How to Help Customers Find Your Catering Website
Connecting with Your Customers Online
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You’ve built true value into your catering company’s website, with beautiful, evocative and compelling pictures and text. Customer testimonials are golden. The site expresses and fits your company’s brand identity. Now, how do you make sure that people find you? The web is huge, and it’s easy to get lost out there. And how do you make sure that the site you think is really good is actually meeting the needs of the people who visit it—i.e., winning you new business?
To help people online to find you, you use search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO is a set of techniques for making sure that your website ranks high in results of search engines like Google. This is absolutely critical; the most amazing website in the world won’t help your business if it doesn’t connect you with customers. And the typical web surfer reads very little—he or she will make it through about two pages of search engine results before deciding there’s enough to choose from. So you should be on page one or two, and ideally in the top 10. How do you get there?
According to Jessica Hulett, private chef and writer and former editorial web producer for companies including AOL.com, iVillage and Time Inc., you do it by reading up on SEO online. “You can find tons of articles on the web with tips on making your site come up higher in search results,” she says, and she encourages all companies with websites to read them.
Do You Need SEO Help?
Or you can enlist outside assistance, as has northern Virginia’s Main Event Caterers
. After discovering that its web development company lacked expertise in SEO, the Main Event started work with a second company to help it land higher in search engine results. “Getting a well-designed website and optimizing that site for search engines are two completely different animals,” says Main Event General Manager Cheryl Bennett. “We’ve hired a small SEO company. That’s one of the reasons we’re redoing our website page by page right now: at this point it’s not optimized for people to find it readily. We need to be sure that when people Google our industry, it’s easy for them to find us.”
One way to bump up your search engine rankings is to set up and maintain social media accounts for your company at Facebook
. If you have social media accounts, include links at your website to these accounts. Main Event’s site has a link to its Facebook account, which it pays a professional to maintain. The company updates its Facebook page with text and photos once or twice a week.
Catering Website for Mobile Users
Because many people go online today on a Blackberry, iPhone, Droid or similar device, you should make your site usable for this group. It will do you no good to land high in their search results if they can’t see your site once they click on it. Food blogger Raymond Bradley suggests that caterers have two versions of their websites—one for use on a desktop or laptop, and another for use on a handheld device. The handheld device version can be fairly bare bones, with address, phone number, email address, hours and menus. “You don’t need anything fancy,” Bradley says, “and mobile users will greatly appreciate it.”
Finally, make sure your website offers an experience that will keep people coming back for more. Hulett suggests checking site statistics regularly to make sure that visitors are finding what they’re looking for at your site. “Most web hosting companies will tell you how many visitors your site has, where they're coming from and where they go on your site,” she says. “You can also use free services like Statcounter and Google Analytics. This will give you a good idea of what your site visitors are looking for, and it will also give you some insight into how well your site is optimized for search.”
Written by: Kate Hough