Local Marketing

5 local store marketing ideas for restaurants that work

Focus on these restaurant marketing tips and the reservations will follow.

Joshua SaxonJanuary 29, 20246 min read
Quick summary
  • Local store marketing ideas for restaurants should feature heavily in your strategy to engage the community.
  • A local approach to digital marketing like SEO, social media, and advertising works well to boost restaurant reservations.
  • Semrush Local gets your local search presence up and running quickly with easy listings distribution and review management.

In any given local market, restaurants face stiff competition, from neighboring eateries to ever-encroaching delivery apps. Standing out in the culinary cacophony demands more than great food—it requires a strategic approach that truly resonates. Enter local store marketing: a formidable ally for restaurants that are hungry for a slice of local traffic. But what exactly can local store marketing do for restaurants? And how does it transform the game in an industry inundated with marketing options?

What is local store marketing?

Before we get to some local store marketing ideas for restaurants, let’s break down the basics. Local store marketing is a targeted strategy aimed at engaging with the immediate community surrounding a business.

A Google Business Profile for a restaurant in Cleveland

A Google Business Profile for a restaurant in Cleveland

The strategy focuses on building strong connections, fostering brand loyalty, and driving foot traffic from the neighborhood. Local store marketing differs from broader strategies as it hones in on the local demographic’s tastes and preferences.

Headstart: Get your business ranking in local search results with Semrush Local’s suite of tools.

1. Local SEO for restaurants

Local search should be one of the cornerstones of your restaurant marketing plan.

Ranking in Google’s Local Pack can make or break a restaurant business, so it pays to invest in the right tools and expertise.

Local search results for restaurants in Cleveland

Local search results for restaurants in Cleveland

First, check your restaurant is in the top directories on the web. You can quickly get a clear picture of your online presence with Semrush’s free audit tool.

Restaurant listings must be accurate—especially the business name, address, phone number, and operating hours—across all platforms. This builds credibility with both potential customers and search engines.

Pay special attention to your Google Business Profile. On top of your essential details, include photos and descriptions of menu items and specials.

Consider the local angle when planning search engine optimization for your website. Use local keywords in content and create specific landing pages if you have restaurants in multiple locations.

Actively seek customer reviews and keep on top of replying to them all, both positive reviews and negative. Good review management demonstrates a restaurant's commitment to customer satisfaction and sends positive signals to search engines.

AI assistant: Quickly send personalized replies with the help of Semrush Review Management’s AI composer.

2. Local social media

Engage with local restaurant goers directly on social media and turn casual diners into loyal customers. Regularly update your social media presence with mouth-watering photos, the stories behind the dishes, and glowing customer reviews. Use local hashtags to attract new followers in your area.Running ads on social media is also highly effective for restaurants. Use geo-targeting to promote to locals within walking distance and entice them with special offers like happy hour.

 A social media discount for a restaurant

 A social media discount for a restaurant 

Encourage patrons to share their dining experiences and take snaps of their food. Good user-generated content can work wonders on visual social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

3. Local influencers

Collaborating with local food influencers and bloggers has emerged as a compelling way to create a buzz around your restaurant. Influencer reviews and recommendations can significantly impact dining decisions and amplify visibility in your area.

A food influencer at a New York restaurant

Enlisting the help of local influencers is more than just a promotional tactic, it's about building relationships.

Establishing genuine connections with local food influencers can lead to long-term exposure and engagement for your restaurant.

4. Local search advertising

Tap directly into your local target audience by showing ads right when they’re looking for a restaurant like yours. Directories like Yelp offer sponsored results so your restaurant comes out on top no matter how optimized your profile is.


 

Sponsored results on a Yelp results page for BBQ restaurants

But with more than 90% of the search market, Google is where most people turn to for local restaurants. Clicks for restaurant and food businesses are relatively cheap with Google Ads at $1.95 on average, according to Wordstream. And with a well-presented restaurant website design to lead hungry visitors to, you’ll soon see more patrons flocking  to your doors.

Double down: Cover all your search bases with Semrush Local, the suite of tools you need to climb the local rankings.

5. Traditional local marketing

Great food should get locals coming back for more, but reaching out to the community the old-fashioned way doesn’t hurt either. Marketing materials like flyers still work in the digital age (just don’t skimp on the design work). Email marketing is a direct line of communication that’s quite likely to get through to your audience. Emails to restaurant customers see an 18.5% open rate, according to Campaign Monitor.

A screengrab of a Mailchimp email mockup

A screengrab of a Mailchimp email mockup

Collaborate with neighboring businesses for cross-promotions. Working with others in the community is a great way to leverage relevant audiences and build meaningful professional relationships. Hosting charity events not only supports good causes but also enhances your restaurant's visibility. Sponsoring local sports can also be a game-changer, showcasing your community spirit while getting eyes on your restaurant.

Check your
local listings for free

Semrush Local has the recipe for your restaurant’s local SEO success.

You should try a range of local store marketing ideas for restaurants to see what works, but local SEO is a must.

And to make sure your local marketing efforts are paying off, Semrush Local is here with the tools you need to track your success.

Building your local presence

Manually uploading your listings is a tedious task that most restaurateurs don’t have time for. But with Semrush's Listing Management, owners can manage their listings from one centralized dashboard.This massively streamlines the process of updating business hours, addresses, contact details, and services.
Listings for a candy store in Chicago

Rave restaurant reviews

Well-managed reviews build trust among potential customers and contribute to improved search engine rankings. They also reveal insights into customer sentiment, highlighting areas of strength and areas for improvement.Tracking Google, Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor reviews empowers you to make better decisions about how you run your restaurant.
A chart depicting reviews in Semrush

The hottest joint in town

Semrush’s Map Rank Tracker (for premium subscribers or as a standalone product) monitors local search rankings on Google Maps to a granular level. It provides restaurants with insights on positions for up to 100 keywords, as well as those of competing restaurants. Understanding how well your restaurant is performing in specific areas better informs your marketing strategy.
Semrush Local’s Map Rank Tracker

Clean and organized

Semrush’s Listing Management ensures consistent business information across various online directories. A unified online presence demonstrates credibility to search engines and gives you a better chance of ranking well. If the tool discovers an error, you’ll receive an alert prompting you to act before it becomes a problem.
Duplicate listings in Semrush’s Listing Management
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