Why Yelp and Google Reviews Matter for Your Restaurant

Why Yelp and Google Reviews Matter for Your Restaurant

The impact of social media on business success today is undeniable. Customers increasingly rely on reviews before making a purchase, then platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are crucial for cultivating brand awareness. However, when it comes to restaurants, there are two key players: Yelp and Google Reviews.

While some restaurateurs remain skeptical, a good or bad review can significantly influence customer decisions. As diners actively seek out others’ experiences before choosing a restaurant, dedicating a blog post to showcasing the benefits of appearing on Google reviews and effectively managing your Yelp profile is worthwhile.

Join us on this journey to unveil the impact of customer reviews on restaurant sales and learn how to build brand awareness through strategic Yelp and Google Review profile management. Let’s begin, as usual, by diving into some insightful statistics.

How Yelp & Google Reviews Drive Restaurant Sales?

How Yelp & Google Reviews Drive Restaurant Sales_

Recent surveys have shown that 97% of the consuming public read reviews online to search for local businesses. Furthermore, on average, consumers read 10 online reviews before they feel they can trust a local business.

Among the various platforms for reviews, Google stands out as the largest portal. Yet, specifically for restaurant reviews, Yelp remains a top platform. Currently, 45% of users check Yelp before dining. Thus, it has become the biggest platform that connects people with local businesses.

Some benefits of having Google reviews and Yelp accounts include:

  • Yelp as a trusted source: Many customers use Yelp to discover and vet restaurants, viewing it as a reliable source of information and opinions.
  • Local Search Dominance: Google is the go-to platform for local searches, then positive reviews can improve your restaurant’s ranking in Google Maps and local search results, making you more discoverable by potential customers.
  • Increased Click-Through Rates: Listings with positive reviews are more eye-catching and trustworthy, leading to a higher click-through rate from search results to your restaurant’s website or online ordering platform.
  • Engaging with Customers: Responding to both positive and negative reviews shows you value customer feedback and are actively engaged with your audience.

Overall, Google Reviews and Yelp are powerful marketing tools for restaurants. Those are no longer an option but crucial for building trust, attracting customers, managing online reputation, and ultimately driving business success.

Free Yelp Account or Invest in a Yelp Advertisement Solution?


To invest or not to invest in Yelp Premium? That is the question.

First and foremost, claiming your business on Yelp is free. Therefore, the initial investment you need to consider is not monetary but rather the time required for managing your profile.

However, Yelp offers premium services that include:

  • Business Highlights
  • Profile Upgrades
  • Yelp Deals
  • Yelp Reservations
  • Paid Advertisement

These paid options can range from $99 to $299 per month, while advertising on Yelp can cost anywhere from $300 monthly to thousands of dollars, depending on the size of your business. As with any advertising strategy, the returns depend on how well you execute your plan.

So, is it worth paying for Yelp Ads? The answer depends solely on you and your goals.

Nevertheless, having and managing a Yelp profile for free is possible. Sure, you may have to invest in photograph and videograph services to showcase the best of you, and if you are a busy businessman, consider paying for social media management services. However, for small businesses seeking visibility and brand awareness with budget-friendly strategies, a free well-managed Yelp profile may be a smart choice.

What can you get with a Free Yelp account?

  • Showcase your contact information, phone number, and address.
  • Share photos of your specialties, staff, menus, or promotions.
  • Share the story and history of your business to help customers understand your Unique Value Proposition (USP).
  • Link to additional information such as your website, social media accounts, and YouTube channel.
  • Connect with others, participate in forums, and attend offline Yelp events.
  • Display up-to-date business hours, including holiday hours or Happy Hour promotions.
  • Receive messages or requests for calls, quotes, and more, enabling direct interaction with customers.
  • Respond to reviews and demonstrate that you value customer feedback.

Now you know your options, let’s go through the steps required to create and effectively manage a Yelp profile at no cost.

How to create a free Yelp profile?

So what is required to have a free Yelp profile and make it effective? Check on the following steps and tips:

  1. Claim Your Profile:

The first step is to claim your business profile on Yelp. This allows you to take control of your online presence and ensure the information displayed is accurate and up-to-date.

  1. Optimize Your Listing:

Fill out your profile completely! Include your hours of operation, contact information, website link (if applicable), and a detailed description of your cuisine, ambiance, and unique offerings.

  1. Become a Photo Master:

Invest in high-quality photos that showcase your food, drinks, and restaurant interior. Think mouthwatering close-ups of signature dishes, inviting ambiance shots, and friendly staff pictures.

