The Makings of A Modern Classic With Al’s Steakhouse

author image Written by: Lia           Categories - Success Stories

How SEO TWIST Helped Al’s Steakhouse Update for 2017 Without Losing its Past

When Sam Saikali and Justin Merner visited SEO TWIST in March of 2017, we knew we had something special on our hands. After all, Sam’s late father and Justin’s grandfather, Al, was the founder, operator, and namesake of Al’s Steakhouse, Ottawa’s classic steakhouse. Though Sam and his siblings had been working on revamping and renovating the restaurant themselves, Justin suggested they come to us for help with the web side of things. The initial meeting gave us a detailed look at the size and scope of the project. SEO TWIST would develop a 10-page website to revamp and revitalize the restaurant’s existing and out-of-date site. “I contacted SEO TWIST to update the restaurant’s website, which was out of date,” explained Justin. “I met with the SEO TWIST team who were very receptive to my wants and needs for the site.” Justin had a sharp vision for how the site should look and feel, and based on his guidelines, we started to design, develop, and optimize the site.

Quality, Family, and Tradition

While a new design was needed, there had to be some continuity between the old site and the new. After all, Al’s Steakhouse was and is a family operation, with the restaurant staying in family hands after Al’s passing in 2016. Al’s Steakhouse was a hub of culture over the years, with several notable celebrities and figures stopping for a meal. Photos of these notable guests fill a wall at Al’s. Justin wanted to highlight Al’s atmosphere and quality, key features of the restaurant’s identity. Al’s is, after all, one of the few places in the city to grill on live charcoal, so that had to be front and centre. While the old site featured menus, it lacked high-quality images of prepared dishes. The solution? A scrolling gallery of delicious food behind the page content. It was important to the client that their modern design reflected their history without feeling dated or “retro.” They also wanted to highlight that 2017 was the restaurant’s 50th anniversary, which coincided with Canada’s 150th anniversary. SEO TWIST had a mandate to create a modern website with a timeless, classic feel. It also had to highlight the history of Al’s Steakhouse without feeling stuck in the past.

The Creative Process

Our designers set about developing the look and feel of the new site. They focused on a distinctly modern yet classic style to match the restaurant’s renovated look. Justin didn’t want visitors getting lost on lengthy pages. He wanted a clean, one-page look and design that highlighted what was special about Al’s Steakhouse. Clean designs benefit mobile-friendly sites, which Google’s search index will soon favour. Our SEO experts researched the most common keywords and phrases related to steakhouses and restaurants in Ottawa. They prepared a set of keywords for the client, and following his approval began to develop an architecture for the site. This architecture worked to improve how search engines index the site. It was important to keep the site lean with keywords unique to each page to ensure the index could find each page quickly based on a search. The last step was to build the site, using the coding know-how and skills of our in-house development team. They brought the visual design to life, and the design team put the finishing touches on the visuals. Meanwhile, our content writers created original written text integrating keywords that search engines would notice. We imported the text into the new site, and presented it to the client for their approval.

A Successful Launch—Digitally and In-Person

Design and development of the site progressed quickly, and we soon had a finished product ready to present to Justin and Sam. “I was only a couple of weeks later with a professional, modern website which was beyond my expectations,” said Justin. “I had only minor edits and critiques, which were fixed in a matter of hours.” Based on the client’s feedback and input, we knew we had a good product in our hands. We incorporated the final design changes, and launched the site after Justin and Sam signed off on it. The site went live shortly before April 10, the grand reopening of the newly renovated Al’s Steakhouse. It was a perfect one-two combo; the site is an engaging, easy-to-find source of information for diners, who have taken to the refreshed and revitalized Al’s with its new energy and appearance.

Client Satisfaction

“From the beginning of this process, I felt comfortable knowing I left my business’ website in the hands of true professionals,” commented Justin. “Your file is not going to one individual, but a whole team, who are there to work for you.” In the time since the site’s launch, traffic steadily rose and increased. Al’s Steakhouse is consistently a top-ranking site on Google search results for steakhouses in Ottawa. SEO TWIST was able to meet and exceed client expectations on-schedule and deliver a stunning finished product. “I am happy knowing I can work with over the years and they will produce exactly what my business needs, while respecting urgent timelines and the-ever content of our site.” At SEO TWIST, we’re proud of the work we do for our clients. We help them grow and expand their business while highlighting what it is that makes them unique. Next time you’re in downtown Ottawa, stop by Al’s Steakhouse for a bite to eat!


