Staring at a blank page with the cursor blinking at you can be intimidating.
I understand. I write for a living.
And for some reason, it gets even harder when you try to write about yourself. That’s probably why there are so many bad About Us pages out there. They’re soulless and full of meaningless buzzwords. If you were to swap out the name of the company, they could apply to just about any business.
Fortunately, being in the restaurant industry means you’re unlikely to throw terms like “shifting paradigms” or “data-driven” anywhere near your website.
But that doesn’t mean writing the About Us page for your restaurant will be easy. So I’m going to help you out with some advice on how to write a page that’s both interesting and useful.
Why do you need one?
Well, “need” is a strong word. Will not having one tank your restaurant? Certainly not. But there are several benefits to an “About Us” page.
First, it’s an opportunity to humanize your restaurant and tell your story. Think of it this way: if the Menu page is the “what,” and the Contact page is the “where,” the About Us page is the “who” and “why.” It’s a chance to create a human connection with your online audience. Why not take advantage of it?
Second, it’s extra content to add to your website. Search engines like content. It makes them happy. So if you can write a few hundred extra words in an About Us page, it may give your SEO a little boost.
What should you include?
There are two parts to a good About Us page. First, there’s the story. This is the part about you. Then, there’s the benefit. This is the part about the customer.
Let’s start with the story.
The About Us page is a chance to tell your story. But it needs to be a good story. People are busy, and they won’t be dedicating their time to a vague, poorly written blurb.
If you have a story to tell, tell it as a story. A story has a beginning, middle, and an end. The characters go on a journey. They learn new things and grow into different people by the end. Frodo Baggins, Luke Skywalker, Ellen Ripley — these heroes change dramatically between when we meet them and when we leave them.
“My Italian grandmother taught me how to make pasta from scratch, so here I am,” is not a story.
“Grandma Giovanna was born in Sicily in 1927. She spent an idyllic childhood eating grapes off the vines from the family vineyard and learning to cook traditional Sicilian food alongside her mother. But when she was 13, a German Panzer division occupied her village, and her life changed forever…”
That’s the beginning of an interesting story.
“After the occupation, Grandma Giovanna was sent to live with relatives in America, but she continued to cook her traditional Sicilian dishes to remind her of home. Years later, she shared her family recipes with her granddaughter, and now Chef Marisa is bringing them to you…”
Now, I understand that not every restaurant’s roots are placed in something so dramatic as a daring escape from Sicily during WWII.
Sometimes, a few friends just thought it would be cool to open a restaurant. But I’d argue that there’s always an interesting story to tell if you can frame it right. For a good example, check out this About Us page that I wrote for a client, the Stonewall Motor Lodge.
This is where you shift focus away from the restaurant and back to the guest. It’s time for you to share what you provide your customers that no one else does.
Try to describe how a diner at your restaurant will feel and what they will experience when they come in to eat. What are you all about?
The About Us page for one of my favorite restaurants in Austin, Emmer & Rye, does a nice job with this. They highlight their focus on heirloom grains, whole animal butchery, and in-house fermentation. They also briefly explain what to expect when you dine with them — small plates to share, as well as the dim sum carts that circulate the restaurant.
It’s a good idea to work some keywords into your restaurant’s About Us page. Do a little keyword research to see what terms you could try to rank for. (If you’re not familiar with keywords, download this guide for a quick explanation and some free resources to get you started.)
For example, maybe you have a local Mexican restaurant. The term “best margaritas in Austin” gets 1,300 searches per month, and has a search difficulty of 6. That’s crazy low. So if you can work “best margaritas in Austin” into your website a few times, you may be able to get some of that traffic to your site. The About Us page is a perfect place to include that phrase.
I use Ubersuggest to do this kind of research. It’s a free, easy-to-use tool that doesn’t overcomplicate things like some of the other keyword tools out there.
What should it sound like?
You’re not Shakespeare, and that’s okay. Neither am I. You’re writing for the masses. That means it should be simple and easy to understand. And don’t scoff at simple. You know who consistently wrote at a 5th-grade reading level? Hemingway. Simple makes for great writing.
Your restaurant’s About Us page should sound like you. If you run a fun, laid back place, keep that tone consistent in your writing. That means contractions, short sentences, maybe a joke or two.
But if your restaurant is ultra-conservative with starched aprons and a dress code, you’ll want to sound more professional. It’s okay to talk about the quality of your offerings and your dedication to excellence. Just avoid the buzzwords!
Before you post it, read it out loud. Does it flow naturally? Are there any places where you used a specific phrase twice? If anything sounds off, revisit it. Ask someone else to read it, too. Make sure they know they have full authority to pick it apart if it isn’t working.
You’re restaurant’s About Us page is a great opportunity to finish telling the story that your menu and pictures have begun. Spend some time thinking it through. And if you’re really really stuck, you know where to find me.