SEO Tips for Restaurants: Drive More Diners to Book Reservations

Your restaurant’s website is where you tell your story. You invest time and resources into getting it just right – a responsive template, beautiful design, quality photos – but those are just the first steps. You want to be sure that someone typing your restaurant’s name into Google is going to find what they’re looking for and – hopefully – become your guest. 

Ideally, you should drive potential diners to your website and to your OpenTable profile page, because bookings through these sources have lower cancellations than those made directly from a Google search result page. Use the real estate on search result pages to send people to your platforms, rather than having them book via Google’s knowledge panel or Google Maps. That’s where search engine optimisation comes in. 

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is key to making sure your restaurant is front and center in search results, which are now more competitive than ever. We tapped OpenTable’s internal team to learn how to optimise your restaurant site and your OpenTable profile page, so that booking a reservation is never more than two clicks away. Read on for pro tips.

How to Maximise Google Search Results

Generally, it’s not too hard for your restaurant to get the first listing in Google search results with a good website. But if you’re smart about how you structure your site, it’s possible to get several top results in Google – or what we like to call “a very large listing.” A large listing is one that takes up more real estate in Google search results, driving more clicks and pushing competitive links down the page.

TIP: Google likes large listings, and they lead to more clicks to your site. That’s because large listings provide a prominent space to convey lots of relevant information about your restaurant.

To make a large listing, create distinct pages of your website focused on topics that people are searching for. Google will often give a restaurant website up to three separate search results. The two most important and easiest ways to get additional listings on Google are to create different Menu and Reservations pages in your website. Other common pages that help generate additional listings include About, Contact, Directions and Gallery pages.

These large listings look different on Google desktop and on mobile search. On Google desktop you’ll either get a single large listing with “sitelinks,” like this:

Or you can get up to three independent desktop listings:

On mobile, the large sitelink listing looks like this:

And the multiple mobile listings can look like this:

There’s no way to guarantee that Google will give your site large or multiple listings. Even if you do get them, you can’t control which ones Google will use. In general, though, sites with more pages and greater authority are more likely to get the “sitelinks” version.

Here are two key tips to get extra listings:  

  • Keep your navigation simple. Build a very easy to understand website structure, where Google can easily identify pages focused on topics like Menu and Reservations.
  • Tag your pages. Use page titles and meta descriptions so it’s clear to users that the page is about these topics.

The website for Boulder’s SALT restaurant provides a good example of simple, clear navigation.

The navigation at the top links to each page with a single keyword, and the same navigation menu appears on every page. The URL for each page features the menu keyword.

Menu Page

To create a menu page that performs well in search, you’ll need to:

  • Include a current menu on the page in plain text (not an image or a pdf). 
  • Include the word “Menu” on the page, particularly in headings. It’s especially good practice to tag the main heading with the html “h1” tag. 
  • Set the “title” html tag of this page to what you would like to appear in search. A good title should include the name of your restaurant and the word “Menu” and be about 50 characters long.
  • Set the “meta description” html tag to a short sentence, about 160 characters, describing the contents of the page. Try something like: “See our complete menu and our extensive wine list.” Users also like to see an example of the content they are going to see if they click, so another good option is to list your top menu items. 
  • If possible, have the word “menu” in the page’s URL (aka “www.yourrestaurantname.com/menu”)
  • If there are links to your menu page (ie via your website’s navigation bar or, say, in a blog post), be sure that the text hyperlinked has the word “menu” in it.

For example, to get a listing like this:

Include the following html tags:

<title>Menu – COTOGNA</title>

<meta name=”description” content=”Local halibut crudo with summer melon & chile oil. Gazpacho. Burrata con caviale. Prosciutto with gnocco fritto, gorgonzola & lambrusco onion.” >

The strongest and easiest word to use for this page is “Menu,” and it’s best to start with that. But Google does understand synonyms. So if it better fits the theme of your restaurant, you can use obvious synonyms like “food and drink.”

Restaurants with multiple service periods – say, brunch and dinner – may decide to include multiple menus on their websites. If you do, it’s important to make sure each menu has a unique URL that includes the word “menu” (for example, myrestaurant.com/dinner-menu). Avoid embedding menus on other pages, like the home page or Reservations page. 

Reservations Page

Today, diners want one thing when it comes to restaurant reservations: the ability to book a table online – and luckily, OpenTable makes it easy to do. To make a good search page for your online reservations, follow these tips:

  • Prominently display how to reserve a seat at your restaurant, either by linking directly to your OpenTable profile’s reservation section or by including the OpenTable restaurant reservation widget on this page. The widget allows users to make a reservation without leaving your site. You can get the exact link or widget embed code from OpenTable’s GuestCenter
  • Improve the page’s ranking by describing your reservation policies, such as how far in advance reservations can be made, requirements for party sizes, and the like.
  • Include the word “Reservations” on the page, particularly in headings, and especially in the “h1” tag.
  • Like the menu page, set the “title” html tag to what you would like to appear in search. A good title should include the name of your restaurant and the word “Reservations.”
  • Set the “meta description” html tag to a short sentence, about 160 characters, describing the contents of the page. If users can make online reservations, definitely make that clear in the description so they know it’s possible before they click on the search result.
  • If possible, have the word “reservations” in the URL.
  • If there are links to your reservation page (i.e. via your website’s navigation bar or, say, in a blog post), be sure the text that is hyperlinked has the word “reservations” in it.

For example, to get a reservation listing like this:

Include the following html tags:

<title>Reservations – Barrel Head Brewhouse</title>

<meta name=”description” content=”Online Reservations. Please use the widget above to make a reservation using our online system. Just select your date, time and number of guests” >

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