In my previous career life I was in the restaurant business. It is a business that seems to have nothing in common with search engine optimization at first glance. As a current SEO strategist, I can’t help but see parallels between developing a successful restaurant concept and developing great SEO for a website.
Restaurant Name vs Page Title
Naming a restaurant can be tricky. You want the name to effectively describe your menu, style and ambiance in just a few words. To do so you must research your target audience and be able to define the section of the market you are targeting. Then you have to relate the restaurant concept and menu development to the likes, wants and needs of that segment. It is imperative to create a name that represents your offerings in a relevant way to that targeted audience. For example “Sally’s Salads” would not be a great name for a restaurant looking to attract people searching for the world’s best burger.
Similarly, when creating a title tag for the URL of your homepage, you must clearly describe what it’s all about to make it easy for searchers to understand and relevant to the rest of the content on your page. Let’s imagine that Sally’s Salads is a restaurant that specializes in a vegetarian menu for people with a high level of disposable income in Beverly Hills. A good title tag might be ‘Sally’s Salads – Beverly Hills’ Finest Vegetarian Cuisine’. This is an easy to understand descriptor of what Sally sells, where she is located and to whom she sells. Keep in mind, though, that size matters and longer isn’t always better. There’s a reason that “T.J. Applebee’s Edibles and Elixirs” was shortened to “Applebee’s”. A good rule of thumb is to keep your title tags to around 50-65 characters in length including spaces.
Menu Layout vs Website Navigation
At Sally’s Salads the menu is titled as either ‘Lunch’ or ‘Dinner’ and is categorized into different sections. This allows her customer to easily differentiate an appetizer from an entrée. Even a first time customer is able to find exactly what they want. Her menu item titles are the headings that allow people to determine what each item contains.
Typically speaking, search engines will look to the title tags and website navigation along with each page’s headings to assist in determining what is on that page. On a page, the title tag should contain the main keyword for that page as close to the beginning as possible along with a brief description to help draw readers to that page. The heading should contain the keywords that are relevant to the content on that page. Each sub-heading should effectively describe the content in that sub-section and each sub-section should be consistent with the overall theme of the page. Make sure that your navigation has an intuitive flow to it and include a sitemap to help the crawlers find and classify the content on your site.
Ingredients vs Keywords
Sally wants to make sure her ingredients match the menu item title to avoid confusion for her hungry patrons. When someone orders the Spinach Berry Salad they should feel confident that their selection is a salad that includes spinach and some sort of berry. The description should then go further and contain other ingredients based around the title like “strawberries, blueberries and a light vinaigrette dressing.”
Ensuring that the keywords and content on your web page match the page heading is critical for web page optimization. You don’t want to confuse the search crawlers with mismatched content. This will ultimately affect your rankings for those keywords that you worked so painstakingly to produce. You want to maintain consistency within each page’s content and use other keywords closely related to the heading to help optimize the page for the search engines.
SEO is as critical to a website as a menu is to a restaurant. By keeping these simple concepts in mind when optimizing your site, the search engine crawlers will be able to read and index your site better and you will rank higher in relevant searches.
As an added bonus you now know have enough knowledge to finally open up that bar & grill that you’ve always wanted.