The anatomy of a good restaurant review begins before you step into the restaurant and continues after the review is written. Here are 11 points to remember when you are reviewing a restaurant.
1. Be courteous to the staff and don’t forget to tip. It doesn’t cost anything to be friendly to the waitstaff, yet people often forget to do this. Always say please and thank you. And when you are getting a comped meal, for goodness sake, TIP!
2. Remember to take pictures of the menu if different than what was online. Yes, you should have studied the menu online before you got to the restaurant. That way you are somewhat familiar with it and while at the restaurant can observe the decor and demeanor of the staff and interaction with guests.
3. Jot down notes about the meal withing 24-48 hours of getting home. You’d be surprised at what you forget after a couple of days go by. Plus, it makes the writing process much easier, than waiting weeks to write your blog post.
4. Spend time editing your photos. Remember the rule of thirds and that sometimes a background of a glass of wine or sides are great. Pictures help to tell your story so make sure you get good ones. Camera pictures are often times just fine. If it is dark, ask a friend to shine their flashlight over your plate to capture a good image.
5. Write the post then go back and SEO it. Just let the thoughts flow out of your mind as you write. Get the content out that you want. Then go back and optimze your restaurant review post for the search engines.
6. Use the ALT tag in descriptions. Search engines aren’t just looking at text. They look at the file names of images and the ALT tag in your descriptions. It only takes a couple extra seconds to tag your photos correctly but worth it for the extra boost in search engines for your restaurant review.
7. Re-size large images into smaller ones for faster load time. Sure with WordPress you can upload a large file and make it smaller in your blog post, but the large file size will still take longer to load vs. a small image. Also, if you upload smaller images it lessens the chance that someone will try to steal it.
8. Share your post on your personal Facebook page, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. So often, I see bloggers you write terrific posts and then don’t bother sharing across their social media platforms. While different bloggers have different luck with various platforms (I never get traffic from Instagram), you should experiment to see what works.
9. Make sure you include an eye-catching graphic. The image helps entice readers to click on your restaurant review post. Along with the beautiful image you took at the restaurant, try using a graphics program such as Canva. Easily upload your images and add title to them in an array of fonts and colors. This image can be used when you share your restaurant review on social media.
10. Use Clickbait. Wait, what? Encourage clickbait? Yes, if you are sharing useful information. Share an image that doesn’t give away the restaurant but is so enticing, people have to click through to find out what restaurant that truffle pizza, pop-rock duck, (insert food porn words here), etc are. In a couple days you can go back and tag the restaurant in your post. Use a URL shortener like bitly, hootsuite, etc (so people can’t see the full SEO optimized title), then share a picture that doesn’t give away the restaurant. Once that’s done, start with an enticing lead in like, “You’ll never guess where I had the best mac and cheese.” Something that people just can’t resist clicking on.
11. Email the review to the restaurant and publicist or tag the restaurant on social in hopes that they will share your restaurant review. I’ve often got a good boost in traffic after a restaurant shares my review on their own social network. Make it easy for them to share. I always send a sample social share tailored to Twitter. That way, they can just copy + paste.