SEO for Restaurants

Crafting SEO for restaurants doesn’t have to be a confusing process. Once you understand how to find and use the right keywords, you are on the path to success. Here is how to pick the right keywords to boost your SEO ranking.

Search Engine Optimization for Restaurants

seo for restaurants

Keyword research plays a vital role in SEO. Your keyword research will involve making a list of phrases that describe what your restaurant does.

You can use this list to produce a significant amount of website traffic if you’ve picked the right keywords. This will get your restaurant SEO off to a good start. Keyword research is basically just modern market research.

Your keyword research should kick off any serious marketing initiative that you undertake. Additionally, keyword research is important for pay-per-click campaigns, content marketing efforts and on-page SEO.

So let’s get started.

Step 1: Testing

Terms that are too general within the restaurant niche can be hard to rank for; this could include phrases like ‘Italian Restuarant.’ Italian restaurant could include both small artisanal local restaurants and Olive Garden. This is why choosing more target keywords is important.

You should begin your keyword research by finding an initial cornerstone keyword. Once you’ve found it, then you can create a bigger list using it.

You need to verify that your cornerstone keyword will work for you by doing research. This will need to be done over and over again in order to check its usefulness and create a full list.

Start with a phrase that your clients typically use to find you. Take that keyword and do an initial test. To start, you want to check the existing traffic volume for this term.

SEE ALSO: The Complete Guide to Keyword Research

Keyword Planner

There are several tools you can use to do this. Some are free and others are not. Google Adwords has a great utility called the Keyword Planner that will assess lists of keywords for their viability in PPC campaigns. This works particularly well if you’re using google ads.


Another tool is SEMRush which contains an array of paid research and analysis. SEMRush is useful for organic and paid SEO. On this site, all you need to do is type in your keyword phrase into the search bar at the top of the page.

Immediately, you’ll get results which will tell you how much search volume the term receives and suggestions with related words. If the terms they suggest are relevant and valuable to your restaurant, then add them to your list.

Focus On Niche Targeting

SEO for restaurants will involve a lot of niche targeting. This means that your foundation keyword might not get a lot of hits in a month. 70 hits or so in a month will be enough to generate a profit.

However, choose a broader keyword string has its pitfalls. It will likely be too competitive for organic SEO and too expensive for pay-per-click.

Step 2: Make a Spreadsheet

If your research confirms that your foundation keyword will work and suggests other keywords, then this is the time to start a spreadsheet to compile a master list.

Google Sheets is a great option to create keyword research templates that can be structured into ongoing campaigns.

Your spreadsheet should include:

  • Your keywords
  • Their volume
  • Competition
  • Specialty

You can also add any notes you might have on them here.

Step 3: Go Back to Google

Your foundation keyword will work out great, so now you go to Google to mine more keywords. Head back to Google and type in your cornerstone keyword, then scroll down the page and look beyond the organic results. Down at the bottom of the page, Google will show a list of alternate keywords.

These keywords are search strings other people have used when looking for your keyword. These keywords can be added to the list you created on your spreadsheet, and you can test their traffic volumes.

SEE ALSO: The Complete Guide to Keyword Research

Step 4: Find Synonyms

Your list will just continue growing at this point, but you should continue to search for variants. In your search, you will probably find alternative keywords that will create traffic.

When looking for variants, you can start by looking for synonyms for your keyword phrases. is a great place to look at. When you develop your SEO for restaurants you’ll already have a couple of words right away: restaurant and dinner!

If you’re using a generic phrase like ‘choosing a restaurant’, then you might want to use synonyms for ‘choosing.’ The other keywords you pick will also have opportunities for synonym research.

Step 5: Conduct Competitive Research

digital marketing

There are many useful tools you can turn to when crafting SEO for restaurants. The typical keyword tool of choice is the keyword explorer from Moz. Others are offered by SEMrush and Ahrefs.

Your goal will be to snoop around for keyword ideas from your competitors. Take your cornerstone keyword and paste it into the Google search field.

Then, choose one of the paid results from PPC and copy the URL for the landing page. You can then paste the URL into the Keyword Explorer main input field.

By doing this, you’ll end up with a list of keywords found on your competitor’s site. These are the keywords that will rank them organically in the search list.

These might also be keywords that they will target for in AdWords. You can search through these keywords and find ones that are relevant to you to add to your spreadsheet.

Research the Right Way

If you are already using AdWords, then you will have access to Keyword Planner. If that is the case, then you can skip this step.

Your goal is still to find keyword ideas from your competitors. To do this, head over to Google search and type in your cornerstone keyword. When the results appear, you can look for any of your competitor’s paid listings.

If there is one, then copy the URL of their landing page and it to Keyword Planner. Then choose the option to search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category and past the landing page URL in.

The Importance of Analysis


After you’ve done this, you can analyze their entire website. Then Google will suggest some keywords for you, which is what this site is currently ranking for in organic search.

The list that you get will include keywords that are useless and unrelated to your restaurant. You don’t have to keep them. However, it will also include keywords that you can steal.

These keywords will give you a good idea of what your competitors are targeting. Figuring out what they’re targeting will also give you more ideas for keywords.

SEE ALSO: 5 Ways Seo Can Help Boost Brand Awareness

Step 6: Stream Your List

At this point, you will have a large list of keywords that may contain duplicates. You will want to comb through your spreadsheet and take another look at these keywords.

First, you’ll want to get rid of any duplicates. Some spreadsheets may even have a ‘remove duplicates’ feature which will speed up the process. Then you can group keywords based on how similar they are.

Once you’ve done this, your list will be complete. You’ve found all the keywords you want to use, and you’re ready to check them out a final time.

Giving them a final test will help you determine how much traffic volume those words get. You can do this using either Keyword Planner or Moz’s Keyword Explorer.

Step 7: Finishing Your List

Now that your spreadsheet is ready, you can take it back to Keyword Planner. Choose the second option ‘get search volume and trends’ when you upload your entire list.

When you click ‘get search volume’ you will get analysis from Google on your list. Google will also tell you what a typical PPC bid is for any of your keywords.

Keyword Planner is a PPC tool, so the analysis it gives is intended to be for paid search, not organic search. The paid keyword analysis tools will also give ‘quality ratings’ which are useful to know when creating effective SEO for restaurants.

When Google does its analysis you can decide to cut out the low traffic keywords. Low traffic keywords won’t give you enough traffic to be worthwhile to use. You want to zero in on keywords with significant volume and competitiveness. You can find these by their average cost-per-click numbers from the Keyword Planner.

Final Thoughts

Having a web presence is essential in this day and age for any business. Restaurants are no different and this is why SEO for restaurants is so essential. If you’re unsearchable, you basically do not exist in the digital sphere. This is bad for business because your potential clients won’t be able to find you.

By figuring out all the right keywords for your restaurant, you’re much closer to being boosted onto the first page of search results. Plus, being on the first page means that more people will learn about your restaurant and be more likely to become happy customers.

What keywords do you type in when searching for a new restaurant to visit? 

Written by
Juntae DeLane

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