Digital Marketing for Restaurant Brands Part 2

In our first post on digital marketing for restaurant brands, we discussed the six courses you need for successful online marketing. We then detailed how to approach two of those six courses — search engine optimization (SEO) and local listings management — to help you build an effective organic web presence.

Today, we’re looking at courses three and four: pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and social media. Both courses play a crucial role in the overall meal, but they require distinctly different ingredients and skillsets.

PPC Campaigns Deliver Patrons to Your Doorstep

While SEO and PPC both fall under the umbrella of search engine marketing, they are mirror images of one another in a number of ways. SEO is an organic strategy that requires substantial time and effort, yet it pays off with long-lasting results. PPC is a paid tool that delivers immediate, in-the-moment results.

Despite these differences — or, to be more accurate, because of them — a successful search engine marketing strategy will draw on SEO and PPC. Just as two contrasting ingredients come together and accent one another’s strengths, SEO and PPC complement each other to form a greater whole.

PPC can also be used independent of SEO, via display ads or social media ads. When building a PPC strategy for your restaurant brand, you’ll need to look at four important things:

  • PPC Channels. Google AdWords, which is the largest and most popular PPC network, gives you a range of choices for where to feature your ads. Google Search and Google Maps are two of the most popular venues for restaurants, though many also find success through the Google Display Network and through non-Google PPC properties, like Facebook and Instagram.
  • Keyword Targeting. AdWords will display ads to users based on which keywords those users are searching for, so the success of your ads will largely depend on which keywords you target. Finding the right keywords — ones with significant traffic and high-ROI — requires initial keyword research, followed by fine-tuning based on your campaign analytics.
  • Compelling Content. Creating an effective PPC ad is a combination of art and science. As with keyword targeting, it’s important that you track and measure your ads to see which types of messaging resonates most with users. If you’re running a PPC campaign through Google AdWords, ad extensions — which allow you to include things like your address, your phone number, or an app link — can elevate your ad to another level.
  • Targeting Your Audience. PPC networks give users the ability to target users in a number of ways. Two of the best targeting methods for restaurant brands are via device and location. Users tend to use mobile devices for restaurant-related searches, and most restaurant customers can be found within a one-mile radius of the restaurant itself.

Beyond the ads themselves, you will also need to craft effective landing pages and establish a workable system for tracking and measuring your PPC campaigns. Depending on the size and structure of your brand, you may also need to coordinate with individual locations who wish to operate their own PPC campaigns, or who want a degree of control over PPC ads within their territory.

#SharePlates: Cook Up Business on Social Media

Social media is a crucial component of digital marketing for restaurant brands, offering a venue to interact directly with your patrons and establish the voice of your company. Despite the importance of social media, some smaller chains underestimate the challenges presented by social media.

Many make the mistake of not defining and refining heir voice, undermining the image they’ve worked hard to build in other areas. Some oversaturate their feeds with promotional posts, missing the opportunity to build a connection with customers. Others simply miss the mark, using slang in forced ways, making jokes that fall flat, or shoehorning trending topics into their posts.

Here are a few different ways that restaurant brands can build a stronger, more effective presence on social media:

  • Focus on the networks that work best for your business. Right now, Instagram and Facebook are the two most important social networks for most restaurants. Food photography on Instagram is a great venue for generating awareness, while Facebook gives customers one-stop place to check out your business before making a visit.
  • Create a mix of engaging and promotional content. For every promotional post, you should have two to three posts that are focused on engagement. Food photography — the more creative and indulgent, the better — does especially well on social media. Another smart strategy for individual locations is to highlight community events and organizations.
  • Build a strategy for brand-level and location-level accounts. Most social media networks pose an issue for multi-location brands, forcing them to create independent accounts for their corporate brand and individual locations. Facebook, however, make this process easy, offering the ability to create an brand-level page with control location-level pages.
  • Help customers find important information. Facebook has become a go-to source of information for users who are researching restaurants. As such, it’s important that you include detailed information on both your brand-level and location-level pages. Facebook makes this particularly easy for location-level pages, with the option to post your hours, address, phone number, website, menu, and more.

Social media is not only a great place to generate buzz and attract new customers. It’s also an ideal venue for interacting with existing patrons and managing your reputation by soliciting and responding to online reviews.

We’ll be talking more about reputation management in Part 3 of this series. In the meantime, we invite you to savor the above information and digest its importance between courses.

What You Should Know About Local SEO vs. Organic SEO

Understanding the difference between Local SEO vs. Organic SEO is important for national brands, local businesses, and pretty much anyone else that wants to market themselves online. But unless you’re already familiar with SEO, it can be tough to understand this distinction and why it’s so important.


At Qiigo, our work with national brands and local businesses has given us a unique understanding of both organic and local search. Below, we’ll examine the difference between these two services, along with how they can be used to support one another.


Local SEO: Putting Your Business on the Map

When you enter a search query into Google, one of the first things its algorithm checks is whether or not the search has “local intent.” This is another way of saying that someone’s looking for search results that are relevant for their local area.


An easy example of this is when a person adds “near me” to the end of a search query. If you’re based in Atlanta and you search for “hairdresser near me,” you expect Google to send you information about hairdressers in Atlanta. If someone in Seattle (or Denver, or Boston) makes the same search, they will also expect search results tailored to their local area.


Google has a number of ways to determine whether or not a search has local intent. A few quick examples include:

  • The query contains a city name, a state name, or a phrase like “near me.”
  • Google recognizes the query as one that typically has local intent (e.g., “pizza delivery”).
  • Your recent search history indicates that you’re looking for local results.


