Is Mobile Search Taking Over The Restaurant Space?

In the last few months, there’s increasing evidence that mobile search activity for restaurants is growing by leaps and bounds. Consider the following:

  • Yelp recently shared that mobile usage now accounts for 40% of their activity, up from 27% in 2010.
  • According Groupon’s CEO, 30% of all transactions on Groupon’s platform are now attributed to mobile device use, and those usage levels have tripled in just one year.

Given these trends, it’s very likely that we’ll see restaurant search hit the tipping point in the next 12 months, with more mobile-based activity than desktop-based.

Keyword Trends Tell A Similar Story

If we look at the top-20 restaurant searches by volume, we see a similar story developing:

Top-20 searches for restaurants, comparing search activity from desktops versus mobile devices.

As mobile searches increase, the Mobile Ratio (a comparison of mobile to desktop search volumes) drops closer to the 1.00 mark, signaling that traffic levels are equalizing. These July numbers show user activity that agrees with the trends reported by Yelp and Groupon.

How To Order The Right Dish For Mobile

With mobile search rising in importance, you want to make sure you spend the next few months aligning your online activities with mobile, to get in front of this audience as they switch over to phone-based searches. A few ideas for restaurant owners:

  • The next time you redesign your website, think seriously about a website design that is “mobile-first” – a phone-friendly website that also will work fine for desktop PCs. Most websites do the opposite (at best) but in the restaurant category, he market favors mobile, so your site design should, too.
  • If you’re not ready to redesign yet, be sure that your homepage has a clickable phone number, with driving directions one click away. This is good common sense for all customers, phone-based or not.
  • Should you do an app? Probably not – you want to be found by both new customers and old. Apps are great for keeping in touch with established customers, but only if you need to interact with them a lot. Domino’s pizza-delivery app is a prime example of that – they expect frequent business, and use the app to automate the process. If you just need to take reservations, then…
  • Make sure you get listed in the search engines that phone users rely upon. Google Places and Yelp are the prime candidates, and if you have the right systems in place, OpenTable can be a big advantage in getting spontaneous bookings.
  • Google’s Mobile AdWords can be the best money you spend this year. If your average table brings $100, you might spend $20 on twenty dollar-clicks to get a call for a booking. Maybe less, if you’re outside a major metro area. That’s a lot better than giving half your receipts to Groupon.
  • Encourage customers to submit Yelp reviews, and suggest that they mention the specific dishes ordered by the table. This will help down the road when iPhone’s Siri becomes a bigger source of traffic and bookings, due to the fact that Siri lets you search by menu item (“Siri, who serves ravioli?”)

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Mobile Search | Search Marketing: Mobile | SEO: Mobile Search


About The Author: runs Skypromote, an SEO agency in Boston and NYC, and has been doing search since 1998. You can follow him on Twitter @SherwoodSEO.

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  • Alan Nowogrodski

    I wonder how many of those Yelp users go directly to the mobile app instead of searching on Google.

  • Ninos Youkhana

    Thank you so much for this article…I can not tell you much I needed it!..

  • LeadsDubai

    good article on the points. is having an app better or mobile site for restuarant beter?

  • Sweetness Organic

    At Bionic Sisters Production we do website design that is “mobile-first”


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