SEO strategies is imperative for anyone that owns a bar or restaurant. The
local pub typically relies on local passersby who want to come in for a beer
and wings or watch the game in order to generate consistent revenue on a
day-to-day basis. That’s particularly true on weekends. Depending on local customers
means focusing as SEO efforts locally and making sure that when people search
for a fun place to eat and enjoy an adult beverage, your establishment is the
one that pops up first.
The reality is that an
of all the clicks for a given keyword go to the first page of organic
results. One third of those clicks go to the number one spot. Ranking first is
That’s why we’ve collected
and curated some of the top as SEO tips for bar owners. Planning a robust
marketing strategy in advance while implementing these tips is sure to increase
any bar owner’s chances of getting that coveted number one spot. Apply these
tips and watch the name of your bar move up the rankings.
Crafting a Thorough SEO Strategy for
Implementing an SEO
strategy requires thoughtful planning. Keyword research is certainly a big part
of it, but bar owners who only do that and simply slap up advertising on Google’s
platforms are only taking care of one part of the whole thing, and that’s
advertising, not so much related to getting organic results.
establishment caters to a specific audience, for example those looking to spend
money on premium stake or fine wine, there’s probably a clearly define the
distance that the prospective customer is willing to travel in order to get
their hands on your beer and chicken wings, or to watch the local professional
sports team play.
So that’s the first
step in the bar owner’s search
engine optimization manual: define what your local targeting area is going
to be. Once you know that, your keyword research can begin. Choosing keywords
to target is easier if you break them down into three different categories:
any bar owner would use.
related to the specific niche your bar serves (i.e. steakhouse, pub or sports
related to the specific
brand name of your establishment (i.e. Heroes Sports Bar, Jerome Bettis’
Grille 36 etc…)
General Bar and Restaurant Terms
General terms related
to going to a local bar aim to cast a wide net. The average person looking for
a place to watch the game just wants a big-screen and decently priced food and
drinks which most bars will offer. This keyword strategy may not be good for
branding purposes but it’s necessary to chase these terms because people use
them. Examples of general bar and restaurant terms that might work for this
particular part of the strategy include “New York bar”, “New York restaurant”, “New
York pub”. Clearly in this example, the term New York could reference the city
or the state. Adding city to the phrase New York might be necessary, but even
then it’s still a fairly broad way to search.
For the family owned
bar and restaurant that doesn’t have a big brand name and isn’t associated with
a large chain, targeting keywords that name a specific area of the city or
borough are the best.
Coming up with all of
these terms off the top of your head can be difficult. There may be a lot of
terms you don’t think of until after you’ve started implementing your strategy.
One of the best tools you can use to make sure that you get all of the relevant
terms you’re looking for is Google’s free
keyword planner. There are many other paid keyword tools that promise to
get you the big-money terms that are easiest to rank for, but the free planner
is a great start.
Super Targeted Terms for your Bar
Targeting bar hoppers
looking for a conveniently located hotspot can be done with generic terms, but
what if your bar serves a specific audience? Some bar hoppers want to go to an
Irish pub that plays live music, others want to watch the big game. Others
still want a high end dining experience with a view of the lake shore.
To come up with these
targeted terms it’s important to ask yourself two questions:
unique features does your bar offer that other local competitors don’t? and
Who is the
ideal customer that comes to eat and drink at your establishment?
Bars and restaurants
located close to a body of water or a beautiful view typically charge a higher
price. This is because when people go out to eat, they’re not just paying to
eat the food, drink the drinks and watch the game. They’re paying for the
atmosphere and the ambience, and the fact that they can have exactly what they
want delivered on a plate within a reasonable amount of time and they don’t
have to do the dishes after the fact.
There’s a saying and
marketing that people don’t want you to catch the fish and they don’t want to
learn to fish themselves. All they really want is a fish sandwich. How does
your bar give your target customer the fish sandwich they really want?
If your customer’s
idea of a fish sandwich is being served a delicious vegan meal, you need to
know that. If they want a high volume of dirt cheap nachos, you need to cater
to that. If they’re looking for a premium steak cooked just the way they like
it, it’s your job to serve them.
Noble your customer is
and come up with the most specific keywords you can related to what really brings
them through your doors. “All you can eat”, Half-priced wings”, “sports bar big
screen”, and “best places to watch football” are all niche-specific search
Brand Name Keywords
Brand name keywords
are probably the most important buyer keywords any local business owner should
target, including you, the local bar owner. Anybody who knows the brand name of
your restaurant and thinks about it enough to type it into the Google search
bar definitely has a strong intention to show up at your establishment for the
big game. You don’t want to overuse branded keywords in your content because
Google doesn’t like too much self-promotion. Any website can brag about its own
products or services, right?
You definitely want to
have content on your website related to your brand name. You do need to use
your website to promote a brand. This means engaging in content marketing, like
blogging or looking for local publicity so that maybe news websites or popular blogs
feature your website and mention your brand.
