Published On: April 29th, 2020
Opening in 2012, Harry G’s New York Deli & Cafe sought to offer Rochester, New York’s South Wedge neighborhood an authentic New York City deli atmosphere and the best sandwiches around. As a new restaurant in a young, artistic, and trendy neighborhood, we recognized the power of the web to help establish the Harry G’s brand in a way that reaches young and creative individuals, and does so in a cost-effective way.
The cornerstone of the Harry G’s digital presence would be a website that would not only display information about the restaurant and their offerings, but also housed interesting content, regularly updated specials, and prize promotions that required participants to visit the site in order to enter. Using this website in coordination with social media and search engine optimization efforts positioned Harry G’s in front of a regularly expanding number of potential customers leading to success they enjoy to this day.
On social media and search engine results, a lot is vying for your attention, but on our website, we have your focus. Therefore, providing website-exclusive content that would bring people to us was an important consideration. If people visited our website (and visited regularly), they would be more likely to click around, become hungry, and stop in for some food. These exclusive features included:
Harry G's was a new business, which means we needed to make sure people could find us. An aggressive SEO campaign was executed following launch of the Harry G's website focusing on link building, keyword research, content and metadata optimization, and, of course, social media. During my time as manager of the website, regular analytic reports were reviewed with Harry G's management and recommendations were made for improving performance.
With so much in place to drive traffic to the website, we need to complete the cycle and bring people to the restaurant itself. Therefore, food and drink items were prominently displayed throughout the site with detailed information and photos (where possible). Customers were often encouraged to share photos of their order on social media, and the best shares were posted on the website. As incentive to share, anyone whose share was featured on the website, would receive a discount on their next order. In doing this, we showcased the food and made our customers feel involved with the digital campaign.
The overall result of this project was to be an established brand personality for Harry G's on the web. This personality was to be the product of website content, social media engagement, and even engagement with customers on review sites (Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc). This goal is more Public Relations driven and includes crisis management tasks and online reputation management. If Harry G's is seen as friendly and approachable online, people will be more likely to go.
More than just a website, HarryGsDeli.com was meant to be the cornerstone of an emerging brand personality. On the website, visitors found more than just a menu, contact information, and hours of operation. Instead, they found a destination for contests, games, entertainment, and exclusive offers. By creating a website that people wanted to visit again and again, we provided the perfect foundation on which to build a successful overall digital branding campaign.
Many people make decisions about where they want to eat while they are out and about. The Harry G's website provided an optimal user experience for mobile users by allowing them to get contact information and menu items quickly and easily.
While appointed manager of the website, I wanted to make sure the website's functionality adapted to the needs of the client. Therefore, multiple iterations of the Harry G's custom WordPress theme were created, with a new theme version released annually between 2012 and 2016.
As website manager, I was in charge of adding weekly specials, maintaining a blog (highlighting menu items and showcasing news items about Harry G's), managing promotions, and responding to traffic analytics.
Social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram were dynamically wired into the Harry G's website. For Facebook, the Page Plugin was embedded, and for Instagram, a dynamically updating image gallery was displayed on the homepage.
With the success of their initial opening, Harry G's expanded to open a bar. With the new offerings, an adaptable and easy-to-manage menu system was required. During the 2016 design update, a new food and drink menu system was developed using Advanced Custom Fields to accomplish this goal.
Google Analytics was installed on the Harry G's website at launch, and traffic was monitored closely. Analytics reports were regularly reviewed with Harry G's ownership to determine areas of improvement and how to improve in those areas, as well as identify areas of strength and how to use them to our advantage.
A variety of prize promotions were executed on the website including a March Madness style tournament game to decide Harry G's most loved sandwich, and a contest where participants submitted ideas for new sandwiches for the chance to have their item named after them and added to the menu.
During development, content on the Harry G's website was created with keyword research in mind. Copy, media, and metadata were all a focus during the construction phase, and once the website was launched, link building, content marketing and social media activity led to successful search engine ranking positions.
One benefit of the prize promotions we ran was the collection of email addresses. Participants in our promotions agreed to receive promotional emails, and regular mass mails were sent to highlight specials, offers, and news about the restaurant. Best of all, email marketing messages and contact lists are managed and stored within the WordPress admin.
Harry G's SEO campaign achieved #1 results in coveted local keyword sets including: "rochester sandwich" "rochester ny sandwiches" "best sandwich in rochester" and more. Top 3 rankings are maintained in many keywords to this day without active management since 2016.
Within one year of launch, our efforts paid off well and we began to average over 2500 monthly sessions, an average that was maintained (with peaks during promotions) for years following.
As a result of the participation in our prize promotions, we obtained over 500 emails for use in our mass email marketing efforts.
Domain and Page authority illustrate how well a website (and pages of the site) will rank on search engines based on their content
Eventually, we realized Harry G's was paying too much for hosting and domain registration. We switched them to a more appropriate product that offered better performance for a lower cost.
The original logo file provided to Harry G's was an unlayered JPG file which restricted use. I traced the logo as a vector graphic with layered elements so that the logo could be expanded to any size and could be edited to display seasonal color schemes.