When Google identifies local intent, it will adjust its search results based on whether or not they have local relevance. Many times, it will also display a “Local Pack” with its top local search results from Google Maps.


Local SEO involves optimizing your website for these types of search results. If you run a local business, you want to market yourself to local customers. If your hair salon is located in Castleberry Hill, local SEO will help you rank better in search results for users in Atlanta.


For brick-and-mortar businesses and individual brand locations, SEO should focus on local optimization. Customers from Seattle (or Denver, or Boston) aren’t flying hundreds of miles for a haircut, so you don’t need to worry about appearing in their search results. Instead, you can focus your efforts (and money) on reaching as many local users as possible.


Organic SEO: The “World” in Worldwide Web

“Organic SEO” is a tricky term, since the vast majority of SEO — including local SEO — can be considered organic. But typically, when people say “organic SEO,” they’re referring to traditional search engine optimization.


To understand the difference between local and organic SEO, let’s take another look at Google. When you search “best laptop for windows,” Google’s algorithm won’t detect local intent. So instead of providing you with customized search results for your location, it will show you the same search results that it would show another searcher in a completely different city.


Because of this, organic SEO tends to be much more competitive. With local SEO, you’re only competing for searchers within your geographic area. With organic SEO, you need to compete for searchers across the U.S., as well as in other English-language countries.


Needless to say, most local businesses stay away from organic SEO. The level of competition makes it far too expensive. What’s more, the vast majority of traffic will be from searchers 100+ miles (or 1000+ miles) away. In place of local businesses, the competition for organic search results tends to come from national publications, e-commerce stores, and larger brands with a nationwide footprint.


Coordinating Organic & Local SEO for National Brands


At Qiigo, our work with national brands leaves a lot of room for crossover between organic and local SEO. On a brand level, we employ organic SEO strategies to boost awareness and drive traffic to brands’ national websites. On a location level, we use local SEO to target queries with local intent and drive customer traffic directly to brick-and-mortar locations.


National brands can benefit from using a single digital marketing partner for brand-level organic SEO as well as location-level local SEO. The simple reason is that organic and local SEO efforts have a symbiotic effect.


If your brand has a strong organic search presence, that will give a boost to local search rankings for individual locations. If your brick-and-mortar locations start achieving high rankings in local search results, this will often boost organic search rankings for your brand as a whole.


While it’s important to know the difference between organic and local SEO, national brands should avoid an “either/or” mindset. Instead, embrace a “both/and” SEO strategy, one in which the brand and its locations are supporting and strengthening one another.



Everything You Need To Know About Managing Your Online Reputation


No matter the size of your business, being active on online is vital for maintaining a positive online reputation. Now more than ever, customers and clients are talking; posting on Facebook about your latest product, tweeting about their experience with your company, and leaving questions and feedback on your blog instead of contacting your company directly.


How your business responds to these online comments, questions, and criticism can help or hinder your online reputation, which in turn can affect your company’s bottom line. Those that think they can ignore online comments, reviews, and criticism, should think again – your online reputation is more important than ever.

What Are People Saying About Your Company?


With 85% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, it’s more important than ever to have a proactive plan in place for managing your business’s online reputation. Key components of a proactive plan include:

  • Monitoring your online reputation on a regular basis by gathering public online content from social media channels, tweets, and blog posts
  • Determining whether the negative or positive feedback is affecting your reputation

But knowing what’s been said isn’t enough. How you respond is just as important. The best online reputation management involves knowing when and how to react to what people say online.


Tips for Managing Your Online Reputation


Having a strategy or plan in place to manage your company’s online reputation is essential. Jump start your company’s plan with these tips that benefit businesses of all sizes.


Be Transparent – Open a 1-to-1 communication channel with customers and clients, and ask for their feedback. Be ready to address feedback publicly and promptly, and don’t hide criticism. But before your company “becomes transparent”, have a proper online reputation management plan in place, and employees that have enough social media savvy to handle it. While transparency can be intimidating, not being transparent can be riskier in the long run.


Monitor Your Reputation – Not only will monitoring your reputation allow you to react quickly when needed, but it can also bring in business as many consumers ask questions via social media when deciding whether or not to buy your products or services.


React Quickly and Politely – If you don’t have a definitive answer to a complaint or criticism, it’s better to give a simple “We are aware of the problem and are working on it, will get back to you as soon as we can” than to let the comment sit there and fester. You can always follow up with more information later.


Respond to Reviews – Responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% of consumers naming this as key when judging a local business. Whether it’s positive or negative, feedback about your business can give you insight and the opportunity to improve. For tips on responding to negative reviews, and example responses, click here.


Fight Illegal Attacks – While everyone has a right to express their voice about your brand, there are boundaries that need to be respected and some negative content is actually illegal, including:


  • Use of defamatory language
  • Reporting false information
  • Content that is aimed at damaging a company’s reputation


Depending on the scope of the problem, there are several ways to restore your online reputation, including reacting quickly with a legal liaison, devising a search marketing strategy to rank positive content higher on search engines, and hiring online analysts for serious attacks on brand image.


Ask for Help – The internet has changed quickly in the last several years, and business that haven’t invested much in communication can struggle with regular interactions on social networks, resulting in incorrect or inconsistent efforts. Hiring a company for brand reputation management can give your business the in-depth online monitoring it needs for successful online reputation management.


Your company has an online reputation, there’s no escaping it. But if you choose to monitor and manage your company’s reputation with care, it will benefit your company and your brand.