Today, the way consumers find local restaurants has fundamentally changed. When someone is looking for a place to eat, their main determining factor is convenience. Instead of taking the time to get word of mouth recommendations, they can find options at the tip of their fingers with a simple Google search.
That’s why crafting captivating food for your restaurant is now half the battle. With restaurants being the most searched industry by mobile device, it is imperative that you have an effective restaurant web design that not only attracts the search engines, but also compels users to come into your restaurant.
1. Your restaurant’s story
There are dozens of other restaurants in your area. Many of them also offer the same type of food as you. In order for your restaurant to stand out you’ll have to go even further and create a clear brand and story.
What sort of story do you want to tell? Are your recipes passed down from generation to generation? Is your restaurant named after your grandma? What sort of values are important to your restaurant?
Ideally, you’ll have created a restaurant brand or story before you started building your website. But if you’re struggling for things to prioritize, look at how you’ve decorated your restaurant. Do you have 80’s decor? Do you brag about your organic ingredients?
Whatever makes your restaurant unique, make sure it is clearly conveyed through your website whether that is through your homepage or a separate “About Us” or “Our Story” page. Users who visit your website may prioritize the same values, and will be drawn to your restaurant initially then will hopefully become loyal ones.
2. Mobile optimized website
With 81% of consumers having searched for a restaurant on their mobile devices it is imperative that your website is easy to navigate for users on mobile. What might look like an easy to navigate and appealing web design on desktop could look like Armageddon on mobile.
With Google’s new algorithm update, sites that are not mobile friendly are being punished in search engine result rankings. There are numerous tools you can use to check the mobile-friendliness of your website with the most prominent one being the Google Mobile Friendly Test.
Simply enter your URL into the tool and Google will not only tell you if your website is mobile friendly but the steps needed to take to make your website mobile friendly. Below, is an example of a restaurant website that was not mobile friendly:
3. Visibility of restaurant details
Having your restaurant’s name, address, and phone number listed in an easily visible place on your website makes it easier for your customers to get directions to your restaurant or call in an order. If potential customers have a hard time finding this information, it’s likely they will find a restaurant that makes it easier.
Ideally, you want to embed your Google Maps Location on your website, but if you can link your address to Google Maps that is fine as well. This makes it easier for users on mobile to simply click your address and be given directions within seconds. Also, you can utilize the tel: schema to link your phone number as well, which will make it more convenient for mobile users to call you.
Listing this information on your website is also a great way to rank higher in local Google Search rankings. If your NAP (name, address, phone) is consistent across all your listings, social media profiles, and website, Google will reward you with higher search engine rankings.
4. Prominent menu
Out of all of the content on your website, your menu is the most important, as 80% of users want to see your menu before they visit your restaurant.
One of the biggest mistakes restaurants make is putting their menu in PDF format. Many mobile devices have a hard time displaying PDF format, and users have a hard time pinning and scrolling the PDF which will decrease your conversions. Also, it will hurt your Google Search rankings as the text is not readable by crawler bots.
Instead of using a PDF, dedicate an entire page of your website to displaying your menu that doesn’t require additional clicks. It is faster for users on mobile to scroll down your menu rather than clicking and being lead to different pages.
5. Add reviews to your website
With 60% of users reading reviews before they visit your restaurant, your restaurant’s reputation online plays a vital role in whether customers will visit your restaurant or not. Nearly 33% of restaurant goers refuse to visit if a restaurant has less than a four-star review.
If your restaurant has stellar reviews you should consider embedding those reviews on your website for conversion purposes, as users are more compelled to visit a restaurant that is liked by others and is an indicator of the service they should expect.
6. E-mail marketing and re-targeting
An e-mail list is one of the most valuable assets that a restaurant can have. It is your way of communicating with your users on a daily basis whether that be events your hosting, daily specials, or updates about your restaurant. The secret to marketing for restaurants is to stay on top of the customer’s mind.
You should place your e-mail sign up forms on all the prominent places of your website such as the home page, contact page, reservation page, and menu page. Don’t expect customers to just sign-up to be a part of your e-mail list, you need to give them an incentive. Examples of enticing incentives include 50% off their next order or a chance to receive deals that are only e-mail exclusive.
By having e-mail sign-up forms on your website, you are allowing not only first-time visitors, but users who have visited your website multiple times a way to re-engage with your restaurant.
7. Online ordering
Ordering food online is more convenient and faster than calling ahead. The easier you make it for users to order food from you, the more likely they are to buy what you have to offer. 56% of consumers will go online to order food at least once a month and consumers who have already placed an online order before are 67% more likely to visit your restaurant.
Online ordering is also easier for your staff. It frees up they’re time so they can take care of customers who are already dining in, while reducing the amount of misunderstandings and mix-ups that may be encountered when ordering over the phone.
Allowing your customers to order online also equips you to compete with big brands that already have this feature readily available. You can also collect customer data, which can come in handy when you are running promotions throughout the year.
One effective way to offer an online ordering option is to place it on your menu. By doing this you are increasing conversions, as you are providing users a more convenient option to order your food.
8. Quality photos
Photos are one of the most effective selling tools your restaurant has. It can be an indicator of the environment your restaurant has to offer to patrons, the staff that works there, what your price range may be, and most noteworthy the food you have to offer.
You want to highlight the best features of your restaurant on your website, whether that be if you are showing off the location of your restaurant because it is located on a beachfront or showing off the beautiful dishes that will entice customers - these photos will attract customers and add a uniqueness to your restaurant.
Your restaurant website is an extension of not only your brand but your restaurant itself. It should have features that are unique, fascinating, and excite visitors. When you properly implement these 8 key elements on your website; online searches will turn into visits, and more visits turn into increasing revenue for your restaurant.
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Jonathon Henderson is the owner of Better Bistro Media, a Georgia SEO Agency, that helps businesses increase their presence on the digital landscape to drive leads and sales. He has worked with numerous restaurants and bars whether that be in SEO, Web Design, Social Media Marketing, or Reputation Management.
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