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Restaurants hunting for new patrons can spruce up the building, start using fresher ingredients and improve customer service. But those improvements won’t matter if consumers can’t find them. That’s why search marketing is so important.
If you need more convincing: When consumers are online, they search for “restaurants near me” more than any other purchasing-related phrase. If that’s not eye-opening enough, it doesn’t include other restaurant searches such as “local Italian restaurant” or looking for a specific restaurant by name. Restaurants rule the search universe.
Now, ponder this data from Nielsen:
An hour? That’s right. It’s unsurprising, because people search for restaurants when they’re hungry or directly before dining out. We’re procrastinators, right?
The story is clear. In massive numbers, consumers are searching for restaurants online. And when they find what they’re looking for, they head there. Is your restaurant easily found when potential customers search?
There are several reasons why restaurants may choose paid search as part of their marketing mix.
In a perfect world, your restaurant’s website is already optimized for maximum organic search.
Those are the basics of a search-ready marketing strategy, but they’re not always enough.
Why are other restaurants ranking higher than yours in search results? Maybe they’ve been at the content game longer than you. They have more reviews, create great articles and have social media platforms that offer significant value. Or maybe your restaurant is so new that search engines aren’t ranking you high or haven’t found you yet.
Another time to up the ante with paid search is to ensure you rank high during special occasions. Perhaps you want to encourage people to make reservations for an upcoming holiday. Maybe you’re promoting a grand opening or introducing an important new menu item. Or maybe you are having trouble combating a better-known restaurant down the street. For these and other reasons, there will be times when spending a few dollars may pay huge dividends.
When it’s time for paid search, you’ll want to start with Google (Google AdWords), which lists advertisers at top of page-one search results. Google owns 80% of the search engine market, so that might be enough. But don’t overlook Bing (10%) and Yahoo! (8%), which have devoted users.
Last year, the Harvard Business School conducted a study to find out the answer to that question.1 The large study analyzed 18,000 restaurants and more than 24 million paid advertising exposures during a three-month period. The results of the study are notable:
Those are impressive results. Here’s further proof that the paid advertising program was effective: When advertising ceased, all the metric increases (outlined above) dropped to zero. This makes a strong case for a sustained advertising program. And keep in mind that Yelp helps inform the results that Siri delivers.
We’re not shilling for Yelp or any other site/platform. Rather, we’re just making the case that spending money can bring rewards.
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