Think about the last time you launched a limited-time offer (LTO), or updated your menus. How did you ensure that new item or menu was updated everywhere it can be found online? Did you update the menu on Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Allmenus, and Zomato? Or did you just make updates to your website and your third-party delivery providers?
You might be thinking, "Why would I need to update my menu anywhere beyond my website, if that's where I want consumers to land when they're making a decision about my restaurant?" Understanding how search has evolved, and how it works today, will help you to understand.
It used to be that your website was the centerpiece of the customer's digital experience. But now, 73% of high-intent traffic occurs off your website. Consumers now get most of their information about restaurants on directories, apps, maps, chatbots, voice assistants, search engines, and reviews sites. Most businesses see 2.7x the traffic on third-party sites, but restaurants see as much as 10x the traffic on these third-parties. That means customers are making decisions about whether they want to dine with you or not before visiting your website — and sometimes without ever clicking through to it at all.
When consumers are on these sites and apps, they're looking for information that can inform their decision. More often than not, the deciding factor is your menu (86% of consumers view a menu online before dining out). If they don't have to leave the search results page to find that information, it reduces friction in the customer journey, and can prevent some attrition.
Brands across all segments are seeing the impact of this shift. A Yext proprietary study of Google menus conducted in 2017–2018 revealed that QSR brands like Arby's have seen a 17% increase in search impressions after the company began managing it's menus online. Some fine and casual dining brands are seeing between a 36%–39% increase in search impressions after they published menus beyond their own website.
Denny's, for example, has managed its local listings for several years, and understood the importance of managing menus online to improve the customer experience. One year after publishing and managing its menu content, Denny's saw a 26% increase in Google search impressions.
More than 68% of people search for a restaurant based on cuisine type and food item — not by a restaurant name. Unbranded search is driving how customers find where to get their next meal, and a restaurant's structured menu on the many maps, apps, and directories those customers are using to search will help influence unbranded results. By managing their menu information on sites like Google, both Denny's and Arby's are optimizing their brands to show up in those unbranded searches.
It's still important to make sure all your menu information is on your website and up to date, but it's now also as important, if not more so (if you're looking at search impressions), to do the same with your menu on all 3rd party sites where hungry searchers are looking for information. This way, you are meeting the customer where they are searching, and helping to boost your search impressions.
Three out of four people say they're more likely to choose a restaurant that gives them in-depth attribute information in search results. Ensuring your menu is up to date and accurate everywhere it lives online on and off your site with structured data for the search engines to recognize what you're serving, will help them to find your restaurant brand better in both branded and unbranded search results.