Report: Google insights for restaurants and takeaways

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An overview of Q3 2020 search marketing trends for restaurants and takeaways looking at queries, impressions, clicks, ad depth and devices.

As a Premier Google Partner, we have access to industry reports and search insights from the world’s largest search engine. This week, we’ve got a round-up of what’s been happening in the restaurants and takeaways industry.

Key insights from the report

Throughout this report, we look at Google data covering key metrics, seasonal trends and device usage for dine-in restaurants, as well as take-out and delivery. Here’s a summary of the key findings we’ll be analysing today:

Dine-in restaurants

  • 26% search growth for dine-in restaurants in Q3 2020 compared to the previous year
  • 30% reduction in clicks for dine-in restaurants
  • 73% of searches come from mobile

Take-out & delivery

  • 49% search growth for take-outs and delivery in Q3 2020 compared to the previous year
  • 74% increase in clicks for take-out & delivery
  • 79% of searches come from mobile

Already, you can see there are some significant takeaways from the data in this report – particularly, the 30% drop in clicks from searches related to dine-in restaurant searches. Given the events of 2020, this isn’t particularly surprising but taking a closer look at the data reveals where the dangers and opportunities might be in the months ahead.

Metric trends for Q3 2020

The first set of insights from Google looks at the overall search metrics for queries related to dine-in restaurants, on the left, then take-out and delivery, on the right:

Dine-in restaurants versus take-out search metrics comparison

While overall searches are up by 26% on all devices and 46% on mobile for dine-in restaurants, impressions and clicks are down across the board. Overall, these businesses saw a 16% reduction in total impressions vs Q3 2020 and a 30% drop in clicks.

The other metric in the table above is Ad depth which shows how many ads show every time a query triggers ads in Google Search. This is calculated by dividing impressions by the number of queries that show ads but the key takeaway here is that more ads are showing in Q3 2020 than the previous year.

The story is much better for restaurants providing takeaway and delivery services with searches up by 49% overall and a massive 128% increase in impressions compared to Q3 2019.

This has been compounded by a 74% increase in clicks from queries related to takeaway food and deliveries.

It’s worth keeping in mind that this data runs from July 7 to September 30, showing that the after-effects of Covid-19 and lockdown have been prolonged for public eateries with the demand for takeaways and deliveries remaining high, even during the ease of lockdown measures.

26% increase for dine-in restaurant searches

Dine-in restaurant queries grew 26% with 73% of searches on mobile

If we take a look at search volumes for dine-in restaurants, dating back to Q4 2018, you can see the obvious impact of Covid-19 in February this year. Total searches plummeted during the peak of the virus and we can see several spikes in interest on mobile as the pandemic evolved.

Interestingly, search volumes on desktop devices are yet to recover to pre-Coid levels but we’re seeing a significant increase in mobile searches with a 118% increase in searches from the previous quarter.

Dine-in restaurant impressions dropped by 16% with 75% of all ad impressions on mobile

The data for impressions is concerning, too, but mobile is holding relatively strong with a modest 6% drop since Q3 2019 and a 16% increase from Q2 this year. In Q3 2020, 75% of all ad impressions for searches related to dine-in restaurants were shown on mobile devices.

49% increase for takeaway and delivery searches

Take-out queries grew 49% with 79% on mobile

Lockdown was a very different experience for local food businesses providing takeaway and delivery services. Rather than search interest plummeting during the peak of the pandemic, it soared with increases across all device types.

With lockdown measures easing and restaurants opening their doors again, there was an expected decline in searches for takeaways and deliveries but interest has remained high throughout the year.

Mobile accounted for 79% of all related queries in Q3 2020 although desktop searches saw the highest YoY growth of 56%.

Take-out impressions grew 128% with 82% on mobile

The graph for impressions tells a similar story with mobile dominating both YoY growth and % of impressions.

Clicks down by 30% for dine-in restaurants

The most difficult insight provided by Google is the decline in clicks for dine-in restaurant searches. This reflects the damage caused by the coronavirus outbreak for the industry, especially businesses that weren’t able to subsidise with takeout and delivery services.

Dine-in restaurants clicks dropped by 30%

The good news for restaurants is the speed of recovery seen after lockdown measures were eased but the situation remains fragile as the outbreak worsens once again and local lockdown measures are introduced. While the QoQ growth numbers are highly positive, signs of another downward trend are already emerging as we head into an uncertain winter.

Clicks up by 74% for take-out & delivery

Once again, the click data for takeaways and deliveries looks very different from dine-in queries with a massive 74% increase from Q3 2019. Mobile clicks are up by 77% and desktop have increased by a slightly larger 78% although they still only make up 14% of all clicks.

Take-out clicks increased by 74%

Mobile’s share of clicks for takeaway and delivery searches is unrivalled with 82% of all clicks in Q3 2020.

These insights show the parity of impact from Covid-19 between businesses that are able to meet changing consumer demands during this difficult time and those that can’t. Restaurants that have been able to offer or switch to takeaway and delivery services have been in the best position throughout the pandemic and interest in these services didn’t drop as significantly as might be expected when lockdown measures were eased.

Clearly, interest in these services is far more robust than the fragile interest in dining-in, which has been volatile throughout the pandemic – something a lot of brands outside the restaurant industry will also be experiencing.

