PPC for Local Business

April 1, 2021

(first published on June 28, 2018)

Natalia Zaugg, Founder

In the previous articles, we’ve covered some tips and tricks for website optimization and SEO practices. Now we’d like to talk about what else you can do to reach out to your audience and win more guests. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertisement gives a lot of possibilities to address your target audience, raise brand awareness, and promote your business. The advanced technology allows precise tracking and conversion and costs optimization to achieve the best results.


First of all, let’s clarify what PPC means. It’s an advertising model that allows businesses to place ads on search engines, but only pay when a user clicks on an ad. In order to run a PPC campaign, you should choose the keywords that trigger your ads, which are the search terms that users use when searching for your business.

One question you might ask is “Why investing in PPC if you have a well-optimized website?” It’s a valid question. According to the BrightEdge research Organic Search drives 51% of website traffic. In comparison, Paid Search accounted for 14%. Looking specifically at the Travel & Hospitality industry, the share of Paid Search is higher than average, 23%, while Organic Search is still the largest channel with 40%.

PPC for local business

Source: BrightEdge, 2017

Due to the dominating role of Organic Search, we highly recommend implementing general SEO best practices and making sure your website is user- and search-friendly. However, in the last few years dramatic changes to the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) layouts have been introduced, for example, Local 3-Pack, Knowledge Panel, and Quick Answers, which push more organic search down.

We are convinced that if you want to stay on the top, you should use different channels together: optimize your website for the search engines, manage your business listing, and run ads. Read further to learn the advantages of PPC advertising.

The Power of PPC Advertising

As in Switzerland Google is the most used search engine with a market share of over 90%, we’ll refer to Google Ads when talking about PPC ads. Here are some of the compelling benefits of PPC advertising in general:

  • It provides a quick entry increasing website traffic and conversions. It can contribute to a large number of business goals, for example, newsletter signups or table reservations. Besides, it gives you a chance to beat out larger businesses that have better rankings on the SERP.
  • It is easy to track and measure the results. The performance statistics are available right away, so you can react quickly and get valuable insights.
  • It works well with other marketing channels such as organic presence, email marketing, and social media.
  • It offers a lot of useful data. For example, you can find out what users are searching for and which keywords convert best to later use in website optimization.
  • It allows a targeted approach. Through segmentation and different targeting options, you can address the totally new audience and the users who have been exposed to your brand differently.
  • It is a powerful way to bring traffic to the landing page of your choice. Thus, it is easy to promote a certain offer.

Google is constantly investing in their advertising products with the goal to make advertising more attractive for businesses and to improve the user experience. To mention just a few relatively recent updates: more targeting tools to ensure that the right people are viewing your ads, more smart bidding options that optimize your bids in real time, personalized recommendations and search trend insights.

Also, places where ads appear across the web are changing. Google has introduced local search ads that feature your business location. Such ads may appear at the top of the local results on mobile or when you click on “More places” in the local results on desktop, and on Google Maps, including the Google Maps app. This creates new opportunities for restaurants to promote their business.


PPC Tips for Restaurants

We acknowledged the fact that PPC is a good investment for a local business. Now let’s have a look at the industry best practices for restaurants.

1. Choose the right keywords

As we have mentioned, your ads are triggered by the keywords you choose. Keywords define who sees your ads and your campaign budget as different keywords have different bids. So, it’s very important to do keyword research and run your campaign on a set of relevant keywords.

High-volume generic keywords bring a lot of traffic and are expensive. However, it’s a good way to find out what users search for when they click on your ad. Make sure to check the search terms report in Google Ads frequently. From there you can add the search terms to keywords directly in your campaign or add them to the negatives list to stop showing your ads on certain search terms. An example of common negative keywords for a restaurant is “recipes”, “shop”, or “delivery” (if you don’t do food delivery).

Long-tail keywords have a small search volume but they offer a higher conversion rate and lower costs as compared to common keywords. For example, “Italian restaurant in Zurich” or “Quick lunch in Kreis 4 Zürich” are long-tail keywords. However, keep in mind that focusing only on the long-tail keywords may decrease your search volume.

As restaurants are local businesses, they highly depend on the guests who are located in proximity or looking for a certain location. So, it’s worth limiting the location targeting by the city or area of your business. Besides, we recommend using location-based keywords adding to generic terms the name of your city, region, or part of town.

Such keywords are usually cheaper and are more commonly used by guests, so they are more likely to bring more paying customers.

