If you're looking for SEO tips for your ghost kitchen, then you'll love this guide.
As of 2021, restaurant search has become more important than ever, and having an SEO strategy is key to getting your website ranked. Not only do you need to consider your website, but every place where your menu is visible on the internet.
Let's first explain what ghost kitchen SEO is, and why it matters:
Ghost Kitchen SEO is the process of making your restaurant in its entirety discoverable by Google and search engines in general. We're going to cover 5 places you can make changes to improve SEO:
- Website SEO
- Restaurant Menu SEO
- Delivery Platform SEO
- Local SEO
- Google My Business SEO
Each of these channels offer the ability for potential customers to choose your restaurant. For Chain restaurants and brands, having an SEO strategy that keeps their information up to date and consistent across locations.
Websites play a key role in your SEO strategy as they serve as the "identity" of your restaurant. Websites should be the single source of truth for all of your restaurant content, including name, address, phone number, hours, and menu. Your website can also include photos of your restaurant (inside and outside), and even a reservation link.
As a goal, we recommend having your website domain be the primary location that customers use to find the top 3 items on search: Website home page, Website menu page, and website reservation page. Optionally, you should consider include hosting your delivery link on your website, for example "mywebsite.com/delivery".
Social media links should also be included on your website homepage, and ideally in the footer section on every page. This helps your restaurant customers clearly identify your business's official social media accounts. We recommend including a link to your restaurant website on all social media profiles that you use. Now on social media platforms (like Facebook, Instagram), you can link back to your website domain. Google looks to these common platforms to determine who is the "true" source for your brand, so keep this information accurate.
All restaurant websites in 2020 should be optimizing for mobile devices. Remember: customers are discovering you on mobile before anywhere else. According to Google, 89% of dining research is done by mobile before visiting a restaurant (Google). Mobile optimization includes a responsive website that looks good on tablet and phone screens. Additionally, having a secure website with an SSL certificate will help improve your ranking and trust. According to PhoenixNAP, As of July 2018, Google has enforced by flagging sites without SSL as unsafe in Chrome.
89% of dining research is done by mobile before visiting a restaurant (Google)
We recommend these top 3 Website builders for your restaurant website. Restaurant owners can of course hire someone to do this work, but their experience may vary. We recommend working with a designer that you feel comfortable with.
Webflow: The perfect choice for the Intermediate designer. We used Webflow to design this very blog! While not for everyone due to the higher learning curve, it certainly offers enough flexibility to create any design you would need. Webflow also has enough easy to use SEO tools and tutorials to get you started. Webflow comes with SSL out of the box, so your website will always be secure — this matters even if you are not taking your orders on the website.
Squarespace: Easy difficulty. Recommended and stable environment. Squarespace seems to be the go-to starter platform for someone with a good eye for design. In summary, a great professional tool with easy to use SEO tools. Squarespace does a lot of things right and produces a quality site, especially if you have nice imagery and a good copywriter. An added benefit to both Squarespace and Webflow is stability.
Wordpress: Easy to Intermediate difficulty. Some unforeseen costs may arise due to plugins, which may break or have added fees. All in all, it definitely can be an inexpensive option, hosting wise. Our general advice around Wordpress is finding a trusted hosting provider can make all the difference. If you can, avoid using bloated themes that will slow down site performance. Remember: you want a fast loading website above all else.
Editorial note: One2 does not receive any compensation for referring any website builder. Opinions expressed are our own.
Restaurant Menu SEO
For restaurants, the most important information that your customers will search for is your menu. Owning this information on your own domain and structuring this information for search engines is absolutely critical to claiming the #1 position in search. Good restaurant menu SEO will help you rank for a wider variety of keywords based on items on your menu. For example, if I have a sushi restaurant that specializes in "sushi party platters", having a menu that Google can read and index will provide a significant increase in traffic.
There are a few ways you can do this: first of all, insure that your restaurant is not using a PDF menu alone for their restaurant menu. there are multiple downsides to PDF menus, such as the content being designed for print. You definitely want to use a "coded" menu made from HTML so that the content can be properly indexed. Additionally, Google supports adding your menu information to your Google My Business page (which we will cover more in the Google My Business blog). If your business is eligible, Your Google My Business dashboard will show an "edit menu" option. From here you can add the Name, Description, and Price of items on your menu. Read more about this in our Google My Business guide below.
The next thing to consider is how we can take search engine optimization to the next level with this. Google is quite proficient when it comes to reading text, however there is a markup called "structured data" that can be applied to each item, price, and description in your menu. Structured data can be used to tell Google about your restaurant information, but it is especially powerful when you add this markup to your items. Tools like Google's Structured Data Testing tool can help you learn more about SEO and check your website for structured data markup.
Lastly, we want to emphasize the importance of images for most restaurants. In some cases, images may not fit your motif, but for the majority of restaurants will benefit from images. We highly recommend adding images to your menu because not only will you get the benefits of a better visual experience, but you can provide "alternate text" and indexible content to your menu. This will help boost your overall SEO.
All of this is rather complicated and difficult to manage, especially when you need to make a change, edit a photo, or update a price. Instead of managing all of this information, re-tagging the images and markup with structured data and syncing it with Google manually, we have created an SEO focused tool to easily manage menus called One2 Menu. From our testing, One2 Menu saves about 33 hours between the design process to completion, and since we also sync your information with Google My Business and other platforms, you will save even more time when you need to make updates. One2 Menu supports both Single location and multi location businesses.
