Recent studies on search engine ranking factors prove that the quantity and quality of backlinks (links that point from other sites to yours) are crucial to your website’s ability to rank well in search. There’s no way around it, you need these links to stay ahead of the competition and this fact is no more true than it is within the restaurant industry. Accepting this is one thing, but achieving it is something else altogether. Of all SEO initiatives, natural (unpaid attribution that does not violate Google guidelines) link building is the most difficult to achieve.
Thankfully, you are in an industry that allows you the capability to attract other websites to yours, better than practically any other. Let’s take a look at five tried and true efforts that you can make to get high-authority online resources to link to your restaurant website.
5 Ways to Build Backlinks for Your Restaurant Website Without Breaking the Rules
1. Invite Foodie Bloggers to Your Establishment
Restaurants are among the most discussed (online) types of local businesses. Food bloggers and local media (w/a dining and/or lifestyle/entertainment section) devour as much information as possible on eateries within their locale so that the can be the first to break the news on the latest opening or menu item that will be “all the rage”. When referencing your establishment these online writers will link to your website because it serves the interests of their readers. While you hope word-of-mouth will lead them to your door, such ambitions serve as nothing more than link waiting. If link building you will need to be proactive and reach out to these local online personas and invite them down to sample the best you have to offer. Put your best foot (food and service) forward and they will have a highly satisfying experience, promptly returning to their laptops to tell the tale of their hearty meal and link to your website in the process.
2. Become a Database of Stock Photos for Your Cuisine
High-quality photos equal link building ammunition. Webmasters and bloggers everywhere are tirelessly searching for photos online so that they can use said photos for their own content. One of the most highly searched subjects is food and not everyone wants to use a cookie-cutter stock photo from Getty (etc.) which is being used by slews of other online writers. In order to “borrow” the images from other resources these bloggers and columnists know that they need to provide attribution to the original source. When not paying for it, this honest attribution can only come via a link back to the source – in this case, your website! As a restauranteur, you are in the heart of this high-value subject matter. Snap high-quality images of your most salivation-inducing dishes, your eye-catching interior decor, and attractive staff and host them within a photo gallery than can be found within the navigation menu of your website. Have your SEO specialist optimize the photos (file name, title, and alt-description) with relevant keywords so that searchers (bloggers, etc.) will stumble upon them. Post a clear statement within your photo gallery stating that the images may be used provided that there is linked attribution quoting the original source.
3. Post Your Take on Popular Recipes
Food bloggers are also searching for recipes that they can pass on to their valued readers. Once again, they know that they have to reference the source material. Create a page on your website to host your restaurants’ unique take on popular (highly searched) dishes and encourage others to share the recipes (requesting a link back your site as the source). There is only one strong word of caution here – do not give away your grandmother’s secret recipe to anything – her wrath will be way deadlier than anything Google can dole out!
4. Offer Specials Exclusive to Educational Institutions
Educational institution websites (.edu for the most part) are considered to be among the most high-authority websites in existence. If one links to your website Google will give it more weight (in rank) than they would ten links from hipster coffee-shop-office bloggers. Getting a link on a .edu site is practically impossible for most local businesses, unless you have something they want. You do. Educational institutions are constantly on the lookout for local businesses that support their students on and off campus. Savvy business have long offered significant discounts to the local student body (with student ID), but this has traditionally been done to bring those bodies through the door for increased revenue. But now there is a new benefit. By presenting a great student (and faculty) discount (10% does not cut it anymore) to local educational institutions you will gain favor with them, and have an opening to request that they link to your website, to a page where information on this discount exists. Even if the institution core website itself is averse, their separate online student newspaper will be much more accommodating and will likely provide you with a link to the offer.
5. Support Local Events w/a Strong Online Presence
There’s another surefire way to get links to your restaurant website. This one will require that you get involved in your local community by throwing your hat into the ring for well-known local charity events. This can include the sponsoring (time and food service) of a local marathon, fund-raiser, or other function that has high-visibility in the community, off and online. When you do so, your restaurant will be named (often w/a link) among supporters by local media covering the event and on the website dedicated to the event itself. This link-building tactic may “cost” more than the above four but there are altruistic rewards that span beyond the free links that you receive.
Stay tuned to our blog for up and coming tips to building the backlink profile of your restaurant website.