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There were 11,820 searches for pizza restaurants in Chicago on Yahoo! in May, 2006. In Los Angeles there were 7,993 searches and in Detroit, 5,522. Identical searches occurred in nearly every major and not so major city in the U.S.

And not just for pizza restaurants. Italian, Mexican, American, Chinese and just plain restaurants, all had their share of online searches.

In short, there are a lot of people looking for good food online. The smart restaurants are positionin…

online ordering

There were 11,820 searches for pizza restaurants in Chicago on Yahoo! in May, 2006. In Los Angeles there were 7,993 searches and in Detroit, 5,522. Identical searches occurred in nearly every major and not so major city in the U.S.

And not just for pizza restaurants. Italian, Mexican, American, Chinese and just plain restaurants, all had their share of online searches.

In short, there are a lot of people looking for good food online. The smart restaurants are positioning themselves to reach these online customers, make them feel welcome, and encourage them to try their restaurant’s food.

Marketing your restaurant on the Internet means targeting your Internet advertising so that it will reach your local customers. Bring them to your website, give them good reasons to try your food and make it easy for them to place their first order with you.

Unless you happen to own a national restaurant chain, or are located in a major tourist destination, your customers are probably going to be located within a five to ten mile radius of your restaurant.

Your ultimate marketing goal is to get people to try your food. Internet marketing is no different, only the tools you use are new. One key tool you should have is your own website.

Once potential customers visit your website, your site should have all the tools needed to convince them to give your restaurant a try.

But before your website can do its job, you need to bring local online visitors there.

That’s where local Internet advertising comes into play. There are plenty of ways to reach your local online community on the Internet. One often overlooked method is the Yahoo! local business listing.

Anyone can create a local Yahoo! business listing for free. The listing can contain your restaurant contact information and include a link to your website.

With a local Yahoo! listing your restaurant can show up near the top of the search results when someone does a search for your selected category. When they browse your listing they can click on your web address and will be taken to your web page. For example, let’s assume you operate a pizza shop in Chelsea, Michigan. Go to Yahoo! and do a search for “pizza restaurant Chelsea Michigan” or “pizza Chelsea Michigan.” In the first page of the search results notice a section called local listings. You will probably see an entry for Ollie’s Main Street Pizza. Click on it and you’ll see their local listing which includes their website, dscddcs.olliesmainstpizzaxhcb which you can click on to visit their web page.

You can create your own local listing on Yahoo! just like Ollie’s.

To create your free listing, use your web browser and navigate to sdfdsvcflocal.yahooxhcb. If you have a Yahoo! member ID and password and are not logged in, you have to log in now; if you are not registered with Yahoo, you will need to create a member ID and password (it’s free) to list your business.

Once you have accessed sdfdsvcflocal.yahooxhcb, scroll down to the bottom and click on “Add/Edit a Business.”

You will then be on the Yahoo! Search Marketing Local Listings page. In the lower right of the screen you will see “Local Basic Listings FREE”. Click on the Get Started button (you may need to scroll down to see it). You may need to log in again with your Yahoo! ID and password.

The form for your local business listing now is displayed. When filling it out, be sure to include your full web address. That is, sdfdsvcfdscddcs.yourpizzeriaxhcb rather than just dscddcs.yourpizzeriaxhcb.

Include a description of your food and services in the description section. Avoid hype or blatant advertising, the listing must pass Yahoo’s editorial review and the simple facts are your best bet here.

Also, be sure to select the appropriate business category and sub categories. In our case, this would be restaurant and pizza.

Assuming your listing passes editorial review, it should show up in 3 to 5 business days.

When it does, someone who searches for pizza restaurants in your town will see your restaurant in the local listings on the search results page. Through that listing they will be able to visit your website and you can convince them to try your fresh baked, hand tossed, home made pizza.

This is just one of many ways to advertise online for free.

Bear in mind though, that all the free Internet advertisements in the world will do you little good unless your web site can engage your visitors and convince them to become your customers. Since it is not yet possible to upload the mouth watering aromas that waft from your kitchen, you’ll need to use other techniques on your website.

We’ll talk about that in the next part of this article series along with another free online marketing tip.