How to optimize for organic search results

As I go through this post, please keep in mind. I am not recommending you not to do SEO for your restaurant, just that you should not invest the time, energy and budget into trying to get your website to rank in Google and the other search engines.

Here is why and what type of SEO you should focus on.

Restaurants have a specific designation in the search engine algorithms and it is all about intent. Most people, when searching for a BBQ restaurant, are usually looking for nearby locations and seeking basic information such as reviews, hours that the establishments are open, address, etc. Because of this, Google has found the local listings to be more useful and informative for people conducting these searches.

Since Google has an entire database dedicated to map listings and has verified this information, it is almost always at the top of the results results. That is, of course, if no ads are being served. If Ads are being shown, then organic website results are being pushed even further down the page.

boston bbq local listings

Once we scroll past the local listings (and any ads if they appear), we reach the first organic results. These are the websites themselves. For the most part you usually find publication websites like online magazines and local news websites that have formulated lists of different types of restaurants. There are a few reasons for this.

  1. Since the person conducting the search has not put in the specific name of a restaurant, then the intent is likely to find one from a selection. Since these publications have often times done research on these establishments, Google sees them as a relevant resource to provide as a result.
  2. These websites usually have a lot of authority and because of this, their pages on topics like Best BBQ Restaurants usually have a lot of ability to rank high.
  3. Websites like Trip Advisor and Yelp! are seen as directories and/or aggregators which fit the intent of someone looking for choice and selection.
kansas city bbq organic search results

So if you want to market your business by doing SEO for your BBQ restaurant, your time and effort would be better spent focusing on the entities that do rank for these terms. Google My Business is a strong tool that is absolutely free. Most restaurants have them, but few focus on them once they have set them up. There is a lot that can be accomplished by updating the information on a regular basis.

Set up a strategy for attracting reviews. Upload photos and videos and encourage happy customers to do the same. Reply to comments. There is a lot more that people can do with their profile than most business owners realize. And these tactics are part of how Google chooses which profiles should appear higher in the results.

As for those publications, get listed in them. Let them do the SEO work for you. By appearing in a Best Of list, your restaurant can rank very high in the results on their pages. If a local food blogger has overlooked your establishment, do a little outreach and ask them about this. If Yelp is ranking high in your area, make sure your business listing is fully filled out and encourage patrons to leave reviews.

None of this is to say you shouldn’t pay attention to your website. Ranking for your company name is important. What I am trying to get across is that you should spend marketing dollars where it matters and as big a fan as I am of SEO, it should not be your highest priority to get your barbecue restaurant website to rank number one when there are so many other strategies to focus on.

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