SEO is Always on the Menu

This week’s blog comes from Jeremy Spinks, Vice-President of Online Design at FRLA member BowStern Marketing Communications. BowStern is a fully-integrated marketing firm headquartered in Tallahassee and specializing in innovative, memorable, and results-driven campaigns for clients across the globe.


Search Engine Optimization is a competitive and ever-changing landscape. Any article claiming to know the secrets can be out of date before it goes to print. There are, however, some SEO trends restaurants can’t ignore and some advice that seems increasingly evergreen.

Voice Search

One SEO trend for everyone, including restaurants, that’s becoming a de facto norm is voice search.  Voice search brings with it some new challenges. For example, a voice search tends to use different language than a typed search: we tend to construct proper sentences for Alexa and Siri instead of the two or three keywords we type in a browser. Fortunately, the things you can do to optimize for voice search are also the things you should be doing anyway.

Which restaurants are near me?

Searches for food and voice searches have some things in common: they are often localized, immediate and mobile-based. It is imperative that your restaurant have both a Google My Business listing and a fast, mobile-optimized website. Page speed has been a factor in search rankings for some time but indications are it is even more important for voice searches. A quicker, secure (HTTPS) more mobile-centric website will rank higher in any situation.

Mark it up.

No, I don’t mean raise your prices. I mean use the restaurant-specific markup from Schema.org. What’s that? It’s a way to indicate to search engines which pieces of standardized content they are reading. For example: hasMenu lets you specify if you publish a menu, and if so, whether it is a document or text. (Please don’t make potential clients zoom in to a photo of your menu that you took with your phone.) It even lets you specify whether you have different menus for lunch or dinner. Other examples include opening hours, payments accepted, address and which languages are spoken. All of these could help differentiate your listing in a voice search for a ‘local eatery that is open now, serving lunch’. When the user gets served the right menu for the time of day, your conversion chances will rise.

Curate Your Reputation

There is also schema mark up for customer reviews which, when implemented, can result in star ratings showing under your search listing. Imagine a search for ‘5-star restaurant near me.’’ If your site includes properly-marked review content, you’ll be in the running.

Of course, in all these searches, you’ll be competing with services such as Yelp!, which is why reputation management is a critical part of SEO. You need to be monitoring those reviews. Intervene with the negative ones, and foster the positive ones. Consider a service such as Yext for monitoring directories and external reviews. Manage them correctly and you can let Yelp! do the SEO work for you.

Looking for more content like this? Check out the latest issue of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging magazine here.