My family and I were recently headed to lunch, and we tried to look up a menu on the way. When we couldn’t find a particular restaurant’s menu, we ended up going elsewhere. Many restaurants don’t realize that these missed opportunities for Internet-based business happen all the time. Even if they do realize it, many simply do not know what to do about it.
Fortunately, Google now offers a way to easily communicate this key information. This post is intended to share a brief background of Google Restaurant Menus and offer recommendations for making sure your menu is included directly in Google search results.
An Example of a Google Restaurant Menu
Here’s an example of a Google Menu (what I call them) for one of my favorite restaurants in Charlotte. Notice how my search query could just have easily been asked out loud? Google expects more people to use voice search (like asking Siri on iPhones), and wants clean, to-the-point information to immediately follow.
Why Google is Adding Menus to Search Results
Back in March of 2014, Google quietly announced that restaurant menus would start showing up directly in search results. It’s in Google’s best interest to deliver positive user experiences by quickly communicating key information without forcing searchers to click through to websites, thereby keeping the searchers within the Google ecosystem.
Restaurant websites in particular are notorious for hiding operating hours and phone numbers, and requiring users to download menu PDFs (among other baffling practices). Just ask The Oatmeal.
Google Menus are designed to strip out the fluff and give searchers exactly what they are looking for.
Poor Menu Experiences Cost Customers
I started this post with the anecdote about my family. My parents were coming to town for a visit, and we were thinking about grabbing lunch at Wolfgang Puck Pizza. Before we committed, however, my mom wanted to know whether Wolfgang also had sandwiches.
The results to our search:
Nope, no menu there! My dad then went to the website directly, only to be asked to login to some sort of online ordering app. Not gonna happen. I later noticed the website offers PDF menus for download, but… really? Wolf, I love ya, but some love is tough.
Here’s the Google result page for where we ended up. Beautiful! Tabbed viewing, pricing: awesome. All without having to click through to the website. I knew what I wanted for lunch before I walked through the front door.
All of that despite the Upstream restaurant not even having its own website. It’s included in a restaurant group website, where menus can be downloaded. Except the lunch menu glitches and downloads as the dinner menu. In other words, Upstream has some of the same website issues as Wolfgang Puck Pizza, but overcame them when it counted by having a menu that shows up directly in Google search results.
How to Get your Menu to Show Up in Google Search Results
If you’re a restaurant owner/manager, you are likely wondering how to include your restaurant’s menu directly in Google search results. It’s hard enough to run a quality restaurant; to lose customers over something as simple as menu information is heartbreaking.
Fortunately, the method for doing so is not all that technical in nature. Although it’s best practice to use proper restaurant markup on your website, Google relies on 3rd party menu providers for information about your menu.
SinglePlatform lets businesses build and push out menu information and updates across the web, and it will even embed your menu on its website.
TripAdvisor uses SinglePlatform, as well, even formally including the company on its “How to Optimize Your Restaurant Listing” page. Not to be outdone, Facebook announced in May that its service would now leverage SinglePlatform to feature restaurant menus on business pages.
Those are pretty solid indicators that SinglePlatform’s $79/mo service is your best bet if you’re looking to include your restaurant’s menu directly in search engines. Keep in mind, however, that Google likely also cross-references your information with other sources in addition to SinglePlatform. To increase your odds, we recommend adding your menu to sites like (Google-owned) Zagat.com and AllMenus.com, as well. Here are the quick links:
Restaurants Now, but Which Industry Next?
Google is tackling restaurants now, but rest assured, if you provide services, then sooner or later Google is going to organize your offerings to display in search results, too. They really mean it when they say they want to organize the world’s information.
So make sure that, at a minimum, the answers to the questions you’re most frequently asked are clearly articulated and easily accessible on your website. As increasing numbers of people use their voice to seek answers, there’s a clear competitive advantage if you do!