71% of small businesses have a website. That figure alone tells us online marketing has become the norm for restaurants and retail around the globe. As a restaurant operator, it’s essential that you build a website your guests can easily find and navigate. Set your (web) sights on online accessibility, and your guests will respond with loyalty and enthusiasm.

Whether you’re building or updating your restaurant’s website, it’s important to provide guests with the information they’re looking for. Use these statistics about guest behavior to build a site they’ll be happy to see.

 

Fact: 85% of people search for local businesses online.

How to use it: All restaurants, even international chains, are local businesses. Your Austin location can’t deliver a burger to a guest in Kalamazoo – at least, not before it gets cold. Chances are good that most of your regular guests live in your area. Therefore, it’s important to connect with nearby diners online. Optimize your website for local business by including your address, or even a map. Make sure you’re ready to appear on other websites – like Google and Yelp – which guests may use to search for “restaurants near me.”

 

Fact: 40% of people learn about food through digital methods, like websites, blogs, or apps.

How to use it: Connect with third-party sites, like restaurant bloggers or local news websites, to mention your name in their posts. The more times your restaurant’s name appears online, the higher you’ll appear in lists of search engine results. This strategy is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Another element of SEO is including many links on your own website – even if they’re just internal links to other pages on your domain. These strategies make it easier for guests to find you through a simple search.

It’s also important to build social media pages promoting your cuisine. Depending on your demographic, you may choose a combination of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even LinkedIn. Offer your guests incentives to check in at your restaurant on social media, or share their photos of your food. A simple incentive – like a free drink – can encourage guests to post about you regularly, spreading the word to their social networks.

 

Fact: 51% of customers order online directly from restaurant websites.

How to use it: Some restaurants rely on third-party services to deliver their food. However, research has shown that it’s both faster and more profitable to offer direct delivery. Consider putting an “Order Now” button on each page of your website, so guests can quickly and easily go from reading your menu to placing an order. If you’re not able to provide the infrastructure to deliver your own cuisine, this button could even link directly to a third-party website. The goal is to offer potential guests every opportunity to order your food, whether they find you through Yelp, Google, or a friend’s recommendation.

 

Fact: 83% look up restaurant info on their smartphones.

How to use it: Optimize your website for mobile viewing. Make it responsive to different screens – Iphones, Android phones, tablets, and computers. This empowers your guests to order on the go, and share your site with their friends via text or Facebook message. If they look up your business on their phone, only to discover they can’t read the menu until they get home to a computer, guests may lose interest quickly. Keep them engaged by making it easy for them to read every page of your site from any device.

Regular website maintenance is important for every type of business. This is doubly true in the restaurant industry, where menus and prices change with the seasons. As you’re building your restaurant website, be sure you know how to make changes on the fly, so you can keep your hours and menu up to date.