This is a guest post by Lily Robinson. Lily is based in the UK, works for a pharmaceutical company and does freelance writing assignments. Her expertise is promoting healthier lifestyle through the promotion of sport, exercise and natural dietary alternatives rather than an early adoption of drug treatment; which naturally leads to online expertise and a passion for independent eateries.
Get Your Restaurant Online
Does your restaurant have a website? Most do, some don’t and there are a number of reasons why restaurateurs and other small business owners don’t take the techno-plunge.
If you don’t have a website yet, read on. If you do, read on too and see if any of these ideas could be incorporated into your own website.
Take the Techno-Plunge
Independent restaurants are clearly not working with a budget the size of the large chains. But despite this there is no excuse not to have a website. Websites are as essential as menus. In fact, websites are your menu.
In the same way as a menu shows you what is on offer at a particular establishment, websites show customers all the options they have when the want to eat out. If your restaurant isn’t on the menu, it won’t get picked. You need to gear up for the digital age and get on line. Fast.
Independent Restaurants Have An Advantage
Whilst it may feel like you’re battling against Goliath in the form of large restaurant chains, in actual fact, independent restaurants have an advantage over larger chains, and need to play to their strengths. Individuality is their strength, and this needs to be reflected in their websites.
People tire of the large corporate restaurants in time, and want something more adventurous, more original, more romantic. All these elements can be played to in your marketing. A website which emphasises your unique dining experience will go a long way to helping people decide to choose you. You need to emphasise the difference, not try and hide it.
Today you have many options if you’re completely internet newcomer. Simply because websites are so important to businesses, suppliers of the service have made it incredibly easy for anyone to have a website, for very little outlay.
Companies such as 1&1 offer deals to give you a website and ‘host’ it for you (put it online) for very little outlay. You can design the website yourself and add your own photos and wording. They have ready-made templates for you to start with, with a number of restaurant templates on offer. You could start with one of these off the shelf offerings, and customise it as you get more confident.
How To Optimise Traffic
Traffic is the number of people coming to look at your site, and the search engine that people use to look for restaurants, such as Google, need to know you are there so that you come up in results. If a customer searches for local restaurant in the area, yours needs to come as close to the top of search results if you want to be notices.
For this you need to write to content of your website to include restaurant SEO words which will push you higher up the list. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimised, and just means the words most commonly associated with the thing you are trying to sell. Your words might be ‘Italian, Detroit, oven-baked, fresh produce, family-run’ etc etc, words which show what you have to offer and characterise your restaurant. So if someone types a search into Google which says ‘Italian restaurant Detroit area oven baked’ for example, your site should hopefully appear in the list of results.
It’s easy. Sites like 1&1 offer this service for free and will ask you for a list of words for you to submit. You can also ask a marketing company with SEO specialism to help you with it.
Ways of Standing Out
One of the ways you can stay in control of your website is to change the content regularly, with the coming and going of each season. With packages it is easy to do this and you have full control.
If you have a new menu to announce, do it through your website. A new chef? Post a biography of him and a photo. Special offers? Get them on the site. By keeping your content fresh and displaying your menu online you make it easier for customers to choose you. They might look at your site and be tempted, but choose not to go. The next time they look they might see a special offer which pushes them your way. Bingo. Customers.
Add a Blog
Another way of keeping content fresh is to link to a blog. You can produce your own magazine, in effect, all about your restaurant, and add articles on any topic you wish. Make sure you present your best face to the world.
Know a friend who takes great photos? Ask him to come and do a proper job on your images, and give him dinner as payment. He’ll enjoy the challenge, and good photographs make a world of difference. Dim, dreary photos can deter people from going to a place.
Photographing your food is a particularly difficult to do, and seldom comes out well. It may be best to pay someone like Shutterstock for the use of a professionally snapped image which best approximates your dishes. They have thousands to choose from. It’s a good option, and infinitely preferable to badly photographed food.
See How It’s Done
For a great example, look at how this independent UK restaurant presents itself. Fish & Grill’s site has been professionally designed, but look at how well it conveys what you can expect.
Beautiful bright interior, professionally photographed food – which could be stock photos – and a range of offers on a dedicated page. Reviews from the press have a whole page, which will be a strong influence on customer choice.
The slide shows give a sense of liveliness and movement, which energises the site. You might not have the skill to match this site just yet, but it shows how these tips can be used to best effect.
Fish & Grill
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