Why I Wish Restaurant Websites were Search Optimized

I can’t count how many times I’ve been in the mood for a specific dish, something different, something ethnic, something new… Something that I can’t seem to find anywhere online because most restaurants don’t seem to be applying even the most rudimentary search optimization principles.

I dream of a day when restaurants recognize that optimizing your site not only helps increase exposure to their business, but also helps their customers find what they are looking for.

Here are the top 5 reasons why I wish restaurants would optimize their websites.

  1. I often crave specific dishes and can never find a restaurant online who states they serve specific dishes. Many restaurants do post menus on their website, but most restaurants use PDF’s or images for their menu. Search Engines cannot read the content in images and often ignore PDF’s, so when someone searches for a specific dish like “Pad Thai Edmonton”, that website won’t show up.  Put your menu in text form and let the search engines do their magic!
  2. Last week I found myself in an unfamiliar neighborhood wanting breakfast! So I pulled out my trusty iPhone and searched “breakfast edmonton” on Google Maps. Guess what popped up? Lots of bed & breakfasts, and a few obvious breakfast restaurants like Denny’s. Not what I was looking for. I wish, wish, wish that restaurants would state in their title tags & META descriptions that they serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert etc…
  3. Sometimes I’m lazy! Sometimes I want good quality food but I’m too lazy to make it, and I don’t feel like going out. Sometimes I don’t feel like pizza or Chinese but settle for it because I know these restaurants deliver. Why can’t restaurants mention in their META information that they deliver? You know, if you did, you would get more delivery business!
  4. If I’m in the mood for let’s say Vietnamese food I go straight to Google and search “vietnamese restaurant edmonton” Some restaurants show up, but not every restaurant does, even some of the well known places don’t show up. Unless you specifically mention “vietnamese restaurant” or “vietnamese food” in your title or h1 headings it may be hard to find you. I’m looking at you Hoang Loo-Ang Restaurant, maybe you should change your home page title to “Hoang Loo-Ang Vietnamese Restaurant”.
  5. Now for the top reason why I wish restaurant websites were optimized! I want to be able to find a restaurant easily when I’m hungry. Usually when I’m looking for a place to eat, I’m looking for a place nearby. I don’t necessarily want to drive 45 minutes to eat dinner. Please take 5 minutes to add your restaurant to Google Places so that I can find you on the map, close to me! Oh and don’t forget to state the ethnicity of your food & dishes you serve!

Thanks, I look forward to being able to find you in the future when I’m hungry, which is often!

Samantha Goettel
Search Analyst, Epiar Inc.

Samantha is a talented search analyst at Epiar and a regular contributor to the Top Draw blog. Follow her on twitter @SammyTG. Epiar is a uniquely managed search engine marketing firm and search engine optimization company driven by extensive & innovative online market research. For more information, check them out here.

  • My kingdom for a Google Places listing! They take 10 minutes flat to fill out, and work so well.

  • I couldn’t agree more! Especially as a vegetarian, knowing what options a restaurant has would make a world of difference!

  • admin

    Just a little update….A scanned menu that’s turned into a PDF won’t be read by search engines but text PDF’s can be read.
    Thanks
    Samantha

  • Mark

    How about including allergens in addition to menus!! It is very dificult to find restaurants that are aware celiac disease ande serve gluten free meals.

  • Jodie

    Yes, in my city there are so many restaurants that don’t even exist anymore when you search for places to eat! Out with the old and in with the new (with menus).

  • Braydon

    I heard BP’s delivers now…. Online and everything!!! :)

    Sam your article was awesome

  • Allison

    Totally agree. So frustrating at times!

  • Cass

    I thought my search vocabulary/skills were lacking and that’s why I had trouble finding interesting restaurants unless I knew their names specifically. Thank you for the explanation and suggestions to restaurants reading this blog. Good article, Sama!

  • I wish I could eat the online food. It looks so good in the pictures but never on my plate.

    Yum.

  • MO

    finally a blog we can relate to.Great idea

  • Pat

    Couldn’t agree more Sam. It is hard to support your local restaurants and enjoy a meal you are craving when they haven’t made their menu easily accessible.

  • SE

    Definitely felt your same frustration more than a few times. Doesn’t help when you are not familiar with a city and you want some place nearby either.

  • Karen

    Right on, Sam! Loved it!

  • Mik

    Nice work Sam!