Great Ways to Market your Restaurant Online Successfully, Part 2-More Tantalizing Tidbits

Hungry for more?  Right on the heels of last weeks blog are more juicy tidbits for restaurateurs and the importance of having a website.  Whether a Mom & Pop or listed at the top of Zagat…tuck in the napkin and get ready for another serving!

* Taking it to Go ~ Because Smartphones have almost become an appendage, it is essential for people to be able to look you up while on the go. When people hear about or pass by a fab restaurant which offers a favored cuisine, the first thing they do is get on the internet and look for more information. Whether that’s the menu or a recent review – if you don’t have a website chances are that those folks might pass you by or pass you up when making their selection. An important point to make here as well is to ensure that your restaurant is easily searchable. You want your entire menu online, dish by dish. Using a PDF may seem like an easy, cost-effective solution as they are easy to download on a computer/laptop.  However, in order for someone to find you using a search engine and make proper use of “tags”, you must have an itemized online menu.  If possible, you should also try to have a mobile version of your website which will make reading the menus easier if opened on a Smartphone device.

*Cater to the Customer ~ If you are one of the many restaurants that offer catering services in addition to your in-house offerings, people should know this.  But guess what, many probably don’t!  Aside from your physical menu or waiting for a catering gig call, your website should be used as another promotion tool and done so in a prominent area.  The goal is to build greater awareness of the expanded services you offer and generate more business.  This way the customer might come to sample some food initially for the catering gig, but might become a faithful fan for other times.  And the reverse has happened many times as well – someone comes in and loves a particular dish or your culinary style and wants you to cater an event.  It’s all about using each opportunity and tool available to build your customer base – to be in mind for dinner time or party time.

*The Bottomless Cup of Possibilities ~ There are so many layout and design options it’s like a never-ending cup of good Joe. The restaurant web design business has become big business.  WordPress designers have capitalized on this and it has become a great website option especially since it’s super easy to manage the content and update regularly.  This is “muy importante” for a restaurant with a changing menu and daily/weekly specials.  But keep in mind that clean designs are best and adding vibrant, crisp images will make customers eat with their eyes first. An attractive yet informative website with regularly updated content and promotions is a place where customers return time and again – good for their bellies and great for your pockets!

New security update for Twitter; now HTTPS

Twitter Bird HTTPSIf you’re like me, you’re probably on the go with your business all throughout the day.  Checking emails off your phone, responding to social media, and occasionally stopping by the local coffee shop for lunch while using your laptop to work. It’s very convenient but also should be used with caution.

These public wifi areas are they’re own enemies just by being public. Anyone can join on the network, and every device on that network is susceptible to attacks, key loggers, and more.  I’m not trying to say the end of the world is near and only use your devices on your home network (ironically most home networks are even less secured than public ones), but you should be aware of some potential issues.  I’ll type another post about them another time.

For the many of you using Twitter, this is a great new option that will keep you within HTTPS (Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol). If you look at the top of your browser in the address bar, you should see http:// and a secured site/page would show https://.  Prior to today you could login to Twitter via secured site if you manually typed it in your address bar. This new update from Twitter allows you to stay in that secured state though as you navigate around the site and your personal settings.  In contrast, Facebook is still working on this, but whenever switching from say your Fan page to your Personal page, you’d fall out of HTTPS to HTTP.  If you’re not paying attention you may barely even notice this.

Here’s how you can quickly update your Twitter settings. Log into Twitter, and then hit the Settings link and at the bottom of the “Account” tab, you’ll see the new “Always use HTTPS” check box.  Select it and hit save and you’re done.

Twitter HTTPSIt wouldn’t be a bad idea to just replace your current favorites or bookmarks to on all your devices.  Have you had any issues with public wifi and your sensative information? Let me know in the comments below.

