With so much focus on social media lately, when was the last time you took a hard look at your website? It might be time to talk a little about what you could do to improve its traffic while you're also working hard to bring the numbers up on your social channels.
With that in mind, I reached out to Brian Mell, the digital marketing manager at BannerView.com. He works every day to help businesses turn their websites into powerful business tools. So let's see what he has to say about improving your website traffic, how you can benefit from a solid web presence, and which essential elements you should be incorporating into your site to improve visibility and sales.
The Pizza Insider: What are some simple ways to improve traffic to a pizzeria’s website?
Brian Mell: If your website doesn’t load as quickly as possible (the target is six seconds, and, on mobile, people expect it to be faster), it can be a big detriment to your business. Fifty percent of people will abandon the site if it takes more than six seconds to load. This is particularly important for pizzeria owners, because people have come to expect everything related to the ordering and delivering process to be almost immediate.
A responsive design can improve load time—you want people to see pictures of the food, but not at the detriment of the time that it takes for your page to load. Good programmers and developers will be able to develop a website that provides all of the pertinent information first and loads the “frills” second.
Another thing that can increase conversion is if you allow users to log in with social media. Social media log ins are said to increase conversions by up to 50%.
Having a localized focus in your search engine optimization (SEO) is key. Having as many locally optimized profiles as possible (Yelp!, YellowPages, YellowBook, Google Places) with a link back to your website is all part of the localized optimization of your website. You should tie these efforts in with the optimization of your landing page.
The Pizza Insider: How can a pizzeria operator benefit from an effective web presence?
Brian Mell: The first thing is that customers should be able to place orders online.
Eat24 is also a good way to capture new customers, because it helps connect people who are looking for delivery food with restaurants that have a delivery area that matches their address. Pizzeria owners can sign up at http://bit.ly/1qpid5H. Since they integrate Yelp! reviews, it’s helpful to have positive reviews on Yelp! in order to improve the order in which your restaurant appears and to stand out from the competition.
If you offer in-house dining, you can also integrate your operation with OpenTable and take reservations.
The Pizza Insider: What are some features that pizzeria operators should incorporate in their website to improve their visibility and sales?
Brian Mell: If there are any discounts or specials going on, include that right at the beginning of the ordering process. Using Pizza Hut as an example, they make it easy to scroll through any offers that they have.
If customers can create a profile and have their favorites saved, this can also speed up the process and make ordering easy.
It’s very beneficial to have a mobile-friendly website, a mobile app, and a responsive website.
The Pizza Insider: Which social media networks should pizzeria operators utilize, and how can they leverage them most effectively?
Brian Mell: In terms of offering a visual feast of products, Facebook is the first one to go to. The 18-to-24-year-old demographic, which is critical for pizzerias, will go to Facebook to looks for coupons from their friends. If your restaurant has a happy hour, Twitter is the second arrow in your arsenal to capture people who are looking for a place to go, and you can still utilize the visual aspect. If you’re just starting out, these are where your efforts should be focused.
LinkedIn is not a “foodie” network, so I would not recommend it as a method to reach out to customers.
I would recommend Pinterest if the pizzeria has something unique to offer (for example, specialty pizzas or a recipe handed down from generation to generation).
Yelp! isn’t a social network per se, but reviews can be an important part of any restaurant’s success. It’s important to understand that with any review site, negative reviews cannot be removed, even if you suspect that they come from a competitor, so it’s important to have a thick skin. Whether you have no reviews or need to bury bad reviews, it can be helpful to encourage happy customers to leave reviews. One pizzeria that I know of in North Las Vegas offers a free gelato or cappuccino for checking in on Yelp!.
Do not overlook Google Places. Besides helping improve your local search results, Google owns Zagat, so it can be an important step in getting reviewed.
YouTube is often overlooked, but, if you have the capacity to do so, it can be a helpful platform, whether you post videos of live events or mini-commercials.