Building an online presence for a food business is important and it starts by learning how to create a restaurant website. By now, you are probably aware of three options; using simple website builders that seem to provide everything out of the box, using a content management system like WordPress or hire a professional designer.
What is the difference between the three and which one should you invest in for the best results?
1) Professional Service
The thought of setting up a site can be daunting for people who aren’t familiar, especially if you spend most of your time working in the kitchen. So getting a professional help seems like a reasonable thing to do, but do you know how much this type of services could come up to?
Here’s an example of quotations offered through such service.
Obviously, they are not the cheapest method. While it’s nice to have someone manage all the technical stuff, you do need to make sure that the company is legit and offers a consultation before signing up for any packages. You want to work with someone who is qualified and understands your business goals. So do a thorough research if you intend to go down this route.
2) Website Builders
For those who want a simpler solution, you might be attracted to the features provided through website builder companies such as Wix and Squarespace or use a more specific platform such as Flavor Plate that is designed to cater for a restaurant’s needs.
Technically, these types of software are easy to edit. Most features are already included so you just need to choose what you want, write something about your business, upload some images and launch your business online. They are usually quite affordable and you can maintain a website for as low as $15/month.
However, website builders often come with a few setbacks that you might not be aware of at first;
- There’s a limit to the number of pages that you can publish.
- They have a small variety of themes to choose from; sometimes, Theme A can look very similar to Theme B.
- Some themes aren’t mobile responsive, meaning they don’t display proportionately on handheld devices.
- Some lack settings such Alt Text, Meta Title and Meta Description that could help search engines discover your site.
Believe it or not, any combination above could spell disaster for a restaurant business in the current marketing landscape because your site is not user friendly and not search engine optimized.
For those of you who don’t know, user friendliness denotes the ease of navigating a site and getting useful information (from a customer’s perspective) while search engine optimized is the platform’s capability to be found online.
When you are limited to a certain number of content (pages), there’s only so much you can tell people about your restaurant. On top of that, without mobile responsiveness and proper SEO settings in place, Google will never know about your site, much less promote it to potential customers.
So while website builders are affordable at a glance, their features can be questionable.
3) Self-Hosted WordPress
That brings us to our third option – WordPress. Once a blogging platform, the latest version of WordPress today can give your business a total makeover.
In essence, it doesn’t just create a few main pages (About Us, Location, Contact, Photo Gallery, and etc.), but it also allows you to publish blog posts. The blogging feature alone gives the ability to add content to a site and build your online presence over time.
There is also more selection of mobile responsive restaurant themes with WordPress and they are all individually unique.
To have more control over marketing, you can make use any of these plugins to add features such as online reservation, ordering, menu or even set up an online store for selling merchandise. And not to forget, you can also install a unique SEO plugin for search optimization.
A decent WordPress site generally costs about $30 to $50/month for hosting services. Although they are slightly more expensive than simple web builders, they definitely have more capability to get indexed and ranked online. Given the advantages, I would say that WordPress is the winner here for creating a business website.
How To Get Started
Before creating a site, you’ll need to select a custom domain name first. Technically, this should be the name of your restaurant followed by a .com extension. When buying a domain name, make sure to also include an email forwarding, privacy protection and technical support.
While there are many registrars to buy from, I highly recommend using SiteRubix because their annual fee is one of the most competitive ones out there.
Plus, they also provide an excellent hosting service that allows you to launch a WordPress website in less than a minute. Once your site is up, you’ll just need to select a restaurant theme, install the necessary plugins and you are good to go. See…you don’t need a professional for this.
And I’ll share with you another interesting thing. Have you seen these type of listings on Google before?
Well, they are called Google My Business and as a restaurant owner, I highly encourage you to use this feature if you haven’t already done so. Again, this is something that you can do on your own. When you verify your business, your operating hours, website address and customer reviews will be visible online 24/7.
Google will show these details every time someone searches for something to eat within a locality. If people see a dining place that they like, chances are, they might visit the website for more information.
That’s when you want to make sure that there’s an impressive and functional website ready to greet/serve your new customers.
Time to Grow Your Business Online
Creating a website isn’t difficult. You just need to learn a few basics, see how other owners operate theirs and get constant feedback from your customers. All this knowledge in addition to what I’ve just shared, will point you towards running a successful restaurant business online.
If you like to get started, check out my recommended entrepreneur platform for online training, WordPress website and more.
Have any questions or thoughts about this topic? Just leave them in the comment below and I’d be happy to respond.
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