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Beverley Iles (September 2016)
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Internet Marketing for Restaurants

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Internet marketing for restaurants now covers a wide range of strategies and for the purposes of this article I will give a broad outline of what you can do yourself without employing an agency. 

 

SEO 

SEO refers to Search Engine Optimisation and is the work involved trying to get your website to the top of searches for relevant keywords. The SEO landscape was changed a great deal with Google’s recent updates to their algorithms. These updates which have cuddly names like Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird have seen some businesses disappear from the first few pages of searches. Google wants to give people the best and most relevant results for all searches – that’s the way that they will stay as the worlds favourite search engine and maximise revenue from adverts. Therefore these updates were designed to cut down on certain SEO techniques that Google sees as unethical. This is good news for restaurant owners and managers, so broadly speaking these days getting to the top of Google is about relevance and content. Google is also concerned with user experience – it wants websites to be built correctly with easy navigation, that are quick to load, that don’t have broken links and missing files. Speak to your website designer about doing a regular website audit to ensure that everything is working properly. You need to get into the habit of updating your site regularly and making sure that it has lots of keyword rich content. Write a blog a least once a week as Google loves sites that are updated regularly and include keywords. 

 

Online PR

It used to be the case that every link to your website was counted as a vote of confidence by Google and you were awarded higher rankings for lots of links. However with unscrupulous link building companies putting links on every site they could with absolutely no thought about relevance, links from poor quality websites now will get you down graded – sometimes quite severely. However links from quality sites are still good for your ranking. Therefore off site SEO is more about Online PR these days, it’s about quality articles from quality websites that are relevant to your business linking to you (so this article is a great example of online PR!). So for restaurants think about targeting websites with local interest, recipes and food / drink related. 

 

PPC 

PPC stands for Pay Per Click and are the adverts that appear at the very top and to the right hand of Google search results for example. These adverts are very targeted and you can control exactly what you send. You only ever get charged when people click on the adverts and go through to your website. You can set a daily budget, when that is reached the advert won’t appear for the rest of the day. PPC is essentially an auction – you are competing with other companies for the keywords that you choose so you’ll need to be monitoring your PPC campaigns regularly and amending the price per click for each keyword from time to time. Normally we wouldn’t recommend that a restaurant goes after normal restaurant trade with phrases such as “restaurants oxford” it will be competitive and you can spend more money to acquire a table of 2 then they will actually spend. However it is very useful for targeting events when there is potentially a lot higher revenue at stake, for example “wedding venues oxford”. You can use the keyword planner tool from Google to select keywords that are relevant to your restaurant and also the ones that aren’t very competitive. Think also about where your target markets are likely to visit. For example the local cinema and museum, both of which probably won’t have anyone advertising for their names – therefore a campaign targeting those visitors will be very cheap. Once you have decided on your keywords and budgets you need to make sure that your landing pages have all the information they need to turn a web visitor into a customer – it’s much better to have specific landing pages for specific campaigns, rather than just sending people to your homepage. For example if you are targeting wedding keywords it’s best to have a landing page for weddings. Before actually writing the text, have a look at other online ads. You have hardly any text to play with so it’s a usefully exercise to see what other companies do and whether what they say would entice you to click on the advert.  

 

Social Media 

There are lots of different Social Media out there but if you have limited resources I would just stick to Facebook and Twitter. For the more savvy you may also want to create Pinterest and Instagram accounts. Getting your customers to follow you on social media is far more important than getting an email address. Customers will think that you’re emailing them far too often if you send more than 2 emails a month. However you can post photos, offers and comments on Facebook a few times and they will welcome it, as long as it’s interesting content rather than just telling them to come to your restaurant every day. 

 

Bloggers 

Getting reviews and mentions in food related blogs can give you a real boost, reaching new people. It’s fairly easy to target them – just search for them online, get in contact and tell them why they should write a blog about you – ie the quality of your food and service. Then invite them for a complimentary meal.

 

 

 By Guy Holmes of Captivate Restaurants

 

 

 

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