Google Rolls Out Mobile Local business orders and appointments

Update: Google has posted information about this service in the forum. 

Google has started rolling out the ability for searchers to directly book a table, order or make an appointment via mobile Google search and Google Maps. Previously there had been links to some of these services like OpenTable but now the user can complete the reservation directly via the Google interface.

Currently Google is working with a limited number of partners to provide the services. If a business is currently signed up for OpenTable for example then the table reservation feature will appear automatically on their mobile page at Google. It is rolling out, so while I found the process currently available in Google Maps for some restaurants it was not yet available on Safari for the same restaurant. The current list of partner sites includes Grubhub, Eat24, Delivery.com, BeyondMenu and MyPizza.com and apparently OpenTable.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 2.27.42 PM
From Help Page
Photo May 07, 1 57 40 PMPhoto May 07, 2 23 49 PM

If you operate an online service that allows local businesses to directly accept online orders, appointments, reservations or other similar services Google has included this form for your site to express an interest in participating.  Google has indicated that they will add more partners gradually. The Help Page can be found here.

This strategy of integrating transaction partners at various point in the search cycle seems to be Google’s preferred tactic for creating transactional capabilities (as opposed to them doing this themselves). This keeps their current advertising opportunities intact and provides additional abilities to deliver cost per transaction type products.

Google has now posted additional details in the forum:

Local searchers will soon see an option to Place an order on some local restaurant results from Google Search. On eligible restaurant searches, users will be able to tap Place an order, then choose a delivery service, and then be taken to their website to place an order. Please see our announcement on Google+ or our Help Center for more information.


Where will this be visible?

The Place an order option will only show up for some local searches. Additionally, right now, it will only appear in the US, on mobile, but we are planning on expanding its availability soon.


Where is the content coming from?

Right now, content is from the following partners: Grubhub, Eat24, Delivery.com, BeyondMenu and MyPizza.com. We’ll add more partners gradually. Content partners can express interest in joining the program using this form.


Can a business owner add a custom action link or request inclusion?

No, right now, business owners cannot add custom links. If a business has an existing relationship with one of our content partners, action links to that partner should appear for that business.


Can a business owner request the removal of an action link?

Merchants can reach out to our merchant support (HC link) and our support staff will assist in removing the action link from their business listing.


What if multiple providers have content for the same business?

If ordering from a restaurant is possible via more than one provider, the results will include all providers —  when you tap the “Place an order” link, all available merchants will show.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Rolls Out Mobile Local business orders and appointments by

20 thoughts on “Google Rolls Out Mobile Local business orders and appointments”

  1. Hi Mike,
    It’s Alex with Chinese Online Order. Obviously, this effects us. I read in the Help page link you psoted there is a way to enable/disable this in the Google My Business account, but I cant seem to find this setting anywhere. Any ideas? thx as always – Alex

    1. @Alex As I understand it itappears that it will automatically deploy if Google finds that the business has a relationship with one or more services that Google has approved. To remove the link you need to go to the Help Center and contact them.

  2. Mike: I think I just saw a new pac version on my mobile. It was restaurant related. I was trying searches by name and did see an opentable link on one restaurant.

    Nobody has said anything but I’m wondering if Google gets a piece of the reservation if it is made via the knowledge box. I assume when one uses OT off of yelp, yelp gets a slice of that fee.

    I would think Google would want it. On top of that, the mobile presentation I saw is sooooooooooo Googly oriented its hard to see another website from another source, including the restaurateur’s site.

    Then I went to two types of searches; Pizza Arlington VA and Steaks, Arlington Va.

    I tried via google talk and by typing in the search.

    On one version I kept seeing a 7 pac with the following type of configuration:

    Name of a restaurant set up as a link. The link went to reviews.

    Then below it, something that surprised me: Actual full addresses. You remember them. 123 Main street….not the crap pak Google version of an address; ie Main Street which doesn’t tell consumers anything.

