5 Ways to Think Differently About Your Restaurant’s Website

Your Restauran's Website Is Mobile

A mobile website makes it easy for people on the go to see what you have to offer.

Your restaurant’s website is a one-stop marquee, directory listing, and promotional powerhouse.

Combine creativity and strategy with this virtual tool, and stay on top of current trends in online restaurant marketing…

1. Add mobile to the mix

Mobile devices accounted for over 20% of web traffic in the first quarter of 2013. That number almost doubled since last year. (tweet this)

Restaurants need to think about mobile devices when planning their website.

Of course, the first step is working with a web platform that automatically optimizes your site for mobile. This helps tackle issues you might not think of yourself – things like switching to a single column format or reducing the amount of content mobile users see.

You’ll also want to keep mobile users in mind as you add content to your site. Even the smallest oversights can inconvenience your mobile customers…

You know how some phones let you call a number directly by clicking on it in your web browser? Just last night I went to call a restaurant by looking up their website first on my smart phone. When I went to tap on the number listed at the top of the page, the numbers were rendered as an image – not text. This meant switching between my browser and keypad to dial the number in manually.

Not an optimal user experience!

These are the little things that can frustrate your customers. Think of the people who want to call you quickly to ask a question or make a delivery order. Or think of the difference between subscribing to an email list using a mobile phone versus a desktop computer – you need a bigger field to enter text and a much simpler layout.

Think of how customers will experience your website on a mobile device!

2. Your social media hub

Gone are the days when a website was a static, one-way promotional tool. Today, websites are to be seen, touched and shared!

Your site can now integrate multiple social media networks – Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Instagram – to reach out to customers for their input and feedback. Add social media buttons to each piece of content, encouraging guests to share what you post.

Adding review widgets and badges to your site also gets people in on the conversation. The benefit is a huge word-of-mouth boost in reputation.

Don’t forget to always list your networks somewhere visible. A line of mini-icons always helps keep your customers connected.

3. Build network strength (outside social networks)

Yelp Review On Phone

Official Yelp listings and other directory listings can help supercharge your website.

Instead of seeing your restaurant’s website as an island, start looking at it as a deeply connected part of the online web. This means thinking of all the ways other websites are invisibly linked to yours.

Start with inbound and outbound links. Make sure all directory listings (Google, Yellow Pages etc.) link back to your official website. Build inbound links by getting reviewed in blogs or listed in local pages. Build outbound links to other similar pages and businesses by posting your own regular content.

Don’t forget keywords! Add words that relate to your restaurant’s niche and location to connect to search engines and build relevance.

The stronger those more subtle connections are to your website, the more relevant it will be in the online community.

4. The bigger picture

I’ve seen a lot of restaurant websites that don’t fit the bigger image of the business. Whether it’s the visual branding or even just the wording of the text, your website should reflect the true atmosphere and quality of your restaurant. (tweet this)

Start by looking at the physical characteristics of your restaurant – the color themes, ambiance, text and design of the menus and signage. Your website should gather all of these elements together into an attractive virtual image.

Adding professional images of your restaurant can really help tie your online image to the offline world.

It’s also really important to make sure all other promotional materials, like take-out flyers and business cards, fit your website’s design. The more cohesive these materials look, the more memorable and professional they will appear to customers.

5. Self-directed design and maintenance

You no longer need to delegate web design and maintenance to a professional designer. With a few hours of initial set-up, and then some extra time every week or two, your website can be completely in your control.

Not only is this much cheaper, but it can also reflect the true atmosphere of your business far more effectively. By putting the content creation in your hands, a self-directed website can really communicate your vision as a restaurant owner.

Restaurant Engine designs our templates and dashboard with restaurateurs’ needs specifically in mind.

Some samples from current clients show how this tool works with restaurant owners to create a highly professional online image.

Photos by Mother Nature Network and Windows Phone Central

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