1. Web design
– A Clean, Stylish Website Projects a Clean, Stylish Restaurant.
– Your Website Is Your Restaurant’s First Impression.
94% of people say bad design is the main reason they don’t trust certain websites.
According to a 2012 Angelsmith survey, over 70% of people look for information online before visiting a restaurant. Sources like Yelp and Google Reviews are among the most popular sources, but potential diners also take the time to visit the restaurant’s own website to gather info and make an informed decision. As much as they trust their friends, people usually trust their own evaluations more.
When new customers visit your website, what do they see? Do they see a clear, organized layout of location(s), menu items, and hours with vivid, appetizing imagery, or do they instead see something that looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2010? Although some restaurants with consistent “regulars” may be able to stay open with outdated sites, the reality is that all restaurants need to cater to the tastes of a growing, younger audience, at least online. Investing in a well-designed site will help ensure that customers, both young and old, continue enjoying your food for years to come. You’ll open yourself up to local traffic on Google and leave a positive first impression to help you book more reservations.
Not Your Average Joe’s website clearly displays key information that diners need to know. There are tabs for locations and menu items, and a clear “Make A Reservation” call-to-action button in the top right. In addition, each page has high-quality images that clearly showcase the food and atmosphere, selling visitors on both aspects of NYAJ’s dining experience.
Web Design Do’s:
- Develop a responsive website that can easily fit the screen of any device
- Include your menu on your website
- Make your phone number visible on all pages, and make sure it’s clickable for people browsing on their mobile devices
- Make booking reservations easy by making it possible for customers to do it on your website
Web Design Don’ts:
- Build a website on your own if you’ve never done it before
- Use dated and/or hard-to-read fonts, low-quality photography and poor graphics
- Make it hard for people to take action by adding unnecessary clicks
- Create a slow loading experience for potential customers
– Visuals That Sell Your Restaurant’s Full Experience
– Pictures and Images Can Make or Break Millennial Appetites
#goodfood, an Instagram tag dedicated to pictures of food, has over 15 million hits alone.
Snapchat is the most popular social media platform among Gen Z, and Facebook followed closely by Instagram are the most popular platforms for Millennials. So, if you want to attract Millennial customers, you need to tell a story visually. More than any generation, Millennials and Gen Z would rather literally see something for themselves instead of read or hear about it.
This doesn’t mean you need to hire a professional photographer to take pictures of every menu item and your restaurant’s ambiance (although we recommend it if you can!), but it does mean that you need crisp visuals on your website and ideally, your social media pages as well. #food is one of the top 25 hashtags on Instagram right now, demonstrating that while taste is important, capturing the visual presentation is just as crucial. Having high quality images on your site that show how appetizing the food looks will help attract diner visits and reservations. Besides, you deserve to show off the hard work that goes into preparing a 5-star experience for your customers day in and day out.
Applebee’s uses images on its home page to showcase both its food, restaurant setting, and delivery services. The images are high resolution and comprise the majority of page space without going overboard.
- Use high quality, clear visuals
- Showcase the food and atmosphere accurately
- Display images prominently on the website without overdoing it
- Have images for key menu items, if applicable matching the theme of any seasonal specials (e.g. Super Bowl Weekend Wings)
- Use low quality and/or outdated imagery
- Use or edit images to portray an inaccurate representation of your restaurant (e.g. if Ruby Tuesday tries to emulate a Gordon Ramsay Steak)
- Use images that are too small or overload a page with images
- Use images “just for the sake of” having images
3. Mobile & Speed Optimization
– A Fast Website on Desktop, Mobile and Tablet
– Majority of Your Site Traffic is Mobile and Millennials are Impatient
Up to 70% of web traffic happens on a mobile device.
As discussed before, most Millennials will look for more information online about a restaurant before deciding to visit. Most likely, they’ll be on their phone or tablet looking for this information. Though almost every website displays properly on desktops and laptops, some restaurants still haven’t accounted for optimizing the site display onto mobile devices.
A website with unappealing or non-functioning display on a mobile device will create a bad perception of your restaurant, regardless of how good your site looks on desktop. Additionally, customers (especially Millennials) are as impatient as ever–for every second it takes to load, you’ll see a drop-off of traffic, potentially 10% every second. Think about it from their perspective: why would they spend several seconds (maybe minutes) clicking and scrolling for information when another restaurant displays exactly what they’re looking for immediately? Your website should be optimized for look, functionality and speed across all devices.
Unless your site template is very dated, your existing site probably has mobile optimizations capabilities. There are also several “quick fixes” that can be implemented to increase site speed by a few seconds, which can be the difference between losing 10% of traffic or 50%. Appeal to Millennials with a sleek, mobile-friendly site that loads before they lose their patience.
Domino’s does an excellent job of having both mobile and desktop sites that are responsive to each device. Visitors on any device can clearly view menu items, see the nearest Domino’s, and place an order. Although Domino’s is a large chain, you don’t need to break the bank to develop a responsive website. As mentioned earlier, unless your site is very dated, it should have mobile optimization capabilities that can be enabled rather easily.
