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5 vital things to know about local SEO for bars and restaurants

Local SEO is an optimization for the search in a specific region – a country, a city, a district, etc. It gets crucial when people are looking for the services they need right where they are. For example, if I google ‘barbershop’, I’m expecting to see the links to the barbershops that are geographically close to me, not just some random barbershop someplace in Slovenia especially since I live let’s say in France. Google is very smart nowadays in collecting data about users such as their location and search preferences so it adjusts the results according to it.

So local SEO is critical especially for the brick and mortar businesses that want to be visible online. It’s precisely what you need if you own a bar or a restaurant and want people to find you on Google.

If you don’t have or have a very little of online visibility you can start optimizing your website by following our detailed guide on general SEO settings that we’ve collected in our Marketing Plan. The plan has been developed to help you get things going for promoting your place in the local search. 

1. Collect core keywords adding the location markers

Let’s say you had no online presence whatsoever and now you’ve created one. After the basic setup that includes a whole range of procedures from choosing hosting to integrating web analytics tools, you need to collect core keywords for your site. Since we are focusing on local SEO your goal here is to select and integrate keywords with location pointers.

  1. First of all, you need to define a head term that represents your bar or restaurant. To do so, specify the type of your place: i.e whether you have a sports bar or an Italian restaurant. This would be your head term. For example, Indian restaurant.
  2. Then you should look up for the similar keywords and long-tail keywords that people use to find an Indian restaurant. For this you can use SE Ranking  – just open a Keyword Research tool, enter your head term and open the Similar Keywords tab:
    keyword-research
  1. These keywords make the baseline for your semantic core. Refer to this list every time you are adding a new set of keywords and cross out the queries that don’t relate to your business.
  2. Then add location identifiers: the city name, the borough, the district, etc.
  3. Don’t forget to add location markers such as nearby, near me, near.

Some ideas for gathering keywords for a bar or a restaurant:

  • breakfast/lunch/dinner/drinks + near me/nearby OR a city name
  • your type of cuisine + near me/nearby OR a city name
  • this particular dish + near me/nearby OR a city name
  • your restaurant’s name” + near me/nearby OR a city name – especially if you belong to a chain or a franchise.

Besides, it’s always a good idea to check what keywords your competitors are using to get to the Top of Google. For this, open a tool Competitor SEO/PPC Research, enter a domain you want to examine and get a full picture of its site’s semantic: keywords both in organic and paid search:
ompetitors-keywords

Bottom line: make sure that while completing the list of keywords for your site, you’ve included the queries with location pointers.

2. Make your site visible in Google Maps

When we search for the local services, we usually get the SERP that includes a Local Pack. It contains the map displaying places that match our query. Plus, Google local pack includes a list of up to four companies with their basic info (a customer rate, an address, a telephone number, and a link to the site).

Users might skip the search results and move to the map right away, so it’s crucial to get your bar or restaurant shown there. How to get to the local pack?

The first thing you need to do is to register your place in Google My Business. Step by step you’ll be asked to provide information about your business:

– the name;

– the exact address, phone number, business hours;

– the type of your business. Here you’ll need to choose a category your business belongs to. It’s highly advisable to choose only one;

– after that, you’ll need to verify the information you’ve provided.
google-my-business-verification

Double check your NAP data (Name, Address, & Phone number). Make sure that the NAPs you’ve provided in your My Business account and the data you’ve pointed out on your website are the same.

I mean, exactly the same. It may look similar to you and in the way they are, but for Google, these addresses represent two different addresses:

228 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, California, 94301

228 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto, CA, 94301

Important! Early this year, Google made it possible for restaurants and bars to create and edit the menus in their Google My Business listings. It allows users to see what you have to offer right in the Google mobile search results.

The next significant thing to care about is customer’s reviews.

3. Add profiles of your place to the review platforms and business listings

Having your business profile on the review platforms kills two birds with one stone.

First of all, there is nothing more convincing for a person who’s choosing a restaurant nearby than excellent reviews. The review rate is displayed on Google Maps and as one of the SERP features. So people can see how popular the restaurant is right on the first result page.

local-search-reviews

You should read all the feedbacks, answer the questions and work on turning negative reviews into the positive ones. There are multiple options for doing it. However, there are two basic rules. The first rule is to ask people for details: what exactly they didn’t like (food, drinks, prices, atmosphere, service, etc). The second rule is to always (!) respond politely and not to shift responsibility. It’s never a bad idea to offer a drink/a meal on the house to make up for a prior bad experience. A good reputation is worth fighting for.

