How to Win at the SERP: SEM for Restaurants

Opening a restaurant isn’t as easy as just making food, you need to make sure that you’re visible to potential customers. That means ensuring that you have a rank on a restaurant search engine. So, what can you do to get your restaurant to the top of the list?

Consulting SEO specialists like Scanteam, could help you create an epic marketing campaign. We also know that for some, taking on this task yourself is part of the fun. Join us as we discover more about local SEO for restaurants, which changes to make, and how to implement them accordingly.

What is Search Engine Marketing?

There are two main approaches to increasing visibility on search engines. The goal is similar, but the methods differ. There’s SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing). Both of them are about helping potential patrons know about your place. It’s ideal to combine them, but the latter can be a better starting point.

SEO for restaurants is complex and organic, and so takes a long time to change. Having good reviews is essential, and you’ll need to maintain a steady flow of relevant content. Following this strategy is a great way to stay current and build a connection with your audience.

Being cited and having links to your page in high-ranking websites – local news, food review blogs – also increases your rating. As SEO expert Alex Lysak mentioned, “It’s safe to say that link building is one of the most solid business strategies to help you grow your business as well as your presence online.”

And what is search engine marketing then? Well, it’s advertising. It’s way quicker than SEO, and you can limit your target audience. Choosing a suitable target group helps you make sure you’re directing your ads to potential customers. It’s especially useful now, during COVID, as many people are still staying home.

Improving your ranking starts with knowing your target market and how to reach them. Did you know that Gen Z (those born between 1996-2010) makes up a large majority of patrons in the foodservice industry? This presents an incredible marketing opportunity and a clear understanding of where you should direct your efforts.

Search engine marketing is excellent for smaller or newer restaurants. But more prominent companies, even franchises, also use it to increase sales. It’s less complicated, more immediate, and can save you money.

How to Use Search Engine Marketing For Restaurants

The first thing you’ll need to do is create your advertising account. There are many different search engines, but Google holds the largest share by far. Then, take some time to familiarize yourself with the interface. Next, we’ll go over some basics on the different options you’ll have to customize your ads.

Target Groups

You’re charged each time someone clicks on your ad, so make sure you’re reaching the ideal group. If you want to focus on take-away, show the ads only to people on mobile devices in your vicinity. You can also restrict the time frame. Go ahead and create some special limited offers to attract more attention.

Mobile ads can also make it easier for people to talk to you straight away and place their orders. You can add extensions that allow users to call directly from the ad or redirect them to your reviews. Or you can add your location so your customers can find you with ease.

Mobile usage is growing each year and has already surpassed desktop usage. Smartphones and tablets are ideal for videos, as the ads are full-screen. On a desktop, they only occupy a part of the view area. Mobile users are more engaged but tend to scroll less than desktop users.


Choosing the ideal restaurant keywords is essential. Be consistent with the keywords you use, and try to make them not too broad but not too specific. Using them often on the content you produce also helps to improve the SEO of your restaurant.

You can have your ads only show up if a user searches for exact queries, like “Mexican Food.” Or if they search for “Mexican restaurant” or some related question. Instead of matching any similar search, you can also further restrict these queries. You might prefer to allow only synonyms, misspellings, or singular and plural forms.

It’s also possible to have “negative matches.” These prevent the display of your ads when the user searches for specific words. Say you have an Asian restaurant that doesn’t serve sushi. You might want to restrict that word to make sure you’re not paying for ads that will not turn out to be helpful.

Avoid narrowing your scope too much, though. You still want people to see your ad, so don’t be too specific. Many online keyword planners will give you the volume of searches and cost-per-click for a query. Use words that describe your food, location, and atmosphere. And keep in mind that broader terms are more expensive.

A Bit More SEO For Restaurants

As mentioned, it’s ideal to use these two approaches together. Users trust organically top-rated pages more, but increasing your rating can take a long time. There are some simple things you can do to improve your SEO and the quality of your page.

Use beautiful images to display your dishes. You should add geotags and alt-tags, if possible. It’s also a great idea to have an online menu, but avoid using an image. Upload plain text or a PDF, but not a scanned document, as this would be an image as well.

Consider writing -or having someone else code- a sitemap file. This file, the menu, geotags, and alt-tags help the engine identify your pages and index their content. In doing so, they also increase your SEO rating.

Basic Steps to Improve Your Restaurant SEO

The main things to take away are simple:

  • Decide and focus on your target group
  • Have an eye-pleasing website with good content
  • Be consistent with your information
  • Use SEM for short-term and SEO for long-term

Sum it Up

While we haven’t covered everything, we hope to have provided enough to help you improve your restaurant search engine rank. Remember to focus on your audience.

About Neel Achary 19658 Articles
Neel Achary is the editor of Business News This Week. He has been covering all the business stories, economy, and corporate stories.