According to new research by McCain Food Service, many consumers will leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
Even with a mobile-optimised and fast-loading webpage, pubs may still be losing out on valuable custom because their menu is not visible to, and hence not indexed by, search engines.
The majority of venues still hide their menus in PDF files, Word documents or, worse still, simply upload an image of the menu. These documents are also often large, cumbersome files that will not be indexed by search engines, meaning pubs could be losing out on valuable custom from diners searching online.
'Free My Menu'
A new software development company believes it may have found the answer to this problem. Free My Menu is a combined online and print menu system designed to free up menus hidden away from search engines and from those searching online for somewhere to eat.
The system embeds menus in the restaurant or pub's existing website and when the venue updates its printed menu, the system automatically updates it online. Crucially, the embedded menu is text-based, so is indexed by search engines.
An additional benefit of having a text-based online menu is that customers can interact to filter it according to dietary needs or allergen requirements, ideal for customers to check that it's worth a trip.
Venues 'behind the curve'
“We developed Free My Menu to solve a number of problems we encountered when searching for somewhere to eat,” explains Jered Bolton, one of the company’s founders. “One of the developers has a severe peanut allergy so we were amazed to find that in this information age we live in, so many venues do not provide adequate information on their websites and are seriously behind the curve when it comes to making technology work for them.
“Our system works by embedding food menus in the existing website (a bit like embedding a YouTube video) so that when they update their printed menu, the system automatically updates the online food menu.”
“No more frustrating sample menus, which are effectively useless.”
Free My Menu is free to use for 14 days, then £25 a month thereafter.