As of 2021, we now include online ordering as part of the One2 Platform.
Delivery Platform SEO
Delivery platforms are great places to garner awareness for your restaurant. In the US, Grubhub, Doordash, Uber Eats, and Postmates dominate the delivery landscape. Many of our users have reported Grubhub to be the primary source of delivery platform orders. We will be expanding on this section in the coming days.
How to get started with Local SEO
Directories have been around since before the internet to help customers find information. Google has designed search to work for the "broader internet" and for local searches, Google favors the local information around you over father away content. For Ghost kitchens, Local SEO and competing in your area is the primary thing to worry about.
Getting listed on directories
The main directories that we recommend focusing is the following. Google of course is the number one (Google My Business) specifically.
- Apple Maps
All of these directories look for a few pieces of key information: Name, Address, Phone number, links to your website and social, categories for your brand (for example "restaurant"), and hours. Of course you can add additional information on each platform, but NAP (name address phone number) is the core piece of information that needs to match on every one of these. For help ranking in search results, make sure you have the correct links to your website on each one of these platforms so that these directories link back to your website.
In our opinion, Google My Business is the primary place that you need to have your information correct. If your restaurant does not have a physical location or pickup, like a ghost kitchen, Google My Business supports setting a local "service area". You can think of a service area as your "delivery zone" and where you want to compete locally on Google Maps and search. If you would like to read more, check out our Google My Business how to below. [link]
Next, we have Facebook. Facebook.com is the largest social network in the world - however it has dropped in popularity with younger people over the last 3-4 years. Regardless, Facebook is still strong with the over 30 crowd and offers many opportunities to promote your local business. While Instagram (a Facebook product) is very popular with the younger audience, you can still connect your Facebook Business Page with your business Instagram account.
Yelp, Apple Maps, and Bing are all very high priority for not only increasing your page rank on Google, but displaying results on iOS devices (iPhone and iPad). Apple uses information from Yelp + Apple Maps to display results directly in the iOS search. So naturally, having your business information correct on both platforms will help you show up on iPhone devices. In the US, approximately 58% of mobile users are using a iPhone or iPad (according to statcounter.com).
In the US, approximately 58% of mobile users are using a iPhone or iPad
Using Additional directories for Citations
Beyond the top 5 directories, there's usually 30 directories that can help to boost your local SEO depending on your country. It is important to note that if you don't resolve any issues with the top 5 directories, you won't get very much value out of these directories. Getting these additional directories to link back to your site (known as a "citation") with accurate NAP (Name Address Phone number) can certainly give you the boost over your competition in local SEO.
How to: Google My Business SEO
As we mentioned above, Google My Business is the #1 local SEO directory to focus on for Ghost Kitchens. Google My Business helps not only with local Google Search, but Google Maps discoverability.
Google My Business Mobile Menu
Adding your menu to Google My Business helps in a few ways:
- Your customers can discover your menu without visiting your website. This is valuable because they may decide to place an order online instead of passing your restaurant by.
- Google takes into account your menu information when recommending and ranking your business on Google Maps
- Google Mobile search is different than desktop search; and a mobile menu offers a competitive edge.
Should I add a location?
We get this question a lot, especially for Ghost Kitchens. If you are using a commercial kitchen space and focus purely on delivery, a "service area" in Google My Business can make a lot of sense. If you are a single concept Ghost Kitchen, we generally recommend using a physical address. This helps a lot with discovery in Google Maps based your customer's location and opens you up for pickup.
Even with a commercial space, we recommend trying with an exact address over a service area when you initially create your listing; you might be surprised how many pickup orders you receive.
What about Google My Business categories?
The primary category of your Ghost Kitchen is important, and is in fact the most important one. Think carefully about which primary category works best for your business as it is weighted more heavily than the secondary categories. Try and think about what is the customer primarily ordering from you, or what you expect will be the cuisine of your best selling products (if you are not open yet).
Ghost Kitchen SEO should be taken seriously; having a plan will make ranking your the top spot on Google Maps and Google search locally a lot easier. If you are interested in learning more about One2 Menu and online ordering, you can check out our page on Ghost Kitchens.
What is Ghost Kitchen SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. Ghost Kitchen SEO is the process of making your ghost kitchen discoverable by search engines.
How long does it take for Ghost Kitchen SEO to work?
Ghost Kitchen SEO can take as little as a few weeks to 6 months, depending on how competitive your market and cuisine is.
Does Google My Business Matter for Ghost Kitchens?
Google My Business does matter for Ghost Kitchens. Even if you do not have a physical address that you can post to Google My Business or Maps, you can still use a service area.
How important is my Menu for Ghost Kitchen SEO?
Google takes into account the type of cuisine, items on your menu, descriptions, and images when ranking your website. Using an html menu over something like a PNG or PDF helps Google to read and index your menu information and show it to customers. Optimizing your menu for mobile also improves the customer experience, which translates into more orders.
Why Ghost Kitchen SEO matters?
The vast majority of people looking for ghost kitchens will discover them online from a search engine and 89% of dining research is done by mobile before visiting a restaurant (Google).