Searchability Tips for Restaurants During COVID-19

How can restaurants shift (or start from scratch) their SEO during COVID-19? With relevant keywords, frequent communication, and best of all, free tools.

The impact on the restaurant industry

This pandemic is changing the way most industries operate. Lots of businesses, especially ones that rely on face to face interaction, are now finding new ways to serve customers through mostly digital means.

With gatherings no longer taking place and social distance efforts firmly in place, leisure industries, such as hotels and restaurants, have taken a significant hit in search traffic. Instead, people are searching for grocery delivery and bulk grocery options before battening down the hatches for another multi-week stretch.

It’s no surprise that many restaurants have had to pivot their efforts to promoting delivery and curbside pick-up options. Here are some tips that can help restaurants stay searchable for devoted (and new) patrons.

Improve searchability

Your customers need take-out and delivery options, and your restaurant needs revenue. First things first, optimize your website to reflect your newly-enhanced (or ever-robust) online ordering system. 

Have it be immediately clear that you are open for business and what your hours are. And obviously make it as easy an experience as possible for someone to land on your page, view your menu, and place their order. Whether people can order online, by phone, or third party delivery, make it a simple process.

1. Do your SEO homework

Knowing how your customers find you on Google is a powerful tool. For many restaurants, this likely shifted a bit once the pandemic hit. Figure out where you currently rank in search. If it’s lower than it used to be, you’re not the only ones.

Like we were saying about promoting your online ordering on your website, reflect that in your SEO. If people are looking for delivery or curbside pick-up, those keywords better be in multiple places throughout the site. Do some research on how you currently rank on Google, or even how you would describe a restaurant like yours and see the results you get. Get an idea of how other restaurants are doing it. Once you have a firm grasp of how customers can search for you, you can then pepper those key phrases throughout your website and help it rank higher.

2. Take advantage of GMB

Google My Business (GMB) is doing their part to help restaurants adapt as well. 

GMB now offers COVID-19 posts for local businesses.

This allows businesses to keep customers updated — especially to let customers know how easy it is to order online, view updated hours, or just learn about heightened cleaning practices.

Plus, this is one more way to keep the line of communication open between you and your customers. They want to make sure your business, one of their favorite restaurants, is doing okay and adapting to the times. These are your neighbors and there’s an extra surge to support local businesses. Make sure you keep your information current and stay top of mind with your loyal local diners.

3. Use Yelp’s free resources

Yelp is offering relief for small independently-owned restaurants and bars, including $25 million in waived fees, free advertising, and use of products and services. In their March 20 announcement, they noted that their past week’s data had shown a 54% dip in traffic for restaurants and 69% for nightlife businesses, inspiring the initiative.

Whether or not you currently have a Yelp Ads account, there is relief as long as you’re independently-owned and have under five locations.

Some of the relief options include free upgrades and access to:

  • Yelp Connect
  • Business Highlights
  • Call to Action
  • Yelp Reservations
  • Yelp Waitlist

For eligible businesses, Yelp is also offering a free $100 Yelp Ads campaign through April 30.

Restaurants can do a lot of the set-up themselves without needing to get in touch with anyone. Here’s how to get your account up and running with Call to Action, Business Highlights, and Yelp Connect.

Customers love local

Everyone’s pulling for our restaurants. You have no idea how badly your customers want to see you come out on the other side of this, stronger and more efficient (and searchable) than ever. Keep your online presence updated, communicate with your customers, and employ relevant SEO keywords on your site. Here, we only covered your website’s SEO, GMB, and Yelp, but take a sweep over any of your other online presences as well — Facebook, GrubHub, wherever — and make sure it’s all consistent. Customers can come from anywhere, so be sure your hours, policies, etc. are echoed across platforms.


Photo by LondonFog_mt on Unsplash


Have questions about boosting your business? Contact Delicious Promotions, FYIN's team of restaurant marketing specialists, for help.