recommend that you use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool and fix any mobile formatting issues.
2. Design your site so search engines can crawl it. Certain approaches to web design are difficult for Google to pick up — websites where all the content is in flash, for example, or where important text content is within an image or an iframe. Remember to never list your menu items inside a graphic or image – Google just sees the image, not what’s inside it. We give restaurants on our network access to SinglePlatform so they can easily update and showcase their latest menus on an SEO-friendly platform.
3. Include “index,follow” in your code. If for some reason a developer does not want a site to be indexed by Google, he or she can spell that out in the code. Every now and then mistakes are made in coding and sites are not being indexed because they aren’t tagged correctly. Make sure “index,follow” is in your code – any developer who builds your site should know to include it, but it’s worth double checking.
4. Add the OpenTable booking widget to your home page… According to our data, restaurants that have the widget on the home page have twice the number of bookings than those that don’t. Ideally, place it on the home page above the fold where people can see it immediately. Otherwise, people may get confused while navigating the site and drop off before they find it.
5….And again on a separate page. In addition to the home page, it helps to build another dedicated “Reservations” page. Having a “Reservations” link in the top navigation of a restaurant’s website is good for an extra 20 percent lift in bookings, because it generates organic sitelinks. Sitelinks are the additional links that may appear below your primary SEO result when diners search for your restaurant’s name.
6. Publish your menu on your site. Searches for menus are a close second to searches for reservations, in terms of popularity. Have a “Menu” page on your site will also generate organic sitelinks. Make sure the menu can be crawled by Google; plain HTML code is easiest for search engines to read. Plus, it’s an easier and better user experience for guests.
7. Share photos of your food and space. Besides inspiring people to come in and dine, large, high-quality images can also help your SEO. Name your files with keywords relating to your restaurant (i.e., “chez-panisse.jpg”) for best results and include descriptive alt tags ( “chez panisse restaurant berkeley”).