Local Restaurant SEO - Improving Visibility Through Reviews
Search Engine Optimization is often tough to become successful when working with hyper-local businesses. To begin with, a number of these companies' websites aren't designed or maintained directly by the company themselves - frequently, these small to mid sized organizations enlist the services of an Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) company to produce and manage their website. While they may have access to change content in these cases, it is common for IYPs to only allow usage of certain fields within a site, and not the entire HTML/CSS back-end.
Complicating things further is the lack of a genuine geographic focus with a number of these businesses. Say, for instance, a family group restaurant is found in Schererville, Indiana. In the restaurant ownerships' eyes, they probably feel they serve Northwest Indiana - or potentially even the "greater Chicagoland area" ;.Both are technically true, but do accurately represent their core geographic target, which may be "Schererville, Indiana" and local surrounding areas. Has your family ever driven 45 minutes to eat dinner? It's not totally possible; therefore, "Northwest Indiana" is too broad of a target.
For instances such as my example above, a good way to market the hyper-local geographical target of SMBs may be through sites that enable reviews, such as those offered to consumers on such sites as Yelp, OpenTable, and Yahoo. The first step in managing the restaurant off-site SEO company that serves Newcastle and surrounding areas, or take ownership of profiles that already exist. This allows you to ensure information appearing on these sites, such as website link, contact number, and address, are correct in each instance.
To continue on with my example, let's look at a nearby restaurant in Northwest Indiana, Teibel's Family Restaurant. If you're to search the company's name on Google, as an example, you would see many listings for the restaurant, both from larger review sites including the ones I stated earlier, and less-known data aggregate communities. Though as SEOs, we realize that searching for a brand name isn't the very best indicator of website prominence, the idea listed here is that these sites are helping to donate to the overall Internet profile of Teibel's itself. As evidence, Teibel's website has a PR of 4 - not as harmful to a nearby restaurant in Northwest Indiana.
Reviews are often a touchy subject in the market, namely for just two reasons- prospect of fraud (i.e. fake reviews), and also due to the prospect of negative reviews to hurt a brand image. While I think the former is justified, and the latter may be true, if a business such as a restaurant is receiving a majority of legitimate negative reviews, all of the SEO on the planet probably isn't going to greatly help them very much anyway.