You know a website is important for your restaurant to succeed in this digital age - but what goes into a restaurant website that works?
The internet is full of restaurant websites using a variety of methods to help drive customers through their doors. What separates a fantastic website experience from the bland and mediocre? Generally speaking its the content that sets each website experience apart (and in regards to restaurants - the menu). Provide a potential customer more value than just your menu and hours of operation and they’ll be much more likely to visit your restaurant. Here are some ideas on where to get started when it comes to your restaurant website’s content.
Menu - A Website Necessity
Less an idea and more a necessity, the menu for your restaurant showcases the product your customers can expect from your restaurant - and in the most important sense it is what separates you from your competition (other restaurants). It is crucial to display your menu in a way that is appealing to your customers - using clear copy (not PDFs), including pricing and using photography.
Photography - Mouthwatering Imagery
Professional photography can help set your menu apart - showcasing your best dishes and the craftsmanship of your kitchen. Not only dealing with food, photography can also showcase the ambiance of the restaurant itself, highlighting the type of experience diners can expect from a trip to your location. Custom photography also provides excellent content that can be utilized across digital marketing touchpoints - especially through social media (think Instagram).
Social Media - For Getting the Word Out
While mostly used as a driver for traffic to your website, including links and content from your social media platform can help showcase your restaurant’s brand message. Social media can be an excellent way to showcase your restaurant’s photography (mentioned above) and to entice patrons through the doors. Social media can also highlight other website content, from blog articles to glowing reviews, providing other content that will drive customers into your restaurant.
Social Proof - Diner Reviews
When your kitchen is pumping out delectable dishes that your diners can’t get enough of - it can provide awesome social proof that will drive potential patrons through the doors. Be sure your restaurant website is set up to easily allow diners to leave reviews and highlight the best of them across all of your digital touchpoints - however, this can be a double-edged sword. Make sure your food is divine and your service is impeccable before opening up the gates to reviews to ensure you aren’t bombed with single star takedowns.
Online Reservations - Making Sure Tables are Available
Providing users the ability to easily book a table can lower the bar to entry than having those same users drive to the restaurant only to be told there is a thirty-minute wait. If your goal is to provide a dining experience and excellent ambiance, online reservations provide potential patrons an easy way to ensure that they will have a table when they arrive. The ability to reserve tables should always be coupled with photography featuring the interior and ambiance of the restaurant - making sure patrons are signing up for an experience that they are excited about.
Events - Get the Party Started
Events are another way to drive customers through your doors - providing your patrons with a way to meet people with like interests or just a chance to enjoy some music. Showcasing your unique and recurring events on a calendar on your website gives your potential patrons something to be excited about - driving them to your restaurant for a good time (which is usually coupled with great food and drinks).
Videos - Photography but with Motion
Videos are another great way to showcase your restaurant’s brand feel (similar to photography). Video content can highlight events, introduce the staff, showcase your best recipes and more - helping potential patrons understand who your restaurant is and what to expect. In fact, according to Sysco, 56% of millennials (the most important part of your customer base) think that video is the most engaging content type on the web today - meaning creating video content is the easiest way to spread word of mouth through your most important demographic.
Blogging - A Keyword Goldmine
According to Gourmet Marketing (a digital restaurant marketing firm), a focused blog writing strategy can benefit your restaurant with publicity, increased brand authority and stronger SEO results. Offering insights into the current culinary trends, providing some simple recipes for at home, highlighting the stories behind some of your restaurant’s favorite dishes and connecting with local events or festivals are all potential ideas for restaurant inspired articles for your blog. This article content is great for sharing on social media and throughout all of your digital touchpoints - providing an excellent boost to your organic SEO and driving traffic to your website (and eventually through the doors of your restaurant.)
Okay, so where do I get started?
Building a successful digital presence starts with building a strong brand - and building a strong restaurant brand starts with understanding what makes your restaurant idea unique (from the food to the experience) and learning how to convey that. If you’re looking for some restaurant branding inspiration to see some of these concepts in action, check out my initial Cool Concepts article showcasing some of my favorite Denver restaurant brands.