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  • ASK Restaurants Making a Meal Out of Their SEO Strategy!

    I very rarely write about individual website’s which are making mistakes online, but looking at the ASK restaurants website yesterday I was very surprised to see how a well-known UK brand has paid little or no attention to their search strategy.

    Being a popular restaurant chain there are many opportunities to attract potential customers on the web and at the moment ASK do not appear to be taking advantage of these.

    Quick Restaurant SEO Tips for ASK

    This seems to be a perfect example of common mistakes website’s can make online. So seeing that there’s so many missed opportunities at the moment, I have listed some tips which they (and other similar sites) could apply in order to quickly start making an impact:

    • From a branding perspective it just about does it’s job, albeit ranking behind Ask.com/.co.uk which are dominating queries for ASK. If you are looking specifically for ASK restaurants in a search engine you will find them, but looking at the search rankings the current traffic levels are likely to be very brand based. There’s very little optimisation work around attracting new visits and potential customers to the site.
    • Website is all Flash-based – As much as Google has improved how Flash content is indexed, it’s still far easier to optimise content which is managed in an HTML format. Flash website’s still rank in Google, but this is largely because of their backlinks – a more HTML-based site would help the site attract organic traffic for targeted keywords.
    • Duplicate content issues – when clicking around through the navigation the URL’s switch over to www.askcentral.co.uk, this contains an exact copy of the www.askrestaurants.com website, confusing the user and definitely weakening the strength of their own website by separating content across the two domains.
    • The site is poorly optimised for locational keywords – this even gets outranked by review sites for it’s own branded location searches such as: ASK Abingdon. The information for each location is a very basic, un-optimised webpage so it’s easy to see why they are being outranked here by site’s which are better optimised and contain more useful content.
    • Not using paid search at all – for branded and locational/geo-targeted Italian restaurant queries a modest PPC budget would be sufficient here and help them to attract potential customers via a targeted campaign.
    • Not listed on Google Local – If you perform a Google search on Oxford Italian Restaurants the Google Local blended search results are listed at the top. When ASK are listed here (or in Google Maps), it’s only because they have been listed by a restaurant guide – rather than controlling the listing and clickthrough traffic itself.
    • Poor title and meta tags – the title tags are really not optimised for any type of non-branded, traffic driving search terms. Plus there is no meta description tag, meaning that the result snippet when listed in the search engines is empty!
    • No website analytics?! – I may be wrong here, but I struggled to find any tracking code – every website should be aware of its online performance. So if they are not even measuring the traffic and user activity on the site then that could be one of the main reasons why they don’t realise there’s so much potential for improvement here!

    So those are just some very quick ways which ASK (and other restaurant website’s) can look to improve their profile in the search engines. And maybe you can get away with the odd pun headline once in a while too! :)


    7 Responses to “ASK Restaurants Making a Meal Out of Their SEO Strategy!”

    1. Nina Greaves says:

      What a great way to reach out to a household name, I do hope the CEO picks up on this. I nearly fell off my chair when you revealed they don’t have GA installed – I checked the source code and I can’t see it so you’re right!

      Astonishing stuff. Thanks for taking the time to share.

    2. David says:

      Great post around the simple items just aren’t done…

      Checked the website and I agree there is no web analytics, but i really love the signup form takes you from http://www.askrestaurants.com/mainpage.html a whole new domain. “Mainpage” as a url has set a whole new standard in quality standards webdesign!

      Best way to destroy any trust they may have is to send people to a sketchy domain as shown: http://www.askrestaurant-offers.co.uk/signup/

    3. Daniel says:

      This article relates to a lot of websites currently out there on the web where they are late in embracing the power that search marketing can bring. People like having pretty websites but, that doesn’t mean that they are easily accessible to search engines as you have pointed out in the article. Even basic search marketing is missing and with the web being one of if not the 1st point of call when looking for directions, address, phone numbers, etc you would think local search would be something that is a priority.


    4. @Nina, the lack of analytics is bad for a small hobby site – for a well-known brand it’s incredible! Of-course it’s possible they are analysing using log files or Hitwise, but very unlikely looking at the site and they should still be running a web analytics package alongside this even if that is the case.

      @David, yep exactly – they are really shooting themselves in the foot here. High-street brands should really have no problem in building up a strong website (using a single-domain strategy) which can rank very well.

      @Daniel, yes – there’s a lot of the basics missing here and getting listed in Google Local is so easy and extremely valuable to restaurants (probably more than most businesses) that it should be a no-brainer.

    5. This is surprising.ASK restaurants are not optimising SEO, how many other UK brands are missing an opportunity? http://tinyurl.com/yfl8sc7

    6. I think it’s just down to laziness. The website is probably last on their list of priorities, many companies like this are ignorant of the benefits they can gain from having a good website that has good on-site seo. It would not only help attract more customers but would also spread their brand name more.

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