Restaurants make good food, not good websites

October 1, 2014

Research report reveals restaurant and catering websites are not meeting consumer best standards.

Restaurants have been increasing investments in digital ordering platforms in light of the fact that 60 percent of Americans use a smartphone and 70 percent of consumers order food through their devices.

As more people become reliant on the Internet in everything they do, restaurants are working hard to make ordering online more attractive. Restaurant websites are a good idea because they offer accuracy in orders, speed and the opportunity to cross-sell other items in the menu. Dunkin’ Brands’ VP of Global Consumer Engagement, Scott Hudler, called mobile ordering the next local step. 

“For the consumer, there is a huge benefit to skip the line, and improve order accuracy and speed. For us, there’s the throughput and anything we can do to improve throughput we’re excited about,” said Hudler, according to

Problems in restaurant websites
Despite the optimism for online restaurants, some problems have been reported. The Search Agency, an online marketing firm, revealed that restaurant websites are slow. In their report, a 70 second average load time for the top 50 restaurants and catering companies was much slower than typical consumer standards. Also, 40 percent of sites did not have a click-to-order button which affects mobile conversion rates.

The report assessed mobile SEO elements, geolocation APIs, click-to-order capabilities, sign-in availability and app download options. Papa John’s received the highest score of 3.815 while McDonalds and Subway scored poorly, according to the news source.

Of the 50 sites analyzed, 47 of them seemed to have pages that could be indexed by a search engine. Many of them however were missing meta descriptions, title tags, click depth and general ease-of-use features. Ultimately, page speed issues were the biggest point of concern.

The report by The Search Agency advised that restaurants and caterers should leverage the advantages of having a website with decent user traffic and begin to cross-sell all their services, reported 

“… Brands should be optimizing their user experiences on mobile to serve any and all of these possible intentions (finding a sit down meal, ordering food for pick up, making reservations for future visits, etc.). However, the majority of brands have only optimized their experiences for one conversion path, initiated by a location-based query,” The Search Agency said in its report. 

Advice for the online food industry
Restaurants with mobile websites should integrate click-to-order buttons that send customers to a geolocation API. The restaurant would then be better positioned to handle each query and put customers in control of their own experience.

The Search Agency issued a list of best practices for restaurants based on issues detailed in their report. Restaurants were advised to focus on SEO efforts, load times and click-to-navigate buttons to improve their sites. Based on the report, the food industry still needs to adapt to changing technologies. It seems the skills that go into making a good pizza are not the same as the skills needed to develop a user-friendly website that encourages orders.

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