GrubHub’s bid to conquer app-based food delivery may be hurting the web presences of the restaurants themselves. New Food Economy has discovered that GrubHub and its Seamless sub-brand have been acquiring “thousands” of web domains linked to restaurants, over 23,000 of which belong directly to GrubHub. Most of them are close or identical to the eateries’ actual names, effectively preventing the locations from buying an address they might want to use.
Moreover, GrubHub appears to run “shadow” pages on some of these domains without the permission of the restaurants themselves. While both the real and shadow pages ultimately result in orders, GrubHub’s unsurprisingly points foodies solely to its own services. That could deprive restaurants of revenue by steering would-be customers away from the actual sites, where the companies don’t have to share some of their money with GrubHub.
We’ve asked GrubHub for comment. However, some restaurant owners are already irked by the practices. This might prevent restaurateurs from using the most obvious web address, reducing the chances that customers will find their online presences. Shadow pages could even outrank the real pages in search results and make it harder to see menus and ordering options beyond what GrubHub offers. In other words, your favorite Thai place or pizza joint might have trouble retaining their independence.