Simple Website Tips

Simple Website Tips from Design TheoryI’m going to let you in on a few secrets most web designers may not willingly tell you.  A lot of the work we do isn’t all that complicated.  Sure there are plenty of things we do that can get complicated; coding, developing, image splicing, and more. However there are some elements of your website you can make changes on or update on your own – provided that you have HTML or WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editing programs.

ALT TEXT/TAGS – This is a pretty simple but also vital piece to each page of your website. Reason being is that whenever you scroll your mouse over an image, a small window pops up to give you a description of what that image is.  That’s ALT text.  Search engines use this for search and site relevance, but more importantly, this is web accessibility.  There are programs that read aloud what the images are based on the ALT text.  This is especially helpful for people with handicaps.

PAGE DESCRIPTIONS – Each page of your website should have it’s own description.  Say your website is a cooking baking shop in downtown.  Well your services page should have a description (in short) of the overall concept of that page and what people will find on that page. The wording should be quite short and NOT contain the same “keywords” or meta-tags for that page.  I’ll explain more on those in a bit.  For example: “ACME manufactures 100% iron anvils to fit all types of Road Runner traps.” From reading that page description I know exactly what the content on this page is going to be about.

SPELL CHECK – A simple enough concept here, but often overlooked.  I remember my early days of web design, and thinking I was hot stuff.  I focused more on the overall design and very little on the context of each page.  Though my editor Dreamweaver (from Macromedia – now Adobe) had a spell check feature, I rarely used it or remember too.  It wasn’t till a clients friend or the actual client pointed out some misspelled words on a freshly launched site that I would notice.  You don’t necessarily need Dreamweaver to do spell check, but most of us all have a document editing program that does include spell check in it.  Use it!

DOMAIN EXPIRATION’SHubSpot talks about this issue and recently highlighted an example from the Dallas Cowboys.  Apparently there website hosting expired, and therefore was down. The geniuses at HubSpot advocate for domain registrations in excess of 5+ years.  Most domains are registered for a year or two then are set to expire.  There are options to “auto-renew”, but not all hosting companies set domains to do so.  You can easily update this by logging into your hosting account and updating your hosting package/information for a longer hosting period.  May cost a bit more up front, but like your driver’s license, you never know when it will expire till you get pulled over and the office informs you.

META TAGS and KEYWORDS – Another key element of valuable SEO information is your page meta tags and keywords.  These are two separate elements, but closely related.  To view what your current tags and words are you can simply “right click” on your web page then “left click” on “view page source”.  Here is an example

<meta name="Keywords" content="ACME, Traps, Anvils, Loony Tunes, road-runner, desert, somewhere-remote,
warner, brothers, studios" /> 

A really good “cheater” tip about this, if you Google your services in your area and find that your competition from one town over is always on page one, and you’re on page 4; look at their keywords and modify your own close to theirs.  I’d like to say copy there’s but I’ll get hate mail.  So be a little more creative with your own to stay legit.

BROWSER COMPATIBILITY – This is an easy one to troubleshoot but may be a bit harder to fix.  There are probably about 7 – 8 difference browsers you can use these days.  Most of these are pretty popular and widely used.  They include Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, and of course Internet Explorer and its many versions.  Let me start with IE.  I should really start by saying as a designer; I loathe Internet Explorer, regardless of the version. Microsoft currently has IE 9 out right now.  Though most people will be automatically updated if PC users have their Window updates set to automatic, not everyone will.  The problem with IE is that each version will give you different views of your web page depending on how it is coded.  I know, it shouldn’t be that way, it’s not fair, but it’s true. Check it out for yourself and see.  Once you’re done with that, see how your site looks on smart and mobile phones.  Studies show that more sites are being viewed on mobile browsers and if your site is horribly rendered on one it could cost you a sale.

There are plenty more tips I could put up, but I dare not scare you further into calling your designer or better yet using your Batman signal for an emergency meeting.  If you’d like to know some free editing apps click here to contact me and I’ll email you a free list.  I’ll most likely post about a few soon if the interest is there.