    Then links to the restaurateur’s site, and some other links.

    This was showing on a 7 pac and no map. If you don’t know the region, addresses are of course better than the Crap Pak data….but if you are new to the area…one might want to see a map.

    There were 7 smb’s. It took up all the mobile space and then some. Tried it verbally and I’d get the crap pac for searches such as pizza, town name; steaks town name. Tried it with typing and I’d get this different version with street addresses….but no phone numbers and the main link goes to reviews while an icon link goes to the restauarant site.

    Changes…..is the way the song goes……

    But back to the reservations option….I wonder if google is getting paid on this? I would think so.

  3. The question is whether Google will be able to support enough 3rd parties to make this worthwhile.

    That said when 3rd parties are involved I have to wonder if it is worth Google’s time in the long term… at which point I believe deprecation will be the logical end to this (as Phil aptly states).

  4. I wonder if Google has put enough thought into the ramifications of this new functionality. We work with hundreds restaurants whose #1 objective is to steer traffic away from the hub providers they are forced to work with (eat24, grubhub, mypizza.com, etc.). Many (but not all) restaurants, especially established ones, perceive hub providers to be predatory businesses who have grown their user base so that they can strong-arm restaurants into paying 15-20% per order. It is the modern day “ad pages” business model: “pay us for access to our user base otherwise you will lose business to your competitors who are”.
    Decent, credible search engines, like Google, Bing and Yahoo have been a godsend in dealing with these online ordering hubs because they provided restaurants a way to drive traffic through a much less expensive channel: their own website (& business listing). But now Google is undermining and diluting that extremely important channel by providing an action link that steers potential customers AWAY from their own website.
    Has Google really not given any thought as to how this could be bad for restaurants? At least Bing gives restaurants the option to customize their own “Order Online” link.
    Again it is no longer an option for restaurants to cancel service with these larger providers. They’ve accrued such massive user bases it’s just far too risky to lose that potential traffic.

    Here are a couple of good articles on how these hub providers are hurting restaurants:
    http://theweek.com/articles/461279/why-ordering-online-from-favorite-restaurant-could-killing
    http://firstwefeast.com/eat/is-seamless-destroying-restaurants/
    http://dailyfoodtoeat.com/2013/10/01/grubhub-seamless-is-it-really-happy-eating/

    1. @Adam when you combine this with the fact that most restaurant results on Google makes it almost impossible for the search to end up anywhere but Google you get a “killer” combo.

  5. Thanks for sharing, Mike and Adam!

    I assume Google is outsourcing content acquisition to the eat24 and Grubhubs of the World until their new booking or reservation service is known enough among SMBs. By that time they will get rid of intermediaries and charge a lower fee for the exact same service (much the same they have previously done with maps and internet yellow pages).

    As an intermediary you have an interesting 3 year perspective, then your business will be an integral part of Google’s SERPs.

    1. @Walter thanks for commenting. My view is that there is too much opportunity costs for Google to insert their own service. By that I mean that cutting off some
      Of their biggest Adwords partners would be a costly move.

      I see it as much more likely that that once they have enough participants willing to push their transaction technology to the Google local page, Google will create an ad market and start selling that space on a bid basis.

      This the Faustian bargain is for the service providers not the restaurants.

  6. @Adam Daugherty: I sincerely doubt Google has the best interests, concerns, and a protective perspective on restaurants. I just doubt they have been able to seriously monetize that vertical, nor have they tried. Till recently.

    I’m sure they will continue to do so. They’d rather scarf up the restaurant ad money, to the extent its out there than let any other web presence do so. The recent change to what some people call the “snack pac” or what I refer to as the “No Info Pac” or Crap Pac, is simply an effort to steer all traffic into google pages. Its the first step to monetizing. In many ways.

    Google controls the highway, the on ramp, etc. They place tolls everywhere.

    Don’t look to them to be the restaurants’ best friends.

