7 Reliable Local SEO Tips To Grow Your Restaurant Exposure

Put your restaurant on new customers' radars by setting up your Google Business Profile and making sure your listings are accurate.

10 min read
March 26, 2024

Key takeaways

  • Set up a Google Business Profile with accurate contact info and store hours to show that your restaurant is relevant and reliable for those searching for a bite to eat.  
  • Making your website and menu user-friendly and including important keywords for your business can help you appear in your customers’ searches more.
  • Become more prominent in searches for your area by encouraging reviews, boosting your social media presence and collaborating with local businesses.

There are nearly 750,000 restaurants in the U.S. alone. With so many options, I don’t need to tell you how tough it is to get new customers to find your restaurant. The good news is you’re not competing with the entire country — you just need to find a way to stand out against your local competition. That's where local search engine optimization (SEO) can be your greatest advantage. 

Local SEO is a way to make sure your restaurant stands out when people in your area search online for places to grab a bite.

When someone searches for places to eat on Google, it shows them nearby restaurants that match what they're looking for. A restaurant’s relevance, proximity and reviews will determine whether it shows up in the top three results, or the "3-pack" on Google Maps.


Getting your restaurant in that coveted 3-pack can make a bigger difference in attracting new customers than any other marketing channel you’re considering. And the best part is, you don't need to be a tech expert to do it. I'm sharing seven simple and effective ways you can use local SEO for restaurants to increase visibility to your restaurant. 

If you’re interested in improving your local SEO further, check out my video below:

1. Place Relevant Keywords on Your Website    

Using keywords on your website that reflect your business tells Google that your restaurant is relevant. The key is to understand what terms people are searching for when they want to spend their money at a restaurant like yours. 

Using these keywords can help your restaurant appear in Google search results, where more people can see your restaurant info when deciding where to eat. 

For example, you can include descriptive keywords about your cuisine on your website. I suggest basing your local keywords on these examples to stand out and help customers in your area find you: 

  • Delicious Italian food in San Francisco 
  • Authentic Indian restaurant in Santa Monica 
  • Best homemade, organic pizza in Orange County   
  • Affordable vegetarian restaurant in Long Beach, CA

Make sure your keywords are as specific as possible and unique to your restaurant’s offerings. Your menu and contact page are also great places to add these, as well as your About page, which should tell a unique story of who your restaurant is. 

Make your website as engaging as possible — don't bore your customers with dry descriptions. Get their mouth watering and keep them scrolling with unique keywords and a compelling story. If customers are more engaged, they’ll stay on the page longer, which will tell Google that your restaurant is relevant. 

2. Set Up Your Google Business Profile 

If you haven’t already, set up your Google Business Profile. Your Google Business Profile (GBP) listing is the first thing that pops up when someone searches for your restaurant and shows important details like your business contact information, hours and directions. Plus, you can do it for free! 

Your GBP can help you stand out from competitors and show up as the first result when customers search for your restaurant, resulting in more customers and sales. For example, which GBP listing would you rather click on?

Screenshot of a good and bad GBP listing

Which would you rather visit?

Customers will be more likely to gravitate towards Lolita’s — it gives them so much more information. Alberto’s is missing their phone number, hours and website. Lolita’s listing covers all that and also features a button to order online, service options, a description of offerings and more. 

By providing more information to your customers, the more likely they’ll be able to find and visit you.  They’re likely getting more customers, which means more sales.  

So, how do you get the most out of your GBP listing? Here are some things I recommend: 

  • Add the important information: For customers to find you, they’ll need your business name, address, phone number and website. Add your hours of operation here, too. 
  • Link your menu: You can link your menu from your website. Linking your menu can help entice your customers and is also another avenue that points them to your website. Also, add your menu items to help your restaurant appear in Google Maps when people search for local places to eat. 
  • Include descriptive local keywords: Use local keywords in the listing description to tell customers what sets you apart and help Google connect you with relevant searches. For instance, an Indian restaurant might write, "Modern and airy dining in San Francisco serving locally sourced Indian cuisine, plus craft cocktails and homemade desserts."   
  • Add photos: Use your GBP listing to upload high-quality pictures showcasing your ambiance and delectable dishes, enticing potential customers. Make these images as high quality as possible.
  • Showcase your reviews: Most customers look at reviews before deciding on where to eat, so highlighting your reviews can help draw them into your restaurant. I’ll touch on how you can attract more reviews later in this post. 

For inspiration, check out how Talkin’ Tacos Miramar location successfully set up their GBP listing:

Talkin' Tacos Miramar GBP screenshot

Their listing stands out from others because it includes a direct online ordering link, which guides customers on ordering options and lists their website first. Doing so helps steer more customers to order directly through them, rather than with third-party apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash which have costly delivery fees. 

Once you set up your restaurant’s Business Profile, remember to keep it up to date. If you move locations, you’ll want to add your new address, or if you change your hours, update that, too. And, if you close for a holiday, update your closure dates so customers don’t show up to an empty restaurant — accurate information can help show that you’re a reliable business.  

