In an endless sea of search terms, rising to the top of a diner’s online restaurant hunt can be key to winning over that undecided customer.
A new study out from research firm L2 evaluated 126 U.S. restaurant brands for their digital performance, dishing out scores and analyzing brand performance when it comes to social media, digital marketing, mobile, delivery and website functionality. The report finds that as consumers rely more on digital research to decide where to dine, restaurants are utilizing tech tools and other strategies in the hopes of getting customers through the door, both on and offline.
Here are some of the standouts, according to the study.
1. Tactical web ads
Jimmy John’s utilizes strategic ad buys to court customers. According to the report, Jimmy John’s is one brand that frequently purchases Google Maps ads against unbranded keywords relevant to its business, such as “sub delivery,” thus appearing ahead of national and local competitors in Google Maps search results.
2. Strategic photo integration
Panera Bread also looks to Google Maps as a tool to bring in new business, making sure it has a robust listing on the search engine platform. The fast-casual bakery regularly posts its logo on its specific Google Maps location pages, along with around 172 product photos. This contributes to the brand’s visibility on the platform while also enticing customers by showing visuals of the restaurant’s offerings, the L2 report found. Panera is also one of the brands listed in the report that purchases AdWords to help boost visibility in Google against unbranded keywords.
4. Making the most of review sites
Moe’s Southwest Grill focuses on consumer engagement when wooing guests on one of the most trafficked sites for restaurant discovery. The fast-casual Mexican chain keeps a strong local presence on Yelp by not only claiming local locations on the site, but by having franchise owners respond to customer complaints at those specific locations. According to the report, Yelp is not only the most visible listing on Google search results for unbranded restaurant keywords, accounting for nearly 8% of organic links, but Yelp also earns over 180 million monthly visits on its desktop site alone, making it a key player in consumer discovery.
5. Promoting partnerships
While some establishments struggle to embrace partnerships with third-party delivery companies, this casual-dining chain chooses to do so, promoting its partnership to give diners seeking online ordering a frictionless experience. Cheesecake Factory offers a direct link on its website to its partner DoorDash’s app, leading diners directly to a branded Cheesecake Factory DoorDash page. The report suggests that the brand understands mobile behavior and capitalizes on the fact that large audiences already use these services for delivery.