Seasonality trends for restaurants & takeaways

By looking at seasonality trends, we can put this year’s data into context and gain a greater understanding of what’s really happening.

Dine-in restaurants queries and impressions over past 3 years

If you look at search volumes for dine-in restaurants over the past three years, you can clearly see the sharp decline and rapid recovery we talked about above. Interestingly, there appears to be a relatively gradual (but consistent) increase in interest during the autumn and winter months with a noticeable dip in September.

Understandably, search volumes for 2020 break all previous trends. The volatility of sit-in dining is clear to see right now but you can also sense the public’s general desire to enjoy pubs and restaurants during times where the virus is more under control and lockdown measures are eased.

Dine-in restaurants queries and impressions

Based on the search data for takeaways and deliveries, it’s reasonable to expect another spike during the winter months, especially as new lockdown measures are introduced. The good news for restaurants able to provide both sit-in dining and takeaway/delivery services is that these trends are generally pulling in opposite directions, which may help offset any losses from their counterpart.

Dine-in restaurants clicks and ad depth

Looking at the seasonal trends for clicks related to dine-in restaurants, we can see that Q3 2020 is roughly on par with Q3 2018. This still represents negative growth, though, when we would almost certainly be seeing positive figures vs Q3 2019 if it weren’t for the pandemic.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that clicks for dine-in restaurant searches aren’t as significant as they tend to be for takeaway and delivery services – even more so while lockdown measures and health concerns impact foot traffic.

take-outs clicks and ad depth

Seasonal trends for takeaways and deliveries look a little more optimistic. People in the UK show an increased interest in these services during the winter, regardless of 2020’s unique challenges. The popularity of winter takeaways and the likelihood of increased lockdown measures could be a key combination for another boom in Q4 2020.

Device trends for restaurants & takeaways

Despite the disruption of coronavirus, device trends for dine-in restaurant searches are still relatively in line with the overall pattern across industries. Mobile searches are significantly up from this time last year with a 42% growth rate for Q3 2020 while desktops show a much slower growth rate of 5%.

year on year query growth by device for Dine-in restaurants

Tablet searches are generally showing little growth across key industries but dine-in restaurant queries on tablets are down by 37% in Q3 2020 compared to the previous year.

year on year query growth by device for take-out restaurants

Things are a little more stable for takeaway and delivery searches with 51% YoY growth on mobile, a -2% decline on tablet and a 56% increase on desktop. As a result, 73.3% of all Dine-In Restaurants related searches in Q3 2020 were on mobile devices while 78.5% of all Restaurant Take-out & Delivery related searches in Q3 2020 were on mobile devices.

If we take a closer look at mobile activity for dine-in restaurants, you can see that impressions and clicks were steadily rising ahead of the pandemic, even though search volumes were only increasing incrementally.

Dine-in restaurants queries clicks and impressions

While interest has been steady, more ads and organic results were being shown and there was a relatively linear increase in click activity as a result. Interestingly, we’ve seen the opposite trend since the coronavirus outbreak where a string surge in interest followed the easing of lockdown but impressions and clicks never caught up before the latest drop in search volume.

Take-out restaurants queries clicks and impressions

For takeaway and delivery searches, impressions were trailing behind search volumes and clicks prior to the outbreak but caught up during the spike at the height of lockdown. Now, we’re starting to see a more familiar relationship between the three search actions although volumes remain significantly higher across all three metrics compared to pre-Covid levels.

Queries clicks and impressions across all devices since 2018

Finally, we can see how queries, clicks and impressions have changed across all devices since Q4 2018 for dine-in restaurants, on the left, with takeaway and deliveries on the right. This shows the overall pattern of interest increasing ahead of impressions and clicks rising as a result of changing search trends. Clearly, restaurants providing takeaway and delivery services are placed in the best position for what’s shaping up as a difficult winter and the modest decline in search interest demonstrates long-term benefits for businesses providing these in-demand services.

The good news for sit-in dining is that the British public continue to show they’re keen to visit restaurants when it’s legal and safe to do so but the unpredictability of this outbreak creates a volatile landscape.

Opportunities remain for restaurant and food businesses but adapting fast to changing demands is key and being able to spot which trends have longevity (in this case, takeaways and deliveries) is important, too.

Want to seize these opportunities before your competitors do?

Then talk to us today. We have a highly-experienced team of SEO and PPC specialists who, with the help of our software Apollo Insights, will ensure you make the most of these search trend opportunities and capture as much of the available business as possible. Contact us on 02392 830281 or drop us your details and we’ll call you.

Learn more about our experience of working with restaurants by visiting our restaurant marketing page.

George Stone profile picture
George Stone

George joined Vertical Leap in 2017 after working in-house in digital marketing teams, working across various digital platforms. He studied Music & Media Technologies and pursued a love of film by creating a few short films whilst travelling through Asia and Europe, working freelance on the side. George developed his knowledge of digital products and services in different industries before joining Vertical Leap to specialise in SEO. Working in-house allowed him to develop ways to discuss complex situations in a way that even the biggest technophobes can understand. George has also recently taken on a new role in our Performance UX team, splitting his time between the two specialisms. Living in Portsmouth his whole life, George enjoys everything it has to offer. In his free time George enjoys nothing more than sitting down to watch the football with family dog Bruno supporting Manchester United.

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