For a bit more guidance, check out my video below on how to set up your GBP:

3. Improve Website and Menu SEO 

An updated website and menu are crucial for attracting local customers to your restaurant and increasing its sales. To make your website and menu more local SEO-friendly, here are some quick tips I suggest trying out: 

  • Improve your website’s user experience:  You should offer your website visitors the same excellent experience they’d get if they were seated in your restaurant. Not only do your potential customers expect a first-class experience, but so does Google. Make sure your website’s links are up-to-date, information is accurate and easy to find, and your site is mobile-friendly.  
  • Add links to your website: Does your restaurant sponsor local non-profits and sports teams or participate in upcoming events? Ask them to link to your restaurant to boost your visibility. Consider trading a link for a discount code or free menu item as an incentive. 
  • Update your menu: Since you’ll link your menu to your GBP, make sure your menu is updated and easy to read — I usually advise against PDFs since the text can be too small, but these restaurant menu design templates are a strong starting point. 
  • Consider a website builder: Website builders for restaurants aim to make it easy and quick for you to upgrade your current website to one that attracts more customers and grows your sales. For example, Doo-Dah Diner used Owner.com’s website builder to help modernize their site and get new customers with Google SEO features, placing them in the top five Google rankings and $7,000 per month in direct online sales.
Screenshot of Doo-Dah Diner's online ordering page

Made with Owner.com's website builder

4. Encourage Reviews From Customers   

Google loves restaurants with lots of reviews because it shows that people are talking about and engaging with your place. Reviews are also like digital word of mouth — customers are more likely to check out a restaurant if previous customers liked it.  

If you’re feeling light in the review department, here are some ways you can encourage your customers to leave their thoughts:

  • Link to review pages: Include quotes from your Google Business reviews in your email marketing efforts, throughout your website, via QR code or on your takeout bags, and ask customers for a shoutout.  
  • Offer incentives: Entice your customers with a reward, gift card or promotion code in exchange for a review.
  • Respond to reviews (the good and the bad): Responding to your reviews shows customers that you value their feedback — Google likes to see this and will favor your restaurant more and push you toward the top of search results.

For example, Sauced Pizzeria is a solid example of a business that responds to its customers' reviews with thoughtful messages, all of which are showing up in their GBP:

An example of a review response from Sauced Pizzeria

5. Ensure Your Listings Are Accurate 

Make sure that your restaurant name, address and phone number (NAP) are all the same everywhere that it’s posted. When Google sees this consistency, it knows your info is solid and reliable and will show your restaurant to more potential customers. Double-check sites that your restaurant could be mentioned, like: 

  • Yelp 
  • Tripadvisor
  • Yellow Pages 
  • Foursquare 
  • Better Business Bureau
Doo-Dah diner NAP

Having consistent restaurant information is not only good for Google — it also lets potential customers know they can trust that you’re open when you say you are and don't have to hunt for your contact information. All it takes is a customer dialing an incorrectly listed number to never check out your restaurant. 

6. Join Forces With Local Outlets 

To increase how easily people can find you, reach out to local businesses, such as newspapers, food guides and bloggers and see if they'd be up for featuring you in one of their upcoming posts. 

Plus, why not get involved in community events, like fundraisers, cooking competitions or local festivals? It's a great way to get people talking about you and get noticed. Getting links from local outlets can really boost your chances of scoring higher rankings from Google in your area. Not only does it work wonders for your local SEO, but it's also a fantastic way to contribute positively to the community.

Puesto, a Mexican restaurant located in San Diego loves to get involved with the local community through Puesto Cares. They partner with local organizations like Scripps Cancer Care and sponsor La Jolla Youth Baseball team to help support Lymphoma research and patient care.  

Screenshot of Puesto Cares web page

Getting your name out there can attract customers in your area and be a great restaurant promotion idea that drives sales — plus, it can give you some fun and engaging content to feature on your social media platforms. 

7. Boost Your Social Media Efforts 

Social media may not directly help your local SEO like setting up your GBP will, but it can get others to talk about your restaurant, attract the local community and drive more sales. Social media isn’t usually the most time-efficient for restaurants, which is why it ranks lower on the list. But once you've got a handle on these local SEO  tips, it starts to make a lot more sense to put some effort into it. 

I recommend creating and sharing content that is relevant, useful and appealing to your local audience like: 

  • Creating a video that gives viewers a tour of your restaurant
  • Giving a behind-the-scenes look into how popular menu items are made 
  • Making a post that introduces the chef or staff member  

For example, Talkin’ Tacos does an excellent job of showcasing how their tacos and other food items are made on their TikTok — and it looks delicious too.

Screenshot of Talkin' Tacos TikTok page

Plus, when you ask customers to share pics and reviews of their meals on social media, it's like getting a big thumbs up for your restaurant. Not only does it show off your great food, but it also creates awesome user-generated content that boosts your restaurant's online presence. 

Upgrade Your Website To Increase Local Visibility 

Getting noticed by new customers in your neighborhood is all about having a killer website. When your site looks sharp and has all the details mentioned in this post, it tells Google that your restaurant is a hot spot and worth showing off. Plus, having a top-notch website beefs up your GBP listing, which is crucial for local SEO success. 

Rather than giving all your sales and customer data to third-party apps like DoorDash, use Owner so you can easily upgrade your restaurant website to increase your digital visibility and connect with customers directly.

Frequently asked questions

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Adam Guild is the CEO of Owner, a restaurant marketing platform that makes online growth easy for restaurants.


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