A website full of fun and informational content is a good start. However, if it is not well-designed and well-promoted, a website is as worthless as an empty house. Develop good website design, SEO optimization and promotional techniques to ensure that your website is user-friendly and easily accessible.
A well-designed website will ensure that visitors can find the site and get the most out of its content. If your website is badly designed, people may not be able to view it, or if it is a mess they may leave the site due to confusion.
Simplify the design. Not everyone has the speed or plug-ins required to view a website with complex graphics, video or sound. Although you want your website to be memorable, try to avoid complicated designs that will take too long to load. This is especially important on the home page, since you do not want visitors to leave the site without viewing even a single page. If you want your home page to have a fancy introduction, make sure to offer your customers a “skip the intro” option.
Use logos and colors. You should have a consistent logo that appears on your menus, merchandise and website. If you have a color associated with your restaurant, make sure to make it prominent in your website design. Tong’s Thai’s website does this very well. » Learn More about Restaurant Branding and Design
Make navigation easy. Use tabs or a side bar to make it easy for visitors to move around on your site and find the information they need. Every single page should link back to the home landing page.
Keep it short and neat. Do not make any single page too long, or your sites visitors will not be able to view the whole thing at once on their web browser. In general, you want to avoid making your customers scroll down to view the information. Furthermore, you do not want to use too much text and graphics or it will crowd the look of the website. You should use the same rule you use when designing your menu, leaving about half of the space on the screen empty of text or graphics.
Practice good Web writing. Writing for the web is different than writing for print. You will want to use small paragraphs and short, concise sentences. Bold or highlight anything important. You should also put the most important key words at the beginning of sentences and paragraphs and the top or left side of the site.
Getting More from Your Website
Get your own domain name, if you can afford it. In order to get the most from your website, you will need a domain name that is short and easy to remember. Ideally, your domain name should closely resemble the name of your restaurant.
Perform a marketing assessment to determine your website’s success, just like you would for any other promotion. You can try to track business received through your website with coupons or a special phone number. You should also check out your competitor’s websites and perform a comparison of your marketing strategies. » Learn More about Restaurant Marketing Assessments
Promote your website through some of the following methods:
Submit your content. As soon as your website is ready, you should submit your content and URL to search engines. It is especially important that you submit your content to Google and submit your content to Yahoo.
Build links. You can partner with other local businesses and ask them if they would be willing to link to your site, if you link to them. Also look for local online directories that will list your business and link to your website, and join restaurant search sites like www.restaurants.com.
Get the word out. Put your website’s URL everywhere that you can. List it on your menu, coupons, take-out/delivery menus, to-go boxes or bags, merchandise, gift certificates and anywhere else you can think to put it. You could even get a bumper sticker or a big magnet for your car and turn yourself into a driving advertisement.
Paid advertising. For large or takeout- and delivery-oriented restaurants, it might be a good idea to invest in pay-per-click advertising through a search engine like Google or Yahoo. To buy a pay-per-click advertisement, you bid on key phrases, such as “Oklahoma City Restaurants” or “Los Angeles Chinese Takeout,” to place your sponsored link at the top of the results page. Then, you pay the amount of the bid every time someone clicks on the link to your website.
Having a good website will only do so much for you. To help your restaurant bring in customers of all kinds, you need to properly design and promote your website to take full advantage of the internet marketing opportunities. Only then will your website be effective.
More from Getting the Most from Your Restaurant's Website...
- Restaurant Marketing 101
- 8 Marketing Technologies that Affect Customer Restaurant Choices
- Restaurant Branding and Design
- Environmental Analysis: Making the Most of Your Restaurant's Location
- Demographics for Restaurants
- Gauging Your Restaurant's Competition
- Creating Repeat Customers at Your Restaurant
- Restaurant Marketing Assessments
- Restaurant Marketing Glossary
- Menu Design
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