Lieferando Makes Shadow Sites of Listed Restaurants

03 Mar, 2021

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Despite the constant uncertainty and movement in and out of lockdown, some forward-thinking local restaurants have managed to continue doing business by shifting all of their services online and offering delivery. This has led to a huge boom in the number of restaurants listing themselves on online delivery platforms. But those listing themselves on online delivery platform Lieferando (owned by Takeaway.com) are now getting a nasty surprise: a shadow version of their restaurant's site haunting them in the search results. 

Why SMBs Use Lieferando

Lieferando has been used by many businesses in the last year as a shortcut to offering their services online. By signing up and becoming an affiliate, businesses get listed on a website with high traffic that many customers order from regularly, with the added option of a delivery service, but Lieferando forces restaurants that are listed on its site to offer the same prices on their platform as those they offer to their regular customers. This means Restaurants are not allowed to increase their prices on Lieferando listings to absorb the costs of commission payments. Making each order from Lieferando less profitable than one from a restaurant owner’s website. Current revelations show that the price of these services could be much more than the 13-30% commission Lieferando takes from each order made on its site. As the company’s tactics could be taking business away from a restaurant’s own SEO channel. 

Lieferando’s Shadow Sites 

Many business owners find it financially viable to keep other channels open for attracting customers so they don’t have to pay the fees and aren’t solely dependent on Lieferando for their customers. But Lieferando isn’t happy with just taking the commission from orders made on its site. They have adopted a highly controversial SEO tactic to compete with their own affiliates in the search engine rankings. 

It has been discovered that Lieferando is making shadow versions of affiliate restaurant sites. These shadow versions are a copy of a restaurant’s website that competes with it in the search engines, directing traffic to Lieferando to ensure customers order through their websites and not the restaurant’s site. 

A key reason why Lieferando is able to do this is that these businesses do not have a well set up SEO strategy, some of these shadow pages are outranking the restaurant owners’ pages meaning Lieferando is effectively pushing affiliate restaurant sites down the rankings with a shadow version of the same site.

South Germany’s TV and Radio network BR24  who broke the story, also reports that a Lieferando owned subsidiary has registered 120,000 domain names across Europe that it asserts are linked to this activity. 

What This Means for Small Businesses

The fact that Lieferando is making shadow versions of its affiliates’ websites without their explicit permission is clearly crossing a line. Hopefully, the breaking of this story will result in  rules and legislation to protect small businesses against these kinds of practices, but until this happens there are some things small businesses can do to protect themselves:

  • If you do use online delivery services, Check the terms and conditions of any agreements you have with online delivery services and opt-out on the provider’s rights to create a mini-site for your business

  • Work on your site's SEO and Local Marketing to make it harder for shadow sites and competitors to push it off the top rankings. 

Want more great articles on Digital Marketing? 

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