Starting Something With Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa


How SEO TWIST Helped a Leading Children’s Charity Refresh and Revamp While Staying On-Brand

When you’re facing limitations and restraints, creativity comes alive. Limits on what you can do help you discover innovative ways to get the job done and creative solutions to your problems. When you’re a major branch of a leading charity in the country, looking for a way to refresh your brand, but must work within national guidelines, what do you do? In the case of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa, you reach out to SEO TWIST.

Making a Difference

The challenges BBBSO were facing with their existing website were clear from the get-go. The site had outgrown its structure, with pages and subpages buried, making navigation less than intuitive. The design, though incorporating the parent organization’s colours, needed revamping too. The challenge lay in the limitations imposed by the Big Brothers Big Sisters branding guidelines. Our approach was clear: streamline and simplify the structure wherever possible, and create a visually appealing design that would reflect the community-centric nature of BBBSO.

Structural Solutions

Our SEO experts conducted a comprehensive audit of BBBSO’s existing website, developing a complete overview of the site’s structure and architecture. While a loose silo architecture existed, an ad hoc approach to adding content and new pages over the years rendered navigation somewhat unwieldy. A silo architecture essentially organizes a website’s structure according to main topics and keywords. For BBBSO, this meant focusing on mentoring programs, volunteer opportunities, donations, and information about the organization. We ensured this was reflected in the menu for easy navigation, too. The size of the site presented a challenge, too. Google Search relies on automated crawlers that essentially speed-read a website, creating copies of each page for its ever-expanding index. Larger sites can run into trouble, though, as they may exceed the crawl “budget” given by a search engine. Because of the aforementioned ad hoc approach to new content and pages, there was tremendous potential for optimization. Streamlining the architecture with a silo approach and an accurate site map made navigation easier and would also improve crawlability, and effective 301 redirects made sure that defunct pages led users to newly-optimized content.

The Creative Process

Meanwhile, our design team got to work developing a unique identity that nonetheless reflected the organization’s place in the community and broader BBBS network. It had to speak to an Ottawa audience while representing the brand as a whole. After some initial research, the team focused on incorporating softer shapes as opposed to sharper angles. The circles featured in our final design reflected the curves found in the Big Brothers Big Sisters logo. They also served as a subtle visual reminder of the inclusiveness of the community that BBBSO fosters amongst its participants and Ottawa at large.

BBBSO’s old website, while serviceable, lacked a unified design and architecture.
Colour was an important design factor, as well. Purple had to be featured heavily. It was equally important to avoid the dated gray look of the old site, though. Our designers worked with complementary colours before settling on a golden orange for highlights and menu items. In addition, we chose a warmer orange for key call-to-action (CTA) items. Incorporating existing branding materials from BBBS’s national level also helped provide some design continuity. Reports, documents, and infographics provided a sense of the visual language we had to use. Finally, finding visually engaging ways to integrate BBBSO’s many partners and supporters was a must. We opted for scrolling carousels and simple uses of partner logos to immediately identify the breadth of their involvement with other organizations.

Finishing Touches

Although we conducted a site-wide redesign, SEO TWIST’s major focus for site content was to revamp and refresh key pages. By keeping content to-the-point and focusing on key action items, we zeroed in on their message and focused on key CTAs to encourage engagement with their brand and programs. It was important to highlight the wealth of programs that BBBSO offers. These pages all got special focus to encourage volunteers engagement. We also developed a unique framework for blogs and events. This allowed recent postings to be featured automatically on the home page. An effective archiving system was put in place to log past events, as well.

Starting Something Big

After internal review and modification, we presented the finished website to BBBSO. Because we stayed in contact throughout the entire process, they were always in the loop throughout the development cycle. As such, we could take advantage of instant feedback and implement it immediately. We quickly got the go-ahead to launch the new website, and after finalizing the technical details, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa had a brand-new website! “The SEO TWIST team was able to fulfill all of our new website wishes and give us a fresh look while respecting our branding guidelines,” said Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa. Sometimes, the most exciting and engaging work comes from creative limitations and challenges that force us to find innovative approaches. It was a challenge to work within the regulations of the parent organization’s brand, one we were happy to meet. “We are thrilled that our website is easier to navigate and will give users a much more positive experience,” added BBBSO. SEO TWIST is always thrilled to help organizations grow and develop. We’re proud to start something big.

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