If you own a restaurant, it goes without saying that you want to attract paying customers. Back in the day, word of mouth and recommendations from family and friends were the best way you gained new patrons, but in today’s online world, it’s a bit more complex.
Opinions from people you trust are still a factor, but most potential customers will look up an eating establishment online for additional information. If they can’t find what they need or don’t like what they see, chances are they’ll pass you up for a restaurant that provides them better information to make a decision.
So, if you want to attract potential customers, you’d do well to avoid the following mistakes many restaurants make in their online presence.
1. You Don’t Have a Website.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but many restaurants still don’t have a website. If you don’t have a website at all, you are missing out on a ton of potential business. Even if you have a website, but never update it with fresh content the search engines won’t rank it very high, so it will be hard to get found.
2. The Information on Your Website Is Not Clear or Is Incomplete.
Restaurant websites, in particular, must have certain information that is readily accessible. Hours of operation, menus and location are items that should be clearly available where visitors see or find it almost immediately or they’ll lose patience.
3. Your Website Is Not Mobile-Responsive.
People today are more mobile; they aren’t always at home on their laptop when trying to find a place to eat. Imagine how many people search for websites using their smart phones while they are out and about. Imagine further how frustrated they’ll be if they pull up your website and they can’t access the menu or the information is displayed illegibly or incompletely.
4. Menus Are Not In a Search-Friendly Format.
There are two main reasons to include a menu on your website: 1) to provide your food selections to visitors, and 2) accessibility to search engines and mobile apps. If your menu is in PDF, Flash or scanned as an image, search engines cannot interpret the text and rank or share the items on it.
5. Your Website Has Missing, Incorrect or Outdated Information.
If your menu changes, make sure you update it on the website. The same goes for specials, coupons, events, and anything else that can fluctuate on a regular or periodic basis. And especially hours – if you post that you are open, and a customer comes to your restaurant to find out that you aren’t (even though it says you are open online), that customer might never come back.
6. You Don’t Have Reviews or Testimonials.
In today’s online world, customer reviews and comments can make or break a business, and restaurants are definitely no exception. You need to take the time to set up your business on multiple review sites and claim your listings in directories, especially local ones specific to the restaurant industry. You can feature the reviews on your website, if desired, but it’s not necessary in order for potential customers to find them online. Google, Facebook, Yelp, Zomato, Open Table and other sites publish reviews online that are readily accessible to searchers. Having no reviews also speaks volumes!
7. You Don’t Monitor Your Reviews.
You need to track and monitor your reviews to prevent any negative comments from becoming more harmful to your business. You may want to respond to both positive and negative reviews to show people you actually care what they think. Some people are just always negative, so you’ll need to weed them out and not spend a lot of time on those Negative Nellies. Find out more about review sites and how to monitor them at Restaurant Engine.
8. You’re Not on Social Media.
A restaurant is a type of business that benefits greatly from setting up social media accounts and posting on them regularly. Posting pictures of your staff, events, and even chef’s specials can engage users. Invite people to like or follow you by linking to social media from your website. Adding posts that are shareable and inviting comments increases your social presence. Facebook and Instagram are probably the social media horses, but don’t ignore Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest and Twitter as great potential channels.
Restaurants Need Their Own Special Brand of Online Presence
Restaurants depend on local business for their continued success. If you don’t have enough customers to turn a profit, you’ll surely go under quickly. Increasing your online presence and improving your local SEO can make a big difference in attracting new patrons. Once you get them in your restaurant, then you can show them how great your food and service are so they keep coming back.
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