In a perfect world, when your customers search for “Best Thai food in town”, your wonderful Thai restaurant would pop up as the first Google result.
But you and I live in the real world. And we know that’s probably not going to happen. That’s because of sites like Yelp, Foursquare, and TripAdvisor.
These sites are so huge, so regularly updated, and get so many visitors that your little Thai restaurant can’t compete with them in SEO (search engine optimization). So when people search for “best Thai food in town”, they’re going to get a bunch of results like this:
But you can compete directly with the other Thai restaurants in your area for a good position in the Google results, and hopefully for a spot in the Google Local Pack.
The Local Pack is a list of three local businesses that satisfy a user’s search. They’re listed right at the top of the search results, with a map showing their location.
And one of the ways to improve your chances of appearing in this prime real estate is to have enough unique content on your website.
So here is a handy list of content ideas that you can use to beef up your restaurant website!
Tell us your story. You could talk about why you chose to start that particular restaurant in that particular location. Or you could introduce some of the staff, like the General Manager or the Executive Chef.
Are you a chef/owner who created an Italian restaurant to share your nonna’s recipes with the world? That’s amazing! I want to hear all about her.
Did you wake up one day, quit your job, and say “I’m going into the restaurant business”? That’s incredible! Tell me the story.
Not every website visitor will read it. But for the people who are into that sort of thing, it will be an illuminating peek into your world. And it will add some valuable content to your restaurant site.
Customer Reviews & Testimonials
When you go the extra mile for your restaurant customers, they tend to notice. And they can be very vocal in their praise. It can help to sprinkle a few positive reviews into your website — especially if they contain helpful keywords.
Keywords are simply search terms that people use on Google and other search engines. They can be short, like “pizza,” or long, like “best pepperoni pizza near me.”
If you find a review that naturally contains a search term that applies to your restaurant, why not add it to your site? This kind of social proof both proves to potential customers that you can provide a good experience, and it gets those valuable keywords into your site organically.
Look for terms that will help with local search, like “best [food type] in [your city or neighborhood].”
To learn more about keywords, including 5 FREE resources that you can use to do keyword research, download this oh-so-handy PDF that I put together just for you!
Charities You Support
The content on your restaurant’s website doesn’t have to be all about you. If you have a relationship with a local (or national) charity, why not include it on your website? You can write a paragraph or two explaining why you chose to support that particular charity, what you like about it, and how you provide support. Include a link to the charity’s website where people can make donations if they’d like.
The purpose is not just to make you look like a real swell person. It’s to draw attention to the good cause that you already support, and maybe send them a few extra dollars.
For example, local Austin brewery the ABGB has a page dedicated to their Hell Yes Project, where they pair with local non-profits and encourage community activism.
Don’t dull your shine, girl.
If you have a Zagat award, or a nod from a local paper, or a Michelin friggin’ star, then yes, you should put it on your website.
If it feels too “braggy” to put it on your home page, you could include your honors somewhere else. You could have them rotate through a carousel at the bottom of the About page. Or you could build a Press page and put them there. Which leads us to…
If your local news is raving about your restaurant, why not include a Press section on your website? And this goes double if you’re getting national coverage. That’s a huge deal!
People love to know what other people think. So if that snooty food critic from “Fancy Pants Weekly” said you serve the best tuna tartar he’s ever tasted, you should absolutely link to his review on your website.
Is your restaurant in a historic building or neighborhood? Tell a story about it!
The trend of converting old buildings or industrial spaces into restaurants and food halls is more popular than ever. So if you’re lucky enough to have a restaurant in a building with some history, add a few paragraphs about the building’s origins.
The same goes for your neighborhood at large. Are you located in a former warehouse or red-light district? That’s fascinating. Do some research and write up a little history of the area.
Even if it doesn’t have a dramatic past, chances are your restaurant’s neighborhood didn’t always look like it does now. See if you can find a few old photos of the area from your city’s archives, and walk us through the timeline.
Menu and Ingredients
Obviously, you need your menu on your website. 86% of people view an online menu before they dine out. It’s the #1 reason anyone will visit your restaurant website.
But were there any special considerations that effected the curation of that menu? Do you use any unique or unusual ingredients? What makes your menu special?
Maybe you serve Thai food. Or maybe you serve Northern Thai specifically. You know who doesn’t know the difference between Northern Thai and other kinds of Thai? Pretty much everyone who’s not from Thailand. So share what makes Northern Thai different.
One of my clients is a chain of Persian-inspired restaurants. They have a section of their website devoted to what they call the 5 Food Pillars. Here, they include a little blurb about the foundations of their cuisine, from spice to rice. It’s educational and informative, and you better believe it helps their search rankings.
Another note about menus — make sure your restaurant menu is in HTML, not a pdf. Check out this post to learn why.
Vision and Values
What does your company stand for? What are your values?
If you’ve taken the time to write and refine your “why,” consider putting it on your website. People like to support businesses with integrity and purpose. And employees like to work at those places too.
But don’t fake it.
Writing up some generic platitudes and throwing them on your website will be shoddy and transparent. And your employees will know it’s baloney. So if you’re going to do it, do it right.
To get started with this, check out Traction by Gino Wickman. He’s the master.
High Quality Photos
So far, everything in this list has been words. But the internet likes pictures too!
Photos of your food and dining room have muliple benefits. First, your site visitors like them. If you have pictures for people to scroll through, they’re likely to spend a bit more time on your site. And that’s a ranking factor that Google uses to determine the quality of your site.
Another benefit is that images provide an opportunity to add alt text. Alt text is an accessibility feature that lets you describe an image for screen readers. It allows people who can’t see the image to still know what the image is about.
If you post a picture of pad thai, your alt text could read something like, “plate of shrimp pad thai from local restaurant restaurant name.” This both accurately describes the image and lets you connect your restaurant name with that dish. It’s just another little nudge, telling Google that anyone in your area looking for pad thai may be interested in your restaurant.
All website builders liek Squarespace and WordPress include a way to include alt text. If you’re not sure how to do it on yours, just do a web search for “add alt text to [your website builder].
Another good way to add images is to add a social media feed to your website. Learn how to quickly and easily add your Instagram feed to your site.
Avoid Light Content
As you add additional bits of content here and there, you want to avoid what’s called “thin content.” These are web pages with very little text — usually less than 300 words. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s a good guideline.
When Google sees a page with too little content, it assumes that the content doesn’t satisfy a search query. While this may be the case for informative blog posts, it doesn’t always apply to the hospitality industry. After all, our product is food and good times, not long-form blog posts.
But those are the rules that we have to work with. So as a rule of thumb, avoid adding separate pages with less than 300 words of content. Instead, combine a few of these content chunks onto one page. For example, your press, community involvement, and story could all live on an About page.
Adding content doesn’t mean you should overcomplicate your website design.
The menu is the meat of your website. And the location is the potatoes. Those are the two things most potential customers will want to see.
This other content is all gravy. So don’t hide your meat and potatoes under the gravy. Make sure the menu is the very first thing people will see. Put that bad boy front and center. Everything else should come later in your site menu.
For a little help in writing restaurant website content, check out this article: 6 Common Restaurant Copywriting Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)
And if you’d rather outsource creating content to a pro, contact us!