With surveys showing that a good online reputation is an essential part of running a business, it’s clear that restaurateurs can’t solely live off the promise of serving good food. The ongoing digital revolution is such that the fate of a restaurant is as dependent on social media algorithms and online reviews as it is on food and service.
Restaurant websites have thus become an indispensable tool, both as a marketing initiative and as a public platform for self-identification. But these websites have also become a natural extension of what a business can provide. So besides displaying information about your restaurant, what else should every restaurant website have?
A web-based menu
According to the same report, 75 percent of customers check out menu items online. While a lot of local restaurants like Nono’s have actually adopted the practice of uploading their menus on their site (a PDF file or an image document of their hardcopy menus), few have actually tried to upload menus in HTML. The benefits of the latter include getting to provide actual visual representations of dishes; it’s also much easier to update the online menu if it’s in this format.
Recently there’s been a rise of online restaurant reservation platforms. While they can be convenient for restaurants, these websites cut a certain commission on each restaurant table booking. They also host hundreds of other restaurants. So it might be a better option to include an online booking function on your site—this way, you don’t have to compete for attention with other restaurants.
According to statistics from mondovo.com, 83 percent of customers will look up directions and opening hours using mobile phones. That’s a large chunk of the market and if your website isn’t optimized for mobile use, you’re effectively ignoring a significant number of potential customers.
Social media integration
Social media’s scope and control are both a restaurateur’s advantage and albatross—the reason for the latter being that social media amplifies competition. But this reality shouldn’t stop restaurateurs from making websites social media-integrated. It’s a practice that’s adopted for good reasons, namely: increased brand visibility and better customer engagement. The challenge for business owners is to take advantage of certain things that social media allows them to do by using them in a way that’s unique to their brand. A good example is restaurant reviews: They run abound on social media but having them appear on the restaurant website (a space that, unlike social media, isn’t shared with competitors) gives visitors a good sense of what the restaurant can offer without all the noise surrounding social media.
Smartphones have undeniably become the go-to device for seeking out restaurants. According to statistics from mondovo.com, 83 percent of customers will look up directions and opening hours using mobile phones. That’s a large chunk of the market and if your website isn’t optimized for mobile use, you’re effectively ignoring a significant number of potential customers. To maximize your site’s potential, the first step is to make sure that your homepage is accessible through a few clicks on a mobile phone. Key information about your restaurant such as location (it’s a good idea to embed your business location on Google Maps) should be front and center of the homepage. As for design, it’s more important to ensure functionality than just aesthetics alone.
Without SEO, it will be a lot harder for your site to get the exposure it needs. Some SEO practices that can be useful include regularly publishing relevant, quality content, creating relevant links within any body of text (this means choosing wisely which keywords to hyperlink), and using alternative text descriptions (which allows search engines to locate your page).
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