Google Menu Search: Good or Bad for Restaurants?

Google recently launched an “enhanced” search feature that displays menus right on top of the search results when searching for a particular restaurant.    

This is a very useful service especially when considering that:
A. Less than half of independent restaurants have a web site (thanks, SearchEngineLand for leading me to that statistic.) This means that their menu is only available online on third-party web sites.
B. 80% of customers want to see a menu before they go to a restaurant (another thank you to SearchEngineLand.) 
C. 81% of smartphone owners have searched for a restaurant with a mobile app. This makes sense and my gut feeling is that it may be more. Searching for a restaurant is definitely something you do when you are traveling.
Ancient Artifact #52.329: A Paper Menu

Ancient Artifact #52.329: A Paper Menu

D. Many independent restaurants are still using flash on their web site and PDFs for menus. These two technologies are not quite user friendly on mobile. (Note: this site says that only 16% are using flash so I may have encountered a disproportionate amount of them to feel like “many” are using it.)

Finally, this seems like it can only help the restaurants. Small business owners I’ve talked to in the past about their web presence have told me that they find it challenging to create and maintain a web site, not to mention keeping up on social media. It’s true that customers may not continue to the restaurant’s web site as they have already found the information they were looking for, the menu. However, by helping customers find menus, something that consumers seem to really want to do before visiting a restaurant, the information Google provides will probably prove more beneficial to the restaurant than a visit to their website.  That, of course, depends on if their web site even exists and it has a menu.
I say it’s a win-win.



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