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Digital marketing for restaurants

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By Tock Staff

The hospitality industry is changing every day, but one fact remains the same–the backbone of promotion and sales is digital marketing for restaurants. 

This blog will walk you through the essential steps for restaurant digital marketing. Learn how to build and optimize your online presence to enhance visibility, engagement, and guest loyalty.


Step 1: Create or refresh your restaurant website

Your restaurant’s website is a virtual representation of your physical space and your brand personality. What you choose to include (or omit) helps to define your brand. A unique website can intrigue guests while giving them a preview of what to expect when they come to dine. No matter how you make your restaurant website, aim for a clean, fast-loading site consistent with your brand identity, and be sure your restaurant’s information is up-to-date and easy to find. 

Here are a few ways to optimize your website for search engines:

  • Utilize keywords
  • Customize Meta Titles and Descriptions for Your Website
  • Ensure your website is mobile-responsive

Visit Squarespace for more information on how to create a restaurant website.

Try paid search engine marketing

Paid search campaigns are a form of online advertising for restaurants where businesses pay to rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPs), primarily via pay-per-click (PPC) models. For starters, focus on long-tail keywords as they have clearer search intent and less competition. For example, opt for “top nigiri spot in Manhattan” instead of “best sushi in NYC”.


Step 2: Set up your Google Business profile

Your Google Business Profile is how your restaurant appears in search results on Google and Google Maps. These are two of the first places people turn to when finding a place to eat, which makes them crucial cornerstones of restaurant online marketing.

Google recommends restaurants to searchers based on signals like rating, review count, proximity, and keywords as well as potential customer demographics, interests, and behavior. When guests search using the term “restaurants near me”, the goal is for them to find your business. Optimizing your Google Business Profile is how you make that happen. 

How to Optimize Your Google Business Profile 

    • Description: Write a restaurant description that emphasizes your restaurant’s value and differentiators. Keep it concise and include relevant keywords. 
    • Attributes: Add all relevant attributes – specifics about your restaurant that would help guests make an informed choice. 
    • Hours: Fill out your hours of operation and keep them accurate, especially on holidays. This builds trust with your target audience. 
    • Photos: Upload photos of your food, identifying some of your most popular dishes, as well as restaurant photos that portray the atmosphere. If you don’t upload your own photos, your guests will see photos posted by your guests. 
    • Menu: Your menu should be easy to find and read. If you’d rather avoid consistent updates, you can upload a sample menu and indicate that dishes are subject to change. 
    • Reservations: Integrate with Reserve with Google so guests can book a table from your profile. Platforms like Tock are set up for you to do this easily.
    • Online ordering: Link your online ordering platforms and select the one you want to show as “preferred by business”. 


Step 3: Build a social following

One key to success in the hospitality industry is social media marketing. Think of social media as an opportunity to connect with new audiences, build a community of loyal followers, and get to know your guests better. To make the best of this digital marketing strategy for restaurants, choose the social media platforms your audience tends to use the most. 

Regularly posting organic content to your social media profile is a great way to build and nurture a community of followers through authentic content and genuine interactions without paid social media advertisements.

Use these best practices to help guide your social strategy:

  • Spark conversations: Asking questions that invite your audience to share their opinions or experiences is a great way to initiate conversations. 
  • Respond to comments and questions: Similar to your Google Business Profile, your audience will feel valued if you take the time to respond. 
  • Be consistent: One of the most important factors that impact social media growth is consistency. If you post quality content consistently, your followers will grow. 

Try boosting engagement rates by asking questions and using interactive features like Instagram Story stickers and polls. 

High engagement rates tell the social platform algorithms that people like your content, which results in your content getting pushed to more users. The algorithm will show your post to users similar to those who already engaged with it. That’s what makes authentic engagement from your target audience so important. If you get various likes and comments from people outside your target audience, the algorithm will push your post to the wrong audience. 

Try paid social media content

Digital advertising for restaurants isn’t just for search engines. Paid social media ads are a great way to generate awareness and drive additional covers. Try running a campaign next time you promote a time-sensitive offer, seasonal special, or event. Use paid ads to reach new audiences or retarget people who have interacted with your restaurant before, such as website visitors or social media engagers.


Step 4: Set up your online review platforms

Online reviews heavily influence purchasing decisions. Proactive restaurants safeguard their online reputation by monitoring reviews as they come.

To get started, claim your business and fill out profiles on major review sites. Keep your menus and availability up-to-date and include enticing photos of your food and ambience to help potential guests choose your restaurant over the competition. 

If you want to bolster your online reputation, you try reminding guests to leave a review after their dining experience. 


Get the full digital marketing for restaurants guide

Each component of internet marketing for restaurants plays a vital role in portraying your restaurant’s unique identity and attracting diners. By thoughtfully integrating these digital marketing strategies, your restaurant can attract newcomers, foster lasting connections with long-time loyalists, and continue to grow and succeed as the restaurant industry evolves.

Download the full 33-page Restaurant Marketing 101 guide complete with restaurant marketing examples for a deep dive on how to execute a complete restaurant marketing plan – it’s free!

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