Online visibility — or, the ability for people to find your business through searches, websites, review sites, and social media — is crucial to building a successful restaurant today. In this article, learn key facts and strategies you can start using to boost your web presence.
What you need to know about online visibility
Before you can strategize about improving your visibility online, first let's review the fundamentals of a business' web presence. The major components include your website, Google search results, Google My Business profile, third-party review websites, online ordering platforms, and social media channels. Collectively, these channels make up your restaurant's online presence and provide diners the information they need to decide whether to become a customer.
Here are some effective ways to increase your online visibility, along with some actionable steps that you can take right away:
Key strategies to increase online visibility
1. Have a compelling website that conveys your brand
A carefully designed restaurant website serves as your home base online, so think about the impression you want customers to have when they come across it. Your website should be clean, modern, and well-functioning — as well as mobile-friendly. While it might seem obvious, remember to keep key business information like menus, locations, operating hours, and contact information up-to-date. Also, use high-quality photos and videos of your dishes and location that entice hungry customers to visit your restaurant.
Your website should also reflect your restaurant's brand identity. Make sure your brand is easily recognizable and consistent across various mediums and platforms — in real life and online. Your website, social media, and any other associated products should all feature unique branding that's eye-catching, visually pleasing, and memorable.
2. Manage search engine optimization and Google My Business
When people search keywords relevant to your business online, you should aim to have your restaurant appear in their top search results. This can be accomplished by using Google Keyword Planner and other tools to find the best keywords and phrases, such as "BBQ restaurants near Sacramento". Then include those keywords throughout your website pages, page titles, and descriptions, and in other online content like blogs and social media posts to boost your chances of appearing in those search results.
Another essential step is to complete your Google My Business and Google Maps profiles, which are tools for local searches when customers are looking for restaurants in specific geographical locations. These Google profiles serve as homepages for nearby consumers to learn more about your business, your cuisine, your reviews, and your location. With all of this information, customers can decide whether to order from your restaurant. Learn more about optimizing your Google business profiles.
3. Create engaging content
Once you have customers' attention, the next step is to keep them engaged with a regular cadence of content. Whether it's an announcement about new location or a behind-the-scenes video from your chef, give customers a reason to spend more time with your brand online. Once they click through to your website, keep them hooked with interesting content and visually pleasing photography and videos. Even better, they might share your posts with their friends or publish it on their own social media channels.
Engaging content should be relevant to your audience. For example, you could post about a new menu item that features local or in-season ingredients accompanied by a special promotion — a great way to offer value to your customers through online channels.
4. Monitor third-party review sites
Once you establish an online presence, keep growing it by engaging with followers via online review platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Reviews. As a first step, encourage customers to review your business on these channels in exchange for a free item or coupon. Another key strategy is to make a habit of responding to reviews and queries — especially negative ones! — with a positive, on-brand message.
5. Engage on social media channels
Social media is another great way to increase your online presence, and there are numerous ways to engage with potential customers and regulars.
Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, and Twitter are some of the most popular social media platforms for restaurants. Each of these channels has a particular audience and way of engaging, so there isn't a one-size-fits all approach for social media engagement. We recommend focusing on a few key channels, rather than trying to have a presence on every platform. Instagram is particularly important for restaurants, since food photos are some of the most popular posts on this highly visual platform.
Enticing customers with promos to encourage them to tag your restaurant is a fun way to engage with customers — and millennials and Gen Z customers practically live on Instagram. Some of the most popular restaurant hashtags are #happyhour, #foodie, #delish, and #fave; you can also create your own branded hashtags.
Another strategy to try is advertising on social media with targeted ads to increase your online visibility. For example, Facebook ads can pinpoint potential fans of your restaurant, allowing you to jumpstart a large following — albeit at a cost.
Plan for a long-term strategy
Using all of the above strategies requires a daily and long-term commitment you can implement and track by establishing a content calendar for your website and social media channels. You can also use social media management platforms such as HootSuite and Buffer that allow you to schedule posts in advance. The important thing is to not be afraid to try different strategies — then monitor your channel performance and adjust as needed.
Online visibility is an organic, long-term process that takes time and effort. If effectively managed, your efforts will help expand your customer base exponentially. It might be challenging at first, but with continuous engagement and analysis of your progress, you will see success. The more visible you are online, the more people will see your restaurant and all the great products you have to offer. Ready to reach new customers on DoorDash? List your restaurant on the DoorDash app today.