It’s date night and we’re driving around in an unfamiliar area trying to find a place to eat. I pull out my phone and start searching for “restaurants near me”

Supporting local businesses is something we like to do, so we are trying to find good, local restaurants. We aren’t sure the type of food we are in the mood for, so we look at restaurant reviews, their menus, and look to see how close they are to our current location.

We find a restaurant that looks promising but we click to their website only to find it’s not mobile-friendly.

Several seconds are spent squinting our eyes and pinching the screen trying to find the menu. This was a frustrating experience, so we clicked back to the search engine result page.

We found another restaurant but they don’t even have a website and their menu is listed on Yelp by a user taking a photo. The photo of the menu was taken years ago, so we weren’t even sure that the menu was accurate, so we left and tried another option.

Finally, we found a website that was mobile friendly. Additionally, there were great reviews on Yelp and Google, so we ultimately chose that restaurant.

What’s the lesson here? The first two restaurants lost our business all because we couldn’t find what we were looking for!

If you own a restaurant, how is your online presence? Do you know if you’re losing out on important website traffic that could have turned into customers? Here are some online marketing tips for local restaurant owners:

1. Having a website isn’t enough

Your position on search engine result pages (SERPs) could drastically drop if you don’t meet Google’s mobile-friendly specifications. Studies have also come out to illustrate the importance of mobile-friendly websites for restaurants:

A recent study shows that when users encounter sites that weren’t designed with mobile devices in mind, 48% reported feeling frustrated and annoyed when visiting websites. -Via Restaurant Engine

In many industries, mobile usage is surpassing desktop usage from users. Thus, it’s important to adopt user behavior changes as we evolve to becoming a more digital world. Having a responsive website allows you to have one website that morphs to the screen of any device. This means a potential customer can have a good user experience on desktop, tablet or mobile phone.

Essentially, if you’re not mobile-friendly, this means a lot of lost business.

2. Your biggest advocates are mobile users and social media users

Social media is how your customers are having conversations about your business. Social media platforms and review sites like Yelp, Google My Business, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are where people are looking to decide if they want to try your restaurant out.

People are looking to others’ experiences they had at your establishment. If you haven’t already, at least get yourself on local review sites like Yelp, Google My Business, Trip Advisor, and OpenTable (if you like to take reservations).

Because the restaurant industry is very visual (people like to see pictures of food!), it’s best to be on visual sites like Facebook, and Instagram.

How often do you see customers taking photos of their food? They are likely sharing the fond memory of the food to a friend or sharing on social media platforms.

Using social media effectively does take time and energy, but the local restaurants that use social media platforms effectively are bringing in a lot more revenue.

They post food entrees, list specials, and offer coupons etc. Many times, they let their customers do some of the marketing for them by posting photos they took of their food!

3. Optimizing your website

It’s important to optimize your website, not only for the user with usability features, but also from a search engine perspective. Some people will find your by you direct company name, and some people will search for specific food items and find you locally that way. Remember, Google can’t crawl images, so if your website is mostly images, that won’t help you with search engine optimization (SEO).

This is why it’s crucial to have text (HTML) that search engines can crawl to understand what your website is about. You can and should optimize your images to help search engines understand what your images are, but that is also a little more technical for this post. If you have a website with a lot of images and they aren’t optimized, please reach out to use and we can help you.

Adding in a free Google Analytics code snippet to your website can help you market yourself better. You can understand how users found your website and how they use your website. Adding analytics to your website is always a top-priority recommendation if you do not already have it. Plus, it’s free!

4. Restaurant website musts for SEO

Your website doesn’t need to be intricate. Simple is usually best for the restaurant industry. Here are some items that your mobile-friendly website absolutely needs:

1. Your menu. This sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes restaurant owners bury their menu in their site, which makes it difficult to find or they use PDFs. It’s best to ditch the PDF menus as people might search for specific food items like “veggie pizza cleveland” and your PDF menu will lose out on search engine opportunities. And having a PDF menu doesn’t allow you to make price or food changes quickly. The best method is to have a text (HTML) version of your menu that you can easily edit.

2. Your address. It’s important to list your address on your website not only in the footer, but on your contact page. This helps search engines locate you and people can find how close you are to them.

3. Contact page. It’s important to allow people to contact you through your website. On this page, you will want to list your phone number, your address, your hours of operation, a manager or owner’s name, and a contact form that allows people to submit questions and comments.

4. Social media. Like we mentioned earlier, how you’re perceived and reviewed on the internet is pertinent for your sales. Having a good rapport with customers and them advocating for you can help you rake in more money. Having social media that engages with your audience also continues a relationship after someone has eaten at your establishment. If you use social media for your business, be sure to list the social media icons on your website so people can follow and connect with you.

5. Who you are and what you do. People like companies with stories, so share yours! It’s interesting to read how and why you started your restaurant. If you’ve been in business for a long time, celebrate that! Most people would associate a long-standing restaurant with quality food that people keep coming back for. No wonder you’ve been in business for so long! If you own multiple restaurants, put a name to your face. People in Cleveland follow restauranteurs such as Michael Symon and Zack Bruell. Take a look at their websites and restaurants.

6. Bonus. Email marketing can be an effective way to keep people coming back to your restaurant. You can share coupons and specials that you will be offering. Be careful not to use too many coupons as you may get a crowd of coupon users, which can drown your business.

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