The Insider’s Recipe for Restaurant Growth Through Local PPC Advertising

“Success in PPC advertising isn’t about outspending the competition, it’s about outsmarting them.”

– Larry Kim, Founder of WordStream & PPC Marketing Expert


In today’s digital age, word-of-mouth and newspaper ads are no longer enough. The best way to reach customers in the modern era is online. As a restaurateur, navigating the digital landscape may seem daunting, but the rewards of a well-planned PPC advertising strategy can be transformative. It’s not merely a buzzword; it’s a game-changer. For many restaurants, both big and small, local PPC advertising has become a lifeline in this competitive industry.

This dynamic form of marketing is a must-have ingredient in the recipe for success for restaurants. It’s about connecting your culinary offerings to the local patrons who are eagerly searching for their next memorable dining experience. In this comprehensive guide, we will unravel the mysteries of Local PPC Advertising and showcase how it can be a catalyst for your restaurant’s growth. Let’s dive in!

What is Local PPC Advertising
Local Geo Targeting From the Web

What is Local PPC Advertising?

Local Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is a form of digital marketing in which establishments, such as restaurants, pay a fee whenever one of their ads is clicked. However, what sets local PPC apart is its geographic component.

In essence, local PPC allows businesses to show their ads to potential customers within a specific geographic area. This location could be an entire country, a city, or simply a zip code. The target audience will be people who live or work near the company or where it can reasonably deliver its products or services.

The most popular PPC advertising platform is Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords). Google Ads allows advertisers to bid on keywords relevant to their business and target their ads to specific locations. The company’s ad may show up at the top or bottom of the search results page when someone in that area conducts a search using the selected keywords.

Key Elements of A Local PPC Advertising

Local PPC advertising has several components that make it an effective marketing tool including the following:

1. Keyword Selection

The success of your local PPC campaign starts with the right keywords. Keywords should be relevant to your local area and what your restaurant offers. 

The selection of location-specific long-tail keywords, like “sushi restaurant in Los Angeles” or “best Italian food in Boston,” can help you reach your target audience effectively. Using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner can help identify high-volume, low-competition keywords that potential customers in your area are searching for.

2. Geographic Targeting

Local PPC advertising hinges on effective geographic targeting. Google Ads and similar services make it easy to target a specific country, location, or even block with your advertising. You can also target radius around your restaurant to reach potential customers nearby. Geographic targeting ensures your ads reach the people most likely to visit your restaurant.

3. Ad Creation and Copywriting

Crafting compelling ads is a critical element of local PPC advertising. Your ad copy should be persuasive, engaging, and relevant to the search terms you’re targeting. Highlight unique aspects of your restaurant, special offers, or menu items that set you apart. Remember, your ad needs to stand out among the competition, so make it count!

4. Bid Management

In PPC advertising, you bid on the keywords you want to trigger your ads. Your bid amount, along with a quality score determined by Google, influences if and where your ad gets placed. A strong bidding strategy balances cost-effectiveness with visibility, ensuring you get the most from your advertising budget.

5. Optimized Landing Pages

A landing page is a specific webpage on your website that potential customers are taken to after clicking on your ad. This page should be relevant to your ad copy and search terms, offering a seamless user experience. An effective landing page should be visually appealing, easy to navigate, and include clear calls-to-action (like “Book a table,” “View menu,” or “Order now”).

6. Use of Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are additional pieces of information that can be added to your Google Ads. They can include extra links to your website, your business location, phone number, and even reviews. These extensions not only make your ad more engaging but also provide useful information to potential customers.

7. Tracking and Analysis

Regular monitoring and analysis of your PPC campaigns are essential for optimizing performance. Important indicators include click-through rates, conversion percentages, cost-per-click, and ROI. These insights can inform necessary adjustments to improve the effectiveness of your campaigns.

8. Remarketing

Advertisements can be shown to users who have visited your site before but who did not complete a transaction. Remarketing can help increase conversion rates by keeping your restaurant top-of-mind and encouraging customers to return to your website.

By mastering these key elements, you can ensure your local PPC advertising effectively drives traffic, enhances visibility, and boosts revenue for your restaurant.

Case Study_ Chipotle
Chipotle Localized Digital Ad From the Web

Case Study: Chipotle

One brand that truly stands out in their implementation of PPC advertising is Chipotle. Known for their commitment to “Food with Integrity”, they’ve paralleled this with a digital marketing strategy that can only be described as “Advertising with Integrity”.

