15 Elements Your Restaurant Website Needs to Stand Out
Whether you have a sub shop or a fine-dining establishment, you’ll want to build an amazing website for your restaurant. Additionally, you will want to ensure that your restaurant’s website provides both prospective and loyal patrons with the most relevant information exactly when they are seeking it, so it provides them with a pleasant experience.
Here are 15 elements the website you build for your restaurant needs, so that it will stand out from the competition online.
1. “In the Press” Mentions
If your restaurant was featured in a local or national newspaper or magazine for its menu, location, ambiance, staff, etc., then you’ll want to have links to these articles, or a high-quality photocopied version of these articles, on your website. This is one of the best ways to showcase your restaurant’s story and unique characteristics without having to write or create any content yourself. The story and information showcased about your restaurant will also be more believable and authentic if it comes from a trusted outside source.
2. Customer Reviews
Including authentic customer reviews on your restaurant’s website is one of the most important things you can do. Approximately 60 percent of all restaurant-goers have consulted online customer reviews about a restaurant before visiting it or considering it. And that percentage only increases with Millennials (individuals aged 18-34) who rely heavily on online customer reviews when deciding where to eat or order food. And, consumers are much more likely to consult customer reviews online for restaurants than for any other type of business such as retail, travel, etc. In fact, a restaurant with a rating improved by just half a star (out of five stars) is much more likely to be full at peak dining times, and to have increased sales (Modern Restaurant Management).
3. Your Story
To stand out from the crowd online, include the story behind why you decided to open your restaurant on your website. Did you become obsessed with French cuisine after an exciting rendezvous in Paris? Did your grandparents, who were first-generation immigrants, open their first sub shop near your new establishment? Mention anything unique about your story with, or passion for food or owning a restaurant on your website. You can also include unique stories of your chefs, bartenders, and other staff. You want your patrons to feel connected to your story and the people before they even step foot into your establishment, as this is the best way to market what you and your food are all about.
Include a gallery of high-quality images that encompass your entire restaurant business. You’ll want photos of your seating options during the day and night, your patrons having a good time at your restaurant, already-prepared popular menu items, etc. You want to use high-quality photos to help tell your story, as well as highlight the type of experience your patrons can expect when they visit. Keep in mind that over 60 percent of adults say they would rather spend money on an experience than a physical item, so capturing the ambiance and overall vibe of your restaurant, via photos on your website, is very important (Toast).
Regardless of how often you change your menu, ensure you have it listed on your website. You’ll especially want to highlight your most unique dishes, your most popular dishes, and separate your menus by meal types (i.e. brunch, dinner, etc.). Include your prices, even if some items have current market price values. Additionally, you will want to include cocktail and drink menus. This will give your prospective patrons a clear idea of what they can expect when they visit your restaurant. In fact, 80 percent of customers want to see a menu before they eat at a restaurant (Toast).
6. Specials and Offers
If you offer drink or menu specials, include those on your restaurant’s website too. Prospective patrons will want to know that you have a soup-of-the-day or a cocktail-of-the-month. They’ll also want to know if you have specials during Restaurant Week, or early bird or weekday specials, etc. They’ll certainly want to know about special events and offers you will have during certain holidays, such as News Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day.
7. Loyalty Programs and Discounts
Allow your loyal patrons to get discounts and special offers, such as one discounted meal for every five they eat at your restaurant, or $20 off for every $150 they spend. Also, be sure to highlight these programs and discounts on your website. You can even include information about these programs or discounts on a landing page where patrons can receive a special offer after subscribing to emails or website updates.
8. Ability to Make Reservations and Order Online
According to research, restaurant guests want to be able to place reservations online, and they want to be able to order food from a restaurant online too. In fact, digital ordering from computers, tablets, and mobile phones is growing 300 percent faster than dine-in traffic (Toast). Consider using software like OpenTable or Touch Bistro on your website to take reservations. And, consider using software like GloriaFood or ChowNow to take food orders on your website.
9. Embedded Google Map
Embed a Google map on your website that visitors can click on to get real-time directions to your restaurant from their mobile devices. It makes things convenient and easy for them.
10. Mobile-Optimized Contact Information
Be sure to include information about how people can contact you with questions, concerns, or feedback. You should include a contact form that can easily be filled out on a mobile device, as well as a phone number that website visitors can click on directly from their mobile phones to call.
11. Local SEO Information
Along with optimized contact information and an embedded Google map, be sure to include local information about your restaurant on your website and in indexed pages for search engines. Be sure to include location information, such as your restaurant’s address and the name of the neighborhood in which it is located, as well as its hours of operation. Read this article published by Search Engine Land to learn more about how to implement local SEO for your restaurant’s website, so that it can be easily found in searches conducted across search engines.
12. Links to Social Media
Did you know that social media is the most common platform for restaurant advertising, and is utilized by 76 percent of restaurant-goers (Toast)? So, if you really want to stand out online, include customer reviews for your restaurant on your social media pages and update your social media posts often, where you include new menu items, press mentions, etc. Then, embed your social media profiles and information on your restaurant’s website. It offers a great way for patrons to interact with your restaurant online in between their visits to your establishment.
13. Relevant Design and Branding
When you build your restaurant website, be sure to select a website template or design that reflects the mood and experience of your restaurant. For instance, if your restaurant is in a marina, it may have beachy tones and colors with a more whimsical design, while a fine-dining Italian restaurant located in the heart of a metropolitan area should probably have a more classic and sleek design. A gastro pub with sports-viewing events and specials may have a different design too, and so on.
14. Mobile-Optimized Experience
Be sure that your entire restaurant website is easy to view and navigate from any type of mobile device. All your contact forms, reservation software, and order forms should be easy to fill out from a smartphone or tablet. All menus should be easy to scroll through and review on a mobile device and should not be available only as PDF documents or attachments.
15. Up-to-Date Content
Because so many restaurant-goers look at menus online before visiting an establishment, make sure your menus are always up-to-date. Include interesting and up-to-date content like video footage of your chefs preparing portions of your current best-selling menu items. And, don’t keep specials for Valentine’s Day listed on your website through May, or Super Bowl drink specials up in July.
In addition, include only current customer reviews and social media mentions on your restaurant’s website, as well as interesting or relevant video content from recorded events hosted at your restaurant, such as live entertainment and music.
You have spent a lot of time and energy establishing your restaurant and building its website. Make sure to boost your restaurant’s sales, reputation, and online engagement too by including these 15 critical elements on its website.