In 2017, it goes without saying that every business, especially one that deals with a transient customer base as much as restaurants, should have a website. These days, people depend on their cell phones to quickly find a place to eat, that’s why it’s so important to know what features a restaurant website should have, even before worrying about designing one. Here is our list of the most important features that a restaurant website should have:
A mobile first strategy places the focus of your restaurant website on the experience of a mobile (cell phone) using visitor, above the experience of a desktop user. If your restaurant website isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re potentially losing 50% of your audience right off the bat.
Remember, a great mobile website design looks perfect on desktop browsers, but a desktop experience is terrible on mobile devices.
Update Your Restaurant Website Often
The major search engines are looking for fresh content to serve up to their audience, and that’s no different for restaurant websites. Focus on adding fresh content to your website weekly, if not daily, to stay on top of search engine result pages. What should you add? Consider some of these basic ideas:
- Specials and promotions;
- Employment postings, new hires, and staff photos;
- Social media posts from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter;
- Special events, and news;
And remember, you don’t want to have to wait for your website designer to update your website for you. Take a weekend training class on WordPress, and insist that your website designer build a website that you can update every week.
Use Social Media & Email Marketing
Use your restaurant website as a platform to build business with social media posts and email marketing by optimizing your site to automatically trigger Facebook, Twitter, and Email marketing campaigns to your existing customers and prospects.
You know that jar of business cards you’ve been ignoring for the past six months? Make use of it and create an email campaign with MailChimp to feature your business lunch specials and meeting rooms.
Include Your Reviews
If there’s one thing that every restaurant website should have, it’s a list of your public reviews, both good and bad. These reviews help generate fresh content for your business website, and also help to inform your prospective customers about your restaurant.
Remember to ask your customers for feedback, even when it’s not great. A key factor in Google’s ranking appears to be customer generated feedback, so if you want to get to the top of your organic search engine results, encourage your visitors to leave feedback at Yelp, Google Maps, and other top sites.
Use Online Booking & Ordering Tools
These are actually two very different points, well worth their own feature articles but online customers are looking for a solution, and in the case of restaurant websites, they’re looking for an easy way to eat so make it easy for prospective customers to place an order, or book a table at your restaurant.
Using a powerful, but simple combination of a WordPress website and Easy Digital Downloads, your restaurant website can feature an online order form that would allow visitors to order from their mobile phones, pay digitally, and schedule their food for pickup. It’s a simple way to give customers exactly what they want, without adding complexity to your business.
If you’re in a busy community, giving customers the ability to reserve a table at your business through a restaurant website is a simple, professional way to boost the value of your website. OpenTable offers a great way for small restaurants to get started booking online.
Sell Digital Gift Certificates
Selling digital gift certificates on a website allows a restaurant website to sell, and deliver, meals online. Imagine a customer being about to visit your website, place an order, and gift a meal at your establishment electronically via Facebook, Twitter, or Email, to a friend?
Make Sure You Have Amazing Analytics
I can never stress enough, the importance of analytics for small business websites. Google Analytics is one of the easier, free versions of analytics for business, and while collecting data about where your customers are coming from make seem like a pain, it’s a great way to save a tremendous amount of money in your marketing budget.
The most important part of using analytics for restaurant owners is actually using it, and learning how to use Goole Analytics effectively.
Focus on Customers, and SEO
Search Engine Optimization is a key feature of any modern website, especially in the highly competitive restaurant website category but don’t let your focus stray away from building great content for your customers (and prospects).
Remember, SEO is about bringing organic traffic to your website, and Google wants to help ensure they’re sending the best customers to your restaurant website so, write for your customers, not for search engines.
How much should a restaurant website cost?
You can get a free quote for your website from me for any website, but as with any package, costs for a restaurant website are highly dependent on what you’re looking for.
A small website, for a local diner for example, would likely cost $495 and would take advantage of a strong template, WordPress, and some basic copy services. It would essentially be a simple, single page website with blog to help keep the business competitive in 2017.
For a large restaurant, or a coffee shop with multiple locations, a strong website package would cost between $2,000-$3,000 with a custom designed template, 5-10 pages of copy, photography, and automated integration for popular review websites.