Managing Your Pub’s Online Presence 

Get an online presence and increase footfall and sales

Have you seen how much even the smallest advert in your local newspaper costs these days? Ever tried one and thought “that was a complete waste of money”? Try a different route to market for your pub.

With the rise of smart phones (you know like the “i-phone”, HTC etc) and widespread access to the internet by most sections of society (and therefore pub-goers) getting your pub noticed online is now an essential part of your marketing strategy.

WEBSITES

Whilst creating and maintaining an interesting and good looking website for your pub can be expensive and time consuming, you can have a web presence at relatively little or no financial cost.

To set up a website you need three things: a domain name (your website address or URL), a hosting package (a company that will host your website) and a website design.

What you need to do when choosing your website address is to try and incorporate your pub name and your location into the address; for instance, www.theanywheretavernanytown.com or www.thepubatmyvillage.co.uk. If you have a pub with a very common name such as the Royal Oak or the Fox & Hounds you will find that there are many others out there who have already got websites and the name you initially choose may well be taken. You just have to keep trying meaningful alternatives until you come up with a unique combination of words. There are various companies on line where you can buy your domain name.

Of course if you use a website design company they will advise you on your choice of URL that will make your website more visible than others when people search for pubs on the internet. Getting your website noticed amongst the millions of others online is what they call “Search Engine Optimisation” (SEO) and unless every detail of your website is set up to achieve SEO you will find it hard to drive traffic to your site and then on to your pub.

So you’ve got your website address now you need to find a company to host your website. The cost of “hosting packages” vary widely, some of them come with free templates that even your teenage son or daughter could tweak if you can’t manage it. These sites tend to be very limited in what you can put up, some put a constraint on the size (in terms of Gb you can use to build your site) others restrict the number of pages you can have and still others prevent certain types of website design language being used. Again a website design company will be able to advise you and even set this up for you.

If you can afford a relatively modest outlay you could have a website designed and built from scratch that fits in with your brand / logo / identity and allows a full range of features such as picture galleries, email contact forms etc; they’ll take care of the domain name; the hosting package. I use a company called Designs of Hope who have designed several websites over the years and not only do they do all the hard work and show you how to keep the website up to date but will, for an additional fee, keep the site SEO’d and current. For instance at my last pub they were able to get us to the number one ranking position (top of a Google search page) for Live Music in (the city our pub was in) within 3 months of launching the site.

Another consideration for websites is to make their content “mobile friendly” so that when customers use their smart phones to access your site that they can view your content. Mobile suitable content can also be used for things such as downloadable promotional vouchers for use in your pub, something which is becoming more and more important to customers these days.

BLOGS

One option is to create a pub blog, this can be designed at little cost to look very similar to an all singing, all dancing website. You can insert pages, list events, invite comment, get customers to follow you and create archives of pictures of all the good times in your pub. Publican Sam runs a blog on the popular blogspot.com service … go and have a look … it’s really easy to set up and use: http://www.publicansam.blogspot.com

Whichever route you choose, whether your own site or blog the key to a successful “web presence” is to keep your content interesting and up to date.

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