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Menu Design – 8 Do’s and Don’ts of Good Menu Design

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Seducing search engines with Long Tail Keywords is something to consider when you’re writing copy. You know what I’m talking about, copy that waits for passing search engines then beckons, “Hey, Mr. Search Engine, Over Here, Over Here – I have exactly what that searcher is looking for!” Long tail search terms are important to know about and important to use – in certain situations. Here are some basics:

What the heck is a Long Tail?

Long Tail terms are longer and more specific1 phrases than short tail keywords, usually consisting of 3 or more keywords. For instance, here at Next Day Flyers we sell printing which is a short keyword. However, within printing we also have postcard printing – still a short-tail phrase. But within that category we sell “UV coated 4×6 postcard printing” – which would be considered a long tail term.

Why would you want to use a Long Tail Term?

1. Build SEO Traffic

Using long tail keywords can be an effective SEO strategy for building traffic.2 Why? When you target the shorter keywords there is a lot of competition so you’re much less likely to rank up high on pages such as the Google results pages. For instance, in our above example on searching for printing – the keyword “printing” on Google kicks back 168,000,000 results. Wow. And when you search for “postcard printing,” a slightly longer tail term, the results drop to a mere 1,560,000. But, for the long tail term “UV coated 4×6 postcard printing” the returned results drop considerably to 5,050. The fewer returns that show up, the easier it is to get yourself to the top and be seen by more people.

2. Less Competition on PPC and Greater Chance of Conversions

If you’re running a Pay-Per-Click campaign you know that the really high volume words are much more competitive so they can cost you a bundle to have your ad appear. Plus, the searchers you get may not be as high quality when you’re talking about conversions. Why? Someone who does a search for “printing” is just starting their investigation into printing so they are only at the beginning of their buying cycle or may also be looking for something about printing that has nothing to do with your company. On the other hand, that consumer who types into Google “UV coated 4×6 postcard printing” is most likely trying to decide who to buy from which means they are much further along in the buying cycle; so you have a much higher chance of getting your conversion.

When Not to Use Long-Tail

Bloggers who are trying to make money with their blogs – beware the long tail! Ever heard of the power law? You probably have and just didn’t know it – the rich get richer. “Because of the power law, the long tail of the blogosphere is huge and so any individual blog is not easily discovered. The chance that a random Internet surfer will find a blog that is part of the long tail is nearly zero.”3 As Brian Clark, of Copyblogger, put it “You can make money on the long tail but not in the long tail.”4

And, yes, because you asked, we do offer printing (www.nextdayflyers.com), postcard printing , as well as UV coated 4×6 postcard printing.

Resources

  1. SEO Book
  2. Long Tail SEO Strategy
  3. There’s No Money In The Long Tail of the Blogosphere
  4. True Value of Blogging
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8 thoughts on “Menu Design – 8 Do’s and Don’ts of Good Menu Design

  1. Hi Sarah (and gail)

    Is there anyway I can get in contact with “gail” who inquired about designing menus? I’m a graphic designer and I can help her design the menus then upload them to you for print…..please respond to raeroon@hotmail.com

    thanks!

  2. I think it’s great that you guys are publishing helpful info for the industry! There are other things you should have in your list of “do’s and dont’s” though.
    1) consider the amount of space the typical customer would have to read the menu. Tight seating can make wide menues difficult or impossible for practical use.
    2) Consider the lighting in the restaurant, the darker the lighting the more difficult it is to read, so doing a dark menu with either dense type or type that is reversed out (white on black/dark background). Black on white is the easiest to read, the contrast is the greatest. White lettering on a black or dark background needs to be set in a bolder type. Because it’s not white ink on a black background, the designer has to realise that the ink bleed/dot gain will creep in on the open areas (lettering) when the item is actually printed, so things that look “bold” on the screen will actually come out looking more like the “regular” or “medium” weight.
    3) Think about how often the restaurant changes menu items, if it is frequent, then you may find that doing individual panels that can go in plastic sleeves is a better option. This also lets you tailor designs to seasons or holidays, and keeps the customer from having to buy whole menus when all they need to do is replace an individual panel.
    4) Keep your descriptions literate and aimed at the desired market/customer base. Spell check is great, but having a few people read through it will help you more. Spell check only sees words as individual items and checks to see if the words are recognized, but it doesn’t know if it’s the right word for your purpose. Often times people reading will come across words or phrases that don’t make sense, or they have a better way to phrase it. Keep in mind that everyone has blind spots in reading and proofreading, so having two or three other people read through it will help you catch any errors. The old carpenter’s adage rings true for us too! “Measure twice, cut once.”
    5) Color is great in some places, but there is a large percentage of people who are colorblind, so color should be use carefully. If the customer can’t read it, they won’t order it!
    6) Like any graphics job, require that the customer proof read and sign off on the piece before it goes to print. Make surey you have a formal note or written agreement to that effect. It keeps them responsible for misquotes on descriptions, errors on prices, etc., and keeps YOU from having to pay for expensive corrections and reprints out of your wallet.

    Like the author, I have my degree, and I’ve been doing this for a couple of decades or so.

    Just thoughts from the cheap seats for those learning the trade.
    Brian

  3. I too like Brian have worked in the commercial arts, now call graphic design.
    Both of these professionals explained the process very well.
    Don’t forget the main purpose of a menu to add value and advertise what is available at this restaurant.
    Get ideas from the look of the place. The color scheme should match the branding theme.
    Don’t over design with beautiful graphics that get in the way of the info. I used to test my design work with the goal of having a person want to bend down and pick it up if the seen it on the ground, now that’s curriousity created.
    – Rawwill Pictures

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