Contributed by Jennifer Black, vice president of marketing,

In the past, all a restaurant had to do to attract new customers was to advertise in the local newspaper, magazine or Yellow Pages directory. The problem was that print ads could be costly and weren't always viewed or found by customers in the first place.

Today, the Internet has changed everything and has become the medium of choice for consumers looking for products and services in their local region. With approximately 80 percent of an individual's income being spent within 25 miles of their home, there is good opportunity for restaurants to reach local customers online.

One of the best ways to do this is through "local search," which allows you to target potential customers in a desired area or region. For families, friends, or corporate executives searching online for a restaurant in a particular area, they get highly relevant search results. These results are specific to their search inquiry and do not include a lot of irrelevant listings from outside that area. According to global Internet information provider ComScore Inc., 47 percent of local searchers contacted or visited a local merchant as a result of their online search. But the trick to successful online marketing is improving ways that your restaurant can be found online.

Connecting with potential customers
The trick to connecting with your potential customers involves a successful online marketing strategy that helps improve your chances of being found online. Using local search, you can target your message using the right keywords and search phrases to "pull" them to your Web site. With local search, it's also about relevancy--that is, delivering highly relevant search results.

Facilitating local search involves providing efficient search algorithms and solid local web indexing technologies that can help "connect" the searching customer to the right restaurant that can meet their needs. Here are some tips to help you get started:
  1. Conduct a search for your restaurant major local search sites. Does yours appear? Is the information accurate and up-to-date? Many of the major players allow businesses to add and update their free listing. This will ensure that customers can actually find you and it doesn't cost anything. (For instance, you can visit:
  2. Determine who your target customer is and what type of products or services they want to purchase. Are you targeting families, singles, corporate executives or a specific clientele? Are they looking for a certain type of menu, entertainment, ambiance (casual, eclectic or formal) or private dining rooms? Know who you want to reach and what they may be looking for.
  3. Determine the key words these potential customers use when trying to find you and your type of restaurant. Add these keywords to your website and make them part of your core marketing blueprint.
  4. Add fresh content to your Web site regularly. This can include: new menu items, promotions or specials, or events to keep your customers informed. You could include customer quotes or testimonials that validate your restaurant's cuisine or service.
  5. Make it easy to be found online. Whether you have a Web site or not, you can leverage the marketing tools offered by your local search engine provider, including free and paid online listing services that offer flexibility and cost-effective marketing and allow you to:
    • create a personalized landing page, which can be instantly updated as products or services change;
    • build "back-links" or links from the local search engine to your site to assist with your search engine marketing efforts; and
    • cost effectively reach prospective customers already searching for type of business on the Internet.
Some of the local online advertising programs also guarantee that your restaurant's listing will appear at the top of the search results page in a specified category and region to gain higher visibility. It is less expensive to advertise using local search than traditional national search engines because the ROI is much higher when you are able to target your advertising dollars with the category and geographic location. Some providers now also offer advanced call tracking capabilities that allow local businesses to further measure the success of their online advertising campaigns by linking their online ad to phone calls received. This provides an audit trail to effectively measure the results of your marketing campaign.

So, if you are looking for effective ways to market your restaurant to customers in a specific region, take the first step and get involved with local search and implement an online local search marketing strategy. There are many opportunities that can help deliver local customers to your Web site and through your restaurant's front door.

Jennifer Black is vice president of marketing for, the largest local search network and one of the leading local search engines in the U.S. The company uses patented technologies to provide more than 20 million consumers each month with the most relevant search results for local businesses, products and services on and more than 700 regional media sites. For information, call (888) 857-6734, or visit