2. Write attractive texts

Ideally, your ad text should include the keyword to make sure that the ad is relevant to the customer’s search. Highlight your advantages to persuade the user to click on your ad and book your business. You can mention the proximity to the main train station, free parking, or children-friendly facilities. It’s also important to use a relevant landing page as a final URL. Make sure the user lands on the page that relates to his/her search and contains a certain call-to-action such as “Download a menu” or “Book a table”. Below you can see how a common PPC ad is structured:


Google recommends always having responsive search ads in your campaign. The advantage of them is that they are more flexible and allow combining different headlines and descriptions adapting your ad’s content to match users’ search terms.

Your ad text should be informative and look professional. By adding extensions, you can make your ad more visible and approachable for your potential guests. As a restaurant, you would like to use the following extensions:

  • Location: connecting your Ads account with your Google Business Profile will allow you to sync the locations and use them in your ad. This will also make your eligible to show local search ads.
  • Sitelink: additional links you’d like to direct your guests to, for example, “Gift voucher” or “Menu”. Write a description to your sitelinks to make it more visible on the SERP.
  • Callout: this is a non-clickable extension that can be used to draw attention to your unique selling proposition and important benefits. For example, “Daily open”.
  • Call: add your phone number and track how often users clicked to call you from the ad. It works effectively, especially on mobile devices.
  • Structured snippet extensions: showcase information valuable to your potential guests. For example, you can list items from your menu.
  • Price: showcase your offerings with their prices. Price extensions improve the performance of your ads as they make the information that users require quickly and easily accessible.
  • Promotion: highlight your promotions for guests that are searching for the best deals.

In Google Ads, you can manage and schedule your ad extensions as well as measure their performance (see how many impressions, clicks, etc. they received).

If you have a chain of restaurants, we suggest running a separate campaign for each location using unique texts, extensions, and keywords.

3. Run remarketing

Nowadays, you have lots of possibilities to segment your audience and run targeted ads. Remarketing allows you reaching to users who have already interacted with your website. You can remind the users of the voucher left in the cart or promote a new menu. With remarketing you let your guests engage with your brand. Besides, you can find more potential customers by playing with audience lists, for example, adding an audience similar to your existing customers. Based on your existing user lists Google uses machine learning to find more like-minded customers and show them your ads.

4. Track conversions

Don’t forget to set up conversion tracking to keep track of your ad performance. If you have Google Analytics installed, you can set up goals and track conversions there. However, you can also track conversions in the Google ads interface with the new Google Ads conversion tracking tag. You can use Google Tag Manager in order to set it up.

5. Update often

A PPC campaign should be monitored and updated frequently. First of all, the bids change depending on the competition, so it might be that you need to raise your bids in order to be shown on the first SERP. You should constantly monitor the ads and keywords performance. Find out which texts work best. Search behavior of users is changing with time, so it makes sense to occasionally conduct keyword research, add or change keywords and add negatives to exclude non-relevant traffic.

6. Bidding on brand 

Usually, a website ranks high for the brand keywords in the Organic Search. So, it may seem counter-intuitive to pay for clicks on your brand keywords. Nevertheless, we do recommend running a brand campaign for the following reasons:


  • It gives you more exposure on the first SERP. The cost-per-click for the brand keywords is very low, but you’d dominate the search results, especially on mobile devices. Besides, with your ad, you can lead the potential customer to the relevant pages, for example, the reservation page.
  • On Google, it’s allowed to bid on the brand keywords of your competitors. Obviously, your competitors can do the same and steal your brand traffic. Bidding on your brand keywords will make sure that you appear on the top of the search results. It makes even more sense if your brand name contains a word that may be targeted by other advertisers. As a result, you may lose some exposure to your brand.

7. Optimize for mobile 

Remember that when guests search for a restaurant, most clicks and conversions happen on mobile devices. Optimize your campaign accordingly:


  • Add keywords that searchers use from a mobile device. For example, combinations with phrases like “near me” are quite common.
  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. For a restaurant, it’s especially important that it’s easy to reserve a table from a mobile device.
  • Enable ad extensions. For example, call and location extensions allow users to call you directly with just one click or open the address of your restaurant in Google Maps.

With PPC advertising you can achieve an immediate lift to your website’s performance. Integrate it into your marketing strategy which should already include intense SEO, clever review management, and active presence on social networks. The best practices we’ve discussed above will help you get started.

In case you need professional help, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our experienced team will work with you to create a campaign that is tailored to your business and reaches your goals.

If you have fresh ideas on the topic or any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

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About the Author

Natalia is a Co-Founder of re:spondelligent. She is passionate about helping businesses manage and respond to their customer reviews and loves sharing her industry and marketing knowledge to help brands succeed.