Your restaurant website must be welcoming to potential diners. Discover 12 things your website must include to boost reservations and revenue.
People rely on other people to get recommendations for where to eat. Although word-of-mouth still works to fill up those tables, recent diner trends indicate a move toward digital presence. Most diners now discover new dining places online. Some 41 percent look up restaurants on social media before deciding to make a reservation or visit. About 80 percent often or always look at a restaurant’s website before choosing it.
So do you need a restaurant website? Yes, you do.
Why You Need a Restaurant Website
Digital marketing is crucial to restaurant growth because most diners aren’t just looking up information on your website, they’re also examining your menu online. Some 84 percent of diners always or often look up a restaurant menu ahead of time — a big jump from the 59 percent in 2017. The trend indicates that your menu drives dining choices, which could mean a potential loss if your menu isn’t online or it’s not accessible on your website.
Other than browsing for menus, diners also look up restaurant reviews. What other diners say about your food, service, and dining space will matter a great deal to would-be diners. Some 59 percent of U.S. customers have decided against going to a restaurant after reading negative feedback, with 70 percent of Gen Z customers not going to places that have received bad reviews.
It’s not enough to have a website for your restaurant; it must be optimized for search engines so that the right customers find it online. Local optimization for restaurants works best when targeting diners within a neighborhood or community, and SEO is ideal when you’re not targeting a specific location (like if you want more brand awareness of a multi-chain business, for example).
Your Restaurant Website Checklist of Features
1. A Clear, Navigable Menu
What kind of menu is best for your website? A responsive online menu is best, one in a webpage format rather than a PDF format or JPEG format.
When you upload a PDF menu, Google and other search engines will not be able to discover it because bots can’t crawl it. When you upload just a photo of your menu, not only will search engines not be able to find it, but it will also be difficult for people to scroll through it on their mobile devices.
2. Contact information
Your restaurant website must include updated information about your location, hours or business, phone numbers, and email address.
These details must not only be updated and visible on every page; you’ll also want to make certain elements clickable. Clickable phone numbers and email make it easier to convert a visit into an inquiry or a reservation booking.
3. Online ordering
Delivery and takeout have risen since the pandemic. Since 2019, food delivery app installation have increased 39 percent. His is a staggering figure, especially considering this doesn’t include delivery order made through other channels, like websites and messaging apps. For some restaurants, it has saved their businesses and kept staff employed. So including an online ordering form on your website is beneficial, even beyond the pandemic lockdowns.
What if you don’t have a delivery service? An online ordering feature is still helpful because customers can arrange a pickup through a delivery service, or they can come on down to your restaurant to get their order once it’s done and packed to go.
When customers are on a website, conversion is likely if you make it easy for them to take the next step. For restaurant websites, that means a quick click to reserve a table. Instead of making customers reach for their phones and talking to someone about a reservation, a reservation form is a good way to nudge customers in the consideration stage down to the purchase stage.
Also consider your market: your average consumer is becoming less inclined to talk to someone ove the phone. In a survey of millennial buying and communication behaviors, researchers found that almost 20 percent of Americans in the 23-39 age group prefer to buy things online rather than talk to a human being.
5. Photos of your restaurant
Visual content is a good way to attract and keep people on your website. Interior and exterior photos set expectations for would-be diners. It also encourages them to visit the place, especially if the design appeals to their preference; if they’re into a hip, vibrant restaurant or a classic yet posh dining space.
If certain spaces in your restaurant need a bit of sprucing up, improve them before putting up images on your website.
6. Photos of your food
Instagrammable — for people who make dining out a routine, that typically means food porn. Most diners look for dishes and drinks that must be photographed first and uploaded on Instagram before being devoured.
So images of your food become a key selling point. Every chef and restaurateur know people “eat” with their eyes first. If your dishes look appetizing, they must be delicious.
Photos of your food also set expectations for diners on portion size and introduction to unfamiliar dishes.
7. An “About Us” section
An “About us” tells diners and would-be diners how unique you are from other restaurants. What do you have that other dining places don’t possess: outdoor dining spaces, free parking, live entertainment on weekends?
Highlight what makes your restaurant special and diners will come check out your place.
8. Social media links
The content on your website will be different from content on your social media accounts. Your Facebook or Instagram may reveal behind the scenes preparation for every service; it may announce a new menu item or a daily special; it may also promote a loyalty program.
Some restaurant social media pages also put the spotlight on diners, creating an atmosphere that may be inviting to would-be customers.
Social media is also useful in advertising promotions and special events, and considering how there are now 3 billion social media users, of which a significant portion prefer to do business online, it can give your restaurant a big boost in visits.
9. Catering and event reservations
For restaurants with a bigger operation, catering and events become added revenue streams. So if you offer them, make it easy for customers to reserve a service. Make the process as easy as possible, and the information complete so that visitors will be compelled to inquire if not book.
10. Gift card purchasing
Another potential revenue stream is the gift card. An easy to spot button would make it easier for customers to consider your gift cards if they’re shopping for presents.
11. Email collection form
Email marketing is an effective way to keep your customers engaged and informed. Fifty percent of U.S. diners even prefer this way of staying in touch with restaurants. But don’t flood your customers’ inboxes with emails about discounts, events, and the like. Keep it to just a few times or once a month, so you’re not being intrusive.
12. Mobile-friendly design
Today, close to 70 percent of website traffic comes from mobile and more than 80 percent use mobile devices to go online.
Your customers may be at home, but they may still be using a mobile device to look up information about your dining place and its menu. So in keeping with making it easy for diners to find and reach you, take a mobile-first approach to your website’s design. This way, customers learn about you no matter where they’re hanging out.
Invite Diners Through Your Restaurant’s Website
An effective website for restaurants is easy to find and attractive enough to convert traffic to a reservation. It introduces what you’re about as a dining place, what sort of food you serve, and how special you are as a food brand.
A lot is riding on your website to not just boost your online presence but also influence your revenue. So make it count!