Is Google parsing and extracting categorized menu data?

A tweet (http://bit.ly/1dhhuQd) from +Allie Brown shows a search result where Google is displaying categorized menu item in response to a "[restaurant] brunch menu" query (she's managed to replicate this for a couple of restaurants - c.f. http://bit.ly/M9m5tq).

At first blush it appears that the data source Google is using is allmenus.com (and/or menupages.com, which seems to employ similar taxonomic schemes).

Neither the typically lame* desktop site (below, upper right) nor the .me mobile site for Jones displays their menu with these categories, which you will find on their allmenus.com page.

If true this would hardly represent the first time (to say the least) that Google has gone out of its way to parse a specific data source because that source classifies the data in useful ways (remember a little site called "Yelp" that Google managed to extract star ratings from and port to the SERPs, long before aggregateRating?).

I think is kind of a general object lesson on how data organization can create value for data consumers like Google.  And it makes one think about how markup that is currently seemingly unused may make its way eventually into the SERPs.  Finally (and kind of counter this last point) it makes one think about how Google will often ignore natively-provided data in preference to third-party data that is organized in a way that makes its consumption irresistible.

In regard to such native markup, if anyone does spot any instances of content marked up with schema.org/menu or schema.org/servesCuisine I'd love to hear about it!

Nice catch Allie - thanks!

#google   #structuredcontent   #structureddata  
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very interesting, I will definitely dig into this more with my team. Thanks.
 
I wonder if the reason that Google is using more external sources to extract data is because very few sites actually implement extensive markups, such as restaurants that mark up all of their menu items with structured data.  Nevertheless, I could see Google displaying rich snippets for menus marked up with schemas one day soon.  That seems to be their M.O.--nothing happens for a while, then one day, new snippets in the SERPs appear (and other sites scrambling to get on board).
 
+David Deering Very few restaurants actually implement digestible websites, let along extensive markups. :)  If Google were to rely on restaurant websites for anything but examples of "how not to build a website" they'd be treading on thin ground.

All of this reminded me I forgot to provide the footnote annotation for "typically lame* desktop" in my post.

*
1) All in Flash without page content provided in an alternate format; here is Google's text cache of the home page: " ".
2) All in Flash without individual page URLs; here is Google's "page" in index for the "menu":  http://www.jones-restaurant.com/jones_menus.swf
3) Getting to a menu item requires:  1) clicking on "Menu"; 2) selecting and clicking on an item from "Choose Menu"; 3) selecting and clicking on an item from "Choose Submenu"; 4) using an internal Flash window scroll button.
4) BONUS Plays audio by default on load.  Ya-hoo!!!
 
+Jarno van Driel, I believe it and knowing you, you probably marked up every ingredient in the dish, too!  lol  I love it.  But that illustrates one possible immediate benefit of structured data--it helps search engines understand a restaurant's menu better, which can help them appear in more relevant search queries, as Jarno mentioned.

And geez, Jarno, don't EVER post that link in public again!  Have some dignity and pride in yourself, man.  lol  jk
 
"Meaning is the phenomenality of the phenomenon." - Jacques Derrida
 
+Jarno van Driel Well, it may be a bit busy ... looking for a way to bring it under one page if I can. :)

Recently renewed this domain because I love how you can go two ways with the domain's "meaning" ("seo/sem antics" or "seo semantics"), but in the same round let go of seohardcore.com (grab it while it's hot!).
 
That's quite fascinating +Aaron Bradley . It's also interesting to note how they are presenting the data in a card format, like they do on mobile. 
 
+Aaron Bradley -- Clearly they have to be exploiting all the Schema.org based structured data associated with menus. Examples:

[1] http://twitter.com/kidehen/status/431176787012648960 -- Suya (Nigerian kebabs)

[2] http://twitter.com/kidehen/status/431177034447192064 -- same but from food.com

[3] http://twitter.com/kidehen/status/431174896044232704 -- Egusi Soup (another Nigerian recipe) from Allrecipes.com

[4] http://schemapress.com/ -- Great callout to the keyword holdouts :-)

#Microdata   #SchemaOrg   #SemanticWeb   #LinkedData   #OpenData  
 
Thanks for the information and links +Kingsley Idehen.

For the examples I saw yesterday I was unable to find any schema.org markup - not on the restaurant's desktop not, not on their mobile site, not on menupages.com and not on all allmenus.com.

Doesn't mean that structured data isn't useful in culinary realms of course, only that I couldn't find evidence of it being employed here.

Parsing and extracting structured content from a semi-structured source in order to inform a taxonomy is tuck-and-trade for Google.  And this operation often leads to support for more globally-applicable schemas or protocols - as we saw with Google's integration of Yelp ratings early in the century, followed by support for hReview, followed by the introduction of data-vocabulary.org/Review-aggregate, followed by the introduction of schema.org/AggregateRating (I think I have that chronology right).
 
Thanks +kris cobbaert - someone else had mentioned Zagat, and it certainly makes sense in the Google context.  As well - unlike the other menu services cited - it actually has  a "Brunch" section (although the pictured menu items in the Google result - and other the result Allie tweeted - are of pretty poor relevance, 'cause they're not specifically brunch items!).
 
really fascinating discussion. this is definitely one type of semantic search I personally would love to see more widely implemented by webmasters and Google. nothin better than a menu at a quick glance.

on the other hand the more I see things like this the more I start to worry about overall traffic loss as a result of these "features."

As a restaurant owner, it is kind of a no-brainer. You want your customers to be able to access your menu as easily as possible.

As a webmaster, it is a little scary knowing that perhaps X% of your traffic is people coming to your site to view your menu and soon this page will be obsolete. +Luiz Centenaro +Antonino Bologna 
 
+Patrick Coombe A mixed bag to be sure.  But as the webmaster of a restaurant website is ultimately working for the restaurant owner, in the grand scheme of things I think showing the menu in the SERPs is ultimately for the greater good.

And this chiefly because restaurant websites are so unbelievably bad.  (<mini-rant>There's, like, three things that are important to prospective diners:  a restaurant's location, hours of operation and menu.  How can thousands of sites fail to deliver on these mind-bogglingly simple requirements?</mini-rant>)  And of all things they're bad at, the worst is menu display, especially in the environment arguably most important for restaurants:  mobile.  Yet site after site present their menus as a PDF (sometimes - bonus! as a PDF in an iframe) or - even better displayed via Flash (sometimes - bonus! - displayed in an iframe with Flash and HTML scollbars with which to contend).

Oh wait, that whole thing was a rant wasn't it? :)
 
+Aaron Bradley totally agree. Only reason I ever visit a restaurant page is to get hours, location, and menu all of which can be found on Google now (and Google Now) :)

Just kind of scary that Google has now completely eliminated the need to have a website.
 
We are looking into menu data and how to do it for some client without needing to pay Locu to integrate with.

Those search terms don't do anything for me (in the UK) so maybe its a slow roll out, but trying via an american proxy I can't seem to get to work.

I was wondering how they got the menu data without needing the owner of the restaurant to update their own Google Plus page.

We are rolling out an update with the schema.org changes, we were already doing it for opening times but didn't pass the schema validator, but now we are going whole hog with the menu schema so seeing if we get traffic and Google seeing the menu data.
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