Understanding Consumer Restaurant Search


This is Chris Smith with HYPEsites. Over the past 10 years we have helped over 400 companies succeed online. We have recently analyzed hundreds of restaurant websites and interviewed owners, staff and consumers and are pleased to announce a new initiative to work with restaurant owners/managers to help them increase profitability by matching website marketing and functionality with consumer preferences and shopping habits.

We are breaking the information into a series of short and informative videos. Welcome to Part 1 - Understanding Consumer Restaurant Search.

Our research and experience show that fundamentally restaurant consumers follow a predictable path to researching and choosing restaurants. Restaurant selection is also affected by the consumer’s current preference - dine in or take out with either pick-up or delivery.

How search factors into restaurant selection

Now let’s look at how all of these users search for restaurants.

Potential diners are constantly searching for dining options. How do they find you? Typically through a restaurant genre/location search or a search by your name. Remember, no matter how they find you the end result is the same - they click on your website to learn more.

Genre/location searches. Searchers who are not looking for a particular restaurant typically perform genre/location searches: best italian delray beach, romantic restaurant miami, etc.

I’ll use “italian” and “Delray Beach” for my genre/location.

The top 3 searches for dining for italian food will be:
italian restaurant near me
best italian restaurants Delray Beach
italian restaurant (from phone in delray beach with location services turned on)

All will have similar but slightly different results. Depending on time of day and market there may be 1-3 ads at the top of the page, followed by the Google local pack, followed by individual restaurant sites intermixed with platform sites (yelp, grubhub, etc.). After taking out the local pack there are only 10 search results and typically a max of 4-5 will go to local restaurants with the rest going to review sites (Yelp, Tripadvisor), platform sites (OpenTable, Delivery Dudes, Grubhub), directory sites (Yellow Pages, etc.) or news sites (local newspaper list or review).

It is a huge advantage to be in the local pack and/or on page 1, but it will take some SEO work. It will be worth it though because the first 3 results receive 75% of all of the clicks. Your restaurant may be buried on page 2, 3 or even deeper but less than 1% of all searchers click on anything from the second page or beyond and potential diners would have to know your domain and or some or all of your name to find you.

Name searches. Let’s consider a consumer searching for Cafe Frankie’s. Often the searcher doesn’t remember your restaurant’s full name accurately and may search for “Frankie’s” instead of “Cafe Frankie’s”.

If it’s not an exact match you will again get a local pack and 10 listings but odds are that you are both in the local pack and on page 1 so you will get found.

If it’s an exact match the searcher will get a results page with your site near or at the top of the page and your Google My Business listing on the right.

This is a great result for you as the searcher almost can’t miss clicking on your site or calling. But there can be some unexpected interlopers like your listing from online ordering and takeout platforms like Grubhub or Delivery Dudes. They might even be listed under Order: in your Google My Business listing.

If the searcher clicks on one of these platform sites and orders from them instead of from you just lost 13-25% of the order total. Make sure your Google My Business listing sends visitors to your site for menu and order options.

No matter which search path is taken, the searcher clicks through to your website.

Make sure you give your prospect what they are looking for when they finally get to your website

Restaurants are the most searched industry by consumers. Your prospect is looking for one of the following things in the following order:

  1. Food menu
  2. Contact info - phone, location, hours
  3. Takeout - online or phone-in
  4. Delivery - online or phone-in
  5. Reservations - online or phone-in

Give your customer what they want and make sure that all of this information or links to it are displayed prominently and early on your home page and in your navigation.

Let’s revisit our italian restaurant - Cafe Frankie’s. Looking at Cafe Frankie’s website, most of this information is prominent on the home page although the red on black color scheme makes it hard to read. However, I can find and read the menu. There are some issues with the menu regarding the fact that it is an image and not indexable by Google.

Visitors are instructed to phone in orders and reservations and there is no mention of delivery.

Overall, because of the dated appearance, color scheme issues and image menu I would grade the site as a “C-”.

Let’s look at another restaurant. This one is a more upscale steakhouse SALT7.

All of the information is available including an onsite link to OpenTable. There is no issue with readability. There are no onsite options for takeout or delivery. The restaurant’s menus are easy to find although they are images and have issues with viewability and indexability.

In spite of the impressive visual presentation the site makes, I would grade it a “B”.

These impressions and grades were based on seeing the sites on a full size display such as a desktop or laptop.

Our next video in this series explores the importance of mobile search and the implications it has for your website visitors.

Again, this is Chris Smith with HYPEsites. Thanks for watching Understanding Consumer Restaurant Search.

Have a Taste of Our Demo Restaurant Site

See first hand the functionality and features that we bake into our highly engaging and mobile first restaurant websites. Our custom restaurant sites match your branding and include ALL of the features diners want including readable visual menus, online ordering, online reservations, virtual gift card sales, customer loyalty programs and email automation.