If you haven’t analyzed your website for several years, you might find that you’d benefit from a homepage makeover. Restaurants with successful websites often rest on their accomplishments, but the nature of digital marketing favors keeping ahead of technology, trends and best practices.

If you haven’t taken a close look at your website lately, conduct an impartial, in-depth review of your existing site and see what your competitors are doing. Are you using responsive design so that your homepage adjusts to look appealing on phone screens? Does your website focus more on functionality than bells and whistles that actually annoy customers? Can your customers easily find what they’re looking for because your site is well-organized, easy to read and illustrated with high-definition photography?

Mobile-Friendly Means Business-Friendly

Responsive design works when you design your site modularly so that the most important information is displayed. Customers can easily find other sections to click for more information about specifics. Pinching and zooming on home pages with too much copy frustrate customers and causes many people to abandon your website for one that’s easier to read and navigate. The most relevant information includes your concept, style of cuisine, location, phone number and other contact information. Other tips for making your website mobile-friendly, user-friendly and business-friendly include:

  • Music can ruin an otherwise well-designed site. Consider the worker who is looking to make a reservation on company time. If music starts blasting from the site, the worker’s boss or supervisor immediately knows that the person is conducting personal business on company time.
  • Capturing people’s attention is important because your website only has a brief window to engage someone searching for answers, restaurants or information.
  • Providing reviews is important to restaurant diners, so include a link to favorable reviews on your site or through third-party review sites.
  • Give customers a virtual tour by showing your restaurant up close and behind the scenes. Photo galleries allow customers to peruse photos or concentrate on your website’s content, depending on their browsing preferences.
  • Linking to Google Maps or providing clear directions helps out-of-towners and people who are unfamiliar with your neighborhood.
  • Taking orders and reservations on your site is easily handled by a widget. If you don’t take orders and reservations online, you’re losing immediate sales.
  • Add a one-click button to contact your restaurant by mobile phone. Making it easy to contact your restaurant delivers obvious advantages.
  • Make all buttons and links big enough that all sizes of fingers can press them on mobile phones.

SEO and Optimizing for Local Business

If you have a blog, it needs to be mobile-friendly, easy to navigate and consistent with your brand and concept. You can optimize for local restaurant searches by claiming your free listings in directories, providing complete and accurate information in each listing and linking with highly regarded local businesses. Post your menu and any content on your website using HTML, which is more search friendly. Posting your menu in a PDF prevents search robots from finding information.

Design, Graphics and Illustrations

Design features of your website should be restrained and easy to read on small screens, so avoid the fancy typefaces, complex layouts and large, unbroken blocks of text. Break up your content with subheadings, bulleted and numbered lists, tables and white space to make reading easy. Your menu, which should be posted on your website, should be organized in sections, easy to read and recognizable by incorporating your company colors and logo. Try putting specials or promoted foods or services in text boxes.

Use only high-resolution pictures of your genuine food. Stock photos, poor photography and blurry images don’t reflect well on your restaurant. You can get a professional photographer to take sharp pictures of the food that you actually serve for about $100, so it’s not worth substituting fuzzy or generic photos. You’re selling food, and your customers need to see that food clearly. Consider providing a photo gallery of menu items that links to your larger menu where people can find detailed descriptions.

You can also improve your website by making it easy for customers to connect to their favorite social sites, find specials that you want to promote and sign up to receive emails or newsletters. Your website is your primary tool for gathering business intelligence, engaging your customers and building marketing lists. You don’t need to list all these materials on your homepage, but you should include visible links to them.

Google and other search engines are always fine-tuning their formulas for ranking search engine return pages or SERPs. Appealing website design, using HTML throughout your site, providing responsive design and linking to local businesses with good Internet reputations are powerful ways to strengthen your ranking. Google’s recent decision to display only the top three businesses in local searches makes it more important than ever to optimize for local searches and make the top three positions. A website makeover can help you achieve better rankings, more sales conversions and higher customer satisfaction.