Custom social networking platform The Staff Canteen

custom social networking app for
The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen is the world's leading social networking website for chefs. Their platform lists the latest recipe ideas, supplier information, and resources for chefs and hospitality professionals.

They approached b4b with an ambitious brief to build a bespoke website and mobile app as their existing platform was not fit for purpose. Initially, our developers built a custom system in Phalcon PHP that would manage posts, profiles and advertising on the site, and allow them to push posts to social media.

This was later upgraded to a CakePHP system to improve usability and offer even greater control over posts and the ability to show them as a live feed. The sheer size of the platform meant that an upgrade would display the volume of content better.

bespoke system software development SEO strategy

the world's leading social networking website for chefs

b4b built a custom system for The Staff Canteen that would manage posts, profiles, advertising and the ability to show them as a live feed.

bespoke system

The website is built using the CakePHP platform and requires a complex server structure to cope with the volume of posts, comments, shares and activity on the platform. Post content such as images, video and text are all split and served to the visitor on-the-fly to ensure fast loading times.

The site integrates with Google Ad Manager to serve advertising content from Google as a revenue-generating stream for The Staff Canteen. We have implemented DoubleClick for Publishers which connects to the Google Ad Display Network.

When logged into the app, users can like, share, comment and bookmark posts and contributors to their profile, and receive alerts to new content posted by fellow members they choose to follow. When a user searches on the site an elastic algorithm - using a point allocation and weighting system, displays posts that they are following.

As part of the build, we designed for mobile using accelerated mobile pages (AMP) which results in much faster load times for page content on smaller screens, better 'mobile-first' SEO ranking and offers rich snippets in the Google rankings.

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The Staff Canteen branding and colour palette

developments since launch

Since the platform went live in 2016, we have added additional functionality for The Staff Canteen to help them continue to grow and meet the needs of their users.

Jobs were integrated via a 3rd party API and displayed to users - automatically filtered by their location and role-based criteria, stored as preferences in their account.

We have also added a 'contribute modal', which pops up to encourage visitors to support the work of The Staff Canteen in lobbying and representing the hospitality industry through donations.

Most recently, we built an awards platform for the 2020 Staff Canteen Awards. Added to the back-end of the website, it allows for a 'vote' and 'nominate' function for users, as well as category and nominee management from the business end.

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The Staff Canteen layout encourages interaction with content

SEO strategy

Part of the search engine optimisation work we've done for the Staff Canteen includes detailed schema markup on recipes and on news stories, as well as images and video. This allows for better indexing from Google and increases the domain authority for the website as a credible resource for the hospitality industry.

The AMP (accelerated mobile pages) technology that we have used means that pages load fast on mobile devices, which is one of the things that Google looks for when ranking a page.

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SEO content for the Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen - Chef profile page
The Staff Canteen - Chef post
Networking platform with over ¼ million users each year