The second advantage of having profiles in business listings and review services is about building links. Backlinks matter even in local SEO, but your links should meet certain requirements:

  1. Links from review aggregators may also enhance your backlinks profile. A bar or a restaurant should definitely be presented on the following platforms:
  2. You should acquire links from local and thematically close websites (e.g., gastro- or travelling-blogs).
  3. Your backlinks profile should look natural: no links from link-spamming sources. It is also important to have a reasonable proportion of dofollow/nofollow links. Inbound links with dofollow attributes are the ones that get indexed and counted by search engines. Nofollow links, on the contrary, don’t have this much value. However, services that publish outbound links rarely insert them as dofollow links. All the links coming from forums, blog comments, social media, etc. are usually the nofollow links. So a credible backlink profile includes at least 20% of nofollow links. Otherwise, it looks suspicious.
  4. Tripadvisor
  5. Yelp
  6. Foursquare
  7. Google Maps (and Google +)

Social media (foremost Facebook and Instagram)
Here you’ll find a complete list of business listings popular in every country.
Remember that your first source of ideas in this matter is your competitors. Backlinks explorer tool allows to analyse backlinks of any website you need. Thus, you can see how many backlinks you should approximately get, on which website do they have their links, and all you need to know to build your own successful backlink profile:
competitors-backlinks
Bottom line: profiles on review platforms and in business listings help attract targeted traffic while enhancing your backlink profile.
However, you won’t be able to gather positive reviews without providing first-class services. So remember that all your marketing and SEO endeavours will be in vain if you don’t put enough efforts into building truly outstanding experience for your customers.

4. Make your website mobile-friendly

People search for bars and restaurants mostly via mobiles, so it’s needless to say how important it is for your site to have a fast and fully functional mobile website version.

There are three basic options to make your site mobile-friendly:
1. Responsive design. It’s when mobile version is basically the same site with the same URL and content but adapted for mobile users. It’s fairly simple to develop but usually is slow and not that convenient for users as a separate mobile website or an app.
2. Mobile website refers to another website that is developed specifically for smartphone and laptop users. In terms of UX it’s much better, but requires twice as much efforts as one site. Besides, it has different URL, so SEO can also be harmed.
3. The last option is a mobile app. Needless to say that it’s the most difficult to develop but users’ favourite.
What way to choose depends on the functionality of your site. If your site is mostly like a business card aimed at giving the users some simple information such as contacts, menu, events, etc. – then a responsive design can be enough. In case you want users to make orders online or book a table, or do anything that needs prepayment – then you cannot go without developing a mobile site or an app. Either way, you won’t be able to avoid this task if you don’t want to lose more than half of your traffic. Besides, Google continues to propel mobile-first indexing.
Another thing to mind is the page speed. It’s crucial for UX and search engine ratings.  So consider a possibility to implement an AMP technology. It allows to replace “heavy” HTML tags with proper AMP tags and to cache some of the page’s data on Google servers which helps load the page even if the Internet connection is bad.
Once you have a mobile-friendly site, start monitoring your rankings. It’s crucial to monitor search rankings of your site on the mobile SERP since it differs dramatically from the desktop results.
Our Rank Tracker monitors both Google desktop and mobile search results. You just need to adjust the setting:
mobile-rank-tracking
Bottomline: mobile optimization is vital for pleasing both the customers and search engines.

5. Use markups to structure the information about your website on SERP

The main information we need to know about a bar or a restaurant could be found right on the first page of search results. Not only in the local pack but also in knowledge graphs for a brand query:
ocal-knowledge-graph-bar
Sometimes customers can view a menu of a bar right on the first SERP:

bar-restaurant-menu-on-serp

To get your data structured like that you can use Schema.org. It is a semantic vocabulary or putting it simply – it’s a piece of a code that you can add to the page and let search engines understand the content of this page better. Google uses it to display the info about the business in SERP (local packs, rich snippets, knowledge cards, and graphs, etc.) Follow this link to find the Schema.org tags to use for structuring the information about restaurants.

Before using a markup however you should check all your titles and meta-tags – they will be displayed in search in the first place. But this is the fundamentals of SEO that you can read about in our Marketing plan that I’ve mentioned above.

Wrapping up

If you are lucky enough to own a bar or a restaurant, here are five things you should focus on while preparing it for a local SEO run.  

  1. Remember about location markers while compiling a keywords list for your site.
  2. Create a profile of your place in Google My Business and apply for showing up in Google Maps.
  3. Create profiles of your bar/restaurant in various review services and stimulate your customers to leave there their positive feedbacks.
  4. Make mobile optimization your priority.
  5. Use Schema.org so your snippets look informative and down to the point in the search.Taking for granted the food, drinks and service in your bar or restaurant are simply delicious – local SEO is just a way for more people to discover all the goodness you have to offer. Happy SEO and may your customers be always delighted with you!

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