Blog | Organic Search

Online Marketing for Restaurants: How to Grow Your Business

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Restaurants are one of the most difficult industries to be in – in fact, almost a quarter of restaurants close within their first year. In the face of so much competition, cutting through the clutter and finding ways to effectively promote your restaurant can be hard. However, we know that most restaurant patrons search online when looking for a place to eat. Making sure your restaurant is easily discoverable online is one critical way to bring diners to your door and give your business a boost.

online marketing for restaurants

Paid Search

There are a number of ways to use paid search to attract new customers to your restaurant:

  1. Bid on your brand terms – Even if you don’t have a large search budget, it’s important to at least bid on your brand keywords. If someone is searching for “Pat’s Italian Restaurant,” then they’re trying to find you (if you’re Pat’s Italian Restaurant). Make it easy for customers to find you by having your ad appear at the top of the Google search results page. Note: If you don’t have enough searches per month, Google may not always serve your brands ads.
  2. Geo-targeting Create some paid search ads by geo-targeting locations to 5-10 miles around your restaurant so you can attract nearby customers. Bid on extremely relevant keywords, like “Italian restaurant” or “best Italian restaurant.”
  3. Bid on other terms – If budget allows, it’s also helpful to bid on more generic terms for food items that your restaurant serves – for instance, “lasagna,” “pizza,” or “best pizza.” Using this method, you have a chance to attract that searcher to your restaurant by serving an ad with a compelling message such as “Best Pizza in Town! Print Coupon and Visit Us!” (more on coupons later). Another good practice is to add some negative keywords such as “recipe” or “cook” in order to weed out the searchers looking to make something at home.
  4. Mobile advertising Many people looking for a restaurant do so on their phones. Don’t forget to make sure you have appropriate bid modifiers to ensure your ad appears when someone near your restaurant searches for “delicious Italian restaurant.” Increasing bids to users in close proximity to your restaurant can help ensure that your ad is displayed when it should be.

Additional Online Marketing for Restaurants

There are a few other tactics outside of paid search that can help you bring in new diners. These are particularly useful if you’ve exceeded your search budget, but they’re still beneficial even if you haven’t:

  1. Offer discounts – Submit your restaurant to coupon sites like RetailMeNot. Not only will this help people find your restaurant through Google searches, but coupons will also attract visitors.
  2. Reach out to bloggers – Contact food bloggers who have an established local following. Offer free meals or price reductions in exchange for reviews and promotion on their blogs. People who see positive reviews from bloggers are more likely to come into your restaurant.
  3. Claim your location and monitor reviews – Help potential customers find you by using a directory submission program like Yext, UBL, or Localeze or by claiming your location manually on Google Places, Yelp, Bing, and Yahoo. There, you can monitor reviews, thank users who give positive reviews, and apologize publicly to users who had a poor experience. You can also upload a menu, coupons, website URL, and other helpful information for your prospective diners.
  4. Utilize an online reservation system – Sites like UrbanSpoon give customers a convenient way to book a reservation online. It makes the online to offline experience seamless and provides an alternative to picking up the phone, which many customers don’t like to do.
  5. Maintain an email database – Ask diners to fill out a comment card at the end of their meal and ask for their email address. This provides a great way to keep in touch and create loyal customers by sending them special offers.

These tactics are just the tip of the iceberg. There are a ton of additional marketing opportunities available to you online. If you’re dedicated to growing your business, even a handful of the above recommendations can make a big impact on your success.

Which tactics do you use? Talk to a specialist at BFO today to learn more about attracting diners through online marketing.

Learn more about the paid search tactics you can use to bring customers into your restaurant!