Is someone stealing your restaurant’s online traffic?

We think of thieves as shady men creeping about under the cover of darkness. We don’t think of smartly dressed business folks, promising to help with your online business exposure. However, stealing is exactly what many commission-based providers are doing with your web traffic and in turn, your revenue.

Ever notice that if you type something into google you’ll get ad results at the top, perhaps quite unrelated to what you were looking for? This is Pay Per Click advertising. These sites have paid Google or other search engines to ensure their web page comes above the others.

It can be great if you have a common name, or you want to be related to a specific word grouping, for example “best London restaurants”. It means you appear on top of the others, making potential customers more likely to come to your site.

Through time, restaurants develop loyal diners who know the brand name and often just type it into search engines when booking online. This can be bad for restaurateurs as commission-based providers use paid advertisement on these brand terms to divert web traffic to their site. This means a loyal customer will type in your restaurant’s name and the OpenTable / Quandoo / BookaTable / Zomato listing will come up at the top. The potential customer clicks on the first link and you pay the top commission fee, marketed to you as “incremental business”.

If OpenTable was not paying for India Quay ad, people would see www.indiaquay.com homepage as the first result and wouldn’t have to pay additional commision cost for booking.

Now, we think this is more than a little unethical. The chances are that you’ve gone with a commission-based booking company because of brand new bookings, the promise of covers you wouldn’t get anywhere else. Turns out it’s just your none-too-savvy regulars clicking the first link, while the booking engine runs away with the swag bag of commission.

There are a few ways to combat this. One is to ensure that your natural listing is high. This means having quality website code, relevant copy and good Search Engine Optimisation. If you know about these things, you can do it yourself. If not a good SEO specialist can help – we can advise you who to talk to.

Another is to enter into a PPC bidding war with your booking provider. They pay Google to come up above you, you pay more to come above them. So you pay lots of money to get your bookings to go back through your website. If this sounds criminally crazy, there is another way…

Use ResDiary and switch off the Internet highway robbers. We’ll never try to direct your bookings away. We don’t charge commission so there’s no need to. And our ethos is building your brand, not diluting it through stealing your web traffic.