A few hours before my birthday party this year, my boyfriend called me up and said “We have no place to eat. The other restaurant cannot accommodate everybody!”
So in the chaos of getting ready, I also had to look for another place that can fit 30 hungry people. The fact that I’m picky in choosing restaurant is not helpful either. Food must be great, space must be big enough, nice decoration is a plus and price must be reasonable. I came across so many promising options with high reviews on Yelp, Urbanspoon and BlogTO, but most of them didn’t have any menus or hid them away from viewers very carefully.
Restaurant owners, please don’t let this happen to your patrons! Show off your exquisite menus with Google Restaurant Menu.
What Is Google Restaurant Menu Anyway?
On February 28, 2014, Google announced a new feature which shows restaurant menus right on the search page when someone look up “show me the menu for [Restaurant Name]” or “[Restaurant Name] menu” and their variations. Food name, price and description are displayed in a box above all other results. The menus are also divided into appropriate tabs/categories such as appetizer, main, dessert or soup, salad, burger, etc.
Although different restaurants have different categories, there is a common tab across all. The “At a Glance” tab seems to contain food in all categories to let searchers grip a good understanding of the cuisine type. Restaurant name and contact details are also shown. It is definitely helpful for anyone who needs to quickly check the menu before making last minute reservation.
Where Did Google Get The Information From?
At first I thought the menu was retrieved directly from the restaurants’ websites. However, I soon realized some restaurants with no published menu on the websites still have their menus displayed on Google search page. There are several speculations about the menu source across the digital marketing community. The most plausible one in my opinion is from Aaron Bradley. He suggested the information was acquired from popular websites that provide restaurant menu listings like Allmenu.com or MenuPages.com.
Why Should Restaurant Owners Love It?
Because your diners will love it and will be using it a lot, of course! Let’s put your self in your customers’ shoes to understand it better.
This feature is not only great for last minute reservation but also for quick comparison between restaurants. Let’s say a diner needs to decide between 5 different restaurants. Without the feature, she’ll need to go through 5 different restaurants, look for and open their menus side by side. On the other hand, with the feature, she’ll only need to do 5 simple Google searches and the menus are there for her to evaluate. Just imagine how much time she can save!
Restaurant patrons would also love Google Restaurant Menu because of its clarity and consistency. Have you ever seen a restaurant menu that is small in size or is written in very fancy font that it is quite impossible to read? That is not to mention some menus on websites take forever to load. Menus from Google’s new feature are easy to read with clear font, similar format and loads quickly. Most website menus are not optimized for loading – they are also not giant pdf files, embedded flash content, or have very fancy web design so the loading time is always monstrous.
So restaurant owners, remember the more information shown on Google Restaurant Menu for your business, the higher chance you have to win over other competitors. You can also inform your patrons with daily special deal more frequently. When it becomes clearer where Google acquires their information, restaurant owners should always keep the information there updated.
Everything Has A Downside
Here are its three weaknesses:
- With all of the awesomeness it has, the new feature is only available in US for the moment. In addition, not all restaurant have a fun Google Restaurant Menu. Only a few popular restaurants in US have this privilege.
- There are no pictures! The menus are currently in text only. One of the best things about checking out restaurant menus is to admire the food photos. More often than not, I also tend to judge the quality of the place based on the quality of images on their website (not a good habit, I know!) Therefore, menus without photos take out 50% of the fun for people who are reviewing it, as well as unintentionally lose their credibility. Before Google fixes this, local restaurant owners should make sure their Google Local Pages (or Google My Businesses) are optimized with at least 10 pictures of their food. The pictures will also be shown in the Knowledge Graph, next to the restaurant’s addresses, opening hours and reviews.
- Google Restaurant Menu also keeps search traffic away from restaurant’s websites. If everything a patron needs to know about the place is right on SERPs, why would they bother clicking on the restaurant’s website?
Some Quick Tips That Help!
As Google Restaurant Menu is getting more and more popular, here are some tips restaurant owners should pay attention to:
- Add more and more high quality pictures of your food and space: Provide what Google Restaurant Menus don’t have, attract more hungry patrons with pictures of your sexy prime rib.
- Keep your listings on menus websites like AllMenu.com or MenuPages.com up to date.
- Add Schema Markup to your website: other than local business markups like opening hours and addresses, markups for menus are also available to help search engines read your website easily.
- Make sure all of the pretty food photos are also appealing to Search Engines: don’t forget to add alt-tags to the images.
Last but not least, restaurant owners should stay on top of their local appearance online as a majority of searches for restaurants are based on proximity.
Image source: Shutterstock.