By Veronica Wallace, Contributor
Marketing is the lifeblood of any business, and restaurants are no exception. Unless word of mouth about your food is so powerful that guests are lining up day and night just to get a reservation, you need a website — and even if your restaurant is super popular, a website is still a good idea!
You know all of this. You have a website. What we’re talking about, though, is website maintenance, and it’s important to clarify what that means.
Website maintenance is more than just making sure your website isn’t full of broken links. It’s about constantly updating and tweaking your website and making sure it’s filled with quality content. It’s about finding ways to make your website easier to use. It’s an ongoing process. Much like adjusting your menu with new offerings, you want your restaurant’s website to change gradually over time, as well.
Before we dive into some of the more granular reasons it’s important to update your website, let’s remember the big one — online booking. Restaurant traffic from online booking and delivery is booming and keeping your booking and delivery page up to date is a great way to generate revenue.
Getting New Guests
When most restaurateurs think of their website, attracting new guests is probably their priority. People are hungry, and if they want to find a cool, new place to eat, they’re going to need to see your menu and pictures of your dishes. Your website is probably the first impression they’ll get of your restaurant, so make it count!
No one wants to visit a website only to see it hasn’t been updated in several months. Keep it fresh and accurate.
Keeping Things Consistent
Imagine this: you’re a burger lover. You go throughout the city, looking for the best burgers, and reviewing them. You find a restaurant’s website, and you see a delicious looking burger on their menu. You book a table, show up and — tragedy of tragedies — they don’t serve burgers.
You can imagine the review that restaurant is going to get!
Here’s the point: you need to update (maintain) your website in order to keep everything as accurate as possible. You don’t want to surprise diners who were expecting one experience, only to find another. Even if the other experience would be pleasant, it’s like taking a sip of soda when you were expecting milk — not a good time.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
One of the biggest advantages to having a website is being able to rank well on Google and other search engines.
A hypothetical scenario for you: you’re a restaurant that offers fine French dining. Searches like “fine dining near me” or “French restaurant in my city” are some of your best opportunities for clients to find you.
Keeping a well-maintained website with no broken links, constantly updated content, and search engine optimization-minded updates can give you a huge boost over your competition.
If you need help getting started, this comprehensive local SEO guide is a great jumping off point.
Enticing Guests to Return
You might think that website maintenance is low on the list of “things to do to entice guests to return”, but it’s really not. There are a couple of ways it can help.
There are some loyal diners who will come to your restaurant for the same thing, over and over again. Realistically, though, these diners probably won’t make up all of your repeat clientele. People like to try new and exciting things. Many diners look at going out to eat as an event, not just a way to get food.
To keep these clients enticed, it’s important to invest in website maintenance. Selling tickets for special events, changing your menu, posting new pictures of your dining space — all of this is website maintenance, and it’s easier to do when you’re actively maintaining your website.
Newsletters and Updates
Though not viable for every restaurateur, you can generate a lot more excitement from your fans by using newsletters. They keep your guests up to date about anything new and exciting happening at your restaurant(s).
To best use newsletters, you should have content on your website that you can link to from your newsletter. This allows you to create a newsletter that’s more compact and readable, all while directing traffic to your website (where you should have calls-to-action encouraging people to order delivery or booking a table).
Obviously, this takes constant website maintenance. You need to build or update any pages that your newsletter links to, and you need to ensure that your site is always running smoothly to improve your guests’ experiences.
Keeping Your Restaurant’s Website Secure
One of the most important reasons to maintain your website is to ensure your restaurant’s valuable information isn’t stolen.
Patching Holes in Your Website’s Security
There are so many things that can happen to your website, from people using forms to run scripts and steal information, to people trying to figure out your password. Proper website maintenance involves ensuring your website’s security is up to date. You’ll also want to back up your website regularly.
Some restaurateurs might be surprised to learn that hackers would be interested in their information. The sad truth is, any business is a worthwhile target for a hacker. They’re often looking for usernames, passwords, and financial information to sell on the black market. They might also try a ransomware attack.
There are some simple fixes, from getting an SSL certificate to using multi-factor authentication for your website (in case anyone tries to get access using stolen login information).
Dissuading Would-be Hackers
Hackers are like robbers — they scope places out to see if they’re easy to steal from. When your website is never being updated, it looks like an abandoned house — and abandoned houses are easy to break into. No one is watching.
When your website is constantly being maintained and updated, they know someone is home – and that makes you far less tempting to steal from.
Website maintenance doesn’t mean you’ve got to look at your website day in and day out. You can hire out the work. You can set your maintenance schedule to suit you – once a month, once a week – whatever works. There are several reliable points-of-sale and booking systems you can find that will help you stay secure. That said, maintaining your website can be a huge boon to your business – your website will add to your business, magnifying what you already put into it.