An Intro to DAO (Delivery App Optimization)

Things Are Heating Up

Traditional restaurants and delivery-only restaurants have seen an increase in business, and as is often the case, this means an increase in competition.

Standing out is key, even as it becomes harder and harder to do so and no concept of foot traffic and limited digital presence outside listings on Uber Eats, DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, Just Eat, Deliveroo… the list goes on.

Your Digital Presence

Yelp and other review sites can be helpful to supplement the word of mouth and visibility of a walk up location that doesn’t exist for restaurants these days, but they often rely on the customer’s location, and ghost kitchens or non-hyper-local options may be further away than the nearby search results that tend to pop up in review site search results.

We have SEO (Search Engine Optimization), ASO (App Store Optimization), and now for restaurants, we are on the verge of a new phenomenon, DAO (Delivery App Optimization) or maybe it will be called DALO (Delivery App Listing Optimization). Let’s dive deeper into the factors that can affect how and when your business shows on these apps.

It Matters More Than You Know

Whether you realize it or not, these apps control your fate. Doordash, Uber and its companions are tech companies who rely on massive amounts of data to make decisions in real time.

Often these companies and their algorithms may choose to show your restaurant as unavailable, even when you are open for business. This can happen for many reasons.

Maybe they don’t have enough couriers to deliver a potential order and are choosing to promote shorter quicker deliveries. Maybe they have sent a bunch of business your way and want to make sure you can handle the load.

Either way, you don’t want these apps or an algorithm deciding not to send you more business so let’s look at what you can do.

Delivery App Optimization

A Tactical Guide To Increase Orders

So how does one optimize food sales on Uber Eats, Doordash, Grubhub, Postmates, Caviar, and the other services that tend to pop up locally? Lucky for you the playbook is often the same across the different services and with a little common sense, you can also reverse engineer what these large tech companies care about in order to use their own sorting algorithms to your advantage.

There are two key factors to think about, and they come back to the two other aspects to the marketplace you are part of: The customer, and the companies that run the marketplace.

You need to make sure its easy for your customers to find you with common by optimizing for common search terms, specialty search terms and even ingredients or menu items. You. need to keep your customers happy for two reasons, repeat business, but also to indicate to Uber and Doordash that they should trust your quality and efficiency. Which brings us to that final point, make Uber and Doordash happy so that they want to send you more business.

Let’s break it down a little further into the two focus areas.

1. Keyword Optimization

To make sure that customers can find you easily you need to make sure that your listing includes the words they are going to be using when craving what you offer.

These search algorithms are nowhere near as complicated or nuanced as google as become, so it makes it a little easier and you can be slightly more literal in your keyword strategy.

Make sure your menu items have descriptive names, even if they have quirky vanity names, don’t forget to include what they are either in the title or the descripton.

Make sure you list out the ingredients in your description, and use whatever tools possible on each platform to categorize your items.

Your potential customers might be searching for things like “Chicken”, “Vegan”, “Healthy”, “Soup”, “Spicy”, “Dessert”. Think about all the different ways someone could search for what you offer.

Make a list of terms you think people will seach for. Ask your friends to contribute to the list.

Don’t forget to include some of the categories of keywords shown here: Proteins (Chicken), Categories (Vegan), Type (Soup), Flavors (Spicy), Course (Dessert). You should cover most of these keywords in each menu listing and in any description area offered on the platform you are updating.

Bonus points if you can place your focus on your location name. When I search for “Chicken” in San Francisco, our client, Chicken As Cluck pops right up! 🙂

2. Improve Key Efficiency Metrics

It’s a little less obvious to see results when optimizing for another businesses metrics but it is key to ensure that the delivery app algorithms view your restaurant as a high value entity.

Let’s take a step back. If you were DoorDash, which businesses would you want to show front and center. Which businesses would ensure a quality user experience that produces happy users that return to the platform to order more and more frequently?

If you think about it, there are a few key compents.

User Experience

The components that go into user experience are:

  • User Star Ratings
  • Reviews
  • Order Issues
    • Customer Support Requirements
    • Customer Support Frequency

The happier your customers the happier the app algorithms will be and the more business they will want to send you.


The components that go into efficiency are:

  • Time from order to pickup readiness
  • Time from readiness to driver pickup

The faster you produce the food, and the easier it is for drivers to find you, park, grab the food, and be on their way, the more orders that driver can deliver, and the more the algorithms trust your business to be an efficient use of their limited courier avalability.

Lets Wrap It Up To Go

After working on the internal teams producing these apps at Uber for 4 years, I’d like to think I understand the motivation of these companies. However, the truth is, it isn’t that complicated to see what’s important to them from the outside.

The delivery space is highly competitive, both in terms of acquiring new restaurants to list to provide variety, as well as ensure there are enough couriers to match demand.

Help users find your with simple keyword optimization and help these apps trust your efficiency by proving it in the metrics that they are able to see.

Best of Luck,


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