Consumers are increasingly using search engines, social networks and smartphones to find what they want, and this is particularly true for restaurants—whether it’s discovering new eateries, reviewing menus or making reservations.

According to ComScore, restaurants are the most common local search category, accounting for 23 percent of local business searches—more than double any other search category. The key to taking advantage of this opportunity lies in location, especially considering that Google has found that 20 to 50 percent of searches have a local intent.

Both your customers and your competitors are online, so location-based online marketing is a must. Here are three proven ways to ensure you are where your customers are, and more importantly, one step ahead of your competition.

1. Accuracy
The core of your online marketing activities should be the data about your location. Consumers are consistently looking for your restaurant’s address, phone number, its hours of operation and driving directions to it. People will remember being sent to a closed location, or the wrong one. Our research has found that nearly three out of four consumers lose trust in a brand when an online listing contains incorrect information.

The restaurant industry is progressive and volatile. Openings and closings, changing hours of operation, new locations, seasonal menus—all combine for perhaps the most dynamic industry when it comes to managing location data. It’s difficult to manage such fluid data, but to not manage it is a serious mistake. It is imperative that your location data be freely available and easily accessed across all the major search engines, social networks and online listings.

An automated, centralized system is the most effective way to ensure that location data is up-to-date and accurate. Luckily for restaurant operators, it also happens to be the most-cost effective method. The ideal system should track all data changes, run data through automated verification steps, format data for easy export to third parties and power your own branded digital presence.