Chipotle’s strategic PPC approach has played a significant role in expanding their digital footprint, and consequently, their bottom-line. To better appreciate their strategies, let’s dissect some of the tactics they’ve employed:

  • Keyword Targeting: Chipotle targets specific keywords related to their menu offerings and brand. This brings potential customers who are already interested in their style of food directly to their website, thus increasing the likelihood of conversions.
  • Geographic Targeting: To drive customers to specific locations, Chipotle uses geotargeting. This ensures their ads reach potential customers in the vicinity of their outlets, optimizing ad spend and driving foot traffic.
  • Mobile Optimization: Recognizing that a significant number of searches are made on mobile devices, Chipotle’s PPC ads are optimized for mobile viewing. This includes easy-to-navigate landing pages and a seamless online ordering process.
  • Ad Extensions: Chipotle utilizes ad extensions in their PPC ads. Features such as their store locator, contact information, and links to their menu enhance the customer experience and provide additional opportunities for engagement.
  • Analyzing and Improving: Chipotle consistently tracks their PPC campaigns, using the data to refine and optimize their strategies. This ensures they remain competitive and continue to get the best ROI from their PPC advertising.

Key Advantages of Local PPC Advertising

There are numerous benefits to implementing a local PPC advertising strategy. Let’s explore some of them:

1. Immediate Visibility

With PPC advertising, you can achieve immediate visibility on search engine results pages. Google claims that for every dollar a firm invests in Google Ads, it receives a return of $2.

2. Targeted Advertising

PPC allows for hyper-specific targeting based on geographical location, demographics, and even time of day. Google reports that 76% of people who conduct a local online search visit a business within a day.

3. Cost-Effective

PPC, contrary to common opinion, is not always prohibitively expensive. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad, offering a greater return on investment. WordStream states that the average small business using Google Ads spends between $9,000 and $10,000 per month but earns a significant return.

4. Increases Brand Recognition

Even if users don’t click on your ad, they see it, leading to increased brand recognition. Google found that search ads can increase brand awareness by as much as 80%.

5. Maximize Mobile Reach

According to BrightLocal, 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly site. Local PPC enables reaching out to these potential customers.

6. Trackable Results

Unlike traditional forms of advertising, with PPC, you can track the number of clicks, impressions, conversions, and calculate your return on investment.

7. Compete with Larger Businesses

Local PPC allows small restaurants to compete with larger chains by targeting customers in specific geographic locations.

8. Control Over Advertising Costs

You can set a maximum daily budget for your PPC campaign and adjust it as needed.

9. Boosts Local Sales

PPC can drive foot traffic to your physical locations. Three in four people who find local information in search results helpful are more likely to visit stores.

10. Flexible Marketing Strategy

PPC campaigns can be adjusted in real-time based on their performance.

15 Best Local PPC Strategies for Restaurants
Restaurant Local Google Ad Strategy From the Web

15 Best Local PPC Strategies for Restaurants

Feast your eyes on these 15 best local PPC strategies specially crafted for restaurants. Each is a key ingredient in the recipe for your restaurant’s success, promising to spice up your marketing efforts and bring local foodies right to your doorstep.

1. Keyword Targeting

Start by researching keywords that are relevant to your restaurant. Use a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to find keywords that are high in volume but low in competition. Optimize your PPC campaigns to target these keywords, as they can drive significant traffic to your website.

2. Geographic Targeting

Use geotargeting to deliver PPC ads to potential customers within a specific location. This could be your city, a particular zip code, or even around your restaurant’s physical location. You can also exclude locations where you don’t want your ads to be shown.

3. Ad Scheduling

Utilize ad scheduling to run your PPC ads during hours when your potential customers are most likely to see them. For restaurants, this could be during meal times or just before when people are likely to be deciding where to eat.

4. Mobile Optimization

With the increasing use of mobile devices, ensure your PPC ads are optimized for mobile viewing. This could include mobile-friendly landing pages and a streamlined mobile ordering process.

5. Ad Extensions

Use ad extensions in your PPC ads to provide potential customers with more information and additional ways to contact you. This could be location extensions (showing your restaurant’s location), call extensions (allowing customers to call you directly from the ad), or menu extensions (providing a direct link to your menu).

