In part one of this series, we discussed establishing the metrics and benchmarks for your restaurant. In part two, we’ll talk about tuning up your website so that when your site is found (which we’ll go deeper into in the next post), you have the best chance to engage the visitor and encourage them to choose your restaurant over the other options.
Build Relevant Content
Every restaurant should have a minimum number of pages on their website that answers specific questions and provides specific information to the visitor while encouraging them to select you for their experience.
- Homepage – Establishes the brand look and feel, value proposition (why are you the best restaurant in your niche?), what makes you different and excellent navigation to the rest of the pages. You should also have your phone number displayed prominently on your homepage for mobile users who find your site on a smartphone
- Menu’s – What are you serving, when and how much – set the right expectation for the visitor
- Directions/Map/Hours of Operation/Payment Types accepted – Make sure this information aligns with all of the other places this data will live like Google Places, Yelp, CitySearch, etc. – We’ll get more into these sites in the next post in the series.
- Awards, News, Testimonials – Who else says you are great? Local and national press is best
- Review Page > all the great reviews from Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, UrbanSpoon, etc.
- Dining Club, Newsletter or Some other Way to Collect Email Addresses – Converting an unknown website visitor into a known person that you can reach out to via email is critical for relationship building and audience growth. Dining clubs, newsletters, emails, etc are critical for this. This page should have a form, privacy guarantees and a strong reason for people to give you their email address/trust to contact them.
- Catering? Banquets? Retail?> any information on ancillary services, space for banquets, sauces or rubs that you sell, etc. These should be built on their own, individual pages
- Blog – why every restaurant doesn’t have a blog going nowadays is beyond me. I think of all of the posts around new recipes, new drink cocktails, events, parties, charity projects, big personnel changes, etc.
- Resources or Sites We Like or Partners – A spot to link to your favorite source of bacon or the wholesale wine broker of your dreams. Giving link love to the sites that you love should result in getting links back.
Optimize Each Page
There are two major ways to think about optimizing web pages – First, for the user experience and Second, for the search engines. Both of these should be considered and acted on for EVERY page of your site so that the page is as PRODUCTIVE as possible. Here is a quick set of considerations for each.
User Experience Page Optimization
People scan pages first and then read. The makes the information hierarchy on the page (what is big, what is small, what is where) very important. Here is some guidance to the content you put on the page.
- A short strong headline is critical – answers the question of where am I?
- A sub-headline that qualifies the headline
- A little info about what you want them to know – preferably in bullet format or short sentences broken up by whitespace
- Videos, Images and good text formats make the page interesting looking and easier to scan
- A strong call to action > what do you want them to do next? Call? Sign-Up for Something? Like You on Facebook? Follow you on Twitter? Go to another page? Make this action obvious and in the main eye flow of the page – not jammed in the upper right corner of stuffed into a footer
- If you are interested in more information on this very important topic – read “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug.
Search Engine Page Optimization
Some of the recommendations here are dependent on what your content management system (CMS) allows, but all are important so that you have the best chance of presenting your website properly to search engines for inclusion and ranking.
- If you have the option to make the page file name (/menu.html) descriptive – please do so. A file name like /3×451.html or ?p=134 tells the search engines NOTHING about the page. This is a CMS issue so depending on which platform your website is built on, this should be updated. It is easy with wordpress, less easy with others – but important!
- Keyword specific, clear, unique title tags – also called page title or browser tag. This tag shows up at the very top of the browser when you are on a page and is the title of your page result in Google, Bing, Yahoo when your page is displayed. It should be seen as a way to position and market the page to the person typing in “best restaurant in …” or “great <italian, american, vietnamese> restaurant in downtown <city>”
- Keep title tag under 64 characters total (including spaces) so that it all shows up in the search engine results page (SERP)
- Create a unique meta description tag – this is the body of the result in the search engine and does not contribute to rank, but contributes to someone wanting to click through to your page. Make it compelling and exploratory like “See why our meatballs are the best in the city!” or “Learn why we have a 4.5 avg rating on yelp…”
- Keep meta description under 156 characters (same reason as title tag)
- Make your headline styled as an <h1> tag. This give the engines a heads up that this copy is important on the page
- Write good copy, but not too much – remember that copy is for visitors AND engines. Make it concise and well organized.
- Use Alt-Text for images and video – this gives text to page elements that search engines CAN”T read like images
- Use captions under images that describe the picture or video
- There are lots of SEO guides out there – Google SEO Guide for Beginners is a good start.
So, there you have part two of our series. Part three will be around increasing your website visibility in search engines, review sites and local portals/information sites. All of which you need to be keenly tuned-in to.