Are Online Reviews for Restaurants Helpful?

We all know reviews are helpful for a lot of industries but are they helpful for restaurants in particular? The short answer: yes. The long answer is more complicated. Since Yelp came on the scene in 2004, there have been more than 24 million restaurant reviews posted there. On top of that, there are millions more on sites like Google, TripAdvisor, Facebook, and OpenTable.

Review sites are certainly industry influencers; however, the ways in which consumers use the technology has changed, making many restaurant owners question their need for them. In general, the basic online review model still follows its original mission of sharing consumer opinions on a broad scale. Many restaurant owners agree online reviews sites are powerful tools for the customer and for the restaurateur because it makes them strive to be better.

Today, it’s not just about getting online reviews. It’s about tracking, monitoring and responding to them. Sadly, many restaurants just don’t do this. According to ReviewTrackers, 53 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week, but 63 percent say that a business has never responded to their review.

Negative reviews impact a restaurant the most, driving away customers. In fact, 94 percent say an online review has convinced them to stay away from a business. In addition, 80 percent of consumers say they don’t trust businesses with lower than 4-star ratings.

A Changing Dynamic

It’s clear that online reviews are still relevant, but how those sites have changed is really what’s important.

At the end of 2010, Google began to attach review stars to its localized searches, changing the entire online review landscape. It’s now the #1 review site, with Yelp coming in second. About 64 percent of consumers say they check reviews on Google before visiting a business.

Google’s sheer vast reach across the Internet allows it to dominate this segment. Most website traffic is routed through Google, which means this search engine giant is able to display its own star ratings to users above other sites.

Restaurant operators approach negative reviews in different ways. Some never respond publicly to negative reviews and never offer incentives like free dinner. Rather, they simply apologize and invite them to discuss the issue further via email.

Others respond publicly every time, to show all users that their opinions matter and they can be heard. It’s generally recommended to respond fast and respond openly to all reviews, positive or negative. To avoid the issue can signal that you’re not a trustworthy business or that you don’t value your consumers’ opinions.

There are many challenges with feedback of any kind, to be sure. The first is that many restaurant owners don’t ask for reviews in the first place. Usually, asking for feedback doesn’t make it beyond the server’s inquiry halfway through the meal. It’s simply not a shareable moment.

The other challenge is that most people don’t want to be bothered to provide feedback, which involves a time commitment on their part.

Contact Boost Reviews

Sometimes you need a boost – as in Boost Reviews. Get those five-star reviews you’ve been craving as a restaurant owner and get in touch with us today.


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