I recently started using and checking out restaurant.com after hearing about them from a friend. I was amazed that I had not heard about them before as it seems like they’ve been around for several years so I went and checked out their website which may help to explain why I hadn’t heard about them. Quite frankly from basic SEO perspective it’s a mess. Their popularity however astounded me but it looked as though they relied heavily on affiliate marketing which makes sense and encourages other people to do the work for you. But boy are they doing a lot of things wrong with their website.

Let’s just have a gander a their search visibility. They have a great domain name so I assume that they would do well for “restaurants” and variations on the phrase. A quick search reveals #1 Google ranking for “restaurants” as anticipated.

That’s a strong keyword phrase with some 68 million broad global searches per month which should in itself yield some good traffic. Let’s have a look at what they do. Coupons would be the obvious selection here so “restaurant coupons” would be a no brainer.

I see a paid search result there and the top spot again which is great and a 450,000 search volume which should also yield some good traffic.

So let’s move to local searches which one would anticipate to be higher conversion phrases. Someone in my local area looking to dine out would go for “Philadelphia restaurants” for example. One would anticipate that with a valuable keyword phrase as their domain and obvious popularity that they would do well but I don’t see them for some reason.

So I’m seeing menupages.com and yelp.com and zagat.com but interestingly not restaurant.com. So I wonder why that is.

If I go to restaurant.com and drill down to the Philadelphia section i see this URL http://www.restaurant.com/rdc_site2.net/listings.aspx?PageSize=0&Page=1&sorting=Relevance&Zip=19146&SearchRadius=5&&attribute_value_string%7cCity=Philadelphia
Ok so that explains a lot. Why not http://www.restaurant.com/philadelphia/ for their URL? Sorry couldn’t tell you. Let’s have a look at their title tag then. “Restaurant.com – Dine out for less! $25 Restaurant Certificates for only $10”. Right, pretty useless there.

It’s pretty obvious that we’re now looking at a poorly coded web structure that’s going to impact their search results and little thought to SEO so they are without a doubt missing out on some low hanging fruit. Then again, it looks like a popular website with a strong affiliate marketing campaign and a search marketing campaign which I’m sure is costing them a pretty penny. One wonders at how much value an SEO consultant could be to them particularly for what appears to be a predominately online business. Maybe if they go their act together they would piss off their affiliates. Still, for someone who bases online businesses in SEO, it’s a good opportunity to demonstrate what not to do.