Did you know restaurants are the most searched industry on mobile? Ninety-two percent of people surveyed have searched for restaurants using an app or a web browser. I decided to write this post specifically for restaurant owners/marketers in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. If that’s you, and if you’re looking to attract people to your eatery from online searches, read on.

This article will tell you the basic steps to optimize your restaurant’s online presence, so people can find you during local/mobile searches. Getting found may not be enough, because your goal is not just to get found online, but to get people to book tables and eat at your restaurant. Therefore, I’ll also suggest some tips for making more people to click on your search results and book tables or just walk in.

Things You Must Have On Your Restaurant Website

  • For the millionth time, please go mobile. Your website must be adaptive for the devices your customers most commonly use (you can find the device info in the traffic sources section in your Google Analytics).
  • Use professional interior and food photography to bring out the key aspects of your restaurant and cuisine. Remember that people can’t taste or smell your food online. Photos are the only thing they have for deciding if they want to come to you or go to another restaurant down the block.
  • Your address is the first thing people need to know before they can decide to dine with you. Make it visible at the top of your homepage. If possible, repeat it in the footer section on all the pages. You should also have it on the contact page. Oh, and do have a Google map on your site showing the location of your restaurant.
  • Make sure that your NAP (name, address, phone number) on your website is the same as your Google My Business, other local listings, social media pages, etc.
  • You should also prominently display a button or form to make reservations or book a table. This should be visible on every page of your website.
  • Have a separate Menu page (not a PDF, but a proper page) on your website. A PDF offers a poor mobile user experience because it’s not adaptive. People won’t come to you if they can’t even read what you serve.
  • Have a reviews page where you can publish the glowing reviews from your customers. The benefit of having control over your reviews is that you can screen bad reviews and address the reviewer’s complaint, in an attempt to get them to change their review. Marking your reviews with Schema (our next point) can also make them appear during Google searches.

Use Schema Markup to Optimize SERP Appearance

Schema is a snippet of code that you can use to highlight different sections of the text on your website for the search spiders. For example, you can use Schema to mark your address, reviews, reservations, work hours, and food style. This would make these sections appear in your local listing during Google searches. As a result, more people are likely to click on your result.

Schema mark-up restaurants

Schema markup is available for different business categories. You can use the relevant code from Restaurant or Coffee Shop Schema depending upon the nature of your establishment.

Google my Business v2Claim and Complete Your Google My Business Details

Much of the info in Google’s Local search results now comes from Google My Business. If you have a Google+ Local business page, you can search for your business name and address to claim your Google My Business Page. Fill in all the details, including a short description, address, business hours, and phone number. Make sure you list a local phone number and not a toll free number. This information will show up in your Local search results along with the customer reviews and 5-star ratings. Another benefit of claiming your Google My Business page is that your search results will be prominently displayed on the right side of the search engine results page (SERP) whenever someone searches for your restaurant by name.

Optimize for “Best” and “Cheapest” Restaurant Searches

People usually use the words “best” or “cheapest” with their search terms when looking up restaurants online. That’s why Google now uses reviews to determine which restaurants should be visible for searches containing these words. Hence, only 4-star or above rated restaurants are being shown for the term “best,” and only the restaurants with a single $ sign are being shown when someone looks up “cheapest restaurants.” Although this search update is still not fully applied to searches in Ottawa or rest of Canada, you should take measures to rank for these keywords. You should encourage customers to review your restaurant on your website and other citation places, because it’s your reviews that help Google determine whether your restaurant is “best” or not.

Build and Monitor Your Citation Profile

If you search for “restaurants in Ottawa,” you’ll notice that just below the Local “3-pack” search results, there are numerous more results from Trip Advisor, Zomato, Yelp, and Lonely Planet. Many of your customers will click on these results and compare the listed restaurants based on their ratings and reviews. That’s why it’s essential to build your citation profile on these platforms, so that people may find and review your business there. Restaurants in Ottawa should also list themselves on OttawaFood.com and YellowPages.ca in addition to the platforms I just mentioned. Facebook is also quite useful for building your review profile and driving customers to your restaurant.

Taking the above steps will set up your restaurant for receiving customers from online searches. Make sure you serve people delectable food and serve it well, because now anyone can review your restaurant on any of the citation sites. Keep an eye on your reviews. Although you may not be able to prevent people from posting negative reviews, you should respond to any such reviews and see if you can get the reviewer to change their mind.