Improve Your Website
Something we touched on in our article about marketing to Millennials deserves a closer look: your Restaurant or Bar’s website.
Websites are essential to presenting your business in a professional, approachable, and helpful way. It is the face of your brand, the business card your customers will be looking at when deciding where to go. It’s a lot of people’s first impression of your business, so you want to make sure it’s a good one.
Every Bar or Restaurant should have a website, even small shot-and-beer bars. And whether for better or worse, when customers look at a website for a restaurant, they do tend to judge a book by its cover. An establishment with a poor or non-functional website might give the impression that a lack of effort was put in, and that it is representative of the quality of food served.
If your website needs some work, there are some steps you can take to improve it right away.
What Can You Do Right Now?
Who / What / When / Where / Why
When a customer visits your site, within 30 seconds they should be able to: find your hours, phone number, menu, location, a little information about the business, and how to make a reservation (if applicable). Go through your site, and make sure that information is easily found, preferably on the first page.
Make Sure Your Menu is on Your Site
And make sure it’s accurate. If customers can’t get an idea of what it is you serve (or how much it costs), they’ll go elsewhere. Even better, keep an updated list of your cocktails, beers on tap, and your rotating specials. The more fresh content you can have consistently moved through your site, the better.
List Your Business on Google
Make sure that you’re listing your business information on Google in order to give customers the information they’re looking for quickly, like hours of operation, basic details, links to your menu and website, and reviews. Keep up with updating your hours on holidays to avoid confusion. Google has a great resource on how to set up your business on Google My Business. It’s easy and free!
Add Your Events
Are you having a special tonight? Is there a holiday coming up? Are you featuring live music? Do you have a Happy Hour? Or karaoke? Any event or special you might have should be featured on your website. If you are going through the effort to host an event or plan something special, it should be easily found on your website with a description, a time, and a price (if any).
Let Customers Book Online
OpenTable and Yelp both offer restaurant booking. These services have a cost attached, but the convenience offered to your customers to make reservations quickly and without having to call is a great option to try out.
Test All of Your Website’s Pages & Features
Are there pages that don’t load, or links that are broken? Make sure you’re regularly checking your own site to ensure that you’re not losing customers due to technical issues.
Have friends and family use your site and ask them for input. If they find it confusing to navigate, or it doesn’t load well, take notes on their experience. That way you’ll have a list of features to improve.
What Can You Plan for the Future?
Bring in a Professional
Having a web or graphic designer come in for a consultation can give you a better idea of what your site needs and how to fix those problems. Have your designer talk with you about your branding vision, and have them tailor your site accordingly. Let them know what kind of features or themes you would like to see. Just like you can make some home repairs yourself, there are probably some features of your site that you can fix on your own once you have an idea of what needs to be improved. But when it comes to major renovations, it’s best to leave it to the pros.
Make it Mobile-Friendly
Especially if they’re on the go, customers will be looking at your site on their phone. Websites don’t naturally display the same way on mobile as they do on desktops. Some features may be sized differently, or might not work altogether. Your site might not load as quickly. Make sure you test your site on various mobile devices.
Improve Your SEO
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. Basically, it’s how easily your site is found on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, based on key factors of your site. This includes your use of keywords, the number of links on a page, the number of images with keywords, meta descriptions, page titles, and more. It can be very confusing, and difficult to understand if you’re new to the idea of SEO. But don’t that deter you from trying to improve the SEO of your site. This is a great topic to discuss with a Web Designer or SEO Expert, and the traffic to your site will increase once these features have been optimized.
Speed It Up
Test the speed of your site. A long load time is not good. Customers (especially those on mobile) will pass over your restaurant if they have to wait for a site to load for too long. A lot of a site’s speed has to do with its design and back-end code, and this problem is best addressed by a pro. But you can reduce some load speed yourself by limiting the number of large, high-resolution images on your site.
Do Your Research
Do a little online exploring, and check out the websites of Restaurants and Bars around the city. How does yours compare? What kinds of features to those sites provide? Are they easy to navigate, and is information easy to find? Take notes, and think about how you could improve your site in the future.