Restaurant Marketing – Online Strategies
According to the National Restaurant Association, there are currently 1,690 restaurants serving the Austin market. This equates to one restaurant for every 468 people. Not surprisingly, we have one of the most competitive food service markets in the USA. Most of these fine dining, fast casual, family style and fast food establishments have strong digital marketing efforts.
The Austin marketing community includes dozens of online marketing agencies. This intensifies the rivalry among restaurants for customer attention and promotional offers. Central Texas is also a hotbed of mobile computing and social media promotion. Local restaurants have taken advantage of these new technologies to expand their audiences and increase business. As a result, online restaurant marketing in Austin has become an essential business necessity.
Online Marketing – Austin Competitive Environment
Changes in the content and layout of Google search engine results pages (SERPs) bring new challenges for Austin restaurant marketers. Along with the increased use and complexity of social media marketing, local restaurants and bars face a lot of online competition.
- The inclusion of Google Local Business 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 actual restaurant websites.
- Search engine preference for video and social media sites. A well-instrumented YouTube video or Twitter campaign 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 from the marketing standpoint. Because each directory presents the user with a list of your competitors. Search engine prefer directory sites because of their size – and large advertising budgets.
Non-Restaurant Search Engine Competition
These effects limit the benefits of organic SEO services. And they also impact the value of Pay-Per-Click keywords in paid search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns. As a result, there are no banner ads on the Google search results for <a ‘href=”https://www.google.com/search?q=austin+restaurant” target=”_blank”>’austin restaurant’</a>. And only a few PPC ads (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 ratings-reviews 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 are relatively good PPC keyword components for a restaurant pay-per-click campaign.
Restaurant PPC Marketing – Austin Pay Per Click Campaign Management
We recommend the following search engine marketing tactics to enhance restaurant SEM-PPC campaigns. Combined with good SEO fundamentals and an active social marketing program, these can significantly increase the effectiveness of Austin restaurant marketing programs.
- For many keywords, restaurant-related SERPs are dominated by Google Places, business directories, social media sites or video sites. Paid search programs (pay-per-click campaigns) provide the most cost effective way to get visibility and clicks in this environment.
- Create at least one PPC keyword group based on your city name and the word ‘restaurant/s’. In a large city, this will create a short-tail (high volume, high CPC) keyword group. To balance this, 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’.
- 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 restaurant marketing: ‘barton springs ice cream’, ‘south lamar bistro’, ‘tarrytown café’.
Promoting Specific Cuisine and Menu Items
- Use your food and drink menu items as PPC keywords. This can attract mobile users nearby who are searching for something to eat or drink right now. Austin marketing examples include ‘east austin pizza’, ‘westlake sushi’, ‘round rock fried chicken’.
- 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’. Long-tail search terms like these won’t eat up all your pay-per-click budget.
- Add negative keywords that exclude people who are looking for recipes, cooking schools, food information. Or those interested in restaurant franchises, furniture, decoration, supplies or software. Examples: ‘-recipe’, ‘-recipes’, ‘-school’, ‘-course’, ‘-directory’, ‘furniture’, ‘-supplies’, ‘-equipment’. Periodically check the keyword search reports to identify other candidates for negative keywords.
More Digital Restaurant Marketing Tips
- Plan and design 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.
- 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.
- 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 usually provides sufficient notice for Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. The more popular your restaurant, the more lead time you need to allow.
- Build a good foundation for your SEM/PPC program with SEO and Social Media Marketing. Organic search engine optimization can significantly enhance your Relevancy Score and PPC Quality Scores with the search engines. This will improve your ad placements and reduce average CPC. Search engines have a high regard for links from the major social sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.) And the same goes for restaurant ratings-reviews sites (Chowhound, Dine.com, Eats.com, FoodRatings.net, Zomato, Zagat) and business directories.
Semantic Advantage — Austin Digital Marketing Agency
Online restaurant marketing in Central Texas can be extremely challenging. To achieve great results and a high return on investment, you need an experienced Austin digital agency to expand your website traffic, customer base and sales.
Contact us to discuss your marketing goals and how we can deliver a cost-effective program to maximize the ROI of your Austin marketing program.