  7. I wonder if this will be expended to HVAC’s/Plumbers in the future…

    I think this is a great user experience (if it works correctly). Would be awesome to book a table on the fly like that.

    Just my 2 cents.

    -CT

  8. Google is aiming to steer business to food order aggregators like Eat24, GrubHub, then collect a % of each referral.
    Restaurants that employ these hubs are paying for the order flow, by routing customers to the hubs, Google is cannibalizing restaurants’ own customers (effectively charging every online order 15%-20%). Many restaurants have their own online ordering software and NOW Google is dismissing the independent restaurants’ efforts to remain free from trolls.
    How is this Legal? Conduct business with my partners or else you won’t be receiving online orders.
    Again, a software engineer in Google initiated this fiasco without a real knowaldge of how restaurants operate in real world.
    How can this be legal? Do business where I make money or No Listing for you.
    It’s like saying : use the food these vendors provide or I won’t list your menu link.

  9. I recognize this post is more than a year old, but I am wondering if anybody has found a good solution for 3rd party providers? Our company works with over 500 restaurants and over the past few months we are seeing order volume drop. Clients are telling us the clients who used to use the restaurant’s ordering platform, are now using Grub Hub or other commission platforms and this seems to be driven by the action links on Google.

    I would like to think there is a simple easy solution. We have spent hours on the phone with Google to try and even remove the commission based links. Only to be told that we must call Grub Hub, Eat24 or whoever and they must request the removal. This is ridiculous and still doesn’t address the problem.

    Has anybody founds a good solution for 3rd party ordering platforms?

  10. @Mike Thank you for your reply. I sincerely appreciate your help.

    I hope we are overlooking the obvious, but I am not sure what Partner that would be??? An Adwords Partner?

    We have submitted to Google Biz Development to partner, but never receive a reply.

    We are not the only online ordering company having this difficulty. We have now connected with other online ordering companies who have invested significant energy to identifying the answer, but have also been unable to do so.

    Can I ask if you know the specific program? Or others who have been able to become an action link provider?

    I sincerely appreciate your feedback, help and direction.

  11. Thanks again for the reply.

    Yes, we have tried to apply many times and as have other we have spoken with.

    As Google says on that form,

    “Thanks for your interest in actionable links on Google.
    At this time Google is not actively seeking additional action link providers, but if you you own/work for a website or mobile app which offers restaurant reservations, appointment booking, online ordering, or other similar services which can be directly reserved online by end users, and would like to let Google know, you are welcome to fill out this form.

    Responses to this form will be monitored but may not receive a direct response, you may be contacted if we continue to expand this feature in the future”

    There has never been a single response. At this point Google is hurting many restaurants whose online order costs are increasing because Google has neglected to acknowledge the problem created with this feature.

    Thank you again for your follow up. If we find a solution, I will share it back here.

    As it stand now, it seems to be a matter for the Federal Trade Commission, Attorney General and/or a Class Action suit. This features is interfering with business relationships and causing economic harm. It has to be addressed.

  12. Just want to follow up on the last couple comments. (And I understand if this post is removed)

    Ultimately, our hope is to simply get Google’s attention in hopes of a reasonable solution. However, we have expended significant effort to try and find a resolution to no avail. Further, we have spoke with other online ordering companies who are having the same problem. Unfortunately, we are hearing the same answer, restaurants simply have to “deal” with the higher cost. This is wrong.

    To that end, our company has begun to seek legal recourse with our clients. This appears to be best served as a class action suit. We have or are submitting documentation to various legal agencies and have been informed that we should try to “make more noise” online. So, we are launching an online petition in hopes of getting Google’s attention.

    If you are interested in signing this petition, it is found here:
    https://www.change.org/p/stop-google-from-misrepresenting-restaurants-on-my-business?recruiter=594564413&utm_source=petitions_show_components_action_panel_wrapper&utm_medium=copylink

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