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  Austin Marketing: SEM/PPC Tactics for Restaurants
          Article by Austin Search Engine Marketing Company Semantic Advantage, Inc.

Restaurant Marketing – Austin Online Environment
There are currently 1,690 restaurants serving the Austin market, according to the National Restaurant Association.  This is one restaurant for every 468 people, making it one of the most competitive food service markets in the U.S.

The Austin marketing community includes dozens of online marketing agencies; and this intensifies the rivalry among restaurants for customer attention and promotional offers.  Central Texas is also a hotbed of mobile computing and social marketing; and local restaurants have taken advantage of these new technologies to expand their audiences and increase business.  Online restaurant marketing in Austin has become an essential – and extremely competitive – business necessity.  

Austin Marketing Online – Agency Search Engine Marketing Examples

Recent changes in the Google search results pages -- coupled with the rise of social media marketing and online restaurant directories -- have created challenges for online agencies marketing Austin restaurants and bars.
  • The inclusion of Google Places results on Page One --  displacing more deserving organic search results.   A search for ‘austin restaurant’ yields 7 Google Places restaurants, followed by 7 business directories, one actual restaurant (yea, Threadgills!) and two more business directories. Page Two has only 3 listings from restaurant websites.
  • Search engine preference for video and social media sites.  A YouTube video or tweet about a small, poorly regarded dive could easily outrank the homepage of the most popular restaurant in town.
  • The organic and paid search results are also peppered with listings from online restaurant and business directories.  Even if these contain a listing for your restaurant, this can be a negative for your SEO/SEM program -- because it presents a list of your competitors.  A lot of the search engine preference for directory sites is due to their size – ranking algorithms tend to give big websites high authority ratings.  
These three effects limit the utility and cost-effectiveness of organic SEO -- and the value of specific PPC keywords in a paid search SEM program.  As a result, there are no banner ads on the Google search results for ‘austin restaurant’, and only five ads on the rail (two of these from daily deal companies).  A search for ‘best austin restaurant’ yields no restaurant websites in the organic results on Page One.  [Aside: There are 7 Google Places results for ‘worst austin restaurant’ – three of these are also on the ‘best austin restaurant’ list!]

The restaurant directories and rating/review sites have categorized their listings and optimized pages for the search terms ‘restaurant’, ‘dining’, ‘eatery’, ‘eating’, ‘cuisine’, ‘food’, ‘hamburger’, ‘lasagna’, ‘ristorante’, ‘romantic’, ‘steakhouse’, ‘sushi’ as well as nationalities.  Most are not using ‘bistro’, ‘café’, ‘cantina’, ‘chophouse’, ‘diner’, ‘pizzaria' (except Yelp), ‘taverna’ or ‘trattoria’ -- so these would be relatively good PPC keywords for a restaurant to use.

Restaurant PPC Marketing – Austin Pay Per Click Campaign Management
Here are some search engine marketing tactics that can enhance your SEM/PPC campaigns for restaurants.  These, combined with good SEO fundamentals and an active social marketing program, can significantly increase the effectiveness of your Austin restaurant marketing program. 
  1. For those restaurant-related search terms which produce organic results dominated by Google Places, business directories, social media sites or video sites, paid search is probably the most cost effective way to get visibility and clicks.
  2. Create at least one PPC keyword group based on your city name and the word ‘restaurant/s’.  Austin marketing example: ‘austin restaurant’ and ‘austin restaurants’.  In a large city, this will be a short-tail (high volume, high CPC) keyword group, so you should also create a keyword group based on the name of your neighborhood and the word ‘restaurant/s’.  Example: ‘hyde park restaurants’, hyde park restaurants’, 'north austin restaurant’, ‘north austin restaurants’.
  3. In addition to managing the standard PPC campaign settings for geo-targeting, choose keywords for specific neighborhoods, roads/streets and nearby attractions.  Examples for Austin marketing: ‘barton springs ice cream’, ‘south lamar bistro’, ‘tarrytown café’.  
  4. Use your food and drink menu items as PPC keywords.  This is particularly effective for the mobile audience -- which might be searching for something to eat or drink right now. Austin marketing examples include ‘east austin pizza’, ‘westlake sushi’, ‘round rock fried chicken’.
  5. If your restaurant focuses on a specific type of ethnic food, create one or more keyword groups for ethnic eating establishment names.  For an Italian restaurant in Austin you could try ‘austin frasca’, ‘austin osteria’, ‘austin paninoteca’, austin ristorante’, ‘austin spaghetteria’, ‘austin taverna’, ‘austin trattoria’.  Most of these are fairly long-tail and inexpensive in PPC.  
  6. In addition to the usual Negative Keywords, add negative keywords that exclude someone looking for recipes, cooking schools, food information -- or restaurant franchises, furniture, decoration, supplies or software.  Examples: ‘-recipe’, ‘-recipes’, ‘-school’, ‘-course’, ‘-directory’, ‘furniture’, ‘-supplies’, ‘-equipment’.   Periodically check the search results for your keywords to identify other candidates for negative keywords.
  7. Plan for mobile consumers.  In contrast with a high resolution desktop or laptop display, even the best smartphone can only display the top two or three PPC ads (without scrolling).  So it may be worth raising your bid to get to the top of the first page.
  8. Use Day Parting to synchronize your ads with your peak hours.  If your restaurant doesn’t serve breakfast, you may not want to run your ads in the early morning.
  9. Run Holiday-related ads with enough lead time for customers to make plans.  New Year’s parties can require 2 or more weeks; one week is usually sufficient for Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day.  The more popular your restaurant, the more lead time you should allow.  
  10. Build a good foundation for your SEM/PPC program with SEO and Social Marketing.  Organic search engine optimization can significantly enhance your Relevancy Score and PPC Quality Scores with the search engines – enhancing your ad position and reducing CPC.  Search engines have a high regard for links from the major social sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.), restaurant ratings sites (Chowhound, Dine.com, Eats.com, FoodRatings.net, UrbanSpoon, Zagat) and business directories and ratings sites like Bing Local, CitySearch, Google Places, MerchantCircle, Yahoo! Local and Yelp.  

Semantic Advantage -- Austin Marketing Company
Restaurant marketing in Central Texas can be extremely challenging; and you need an experienced Austin marketing agency to expand your website traffic, customer base and sales.  Contact us to discuss your company’s marketing goals and how we can deliver a cost-effective program to maximize the ROI of your Austin marketing program.

       
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