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Filtering by Category: Restaurant Marketing Tips

How to claim your restaurant’s listing on Google, Yelp, and Foursquare

CC Image courtesy of  Jamiesrabbits  on Flickr

CC Image courtesy of Jamiesrabbits on Flickr

Long gone are the days when diners look for places to eat by opening the yellow pages. Recent studies have shown over 92% of consumers search for restaurants online. If your business isn’t listed in the right online directories, most customers won’t find you.

Life was simpler when you only had to worry about one phone directory. Now there are lots of online directories. By claiming your restaurant pages on the most popular sites, you'll help your customers find your hours, specials, and menus. The good news is that claiming your restaurant is completely free – there’s no reason not to do it!

Step 1: Claim you restaurant on each of these directories

  1. Google: This is where everyone starts; it’s essential for any restaurant.
  2. Yelp: Like it or not, millions of diners turn to Yelp – make sure your listing looks good.
  3. Foursquare: Foursquare check-ins help promote your business, for free.

Note: If your business isn’t listed yet, you’ll need to create a listing first.

Step 2: Update your information and photos.

Each of these directories gives you a way to add your restaurant’s location, hours, and photos. Take advantage of this free advertising and make sure your listing looks great!

Step 3: Engage with Customers.

Each of these services gives you ways to engage with your customers. For example, you can respond to reviews on Yelp and post check-in specials on Foursquare. Keep in mind that on the web when you engage with one customer, you’re actually talking to lots of customers. If you respond well to a negative review, other customers will appreciate your attempts. (For more tips, read our post on what to do with negative reviews.)

One final reason to claim your listing is that you’ll greatly improve your rankings on search results in Google through Search Engine Optimization. Linking your website from your online listings will dramatically increase traffic to your restaurant’s website. If you don’t have a website yet, check out Appetas. We create beautiful restaurant websites in minutes.


National Chocolate Covered Anything Day

Chocolate covered bacon with caramel drizzle

Chocolate covered bacon with caramel drizzle

December marks one of the most fun and sweet-filled days of the year—and it’s not Christmas. Nine days before that other sweet-filled holiday, on December 16 each year, the US celebrates National Chocolate Covered Anything Day.

Cupcakes with some extra chocolate drizzle? Yes, please. Chocolate-dipped cheesecake squares? Yes, again. Ramen noodles covered in chocolate? Why not!

Consider using this under-appreciated holiday to bring some attention to your restaurant by creating your own unique chocolate covered confection and handing out samples on the street. We recommend thinking beyond the ordinary—make something unusual, but make sure it tastes good! Tell people what you’re celebrating as you hand out the samples and increase the likelihood that they will turn into a customer by including a lunch or dinner special for that week on their napkin.

There are plenty of other national days you can work into your marketing efforts. Take a look at the special days and weeks celebrated in December on the National Day Calendar.


Got a Negative Yelp Review for Your Restaurant? Here’s what to do. . . .


Panic! No, we didn’t mean that really. Don’t panic. Negative Yelp reviews aren’t the end of the world. Every restaurant gets them, whether that’s because a server called in sick at the last minute and service was slow or because the customer just wants to complain (we know, it happens).

So, how do you react? Here’s what you should (and shouldn’t) do to improve your reputation.


Post a polite public response apologizing and addressing the customer’s issue. Maybe invite them back in to your restaurant for a discount. Example: “Hi Jane, We’re sorry to hear your steak wasn’t done to your liking. If you’d like to come in again, our staff will work with you to make sure it’s done right. We’d be happy to offer you a free appetizer of your choice on your next visit.”


Let’s say the negative review was from a super picky customer who was never going to be satisfied. How do you respond in that case? The same as above (though you may choose not to invite them back for a discount). Here’s an example of how not to respond: “Jane, you asked for your steak to be medium rare and then when the waiter brought it out you said it was pink in the middle and sent it back. We tried three more times and you kept sending it back, all while our other customers waited for their meals. You took up too much of our time and were rude to the waitstaff.” Sure, this may be true, but it won’t win you any friends online.

You should also avoid a back-and-forth battle with the customer. If you apologize in a polite manner and they respond negatively, it’s okay to ignore them. People reading the Yelp reviews will see that you have tried.

Remember, no good will come from ranting at your negative reviewers on Yelp, but a negative review can be turned around with some good customer service.

If the Yelpers are complaining that you don’t have a website, check out Appetas. We create restaurant websites in minutes.

How to Promote your Restaurant with Google AdWords


Say you’ve already created a mobile-friendly website, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account. You’ve seen the increased traffic that comes into your restaurant from online marketing and you’re ready to try something else. You may want to turn to Google AdWords.

What’s that, you say? If you are a user of the Google search engine (the most popular search engine, with a 67% market share), you’ve seen the ads that pop up when you search almost any term. Well, companies are paying for those ad placements. Each time you click on one, they are charged some amount of money (it all depends on the bidding system) and you are taken to their web page.

This can be a great tool for restaurants, but it’s also one you need to keep an eye on.

Why it’s good

You are one of many food trucks/pizzerias/delis/etc. in your area. When people search “food trucks Seattle”, you want your website to be at the top of the list. Instead, you’re not even on the first page. But you can buy your way onto the first page with an ad.

Why it’s not so nice sometimes

It’s easy to spend money on AdWords, but harder to know whether it’s money well spent. You can set a maximum daily budget for your campaign to rein in spending, and you will only be charged for clicks on your ad, but make sure you also track business to make sure you are getting value from these ads.

How to get started

There are two options when using AdWords: Google AdWords Express or Google AdWords. We have never used AdWords Express, but Google is marketing it as an easier product for small businesses who want to advertise in their local markets. It has a few downsides over the standard product (you have less control of the details, the reporting isn’t as thorough, and the results may not be quite as good), but it takes significantly less time to manage.  On the other hand, the standard Google AdWords product is complicated, but it gives you thorough reports and complete control over your keywords and bids.

Not sure which option is right for you? Here is a good article comparing the two services.

If you decide to go with the standard product, once you set up your account, visit the Keyword Planner and search for terms you might be interested in bidding on. The key is to think about what potential customers will be typing into the search tool—terms like “best food truck Seattle” or “food carts Seattle”. You can narrow your campaign by location so you’re not targeting the entire country. For beginners, we recommend setting a maximum daily budget for the campaign and letting Google do the bidding for you (set default max CPC—or cost per click—to auto).

If you have yet to build a mobile-friendly website, check out Appetas. We provide beautiful restaurant websites in minutes!

What’s your Restaurant’s Social Media Voice?


We’ve talked a lot about why your restaurant needs a website (Appetas is a website builder, after all), but to effectively market your restaurant, you should have a social media presence.  This means a Facebook page at a minimum, but preferably a twitter handle as well. 

Stumped as to what to post? The key to finding your social media voice is knowing your market. If your restaurant is all about local sourcing, write about where you are getting your ingredients for dinner. More of an ambiance place? Mention the band that is playing that night or link to a video of your bartender making the perfect tropical beverage.

Always popular things to post to get people in the door: happy hour deals, food specials, and photos of your most beautiful dishes.

You don’t need to post on social media every day, though if you have something interesting to say, it doesn’t hurt.  We suggest a minimum of three times per week and a maximum of once a day.

Want to save some time? There are plenty of services that will blast your post out to your accounts on multiple social networking sites. Here’s a post on the top 10.