Full-service restaurants struggle with their mobile presence more than other industry segments, according to a recent study that evaluated the top 50 most-visited restaurant and catering mobile websites.
According to research by The Search Agency, an independent search-marketing firm, speed is the biggest issue. While 32 percent of the 50 sites analyzed use responsive web design (Google’s recommended format), average page load time for responsive sites was more than 1 minute and none of the sites passed the firm’s speed test.
It was the responsive sites that struggled most with speed. Order/reservation aggregation sites like OpenTable that tend to use dedicated mobile sites rather than responsive sites performed the fastest, while table-service and quick-service restaurants that are implementing responsive sites loaded the slowest. Researchers suggest that while full- and quick-service restaurants are attempting to innovate, they aren’t implementing responsive content properly and are therefore harming their mobile user experience.
“We’re seeing a trend that shows that many brands are attempting to answer Google’s call to use (responsive website design), but the implementation of these sites is proving difficult, as they are resulting in longer page load times and often a poor overall experience,” says Delia Perez, senior v.p. of account delivery and strategy at The Search Agency.
The sites using responsive design had an average load time of 73.9 seconds, while those using dedicated mobile sites loaded in an average of 46.3 seconds.In the first of two scores, The Search Agency rated restaurant mobile site homepages on user experience. Scores were given on a 1-5 scale and took seven factors into account: page load time, website format, geolocation functionality, the presence of a click-to-order or reserve button, social media buttons, app advertisement and sign-in capability.
Papa John’s received the highest score (3.815) and garnered the fastest load time, followed by Panda Express (3.715), Dominos (3.38), Wendy’s (3.305) and Jimmy John’s (3.25). Dave and Buster’s (1.53), Chipotle (1.465) and Golden Corral (1.075) ranked at the bottom.
Next, The Search Agency conducted a test of search-engine optimization and scored the 50 sites on their technical SEO elements. The firm again scored the sites 1-5 based on their architecture best practices, including page size, missing meta descriptions, missing title tag information and click depth.
Texas Roadhouse, Denny’s, EAT24 and Allmenus all received 5s in the SEO category.
After all was said and done, The Search Agency came away with a few general findings:
• While 47 of the 50 sites were crawlable, 87 percent were missing meta descriptions and 64 percent showed click-depth warnings.
• All but two of the brand websites, Graze and Pizza Hut, included an automatic or manual geolocation interface.
• Only 40 percent had click-to-order or click-to-reserve functionality. Not having click-to-order or click-to-reserve buttons hampers brands’ mobile conversion rates, the firm says.
The Search Agency suggested marketers take cues from the brands it studied and offered the following best practices:
• Responsive design is the official site format recommended by Google. It consolidates the SEO value of the site to a single URL and domain, and also eliminates the need to maintain and monitor several versions of the site. Responsive design also ensures that all backlinks will lead to a properly rendered site, which improves user experience and site engagement.
• Provide an excellent user experience based on the target demographic. By placing what consumers consider to be the most important information at the top of the screen, restaurants can allow visitors to easily navigate on their phones using a search box or sign-in to continue browsing.
• Make sure the site has simple, click-to-navigate buttons and an easy-to-use interface, especially when serving up highly visible calls-to-action, such as click-to-call and click-to-navigate buttons.
• Load times are one of the most important factors in maintaining engagement and continuing interaction through purchase.