Google has started showing complete restaurant menus in its search results when a query specifically looks for menu information.
We think Allie Brown was the first to spot this when she shared the results of a search for “jones brunch menu” on Twitter. For that query, Google begins the search results with a card-style answer that details the restaurant’s menu across several categories — appetizers, entrées, sandwiches and more.
(For the record, Google actually seems to be getting the details wrong. In looking at the Jones website, this looks like their “all day” menu, not the brunch menu that Allie searched for.)
We’ve reached out to Google to find out if this is a limited test or something that’s rolling out to all searchers — no reply yet.
Postscript: Shortly after publishing, a Google spokesperson replied to our questions with the standard “we’re always experimenting, nothing to announce at this time” response.
One thing’s pretty certain: It’s probably not coming from the Jones website, where the menu is part of a Flash animation and doesn’t include the pricing information that Google’s menu card shows.
There’s an argument to be made that this is another example of Google hurting business owners by showing answers that eliminate the need to visit a website. Maybe, but there’s also research from about 18 months ago that says less than half of independent restaurants have a website, and of the ones that do only 40 percent show their menu online. In many cases, those online menus are old or incomplete, buried in a Flash movie or PDF, or otherwise hard to get to. So with other research showing that 80 percent of consumers want to see a menu before they pick a restaurant, no wonder Google is going out of its way to put menus right in the search results. Google has always been a lot more concerned with making searchers happy than making website owners happy.