How to get digital marketing right for restaurants

Mark Ferguson of More Fire PR interviews Manav Mathur, Digital Marketing Manager at ‘Favouritetable’ – the UK restaurant booking system, to find out how restaurants can enhance their digital marketing practices…

Q: How does a restaurant approach digital marketing to better promote themselves online and keep Google ‘happy?’

Manav: Google, and other search engines like Bing or Yahoo have specific criteria and guidelines that can help you improve traffic to your website, or for your business to rank higher in search results.

This is all about helping visitors who are actually searching for and visiting your website. So, when we talk about keeping Google happy we’re actually focusing on meeting its criteria for improving the ranking of a website.

This could include enhancing your business on Google listings by using what we call search engine optimisation, or SEO for short. Google absolutely loves you when your visitors do. 

Q: It sounds like there’s some complex terminology the average business owner might not be familiar with. Tell me more about the value of keeping your website updated and how SEO? 

Manav: If you talk about SEO specifically it comprises three key steps. The first is finding the best key phrases or words for your business, so let’s think of this from a customer’s perspective.

Imagine you’re a diner and you want some Chinese food. You don’t know any good restaurants nearby so the first thing is look on your phone for ‘Chinese restaurant near me.’

This search is called a ‘keyword’ in SEO. Around 27,000 people in London alone search for this particular phrase every month.

So if you’re a Chinese restaurant you want to select this keyword. Plus Google has some free tools to help you find the best other keywords for your business.

The second step is to optimise those keywords on your website or Google listing. This is called ‘on-page SEO.’ As the name suggests this is everything you do on the website after you find the best keywords.

The final step is ‘off-page SEO,’ which is everything you do off the webpage. This means promoting your website on other relevant websites or social media platforms. 

Q: What about the importance of where your restaurant is actually based, for example a Chinese restaurant in Reading? 

Manav: That’s very important and is called local SEO. With some advancements in Google’s algorithm you don’t necessarily need to include the name of your location, but it is crucial to complete your ‘Google my Business’ profile. Then Google will do most of the job for you so that potential diners can find you easily.

So far we’ve talked about organic SEO, but there’s also paid marketing or pay-per-click (PPC) to consider.

Both organic and sponsored approaches have their merits. The PPC version is essentially advertising so on Google you might, for example, want to promote the keyword ‘Italian restaurants near me.’

You might have noticed that the top results Google sometimes shows you have a sponsored tag beside them. These are the paid placements, not the organic ones which come right below these. Ideally a combination of both approaches is really beneficial for a business. 

Q: What about making the most of social media?  

Manav: Restaurants should focus on prioritising the social platforms where their target audiences are most active, for example Instagram and Facebook. These are generally very effective because that’s where you find the best food bloggers and influencers who can help promote your content for free.

This proves even more impactful if your content is more engaging, so while Twitter can be great for some, LinkedIn might be best for others. It’s great to build some B2B as well. It completely depends on what kind of audience you want to target. 

Q: It all sounds pretty straightforward – so is that it? 

Manav: Unfortunately not. Once you optimise your website and you’re done with the on and off-page SEO you can’t just sit back and wait for the magic to happen! You’ll need to promote your website or your local listings on every relevant website and platform you can find.

Favouritetable is a great place to start with because overall it’s a restaurant directory. You need to get published here and on similar directories. With time Google will find and okay your domain and build its authority until you have a great page and that’s optimised for the best keywords. From here you’ll start seeing the results. It’s a long-term process but the results are worth it.

Find out more about Favouritetable’s Marketing Module for restaurants here.


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