Does Your Restaurant Need a Website?

Want to hook hungry customers and pull them through your doors without leaving your seat? Simple: get a website. Expand your reach by opening up to the whole, hungry world via the Internet. Restaurant-goers, by their very nature, are on-the-go. They use Yelp and Google Maps to search for nearby restaurants. Seal the deal with a pleasant, easy-to-use, optimized mobile website.

The easiest way to begin when designing your site is to start with the basics. Put yourself in the visitor’s shoes and pinpoint their most pressing needs. For restaurants, it’s essential to include the food menu with images, location, and operating hours. If potential diners realize you exist, are familiar with your offerings, feel connected to your business, know where to find you, and when you are open, you will generate more business. So why are you waiting?

Start with a Simple Template

Creating a website for your restaurant successfully is easy with simple templates online, businesses can avoid a large investment in a web-designer by starting with a premade website template.  Check into hosting and domain services that offer website templates tailored for restaurants to streamline your site creation process.

With a template, you can plug in your pertinent information for customers to find you and think less about the design of each page. Look for site templates that allow for simple plug-in integration for online ordering, social media sharing, and menu display.

Increase Awareness

A website is like a sign on your building. Crucial. To the 90% of people that use the Internet, if you don’t have a website, you don’t exist. If you don’t have one, people using their phones to search for a nearby meal spot may drive by without realizing you are there. In today’s culture, an online presence is everything. It’s important for any business, in any sector, to control content and generate an online presence to reach clientele. Make sure your site is mobile friendly for customers-on-the-go.

Introduce Yourself

A website introduces your restaurant to the public. It allows potential patrons to become acquainted with your restaurant, its ambiance, and your menu before they even arrive. Visitors want to reach the website, and quickly glance over the menu, find things they crave and get an idea about prices. Chain restaurants or quick-serve operations may use this type of branding to create and reinforce a sense of familiarity for customers when dining out. A site with well-curated images is a visual representation of your aesthetic and concept and can impress potential customers and gain fans instantly.

When introducing yourself online, tell your brand’s story. Let customers know what makes your restaurant special and why they should support you.

Provide the Essentials

Hours of operation, accepted payment methods, location, and directions go a long way to help customers come to your restaurant. A website answers these basic questions without tying up your hostess’s or manager’s time, which is important since you’ll be needing that phone line for the increase in reservations once your page hits the web. Have multiple locations? Provide users with an option to search for the closest one or visually display all locations on a local map.

Contact Information (telephone number and email address) should be visible on every page of your website. Place this info in a static location near the top of the website, where it can be quickly accessed, especially on mobile devices.

Likewise, your website offers a natural place for promotions and advertising additional information such as catering information, food truck locations, current specials, and new menu items or anything else you may wish to provide. Aside from just launching information on your website, you can provide your guests with the option to sign up for your mailing list so they can stay up-to-date with such announcements. Why send out a massive amount of postcards or coupons, when you can send them online for free?

Visuals Draw Potential Customers to your Restaurant Website

Potential customers for your restaurant want a visually appealing website to visit. Consumers are likely to bounce off your site, or immediately leave if it has a poor design. Offer stunning visuals, such as photos and videos of your delicious menu items in action.

Try adding a digital menu display to your website with photos of each option. For better online presence, take videos of food as staff prepares dishes, and share them from your website to social media platforms. Videos are content gold for your website, as you can repurpose the content for multiple platforms and have them in multiple formats.

Loyalty Program and Email Marketing Opt-ins

Convert website visitors into loyal customers by offering online loyalty programs and email marketing opt-ins. Email marketing and loyalty programs have great potential, and having a website is the first step to creating a profitable email list for online restaurant marketing. Once you have their email, you can send incentives for loyalty, make customers aware of promotions, and send new menu updates to potential customers to entice them to visit your restaurant.

For tips on creating and managing a successful digital loyalty program, read this blog post devoted to the best loyalty apps.

Online Ordering

Integrate online ordering options for your restaurant website to turn online visitors into instant customers. When people are searching online for restaurants, they are usually looking for instant gratification. Offer website patrons a way to preorder their meals for carryout, delivery, or dining in to unlock the potential of hungry online visitors.

If you don’t offer delivery currently, you can link your website to a delivery service such as DoorDash, GrubHub, or Uber Eats to open up a new pool of customers. These services give your customers the convenience of delivery without requiring you to hire delivery drivers.

Build Customer Relationships

Your loyal customers can also use your website to stay connected with you by giving them the means to offer feedback through comments or suggestions. It can also be a way to collect contact information for your customers to keep them informed about special deals or events.

One of the greatest advantages of a website is that you can provide an automated reservation system that allows guests to make their reservations. Free up your staff from spending extra time on the phone. Let the website be your new host and take reservations or plan parties.

SEO Tips for your Restaurant Website

SEO or search engine optimization will determine how easily potential customers find your restaurant online. Try these tips for SEO to get the best results for your business website marketing.

  •       Fill out your Google My Business Profile
  •       Add content that includes targeted keywords
  •       Use meta-tags for photos and videos
  •       Increase your online reviews
  •       Add a blog for content curation
  •       Create do-follow backlinks from reputable sources
  •       Increase your brand awareness on social media

For a more in-depth look into SEO for your restaurant, check out Lavu’s Free SEO Guide.

Integrate Social Media

Restaurants are extremely social businesses. People dine out to socialize. They like to recommend their favorite restaurants and dishes to friends, and look to sites like Yelp, Facebook, and Instagram to share reviews, photos of dishes and find the next hottest spot. A restaurant website should integrate social media features to help spur on this word-of-mouth promotion.

Consider connecting a Facebook ‘Like Box’ to the sidebar of your website as a powerful form of social proof for visitors to see the faces of their friends (and the hundreds of others) who’ve also liked your restaurant. Add your best reviews and testimonials by grabbing them from Yelp and other social media sites for a free promotional boost. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

Your social media presence adds to your website’s SEO and is seen as an endorsement of your business by Google within its search algorithm. Have fun with engaging in social media marketing and bring more customers to your website, and ultimately to your business.

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