6. Attractive Ad Copy

Create engaging and persuasive ad copies that will draw potential customers in and encourage them to click on your ad. Highlight what sets your restaurant apart, such as unique menu items, special deals, or awards you’ve won.

7. Effective Landing Pages

Make sure the landing page your PPC ad directs to is relevant, engaging, and easy to navigate. The user experience on this page can significantly impact your conversion rates.

8. Bid Strategy

Develop a bid strategy that maximizes your budget. This could be focusing on keywords that generate the highest return, or opting for automatic bidding where Google adjusts your bids to get as many conversions as possible within your budget.

9. Utilizing Remarketing

Remarketing allows you to target people who have previously interacted with your website or mobile app. It’s a powerful way to remind past visitors to make a reservation or order food online, leading to higher conversion rates.

10. A/B Testing

Regularly test different aspects of your PPC campaigns. This could be different keywords, ad copies, or landing pages. Use the insights from these tests to continuously optimize your campaigns.

11. Promoting Special Offers

Highlight any special offers, discounts, or events in your PPC ads. As a result, you may see an increase in the number of people clicking on your ads.

12. Targeting the Right Devices

Depending on your audience and the nature of your restaurant, certain devices may convert better than others. For instance, if you offer a fast-casual or take-out experience, mobile device targeting could be key.

13. Review Extensions

If your restaurant has received positive reviews or awards, show them off with review extensions. This enhances your credibility and can boost click-through rates.

14. Using Google My Business

Integrating with Google My Business can help your restaurant’s local search ranking and make it easier for people to find your location, hours, and contact information.

15. Tracking and Analysis

Finally, always keep track of your PPC campaign’s performance. Examine its ROI, CTR, CPC, and other important metrics to gauge the success of your campaign. You can use this information to make incremental improvements to your campaigns.

Things to Avoid on Restaurant Local PPC Advertising

While there’s a lot to savor in local PPC advertising, there are also potential pitfalls on the menu. This section dishes up the major missteps to avoid, ensuring that your restaurant’s PPC campaign is as deliciously successful as your signature dish.

1. Ignoring Mobile Optimization

Failing to optimize your PPC ads for mobile devices can lead to a poor user experience, reducing your click-through rates and conversions. Make sure your ads and landing pages are optimized for mobile consumers by giving them a simple and straightforward experience.

2. Broad Keyword Targeting

Targeting overly broad keywords can lead to irrelevant clicks, increasing your costs without driving quality leads. Instead, focus on long-tail keywords and keywords that are specific to your restaurant and offerings to reach a more targeted audience.

3. Not Using Negative Keywords

Not utilizing negative keywords can result in your ads being shown for irrelevant searches, wasting your budget. Implement negative keywords to exclude searches that aren’t relevant to your restaurant.

4. Lack of Ad Testing

Failing to regularly test and optimize your ads can lead to stagnant or declining performance. Use A/B testing to continuously refine your ad copy, design, and landing pages.

5. Ignoring Geographic Targeting

If you aren’t using geographic targeting, you could be wasting money on clicks from users who are not in your restaurant’s vicinity. Get your adverts in front of local consumers by using geotargeting.

6. Inadequate Tracking

Your pay-per-click (PPC) advertising plan can be improved using the information gained from tracking its performance. Keep an eye on key performance indicators like CTR, Conversion Rate, and Ad Spending Per Click.

7. Poorly Designed Landing Pages

No matter how many people click on your adverts, conversion rates will remain low if your landing pages are boring and difficult to use. Focus on creating high-quality, relevant landing pages that provide a seamless user experience.

8. Setting and Forgetting Your Campaigns

PPC advertising requires regular monitoring and optimization. If you just set up your campaign and then ignore it, you’re unlikely to see optimal results. Continuously review and adjust your campaign based on its performance.

9. Overlooking Ad Extensions

Not using ad extensions means you could be missing out on opportunities to provide additional information or ways for potential customers to interact with your restaurant. Consider using location extensions, call extensions, and menu extensions to enhance your ads.

10. Not Capitalizing on Reviews and Awards

If you’re not showcasing your positive reviews and awards in your PPC ads, you’re missing a key chance to build credibility and attract more customers. Use review extensions to highlight these achievements.

