Marketing your restaurant online can be difficult when you're competing with the big aggregator websites, but here we share one little tip.
We do a lot of marketing for independent restaurants who don’t have the luxury of their own marketing department. For example, we do their search engine optimisation, keyword analysis to pinpoint new opportunities, emarketing and existing diner engagement and of course, social media. We make sure their Google Places (now Google My Business) listings are up-to-date, we respond to reviews on third party websites, good or bad, because we know from their Google Analytics that this is where a significant number of bookings come from.
So what do you do when a large restaurant websites, or booking engines such as OpenTable make arrangements directly with the search engines (Google) to feature their listing instead of the restaurant's when you type in the restaurant's name?
What do you do when the big restaurant aggregator websites spend their much larger advertising budgets on Google Pay Per Click and actively bid for the restaurant's name so they appear first on the search results?
In a nutshell, they are taking a restaurant's business and then charging the restaurant at least double through higher booking fees. Why? Because a restaurant has to pay higher booking commissions to these reservation partners when bookings are made anywhere other than the restaurants' own website. It's an interesting problem as the reservation partners wouldn't have a business at all without the restaurants.
Our advice to restaurants: they need you more than you need them – especially if you have your own marketing efforts. Go ahead and list with them but make sure you have a clause in your contract that they cannot compete for your restaurant’s name in the PPC stakes.