Did you know that 92% of consumers have searched for a restaurant online in the last 6 months? While a huge number, it sure makes sense. Consumers are becoming more and more spontaneous and dining out more frequently. No longer is eating out a planned, weekend-only affair!
Today, a hungry customer walking down the street is likely to check restaurants in the local area and how they review. Or they might look at a current menu and book online for a reservation. Yes really, all from their smartphone.
Ok, so I need a website, but what actually matters?
Let’s put the obvious aside, your name, location, and phone number are must-haves, but what else matters, especially in the eyes of search engines?
Not the only search engine but certainly the largest at a whopping 70% market share, Google’s philosophy is to optimize a user’s experience in the most ‘human’ way possible. Ok, that’s a lot of jargon, what does that actually mean? It means Google regularly updates the way their search engine ranks businesses based on how relevant the website is, and how good the viewing experience will be for that user. In its essence, this is simple! Ensure your website speaks true to who you are, what you offer and how you go about it, and have a great website that your user can navigate and easily access the information they need.
For example, while it may be a whole lot easier to update a PDF menu, downloading a PDF can be inconvenient for the customer, especially on a smartphone. Ensure you at least have a sample of your menu on the page where a customer can easily check out your offering.
On the topic of smartphones…
With over 65% of customers now searching for restaurants from their smartphone, Google has taken it a step further. In order to ensure a quality experience for those searching on a smartphone whilst on the go, in the past year Google has put a high emphasis on mobile friendly sites. In fact, so much so, that now NOT having a mobile friendly website is considered a penalty, resulting in your website sinking lower on search results.
Reservations and reviews
As we mentioned earlier it’s now easier than ever to reserve a seat right from the palm of your hand. Ensure your phone number is prominent, preferably click-to-call, and if you facilitate online bookings, set this up on your website! OpenTable and Bookenda are two of the more popular systems and these integrate into most website platforms. Click – reserve - dine, now what about that review?
Review sites like Yelp, Zomato, Zagat and TripAdvisor have fuelled an appetite for easy and frequent reviewing of restaurants and cafes. Whether we like it or not, everybody is a critic these days and restaurants must work with the tide. Ensure you closely monitor reviews and respond where appropriate. Many customers will give a restaurant a second chance if the issue is addressed and they feel heard. And don’t forget social media! Search for your restaurant mentions and monitor the negative, and praise the great! Show a little love to those who love what you do.