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Yellow Pages are largely a thing of the past. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who still relies on them. Thanks to the Internet it is now easier than ever to find details about any local business, read customer reviews, and even get directions. All with a simple search and without having to flip through hundreds of pages in a phone book.

But actually showing up in the search results is an entirely different matter.

Ranking for certain keywords can be extremely competitive. Google has also recently implemented changes to the local search pack to display only three results instead of seven.

Here is an example for a search for local restaurants in Austin:

Austin Restaurants Local SEO Results

Ranking in the local search pack can attract more customers to your restaurant or cafe. But you can’t just build a site and expect to rank for your keywords. Nor can you buy your way to the top. Not doing anything though could be detrimental to your business as your target market is more than likely online.

So how can you rank for target keywords and drive more foot traffic?

We answer that question in more detail here with 3 local SEO ranking tips for restaurants and cafes.

1. Create a Profile on Google My Business

Google My Business is an absolute must for restaurants and cafes.

Data on local search behavior reveals that 4 out of 5 consumers turn to search to find nearby businesses. The same study found that searches on mobile devices were more likely to lead to store visits. Ranking in local search then can have a dramatic impact to your bottom line.

Creating a profile on Google My Business allows you to:

  • Edit and update your business information
  • View and respond to customer feedback
  • Manage multiple locations
  • See how customers are finding your business
  • Upload quality images and even give a virtual tour with 360 degree imagery

A Google My Business listing also displays more comprehensive information on the right side of the search results for desktop searches:

Austin Cafe GMB Page

Take the time to really make your listing stand out.

Start by making sure that all the basic information (address, phone number, hours, etc.) is filled out and accurate. Photos are especially important for restaurants and cafes as they are typically the first thing that customers browse through. Upload quality images including any specialty items and even of the inside so visitors have a better idea of what to expect.

Verify your business listing to ensure that your business displays in Search and Maps.

2. Get on Yelp and Create Listings on Other Directories

Yelp continues to be a popular destination to find local businesses, attracting tens of millions of visitors each month across mobile and desktop devices.

Restaurants on Yelp

Creating a listing is a straightforward process.

The first step is to claim your business page. Visit the page, then enter your business name and location, and click on the “Get Started” button. Browse through the listings and look for your business.

You should see the following if your business has yet to be claimed:

Yelp claim this business

Click on the “Claim this business” button. To proceed you will need to create a free business account. Similar to Google My Business, with a Yelp account you can:

  • Update your business information
  • View and respond to customer reviews
  • Upload photos of your business
  • Create special deals

An empty listing is a sure way to push visitors to competing businesses so take the time to fully flesh out your profile.

The information you include on your profile (address, phone number, etc.) should be consistent with the details on your My Google Business account. Be sure to also upload quality photos to get more visitors to your restaurant or cafe. If your business takes reservations with OpenTable, you can even connect it to your profile.

In addition to Yelp, there are other popular directories that your business should be on which include:

  • Urbanspoon
  • Foursquare
  • Tripadvisor
  • OpenTable
  • Yellow Pages
  • Citysearch
  • Bing Places
  • Yahoo Local

These types of citations are especially important in terms of local SEO.

Citations—any mention of your business on other sites—add a degree of credibility to your business and can dramatically improve your rankings in the local search results. So create listings on each of the above to build your online presence and make sure that your business details are consistent across all profiles.

3. Optimize Your Site For Mobile Devices

Consumers are no longer limited to their home computers. Data from Google reveals that more than half of all smartphone searches on the go or in-stores have local intent:

Mobile Optimize Your Cafe

This is why mobile cannot be overlooked. Nothing is more frustrating than landing on a site that isn’t mobile friendly. You have to constantly pinch and zoom in just to be able to see the content. And trying to tap on the right link can be seemingly impossible.

Visitors to your site will not hesitate to leave if it is not optimized for their device and Google will even rank it lower in the mobile search results.

Take the following steps to ensure that your site is mobile friendly:

  • Run a quick test: Use Google’s mobile friendly test to determine if your site is optimized for mobile devices. Simply enter in your URL and click on the Analyze button.
  • Implement a responsive design: Building a separate mobile site can be both costly and time-consuming to manage. A better approach is to implement a responsive design This means that the site automatically adjusts to fit all screen resolutions whether the visitor is browsing from a desktop or mobile device.
  • Follow all best practices: Once your site is mobile friendly, it is important to follow all best practices. First, make sure that Google can crawl your JavaScript and image files. Be sure to also avoid software that mobile devices may have problems displaying such as Flash. Finally, avoid using text that is too small to read and place links far enough apart so that the right ones can be tapped.

As more consumers use their mobile devices to search for local restaurants, have a mobile-friendly site is more important than ever.

The restaurant industry can be incredibly competitive.

So you need every advantage at your disposal to generate more foot traffic to your business. This is where local SEO comes in as a strong online presence can ultimately contribute to your bottom line. Implement each of the digital marketing tips as detailed above to give your restaurant or cafe a competitive advantage online.

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