Search engine optimization describes the process of attracting more website visitors from generic and paid searches. Like any relatively new process, SEO strategy has evolved over time. Originally, keywords were the Holy Grail of online marketing, but other factors have gained greater prominence in search engine ranking criteria. Of course, restaurateurs must continue to optimize for certain keywords. However, successful search engine marketing strategies depend more on restaurant Web design than keywords.

Evolution of SEO Strategies

During the early years of the Internet, fairly simple search engine algorithms searched online for any mentions of the targeted keyword. In the frenzy of capitalizing on a new technology, savvy operators increased keyword density to unreasonable proportions to attract viewers. Snake-oil salesmen began peddling all kinds of questionable marketing tactics designed to attract viewers regardless of ethics or suitability.

Dissatisfied consumers and business owners influenced companies like Google to change their formulas for how they rank businesses in keyword searches. Evolving algorithms are moving closer to artificial intelligence by understanding what people mean when they search. SEO now works better if websites optimize for local searches, discovery, useful content and conversions instead of static keywords.

Basic website design is a big factor in generating satisfying user experiences, attracting repeat business, engaging customers and branding a restaurant. Best SEO practices for restaurant websites now include:

  • Using a responsive design that works well on all devices
  • Writing for people instead of robot crawlers
  • Posting content without multiple spelling and grammatical errors
  • Optimizing design for easy social sharing and navigation
  • Linking to local listing services to increase site authority in local searches
  • Building a site URL structure that is simple and organized
  • Updating content regularly to prevent robots from regarding a site as static and irrelevant
  • Promoting ideas and content instead of keywords and buzzwords
  • Attracting authoritative links from respected sites and eliminating broken sites or those with poor-quality content
  • Writing naturally instead of trying to force keywords into copy

Website Structure and Responsive Design

Responsive website design provides the vehicle that delivers multiple SEO benefits to restaurants. First, a responsive site adjusts to each type of screen that a customer uses. An optimized site makes it easy for a customer to reserve a table or search for information on a cellphone. Similarly, a simple but responsive site is easy to change, redesign, link and optimize.

Customer Behavior on Websites Provides Marketing Insights

Restaurant websites need to be built with restaurant customers in mind.

Visitor behavior on a website also strongly influences SEO rankings. For example, if people who click on a link immediately press the back-button, it demonstrates that the site lacks authority or doesn’t fit the keyword profile. If on-site content is poorly written or the website design distracts customers, visitors won’t spend much time on the site. When these actions occur often, they can seriously downgrade a site’s ranking.

Google Analytics provides valuable intelligence for improving website design and increasing conversion rates. Learning how to read this information and make changes is the key to generating customer loyalty, better user experiences and increased website authority and ranking.

Of course, not every restaurant has staff with the time or experience to handle analytics. However, outsourcing designing and monitoring tasks is a practical and affordable way to get the best results from a website. Optimizing design, analytics and SEO generates better results at lower costs than many traditional forms of advertising.

Scrapping Ineffective Web Designs

SEO evolves to take advantage of new technology and to counter the efforts of marketers to manipulate search results. The most effective SEO strategy begins and ends with a responsive restaurant Web design. The right design makes it easy to pursue new strategies while delivering solid benefits to people who use the website. Taking charge of a website’s design, maintenance, content and marketing offers the most effective way of keeping in good shape to satisfy evolving SEO trends.

If a website isn’t generating good results, basic design issues are probably the reason. Search engine robots don’t buy products or generate customer loyalty. Well-designed and responsive websites deliver both of these advantages to restaurants regardless of new ranking algorithms, creative use of keywords and evolving trends and marketing strategies.