It also means likely investing paid advertising, like pay-per-click ads via Google or engagement ads on Facebook. You’ll want to spend good money on your branded terms because they indicate a strong intention to show up in person.
combination of these tactics with the help of a digital marketing agency can
really give you the edge over the competition.
List Your Bar in Local Directories
One of the biggest
components of successfully ranking a bar in Google is to list the name, address
and telephone number of your establishment in top local directories and review
websites. This includes Google My Business,
Pages, Bing Places and more.
It’s very important to
have your name, address and telephone number listed properly on every single
site and directory that you register on so that Google’s search engine crawlers
can give you credit for every single link that you have pointing back to your
website. Some top directories are free like Google or Bing, others will charge
you money for exposure. In the long run both can be worth a lot to your
But you don’t have to
simply rely on the major directories that list all local businesses and their
competitors side-by-side. You can find directories specific to bars. Those will
get you traffic too. There may even be directories specific to a local area or
just businesses within a certain radius. They may not be as valuable as Google
or the Yellow Pages, but they may get you very relevant traffic.
Note: in the world of
search engine optimization, a listing of your business’s name, address and
telephone number together on a directory site (any directory site) is referred
to as a local citation.
Acquiring Customer Reviews
Getting big websites to
link back to yours is one of the most important parts of any search engine
optimization strategy. A link from a major website like Forbes.com for example
might rank a particular blog post on your site right away. Nevertheless, guess
posting is something you can get into once your website is optimized and you’re
in local directories.
The biggest reason to
be in local directories outside of getting a link to your site is the fact that
you can accrue customer reviews. All of the sites mentioned in the section
above value reviews just as much as they value your name, address and telephone
number being listed on the site properly. Not only do these websites value that,
customers read reviews. What’s most important about that is the fact that
people are more likely to share reviews at places they’ve eaten then they are
to leave a review for almost any other type of business. People like to know
that when they shopped to an establishment to eat, lots of other raving
customers have already co-signed on the idea before they even show up.
One way to get reviews
is to run a contest where you give away a gift card to your existing customers.
This works especially well if you already have an emailing list or you’re
willing to promote the idea of leaving a review somewhere near the entrance of
your bar where everyone can see it as they walk in.
important to give people top-notch customer service in the best that your
establishment has to offer because you want the best review possible. But it’s
not enough to just get good reviews. You need to be able to respond to the
negative reviews (and people will leave negative reviews) and turn them in to
positive ones. Google in all of these other listing directories reward
engagement both on the behalf of people leaving reviews and the business that
response to them.
Staying engaged with
your customers on these review sites is vitally important and it shows that you
care about your brand and the experience you deliver to people coming to your
Create Locally Focused Content
your website and specifically your blogging content will drive traffic in the
long run. Especially if you’ve done the keyword research and you know exactly
what words you can chase. If you don’t know which words to chase, hiring a
digital marketing agency to do the grunt work for you can help. You can have
them do the keyword research and create the content or just do the research and
write the content yourself.
The point is you need
to come up with content that’s locally focused, in the same way that your link
building strategy might be focused on getting exposure on local blogs and
directory websites. If you think you have the best sports bar in town, create a
blog post titled “Why [BLANK] is the best sports bar in New York” for example.
That way when people search for the best sports bar in New York, your
establishment comes up. Assuming that your blogging consistently and constantly
fine-tuning your search engine optimization strategy of course. Creating
content and having third party websites link to it is collectively referred to
as planning a content marketing strategy.
Optimizing Your Website
We’ve already touched
on keyword research and the importance of using them within content on your
website. You also want to use them within URLs, title tags, meta descriptions
page content, image labels and section headings.
You never want to
spend keywords and use them where they are not necessary. You want your content
to be readable to the average person while still respecting Google’s algorithm.
Encompassing that in putting it together with your brand and marketing strategy
is an ongoing task that needs to be fulfilled every single day.
As a small business
owner dedicated to running your bar it will be tough to do all of this on your
own, but one free tool you can use to help that cause is Google Search Console.
It’s a free tool that gives you analytics about the performance of your website
and draws your attention to any errors or issues that might impact the way your
website is displayed, the way people view the content or the way the website
ranks and Google search results.
Hiring a digital
marketing company to help you with all of this optimization is strongly
recommended, but you can learn the basics on your own.
Using Schema to help
Google crawl your website is pretty advanced. Most small business owners
including restaurant and bar owners won’t want to do this themselves. Just know
that schema is a way of structuring data to provide information about the
following kinds of content:
Coding your website
with proper schema can be quite technical. Don’t do it yourself, higher
professional. That said, if you want to learn the basics, check out Google’s Structured
Markup Helper. You can also go to schema.org
and look up restaurant specific coding.
Hire a Digital Marketing Agency to
Handle your SEO
If you’re going to go
through schema, local citations, search engine optimization, paid ads and
social media on your own, you’re going to be working around the clock. That’s
just to handle your marketing and SEO, never mind actually running your bar and
managing your staff.
Take all the tips in
this article and hire an agency to implement it all for you. It’ll be worth it
in the long run and it’s how you get your bar to the top of Google searches in
the most efficient and effective way.