The restaurant industry is known for having delicately thin margins and can be very competitive no matter where the location is. But when it comes to places that are extremely desirable tourist places, there are usually extremely high costs to operate as well. Del Mar, California is one of these places and special attention to detail is a must for Del Mar restaurant marketing.
From the location, to the physical appearance of the building, staff training, and ingredient sourcing, there are plenty of areas that need attention to run a successful restaurant in Del Mar. SunCity Advising is a digital marketing agency specializing in marketing businesses online. So, we will focus this review solely on the digital presence and the available tactics that can be used to standout from the crowd as a Del Mar restaurant. We will review the current digital landscape of restaurants available in the city, explain who is doing well and why, and give some current strategies to employ now!
How to Review Restaurant Marketing Success
As mentioned above, there are plenty of factors that determine how well a restaurant is doing. But the average person doesn’t have access to the owners’ financial books, so we can’t judge the experience by how profitable they are. And many times, what makes a restaurant great for one person could have a negative impacts on someone else. For example, the term “kid-friendly” may be a sign of openness to bringing your family, yet detract from someone’s perceived value if they are looking for a quiet, romantic experience.
To determine successful Del Mar marketing, we will be looking at aspects of digital marketing that include search engine optimization, paid advertising, and directory listings. In other words, how do people find the restaurant and what are their initial thoughts about it?
Del Mar Restaurant SEO
As a quick refresher, search engine optimization (SEO) is the ability for your website to be found on the internet. There are many factors to consider when looking to set up a strong long-term SEO strategy. To keep it simple, there are 3 main types of SEO: on-page, off-page, and local. Industries and businesses can have vastly different strategies based on their needs. Del mar restaurants are no different, but let’s take a look at what some of them are doing now.
According to the Statista, there are nearly 700,000 restaurants in the US that generate over half of a trillion dollars annually. So, that tells us there are a lot of options for hungry people and that there’s also big money in getting people to become familiar with an establishment. What’s the easiest way to do that? Well, here’s the google search result for the term “Del Mar restaurants”:
The first thing that is obvious is that the top results come from the google location tool. These types of listings are created using their Google My Business feature. Right below the map is a listing of the top 3 results with their name and some brief details. These restaurants will likely get the majority of new visitor traffic.
These companies rank highly not only because of their location on the map, but also because they have used terms in their listing that include “Del Mar” and their descriptions and reviews use the term “restaurant”. The top listings have above a 4.5 rating out of 5 and also have over 500 reviews. So, be sure to use Bing Places and Google My Business to market your restaurant since that’s the first place people will have a chance to view it. And, build out a review process that facilitates your customers leaving 5-star reviews as much as possible.
When we use the term “off-page SEO” the focus is on things these restaurants are doing outside of their own website. Backlinks are one of the best ways to improve off-page SEO as it can significantly improve the domain authority and trust score of the website. When those go up, it brings the likelihood of individual search queries to show your pages. Here are the search results shown right below the map:
The highlighted numbers in the image above represent the domain authority and trust scores of the top 4 search results. So, this tells us that with the lowest one being 32 trust score, it is going to be very hard to rank here.
So, an emphasis should be put on directory listings (like Tripadvisor or OpenTable) instead of trying to beat these directories at their own game. In this case, we would recommend that a Del Mar restaurant trying to improve their visibility focus the overlap of off-page SEO and local SEO in the sense that they bring in as many backlinks as possible by adding their restaurant to as many food-related and Del Mar local directories as possible. There’s no need to focus in the short-term or mid-term on other types of broad backlink campaigns.
The term “on-page SEO” simply refers to the things that can be done on a specific webpage to help it rank in the search engines. This is an important aspect for any business or industry and Del Mar restaurant marketing is no different. However, because of the concerns we noted in the off-page section above, there needs to be a focused strategy.
When we refer to on-page, we are talking about the content, the use of keyword research and copy, image and meta optimization. There are ways to generate more specific types of people looking for a well-defined experience by using longtail keywords. Take the example search below as as an example for someone searching for “Del Mar restaurants with a view.”
The top result is still a map with the top listings being shown (using the term “View” in their name and having over 4.5 stars). This restaurant happens to be one of the few that are open early, which helps it rank above competition solely because google would rather show an open restaurant as the top listing. Get creative with how to beat competitors based on your hours too!
The rankings below the map are very similar to the example above, so it will be tough to rank even for a longtail keyword like this. But, with a strong Del Mar SEO strategy and getting even more specific, like “del mar restaurants for sandwiches and beer”, you will have a better chance of getting that page noticed. The top 3 positions for that search do come from Yelp and TripAdvisor, but the majority of the first page listings do include individual sandwich places that serve beer. Whatever your niche is, be sure to create content in your blog that is hyper specific so you can take on these major players.
Del Mar Restaurant Paid Advertising
According to CNBC, Google and Facebook’s advertising share in 2020 was about 55% of the market. So, these are the first two places that most advertisers go because of the huge number of people that can be reached (remember YouTube is a google product and Instagram is a Facebook product). But, in this case, we know that many people will start off directly in another app, like Yelp! or TripAdvisor. Or, they may enter a google search and eventually be directed to a Yelp! page. So, what do Del Mar advertisers do?
In the organic search results we showed in the SEO section above, it should be noted that no ads were visible. So although we would normally avoid google search advertising because of the likelihood of being missed by so many people, there are cases where it would make sense. First, if you are a newer restaurant or are just off of the first page results, you may want to try to bump your restaurant up in the searches with an ad that will go above all of the other listings. Since no one else is running ads, yours are very likely to maintain a top position for the search queries you want. The image below is a more common advertising tactic using Yelp!.
There are 3 things to note right away: 1) the use of delivery, 2) the location, and 3) the first review explaining where the user found them. Points 1 and 2 are related. If you notice the first ad that comes up on Yelp is actually located in La Jolla — a neighboring community in San Diego. So, advertising can help a restaurant expand their sphere of visibility. Normally, this restaurant would never rank first for a search of Del Mar restaurants since their actually in La Jolla. They were able to do this because they offer delivery. So, if someone was considering trying their food but didn’t want to drive to Del Mar, they could still have it delivered. So, an all around great strategy for them. Lastly, you can see that the top review is actually someone saying they were being targeted on Instagram. So, this highlights how the other channels of advertising can still benefit restaurants when people are making these food decisions by driving them from one website to another during the selection and review process of their meals.
What we see in Del Mar restaurant advertising is a strong focus on Yelp, with opportunities on other channels as well. If you are a restaurant owner on the water near a bunch of hotels, or if you are a restaurant within a hotel, you know there may be a lot of customers coming in as tourists. But, if your space is away from the Del Mar racetrack and all of the beaches, you may need to be more focused on local residents. These strategies are different due to the capability of retargeting residents like the reviewer mentioned above. The best platforms for this are Facebook and Instagram, and google display ads. But Yelp and other review sites generally have an option to suppress other advertisers from being listed on your Yelp page. So, even as a defensive measure it can be worthwhile so customers don’t find a better option. There appears to be quite a bit of opportunity for advertising with a budget as low as $500-1000 from what we can estimate.