The Fast Lane
When it comes to website development and management, restaurant owners tend to be hands off. Let the professionals do what they do best. But, are you asking yourself: why doesn’t my pizzeria’s website get more visits or why is my restaurant not higher on Google results pages? These questions should prompt you to gain a better understanding of how your website functions, performs and is marketed.
The year 2020 taught us the importance of using the most effective communications methods that will reach customers and convert into ordering. Whether you have online ordering or not, your website is one of your most powerful marketing tools to reach your customers.
Roughly 77 percent of diners have indicated that they are likely to visit a restaurant’s website before they dine or order takeout or delivery, according to a 2019 MGH study. The Marketing Communications Agency study also found that over 60 percent were discouraged from dining or ordering takeout or delivery because of the website. Your website has a direct impact on your sales.
Put on your helmet for a crash course in website basics. Go to your website as a new customer. Can you easily and quickly see where the restaurant is located, find active contact buttons, access menus and ordering? Conversion happens quickly with hungry diners. If they can’t access what they need quickly, they will move on to the next restaurant.
Aesthetics are very important to restaurant websites. And it starts with your photography. “Pizza websites should have bold, appetizing photos,” says Phil Marzo, partner at RetaurantIdentity.com, who worked with hundreds on restaurant websites. “People eat with their eyes, so colorful, delicious food photos matter to attract them to your pizzeria over competitors. All photos should be optimized so both desktop and mobile website opens quickly for online customers. A slow opening website will turn away customers in a hurry.”
Avoid using stock photography. People want to see your food and what your dining experience is like. Quick tip: a table near your front window may produce perfect light for food photography that can even be taken with your smartphone.
Just as your dining experience solidifies your brand, the same is true of a website’s visitor experience. If those do not match, you may be falling short of your brand online.
There are three areas that you’ll want to familiarize yourself with and be able to ask the right questions of your website manager. We’ll introduce them here:
• SEO. Search Engine Optimization, you’ve probably heard this term and know and hope that your web developer is on it. Did you work with your developer to create a keyword roadmap and/or revisit your keywords lately? Only you and your team know your business so you should be part of the keyword strategies.
Rudolph Musngi, head of marketing at Orders2me, says a key to increasing web traffic is with local SEO. “Ranking high on search results for ‘pizza near me’ or similar keywords will give you high-quality and FREE traffic,” he says. “SEO is a bit more complicated, but in a nutshell, it’s about performing several optimizations on your website and your business listings to increase user experience, quality of traffic and content so that search engines like Google will reward you with appearing first on search results.”
It’s not enough to merely identify keywords that you think people will use, you also want to research to see what search terms people are actually using. Think in terms of overall restaurant terms, niche keywords that your restaurant falls into and your restaurant’s branding keywords.
• Responsive. Your website MUST be easy to view, navigate and interact with on a mobile phone. “A good tip would be to visit your own pizzeria’s website on your phone (if you have a spare old and really slow phone then test it there too),” Musngi says. “If you find it confusing, or slow, or just plain excruciating to go through the process of ordering on your own website, then your customer might have a 10x worse experience.”
People are making dining decisions on their smartphones while they are running errands, leaving appointments or on their couch. Your website should meet their mobile experience expectations.
• External drivers. Marzo and Musngi point to good strategies to help drive traffic to your website. Your website should be submitted and verified by Google. Use social to drive traffic. Get reviews and maintain all of your review site accounts.
You can dive as deep as you want to understand your website’s performance. Musngi says, “Try to build relationships with your audience and understand where they are landing on your website. Are they coming from Facebook or Google Search? How many of them land on your blog posts? Or your product pages? These things matter because you begin to understand where your customers are coming from and how to convince them to order online.”
Ask your website pro to go over the analytics, not just totals. Get to the meat of the analytics to see who’s visiting the site, when are they ordering on the site, where they are going on the site and how long they are spending. You may even want access to the analytics yourself to browse all the areas you can learn about your website’s traffic.
Driving more traffic to your website and online ordering requires your time, attention and planning.
A Quick Website Basics Checklist
- Website is mobile responsive. Users should not have to zoom in or scroll across to see menus and images on a smartphone.
- Contact info, menu and ordering is easy to find on homepage.
- Phone numbers are active and clickable to call.
- Location has clickable directions.
- Menu is easy to read in body text format. It’s good for search and visibility. Menus shouldn’t be hidden behind PDF links or in images.
- High-quality photos of your food are present, and they have meta descriptions — a must for SEO and ADA compliancy. And, please no more stock photos. Your smartphone is a high-resolution camera!
- Online ordering is easy to access and use.