The Webby Awards—the Internet’s version of the Oscars or Emmys, recognizing online excellence—announced that it is now accepting submissions for the 2010 awards, including for the award of Best Restaurant Site.

Founded in 1996, the Webby Awards honor Web sites, interactive advertising and media, online film and video, and mobile innovation.

“When we first started it was basically just Web sites, and there were something like maybe 100 million people online,” says David-Michel Davies, executive director of the Webby Awards. “Today there are a billion and a half [online users] and growing. So it’s changed quite a bit.”

Entries to the Webby Awards are judged by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, the 550-person academy that presents the awards. Winners are based on content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, interactivity, and overall experience.

“Depending on the category, some of those criteria can be more important than others; in news, for example, the content is really important,” Davies says. “If you have the best-organized, most beautiful, interactive news site on the planet but you don’t have any breaking news or any information that anybody wants to know, then it’s really kind of worthless.”

The signature of the Webby Awards is its award-speech structure. Webby winners are asked to deliver a five-word speech, which is posted to the Awards’ YouTube channel.

Past speeches have included Jimmy Fallon’s “Thank God Conan got promoted” and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone’s “Creativity is a renewable resource.”

“The people who worked at the Webbys at the beginning always saw it as a bit of an antidote to the traditional awards show,” Davies says. “A lot of the time we would watch awards shows on TV and people would get up there and go on and on and thank all of these people that nobody had ever heard of, and it just didn’t seem that interesting.”

Davies suggests that, in order to compete for a Webby, restaurants should ably cater to their customers through their Web site.

“Restaurant owners really need to think about their customers—why they might be looking for their Web site, and what information there might be [that is] important to them,” he says.

The 2009 Webby Award–winner for Best Restaurant Site was Parish Food and Goods of Atlanta, whose speech was “Here to design you taste.”

Davies says he thinks the Webby Awards are a great way for small brands to get noticed and for brands of all sizes to be recognized for their hard work online.

“I think there is a lot of innovation going on with social media in restaurants,” he says, “and I think if you’re a restaurant owner and you’re interested in that—and I really think you should be because it’s how people are going to be making more and more of their decisions about where to eat—then the Webby Awards is a great place to enter the work you’re trying to do and to be recognized for it.”

The early deadline to enter for a Webby Award is October 30. Nominees will be announced in April, and the winners will be recognized at a ceremony on June 14.

By Sam Oches