• Zak Weinberg

    I think menu items for restaurants would be a great inclusion for schema data, that way Google can pull this info right from the source and not a 3rd party menu company… you can include an item prop for the entire menu, but not individual items and prices – the way products work.

  • FaceOnMars

    You betcha it’s another attempt to keep patrons inside the casino! While visitors to Google are free to use whatever search engine they’d like, so too were users of Windows being able to install Netscape on their system back in the 90′s … although regulators & the courts found issues with respect to how it affected the competitive landscape of a newly emerging market. Perhaps we might revisit things again via such a lense.

    Re: the menus: what happens when a customer visits a restaurant and the real/physical menu is different than what was displayed on Google with respect to price, or perhaps more critical, regarding ingredients which might pertain to food allergies? Is Google willing to accept the responsibility of keeping menu items current?

  • Mike Gracen

    “this is another example of Google hurting business owners by showing answers that eliminate the need to visit a website.” Bingo. As well, I can only imagine the headaches being caused for the unsuspecting mom & pop restaurants that have no idea why people keep bitching about wrong prices, etc because its not ‘what Google says’.

  • michael

    yes, problem is that the information is not always (or maybe better “rarely”) reliable.
    Only if Google took the lead from the owner of the information, i.e. the restaurant, would it be really useful.
    Without that it also will not be complete – have we ever seen a winer list on Allmenus or menu pages?
    Pulling information from unscrupulous aggregators of information is too facile and cheap. It takes more effort to provide reliable and, simply, good, information.
    Google should not forget who their customers are or could be: the restaurants, not the searchers.
    Restaurants need to take control, put all of their menus onto their own websites, being smart about that (i.e. not pay over the odds with some subscription services or custom designs), put the same menus onto Facebook, and stop giving up their marketing to others.
    There are some tools adapted to the way they work, to support their values and priorities, and which also are suitable for sharing and re-presenting.
    And Google are not alone here: Yelp, OpenTable, FourSquare, Zagat, Gayot and others are all in the same boat, seemingly oblivious or uncaring as to whether the menus they display are up to date.

  • joeyoungblood

    Schema is not a good way to do this. It’s a one time input that I promise you restaurants would never update because there is ZERO value in it for them. The question then becomes, how do you extract value for the restaurant while providing clean data to the user.

    In 2012 I finished creating a system that used XML language and was based on sitemap structure. The system would allow machine readable menus along with nutrition information. This system would be easily scaled, implemented, and upkept since it is XML based and would make developing plugins for well known CMS’s like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla a snap.

  • Nicholas Loomans

    Features like this are a perfect example of competition, rather than anticompetition; Google is adding value to their searches to keep above every other player in the field, are they not?

    If you have issues with certain foods it pays to ask at the venue and not rely on search results. Of course, there will be the usual disclaimer – they are collating information from other sources and it is the venue’s responsibility to keep things up to date on their end.

  • Nicholas Loomans

    If they don’t have a clue about something called ‘Google’ I don’t have much confidence in them in the first place. Complaining about search results is like complaining that you had to be in the Yellow Pages 10 years ago.

    I don’t see how this is a bad thing for physical venues like restaurants. People want the information quickly; opening times, menus, location, phone number and Google et al do that. A restaurant shouldn’t live or die on how many people click through to their site, don’t they make money off the food they serve?

    As a consumer I am glad for things like this as I am often frustrated looking for accommodation or dining and sites just don’t have the basic information you need, like what beds are in the room or whether they have gluten free food.

  • Nicholas Loomans

    If the restaurants were doing their job Google would be able to gather that information from them (Google Places, Google+, crawling their site). This would be the ideal solution.

    The thing is, they can’t follow up on all the sites they parse. I don’t use any of those things, but I assume they have a report button. They should at least have that.

  • michael

    Not SEO expert – what is ‘report button’?
    You may be right, but not finding information should not be reason for showing junk.
    Like, for example, Facebook, google+ and Places should allow restaurants to include their menus or point to them.

  • FaceOnMars

    It seems to be they are often times adding scraped content to the organic results (via 3rd party menu sites) and giving such preferred placement. I suppose you could consider this “value”, but I believe it’s reasonable to consider it dilution of value or mediocrity with respect to the perspective of a restaurant which might prefer to present the menu in their own marketing light.

    To say this sort of activity ought to be considered “competitive” since it might set Google apart from Bing or Yahoo is akin to saying Google ought to be given carte blanche in their market … which is absurd when you look at our nation’s history of contending with companies who’ve dominated markets to the detriment of healthy competition.

    Of course, an individual who has food allergies and such ought to perform due dilligence, but it’d be a helluva lot easier for such individuals to be reasonably certain before traveling to a restaurant if they were to have acquired such information first hand from a restuarant’s website first vs. possibly having been “steered” into a 3rd party menu site via the prominent positioning afforded by Google.

  • FaceOnMars

    Bam! You’ve hit the nail right on the head michael. Simply because a restaurant doesn’t provide a menu is not grounds for Google to publish “the next best thing”.