Maximizing Positive Reviews

According to Reuters, Google is looking to sell Zagat, the slim, maroon restaurant guide that has accompanied patrons since 1979. While the guide’s physical presence has evolved into a sleek website — and Google spent 151 million dollars on them back in 2011 — Zagat is on the way out as Alphabet (Google’s subsidiary) looks to focus on their “core portfolio.”

If you forgot about Zagat, you aren’t the only one. While many still regard their sign as a useful marketing tool to place in a front window, many in the restaurant industry no longer see it as an essential stamp of approval. Their sale represents a shift in how customers review and seek out restaurants — and how said restaurants can significantly boost their presence.

This transition in reviewing was spurred by technological innovations in communication. Guides like Zagat are becoming the Walter Cronkite of restaurant reviews; once the adored talking-head, their power is diminished by the people’s ability to access and share different experiences.

Yes, the “plebeians” on Yelp and other platforms have taken over the restaurant reviewing process for most casual diners scrolling for a bite to eat. A solid Yelp score could mean hundreds — if not thousands — of more visitors a year, who see a ripe four-and-a-half star rating with lots of attractive food photos. Even a bad review can be parlayed into a successful, public interaction with a disgruntled customer, demonstrating an attentiveness to patrons’ needs.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Yelp and other food-finding platforms is they encourage discovery — a restaurant barely open six months can gain a reputation with a few well-placed clicks; a restaurant that has been open forever can keep a solid string of customers flowing in.

In order to maximize reviews, here are a few tips:


Get online — in the right places.

According to ReviewTrackers, 85 percent of users complete a food purchase as a result of going on their mobile device. So where are they looking?

We’ve already discussed Yelp, but there are several other platforms to join. Not only are customers more likely to leave a positive review on Facebook, but a Facebook page allows for a constant stream of updates — ie, pushing limited-time offers, promoting an in-house event, or even sharing hours changes during the holidays.

And don’t forget about the king of search engines: Google. Their new Local Guides program is like a crowdsourced go-to on nearby businesses, with the processing power of the Google search engine and Google Maps. With all these social media platforms and uniquely designed websites, many people still just search: “good restaurant near me.” Make sure they see you with a complete Google profile.

For out-of-towners, a complete profile on TripAdvisor can do the trick. It has some of the most traffic of all the travel websites, and gives you an opportunity to explain how your establishment fits within the larger community.


Fill out completely … and then don’t forget.

There is nothing more unappealing to a internet user than a half-assed promotional page. When signing up for the services mentioned above, be sure to fill out all of the categories available — the more information, the more assured and happy customers will be. Some suggested categories to especially include, in addition to basic info like location and hours:


● WiFi?

● Good for kids?

● Cash only?

● Website and menu pages

The key to a well-maintained profile is, well, maintaining it. Be sure to check in and update as much as possible, especially when it comes to looking at reviews. Which leads us to our next tip …


Engage with your reviews

Respond to your reviews, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Regardless of the customers’ opinion on your establishment, responding to their experience is a way to demonstrate outstanding customer service.

Now, there is some debate as to when and where to respond to reviews. Many believe responses on Yelp will make the comments stand out more, and responses to reviews should be private, or in a designated space on the establishment’s website. In many ways, it depends on your specific business.


To manage the more complicated nuances of review tracking …Consider consulting a professional

For those with the extra green to spend — or simply feel overwhelmed by the online reviewing process — restaurant reputation services can help guide owners through this cyber minefield. As with anything, managing and optimizing positive reviews requires a strategy, one which reputation services can develop for you.



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