Remember, a successful PPC campaign requires ongoing attention and optimization. By avoiding these common pitfalls, you can maximize the effectiveness of your local PPC advertising and drive more traffic and sales to your restaurant.

How to Leverage Local PPC Advertising for Different Types of Restaurants
Fine Dining Restaurant Guests From the Web

How to Leverage Local PPC Advertising for Different Types of Restaurants

Local PPC advertising can be utilized effectively by different types of restaurants, each with their unique customer base and marketing needs. Let’s delve into how various types of restaurants can leverage local PPC advertising:

Fine Dining Restaurants

For fine dining establishments, the focus is on promoting an upscale image and attracting a high-spending clientele. The keyword selection should reflect the high-end nature of the restaurant, with phrases such as “best luxury restaurant,” “gourmet dining,” or “award-winning cuisine.” 

Ad copy should emphasize elements like the chef’s reputation, unique menu items, wine selection, and the quality of the dining experience. Landing pages could feature high-quality images of dishes, testimonials from satisfied customers, or reviews from reputable food critics.

Casual Dining Restaurants

Casual dining restaurants are known for their extensive menus and broad customer base. They can benefit from location-specific keywords that highlight their versatility and appeal to a broad audience, like “family-friendly restaurant” or “best brunch spot.” 

Ad copy might focus on the restaurant’s comfortable atmosphere, affordability, or unique specials. Landing pages could highlight promotions, menus, and an easy reservation process.

Fast Food Restaurants

Fast food restaurants typically aim to attract customers looking for convenience and speed. Keywords could include phrases like “quick lunch,” “fast food delivery,” or specific menu items. 

Ad copy should emphasize speed, convenience, and affordability, with a strong call to action to place an order. Landing pages should be optimized for quick online ordering.

Cafes and Bakeries

Cafes and bakeries might focus on keywords related to their specialty products (e.g., “best croissants,” “organic coffee shop”) and attract local customers looking for a relaxed environment. 

Ad copy can showcase unique offerings, promotions, or events like live music or poetry readings. Landing pages might feature beautiful photos of the venue and products, along with an easy option for online orders or reservations.

Themed or Specialty Restaurants

These restaurants, including ethnic cuisine or themed dining experiences, should use keywords that highlight their unique offerings (like “authentic Thai cuisine” or “1920s speakeasy”). 

The ad copy can showcase unique aspects of the dining experience, specialty dishes, or cultural authenticity. Landing pages might feature photos of the unique dining environment, customer reviews, or special event information.

Food Trucks

Mobile food businesses can use geo targeting to a great advantage, adjusting their targeting based on their location on a particular day. Keywords might focus on the type of food offered and the convenience factor. 

The ad copy can highlight location, daily specials, and the appeal of freshly cooked, on-the-go food. Landing pages might offer real-time location updates, menus, and an option for online ordering.

No matter the type of restaurant, local PPC advertising, when customized to reflect the unique selling proposition of the establishment, can be a powerful tool to attract patrons, increase brand visibility, and drive revenue.

Summary Checklist of Action Plans

Ensure you’re fully equipped for your restaurant’s PPC journey with this handy summary checklist. Consider it your action plan recipe, outlining the steps to cook up a mouth-watering PPC campaign that attracts customers and accelerates growth.

  • Understand the basics of PPC
  • Identify your target audience
  • Choose relevant keywords for your restaurant
  • Create engaging and relevant ad copies
  • Optimize your PPC ads for mobile users
  • Implement geographic targeting
  • Use ad extensions for enhanced engagement
  • Design a user-friendly landing page for your PPC ads
  • Establish a realistic budget
  • Continuously monitor and adjust your PPC campaign based on performance


Local PPC advertising offers an exceptional opportunity for restaurants to reach their audience directly, increase brand awareness, drive local sales, and, ultimately, boost revenue. With its customizable nature and potential for high return on investment, it is an avenue that all restaurateurs, restaurant managers, and marketing professionals should explore and start leveraging immediately.

Keeping one’s head above water is of the utmost importance in the highly competitive restaurant industry. It’s time to start cooking up a winning PPC strategy for your restaurant, ensuring your establishment doesn’t just survive, but thrives in today’s digital age. As the old saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” The time to start implementing a robust local PPC advertising strategy for your restaurant is now.

READ ALSO: Setting the Stage for Success: Defining Your Unique Restaurant Concept and Target Market

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