Restauranteurs often ask why they need a website if they have an active social media presence or a menu page on a site like GrubHub. Some online food delivery companies will even give you a free basic website. The answer is, you cannot be successful online without a website. There are so many reasons why.
First, you own your website. No one can ever take it away from you. What if you were relying on your MySpace account in 2007? Social media platforms change daily. Some disappear. You cannot afford to risk losing your online presence.
Next, if you base your online marketing on a free page from a food delivery service there are very limited search capabilities. The search engine marketing benefits the food delivery company so you must rely on them to show your restaurant. They are not going to do that unless you pay them to.
Another important reason is that you completely control the look, features and content of your website. Social networking sites don’t give you that control. You must remember that your website is the continuation of your brand online. When someone visits your website, it should feel as if they are walking in the door of your restaurant. Colors, decor, themes and fonts should all match. This is the sign of a successful brand. From fast food restaurants to the culinary projects of award winning chefs, brands that have a consistent look from the restaurant to web will be successful.
Finally, reviews are a critical aspect of restaurant marketing. Having a website that promotes your existing reviews and encourages new reviews is critical.
I think you will see here the value of owning your restaurant. If not, look at the Top 100 Grossing Independent Restaurants according to Restaurant Business Online. Every one of them has a website. It’s not because they can afford one, it’s because they can’t afford not to have one. Neither can you.
KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL RESTAURANT WEBSITE
Anyone can build a website nowadays. There is a myriad of tools and platforms, like SquareSpace or WordPress.com, that allow people to easily create a site. But building a site that will attract the attention of prospective customers is a special skill that makes digital agencies successful. Also, building a site that is optimized for search takes an expert on these platforms. If you feel confident that you can still take on this task, here are some tips for creating a great website. Otherwise, here are some tips for your web designer.
- As mentioned before, be sure that your site is a continuation of your restaurant’s image online. It should look and feel as if they are in your restaurant when they are visiting you website.
- Be sure to include your full menu. Do not attach a PDF. The menu items should be indexed text for SEO purposes.
- Connect your social media networks. Start with links but also consider like buttons, streams/feeds and walls.
- Provide a link on your site with your address and a Google map. This will help your local SEO.
- Get professional photos of your food and decor and feature those. Consumers want to see your food, not stock photo representations.
- Be sure to provide a link on your site to leave a review on the most popular review sites (Yelp, Google, Facebook, UrbanSpoon, etc.)