- Check your site on mobile devices and tablets
- Run a page speed test for each of your pages
- Check Google Analytics to see how much of your traffic is on a mobile device or tablet
- Check your pages’ bounce rates and see if high rates are associated with page speed
- Rely just on desktop functionality.
- Assume your website is fast because it loads quickly for you.
- Lose valuable traffic for every second it takes your site to load
- Ignore quick fixes for speeding up your site like image compression and CDNs
4. Get on Apps
– Peruse Menus, Reserve Tables and Order Takeout All Online
– Drive Online Engagement with Apps
Smartphone app food orders tripled from 11% in 2015 to 39% in 2018.
In addition to having your own website, promoting your restaurant on mobile apps will help drive additional traffic and awareness. Apps like Grubhub and DoorDash show users restaurants that offer delivery and/or takeout near them, allowing users to sort based on category (Pizza, Healthy, Vegetarian, etc.), distance, prices and more to help them find the restaurant that fits their tastes. In addition, reservation apps like OpenTable offer a similar concept to help users find and make reservations at restaurants. Similarly, sites/apps like Yelp and TripAdvisor help customers rate restaurants and inform future diners about the best choices in the area.
Unless your restaurant is meant to be an exclusive, invite-only establishment that caters to a small audience, presence on these apps will help more people find you and potentially order your food. Even if they don’t order directly from these apps, they may look online for more information and order later. Though some services like OpenTable charge subscription fees and Grubhub takes commissions, other sites/apps like Yelp offer free listings that can help hungry diners quickly find your food.
- Consider having a branded app designed if within your budget
- Get set up on free listing platforms and if appropriate, on online delivery platforms like Grubhub and UberEats
- Make sure apps are available from your website and vice versa
- Accept mobile payments online and offline
- Force customers to order or reserve over the phone
- Give third-party apps a commission if not required
- Provide only in-house services
- Hire somebody for what an application can do faster and cheaper
5. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
– Turn Google into your YellowPages
– Help Potential Customers Find Your Food
92% of searchers select a listing on the first page when searching for local services
Google is by far the king of web searches, and almost half of all Google searches are for local listings and services. However, with just 21% of users clicking more than one result and less than 10% of searches looking past the first page, having a strong SEO presence is critical to being found by local diners.
SEO (search engine optimization) is a tool that helps Google’s search engine understand the content on your website, understand which users would most likely be interested in visiting your site and directing them there accordingly. A strong SEO strategy helps improve your website ranking in the search results, which can help you grab one of the coveted spots on page 1 of relevant searches. The most effective SEO strategies have focused keywords, concise page descriptions, and relevant webpage content to support the keywords and descriptions. With Millennials turning to online research (and more often than not, Google) to determine where to eat, strong SEO can help you capture their attention.
- Use 1-2 focused keywords on each page relevant to page content
- Vary keyword length, mixing short-tail with long-tail terms
- Ensure your website has SEO functionality built in, e.g. through plugins like Yoast
- Use tools like Keyword Planner to help identify popular/appropriate keywords
- Develop a Google My Business listing to drive local traffic
- Practice “keyword stuffing” and use more than 2 keywords per page
- Use only short-tail or long-tail keywords
- “Set and forget” SEO metadata once finished
- Use keywords irrelevant to the target audience and website content
- Use keywords without verifying that they are currently-used search terms
6. Google Ads
– Paid Listings to Get on Page 1 of Google
– Grab Local Attention through Digital Advertising
80% of searchers want ads customized to their location
If you’ve ever used Google to look for something, chances are you’ve seen a Google Ad for a product or service related to your search. Google Ads help promote your restaurant in relevant search results by highlighting your ad listing and redirecting visitors to a landing page that explains the offer/ad content in more detail. Targeted, strong Google Ads listings increase your ads’ quality score, which can help you achieve higher and more frequent positionings in the future. For Millennials that are always on their phones actively looking for things to do, this is a great way to capture their interest.
Google Ads for your restaurant can complement your website and SEO strategy by driving additional relevant traffic to your site. For example, say you wanted to display for “Italian restaurant Boston MA”, and were struggling through SEO. You could use Google Ads to indicate this as a keyword to notify Google that you’d like your ad to display for this search. Then, with an effective landing page and perhaps a special offer (e.g. free dessert or 10% off your first visit), you can build an effective ad campaign that brings in diners. This is especially true if those diners are Millennials, who value experiences and saving money.
- Determine campaign budget and duration beforehand
- If appropriate, segment your keywords into organized groups
- Use a mix of both short- and long-tail keywords
- Actively monitor paid search campaigns and optimize where necessary
- “Set and forget” campaigns once uploaded
- Have minimal keyword variety (e.g. Italian restaurant Boston, Italian restaurant Boston MA, pasta restaurant in Boston)
- Omit an end date and/or budget cap if you have a limited budget
- Use irrelevant keywords in your ad campaigns, as this can damage quality score