For Top Restaurants, a Localized Digital Presence is Key to Survive the Pandemic, According to Research from SOCi

Top-performing restaurants have double the local visibility with an optimized local presence compared to competitors

Originally published on Business Wire on November 19, 2020.


SAN DIEGO—November 19, 2020— SOCi, Inc., the leading all-in-one platform for “next-level” multi-location marketers, released its first Top Restaurants in Localized Marketing report, which reveals how critical a localized digital strategy is to a restaurant’s survival. In this new report, SOCi analyzed the top 50 restaurant chains’ localized marketing performance, including overall presence across search, social, and top ratings and reviews sites including Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp. 


According to SOCi’s data, there is a direct correlation to revenue growth and a localized marketing strategy, which can increase brands’ organic search rankings, drive customer loyalty and engagement, and increase foot traffic and sales. As 100,000 restaurants are expected to close – and the industry overall expected to lose $240 billion by the end of 2020 according to the National Restaurant Association – it’s imperative that restaurants adopt a localized digital marketing strategy to stay afloat. 


When looking for information about restaurants, 97% of consumers conduct a local search, underscoring how critical it is that chains have a localized presence across all locations. What’s more is that the majority are searching with non-branded terms, like “burrito,” “seafood,” or “restaurant near me,” which yield local results like those found in Google 3-Packs. This is key for brand awareness as consumers are turning to local pages, like Google My Business and Facebook store pages, for up to date information on hours, availability of indoor and outdoor seating, and changes in service. Including accurate, up-to-date information on local pages across these top sites is an important way for restaurants to build trust with customers on a local level. 


“As the pandemic has continued, consumers have rallied to support businesses in their local communities. This includes brick-and-mortar locations that are part of chain brands who equally serve communities with unique identities and needs,” said Monica Ho, CMO of SOCi. “CMOs must shift the way they think about the brand and focus on acting locally to survive in today’s market.” 


The report identified the top 10 sit down, quick service, and fast casual restaurant chains dominating localized digital market visibility across the top search, social, and ratings and reviews channels in their local communities: 

  1. Longhorn Steakhouse 
  2. Texas Roadhouse 
  3. The Cheesecake Factory 
  4. Chick-Fil-A 
  5. Red Lobster 
  6. Cracker Barrel 
  7. Olive Garden 
  8. Dave and Buster’s 
  9. Buffalo Wild Wings 
  10. Five Guys 

 Overall, the top 10 had the majority of their local listings and pages across Facebook, Google My Business, and Yelp claimed, completed profiles, and engaged with their local communities through posting and responding to reviews. 


Across the 50 restaurant chains analyzed, the average visibility score was 46 points out of 100. The top 10 restaurants overall, however, scored 70 points or higher, nearly double the visibility and performance of the average restaurant. This higher rate of local search visibility leads to greater local traffic and sales, thanks to these brands’ maintaining a healthy localized presence for each of their locations across search, social, and the top ratings and reviews sites. 


However, SOCi’s analysis determined that there is still significant room for improvement for restaurants’ local search results, namely appearing in Google 3-Pack results. To optimize for ranking, SOCi recommends that brands build E.A.T. (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness) into their local presence. This includes best practices like claiming and optimizing all local pages, posting timely and locally relevant posts, encouraging customers to leave reviews, and actively managing local conversations and reviews by responding in a timely manner.  


To see how your multi-location restaurant stacks up against the top 10 restaurants in localized marketing, the top 10 in QSR/fast casual, top ranked sit down restaurants, and the top 50 chains overall, download SOCi’s Top Restaurants in Localized Marketing report