If someone told you to stick a needle in your eye, would you ? Of course not. So why do we blindly accept everyone’s opinions on other topics such as whether or not your restaurant or bar needs a website? I think it’s because we don’t understand or have enough knowledge about the subject to draw our own conclusion, so we fold in with the masses. 

But that’s not a good reason to run out and have a website built. Your business is unique so you must come to your own conclusion, same as the restaurant or bar across town. They too must come to their own conclusion.

It’s time to gather some intel on the subject. Keep reading and you will become crystal clear on your answer to “do I really need a website?” and if so, why.

Your Goals

Each business has their own goals and objectives. Many want to grow the business, some are happy with status quo, and others are looking to sell/retire. Each is unique.

If you are happy with status quo and not interested in attracting more customers, then you do not need a website. Stop reading now.  

If you want to grow the business and increase profits, you need to attract more customers. Period. (This assumes of course your service, drinks and food are already excellent.)

So, You need a website

The way customers are looking for local businesses has evolved in recent years. Gone are the days of newspaper and magazine ads, flyers and radio commercials as the sole marketing method. You must have a website in order to compete. Here’s why…

  • Customers Expect It
  • Control Communication
  • Social Media Needs a Home-base
  • Google Will Reward You

Customers expect it

It’s no secret that consumers search online for just about everything. This is especially true of businesses restaurants and food serving bars. 

SinglePlatform was involved in a study that revealed 84% of consumers are likely to look at more than one restaurant before choosing where to dine. Consumers are comparing your online presence with your competitor’s. Like it or not, you’re being judged. If you want to be in the running consumers need to find your website.

The same study also revealed that 93% of consumers searching online for a restaurant check out the menu.   Since an overwhelming majority of searches are done from a mobile phone, it’s crucial your website be mobile responsive (meaning the site is easy to read on a mobile phone without the user having to pinch, expand and scroll sideways).

The research suggests consumers expect you to be online or else they’ll drive over to the competition for dinner.  Also, a mobile responsive website that allows the user to easily review your menu, directions and photos without pinching and scrolling will go a long way in your favor as they compare their dining options.

Control Communication

Your website has many functions such as to create awareness, to provide information like directions, hours and menu offerings. A key function of your website is to get permission to communicate with your visitors by capturing their email. By asking for their email you now have control over the communication. For example, you might send an email to announce a new entree or drink, an upcoming event or to advertise gift cards.

According to Statistica, over 85% of adults still send or read email. This means unlike social media where your customer may scroll right past your post, email marketing is more effective because users are more likely to get and read your message. People stop using social media all the time, they rarely close their email account.

Social Media Needs a Home-Base

It’s not uncommon for business owners to think “I have Facebook page so I don’t need a website”.  Actually, social media and your website have different purposes. They are both part of the digital marketing ecosystem and work together to grow your business, but have different purposes.

Facebook, Instagram and other social platforms engage and attract your customers. They have the ability to target your ideal customer through postings, sharing and ads. The essential goal of social media is to gain the attention of your ideal customer then lead them to your website.

Your website is the ultimate destination. You want customers to consider your website your home-base, where all of your content lives. Your website, if built effectively, will be a search magnet for keywords specific to your business such as “best Bloody Marys in town” or “mouth watering prime rib”. 

And of course as mentioned above, a place for customers to provide their email so you can communicate with them directly.

Google Will Reward You

We already know customers are searching online for a business like yours, probably from their mobile phone. The question is, will Google reward you by including your restaurant in the customer’s search results? It depends.

Google uses a top secret ranking algorithm to determine which sites it will return to the searcher in search results. Many of the key ranking factors are directly related to your website.  Not to open a whole new can of worms, but from a birds eye view, these key ranking factors include:

  1. Your website. Do you have a website? Is it mobile responsive? Does it contain appropriate location related keywords? Are there regular content updates? Add Google points for every “yes”.
  2. Your Google My Business listing? Have you claimed your Google My Business listing? If so, is it optimized with your website url, photos and key information? Does it accurately reflect your business category, address and phone number? If yes, add Google points.
  3. Your business location. Your address must be included in various places including your website. Google will check to see if your location near the searcher’s location? If yes, add Google points.
  4. Social media presence. Is your business on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? If yes, add Google Points. If you’re actively posting and engaging on social media, add more Google points!
  5. Online Reviews. Do you have online reviews and are they mostly positive? If yes, add Google points.
  6. Online Business Directories. Are you listed in a variety of online directories such as Yelp, Allmenus, FourSquare, Local and TripAdvisor? Each of the listings will contain your website’s address as well. Are the listings optimized and do they consistently reflect your name, address and phone number?  You guessed it, add Google points.
  7. Backlinks. Is your website address listed on credible, high-quality websites such as the Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, National Restaurant Association, etc? If yes, add Google points.

If you have high Google points you may be rewarded on page 1 of the search results page and maybe, just maybe in the highly sought after 3-pack!

As you can see, there are keys to getting in good with Google. In most cases your website address is needed, as is the case to complete the business listings you’re included in.

There are LOADS more factors related to Google’s search algorithm and a mind-numbing array of intricacies weaved into each. And, it changes on a regular basis. What I included above are the essential areas every restaurant should be setup with, in addition to a mobile responsive, keyword-rich website in order to effectively compete in searches. 

Conclusion

Now you’re equipped with the knowledge to confidently answer the question “Does my restaurant need a website?”. If the answer is “yes” and you don’t have one, or you do have one but it’s outdated or not mobile responsive, begin exploring your options to having one designed and built. 

It’s important to take time to find the right solution for your needs rather than dive into the first easy and cheap option that comes along. Gather some good intel, weigh your options with purpose and be sure the solution you choose will support your needs effectively, now and in the future.

Whether you build a cheap and easy website yourself or hire a professional, it still takes your time and effort so better to do it right once rather than choose the wrong option and have to do it twice (once for the epic fail and again to do it right).

 

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2 thoughts on “Your restaurant must have a website. Really?”

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