Is Mobile Search Taking Over the Restaurant Space?

 Restaurant Space

To find the best place to eat, more and more of today's shoppers rely on information from mobile searches. Whether using a cell phone or tablet, Americans are constantly on-the-go and the same applies to their preferred methods of mobile search activity for restaurants.

As recently as 2010, mobile usage accounted for just 27% of Yelp searches. That figure has more than doubled today. In addition, the CEO of Groupon shared that the level of mobile-related searches for that company is more than triple what it was just a year ago, with more than 50% of all searches handled that way.

Given these trends, it’s very likely that we’ll soon see the vast majority of restaurant searches coming from mobile-based activity rather than desktops.

Keyword Data Tells a Similar Story

If we look at the top-20 restaurant searches by volume, a similar trend developing. 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. As things unfold in the industry, this trend will only become more pronounced, causing restaurant owners to place an ever-increasing priority on the quality of their digital marketing efforts to remain successful.

Ordering the Right Dish for Mobile

With mobile search rising in importance, you want to make sure to align your online activities with mobile and get in front of this fast-expanding audience. A few ideas for restaurant owners: 

  • Encourage customers to submit Yelp reviews, and suggest that they mention the specific dishes ordered. This will help when diners ask iPhone’s Siri for recommendations because Siri lets you search by menu item (“Siri, who serves ravioli?”)
  • Move toward a “mobile-first” website ASAP. That means creating a phone-friendly site that also works fine for desktop PCs. Most websites do the opposite, but in the restaurant industry, the market favors mobile. Your site design should, too.
  • If you are not ready for a mobile-first site, 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.
  • Apps are great for keeping in touch with established customers, but only if you need to interact with them a lot. A pizza-delivery restaurant app is a prime example. Restaurant owners in that industry expect frequent business and use the app to automate the process.
  • For restaurants that rely on reservations, make sure you get listed in the search engines that phone users rely upon. Google Places and Yelp are the prime candidates. 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.