A strong website and efficient online ordering platform are paramount to your success. With the fierce competition in the digital space, standing out can be a challenge, so to help potential customers find you and capture your target audience, an easy, yet impactful tool is search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is a critical part of every marketing plan. It's the optimization of your website content to get your site ranked higher on internet searches. When someone searches "Italian food near me,” you want your establishment and its famous slices of pie or pasta specialties to pop up right under their noses — not on page six.

SEO can seem like a daunting technical deep dive, but starting with a few simple tips, you can boost your ranking tremendously without weeks of research.

Key to SEO

Keywords are the foundation of SEO. For potential customers to find you online, what would they type into the search bar? First, define the geographic area you want to control. Where are most of your customers coming from? Next, think about your target market's wants and needs. What do they want? Keywords can be short ("Italian"), or long ("best homemade meatballs"). Compile a list and then whittle them down to 10 to 12 commonalities. Now you're ready to apply them.

Page Performance

“On-page” optimization is SEO at its most visible, meaning you’re covering all your bases within your website to ensure you rank higher on search engines. Utilize those keywords and sprinkle them into your website's written content. If content isn't your forte, hire a professional who can weave your words seamlessly into your home page, bio, events, menu, and product descriptions, so the writing still flows naturally and in your voice. Apply keywords to page titles, URLs, image descriptions — anywhere there’s copy.

Blogs are another useful source of SEO. Search engines are looking to see if your page is relevant enough to present to users. The more pages and copy you have with keywords, the more you’re likely to show up. Blogs also allow for tons of linking, both to other pages around your site (internal) and other websites (external).

Local Leverage

According to recent research, 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information. The key here is to list your site on Google Business Profile with location and contact info, hours of operation, and make sure you're mapped correctly. Managing this tightly ensures your site will come up in searches for your area.

Aside from simply highlighting locality online, consider getting involved even further in your community. Not only will you gain exposure, but you have more opportunities for local backlinks. Consider partnering with a culinary school to offer an apprenticeship. Not only are you helping your community, but you've got a backlink from a high-authority domain. Boom.

Reviews are also one of the most essential elements search engines consider. Find creative ways to get every customer to leave an online review and respond to all reviews. Managing and increasing reviews on a variety of sites is an essential tactic in improving SEO. With Performance OneSource partner, Reply Pro, all of your reviews are monitored to help protect your brand.

Indexing and Analytics

In the end, you need proper indexing to make sure Google (and all search engines) know you exist. Verify your site with Google Search Console to manage your presence and see how visitors find you. Here you can note any errors that may need fixing. Also, within Google Search Console, create and edit your XML Sitemap, a file that lists your site's pages and make sure they're all accessible.

Finally, ensure you set up an analytics tool to help track and report how much traffic you’re getting, where it’s coming from, and what your users are doing. Bookmark your analytics page and take a screenshot of your site on day one so you have a marker for how high your site will climb after taking these initial SEO steps.

For other SEO solutions to support your website, consider a resource like Menufy, which features complimentary website design and construction, as well as online ordering and POS integrations.

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