Your restaurant website needs search engine optimization (SEO) to stand out and be easily found online by local customers.


Every restaurant owner loves to welcome new people to their establishment, but getting new customers through the front door can be challenging. The restaurant industry is highly competitive, and you aren’t just competing to provide the best food or service.

There are more than 97,000 restaurants, bars and caterers in Canada. How can you make sure yours stands out to customers when they look for restaurants online? You’ll need a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to ensure local customers can find your restaurant when searching online.

Let’s explore tools and tactics to help you show up in local searches more often to attract potential customers to your website and through your front door.

Why SEO is important for restaurants?

No matter how delightful a dining experience you offer, you’ll still need a strategy to attract people online. Ninety per cent of people research a restaurant before dining, more than any other type of business.

Optimization ensures your website will appear in search results when people type relevant terms into search engines looking for restaurant options nearby.

SEO is critical for restaurant marketers because it is a way to drive more organic traffic to your site. Every customer who visits your website can view your menu, see photos of your food and potentially choose your establishment over another.

Benefits of SEO include:

  • Raising your visibility in online search results.
  • Attracting more website traffic.
  • Welcoming more customers through your doors.
  • Increasing reservations and takeout/delivery orders.
  • Boosting customer loyalty and engagement.
  • Helping you grow and nurture your customer base over time.

What is local SEO for restaurants?

Local SEO takes search engine optimization one step further by optimizing your website to show up in local results when potential customers search for dining options in their immediate area. For example, you can make sure your restaurant shows up in the local listings with markers on the map included in the search results.

These local listings include the name of your restaurant as well as some information about your establishment, such as:

  • Ratings and reviews
  • Hours of operation
  • Services provided
  • How expensive people may find it (represented by dollar signs)

It’s easy to see why these local listings are so powerful, as they allow you to show up in an impactful way with key information people use to make dining decisions.

How do I optimize my restaurant website?

You likely already have a website for your restaurant. Optimizing it means looking at the information and the experience customers have when they visit the site. You can also employ a few other tactics to help make your site appealing to search engines and potential customers.

Website basics

Tackling SEO always starts with taking a good look at your website. If you’re going to invite more people to see it, it should be updated and ready to make a memorable first impression. Remember, you’ll need a responsive or mobile-friendly design that customers can view from any device.

How to get your website ready for visitors:

  • Ensure all details are accurate on every page, including the hours, services and address.
  • Place location and contact information on every page.
  • Add PDF versions of your menus that can be saved or printed.
  • Include appealing and well-lit photos of the food, restaurant interior and your team.
  • If you have them, add glowing customer testimonials throughout the website.
  • Include information about how to make reservations and whether they are required.
  • Test every online function, such as ordering, making a reservation and contacting you.
  • Check that people can view your site easily from any device.

Be searchable with a solid keyword strategy

Any SEO strategy will include a plan for keywords or terms people type when they search to find options that meet their needs. Keywords are the foundation for any SEO strategy, as they are directly related to how people find you online.

Remember that keywords don’t need to be a single word. It may be more effective to use a combination of terms. For example, you may not be able to compete with every restaurant that wants to attract customers looking for “hamburgers.” However, you could undoubtedly attract people looking for hamburgers in your city or, better yet, in your business district or neighbourhood.

Once you decide on some potential keywords, use a keyword tool to help you decide which will be most effective.

Use Google Business Profiles

A complete Google Business Profile boosts your online presence because it offers detailed information about your place of business, along with ratings by customers.

Take these steps to create a robust online presence:

  • Complete and update a Google My Business profile.
  • Add photos that show off beautifully plated food and a well-lit restaurant interior.
  • Provide all relevant details visitors would need to decide to dine with you.
  • Be sure to include the keywords you have selected in your descriptions.

Employ on-page SEO tactics

Your next task is to add elements that help search engines identify what you offer and who should see your website. On-page SEO includes how your website functions, what people see and read when they visit, and a few things they may not notice behind the scenes.

These additional elements include title tags, meta tags, meta descriptions and alt tags that label the images on your website. These extra steps help flag your site as relevant, increasing the chances Google will show it to customers.

Expand your appeal with content marketing

Adding more written content to your website lets you use your target keywords in relevant ways. Try adding a blog to your website and create a schedule to add posts. You can publish posts that share updates from the restaurant, food and beverage pairings, team information and other exciting news. Creating a content strategy is the first step to developing engaging content, we even have a content planning template to help plan and organize your content all in one place.

Explore off-page SEO tactics

Other ways you can help people find your restaurant website are known as off-page SEO. Every inbound link on another site that guides people to your website helps, especially if it’s on a relevant or influential website.

Here are a few ideas to make off-page SEO work for you:

  • Create profiles on review sites, and ensure they are complete with accurate information and relevant keywords.
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews.
  • Respond to positive and negative reviews.
  • Add your restaurant to directories and other online resources where people may look you up when researching.
  • Create social media accounts if you don’t have them and use them to share relevant content and images. Include keywords and other appealing search terms in captions and hashtags.

Consumers rely on the information they find online when they make decisions. With the right strategy, you can attract these visitors and convert them into loyal customers. It can be a lot to manage in addition to running a busy restaurant, but it is vital to attracting new customers.