  1. Encourage Reviews – But Don’t Beg!

Provide exceptional customer service that naturally encourages diners to leave positive reviews.  A simple “How was your experience today?” at the end of the meal can nudge satisfied customers to share their love on Yelp.

  1. Respond to Reviews Promptly:

Make responding to reviews a regular part of your routine. Thank happy customers for their kind words and acknowledge any compliments. When faced with negative reviews, address concerns professionally, apologize for shortcomings, and outline steps taken to improve.

Google Reviews: Free Tools or Pay for Premium Software?

google reviews

Google reviews serve as virtual word-of-mouth recommendations, influencing potential diners and shaping your online reputation. It’s widely known how crucial it is to appear on the first pages of search engines, as only 0.44% of Google users venture to the second page when seeking answers. Therefore, the first result on Google enjoys a 36.4% clickthrough rate.

Positive reviews on Google Maps and local search results significantly boost your restaurant’s visibility, making it more discoverable by potential customers. In that regard, creating a Google Business Profile (GBP) is essential, and the best part? it’s free! This comprehensive tool lets you connect with customers, post business updates, list products or services, and more.

In addition, there are premium tools for Advanced Google Review Management, such as Podium, Birdeye, and ReputationStacker, which offer a suite of features beyond basic review monitoring:

  • Automated Review Requests: Send automated email or SMS requests to customers after their visit, encouraging them to leave a Google Review.
  • Sentiment Analysis: These tools analyze the text of reviews to identify positive, negative, and neutral feedback, helping you understand what aspects of your restaurant are appreciated.

Should you invest in software for managing your restaurant’s Google reviews? As mentioned earlier, it depends on your goals.

However, many business experts believe in the success of Google My Business’s set of free tools, and for a small business in the food and beverage industry, a free Google Review account might be sufficient.

Building a Google My Business (GMB) Profile for managing Google Reviews

Here’s how to create and optimize your GMB profile:
  1. Claim or Create Your Listing:
Search for your restaurant and claim it. If it doesn’t exist, create a new listing. If it does, claim ownership and verify your business through a postcard or phone call.
  1. Complete Your Profile Information:
Provide accurate and detailed information, including your restaurant’s name, address, phone number, website, operating hours, and a captivating description highlighting your unique offerings and ambiance.
  1. Upload High-Quality Images:
Showcase your restaurant’s best features with high-resolution photos of your food, interior, exterior, and staff.
  1. Encourage Customer Reviews:
Include a call to action on your website, social media platforms, and even receipts, politely requesting customers to leave a Google Review after their dining experience.

Mastering the Art of Yelp and Google Reviews Management

First and more importantly: although customer reviews are crucial for boosting your brand awareness and eventually revenues, you cannot pay for positive Google reviews

Buying Google reviews is against Google’s policy and is illegal according to rules set by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). It includes offering incentives to customers to leave positive reviews in exchange for money or free products or services. This is perceived as a type of coercive behavior and comes with serious consequences. 

However, there are ways to captivate positive reviews by optimizing your profiles. Once you have created your Yelp and Google My Business accounts, some strategic actions you can do include:

Encourage Reviews:

Politely request customers to leave a review on both platforms after their dining experience. Do this through in-store signs, on receipts, or with a social media call to action.

Respond to All Reviews:

Take time to acknowledge both positive and negative reviews.

  • Positive Reviews: Thank customers for their feedback and express gratitude for their patronage.
  • Negative Reviews: Apologize for any shortcomings and outline steps you’re taking to improve. Address concerns promptly and professionally.

Promote Your Yelp Page:

Include a Yelp badge on your website and social media profiles, making it easy for customers to find your page and leave a review.

Run Contests and Promotions:

Encourage customer engagement by running social media contests or offering a small thank you (like a dessert) for leaving a review. Avoid incentivizing reviews directly on Yelp or Google, as it goes against their guidelines.

Track Your Yelp and Google Reviews Regularly:

Monitor your reviews on both platforms consistently while identifying trends in customer feedback to understand customer preferences and areas for improvement.

Use Free Tools for Monitoring and Management:

  • Google My Business Dashboard: Log in to your GMB dashboard to view all reviews in one place. You can filter them, respond directly, and track your overall rating.
  • Yelp Business Owner Tools: Yelp offers free tools for business owners, allowing you to view your analytics, manage your listing, and respond to reviews.
  • Google Alerts: Set up Google Alerts to receive notifications whenever your restaurant’s name is mentioned online, including Google Reviews. This allows you to stay ahead of potential issues and respond promptly.

Successful restaurants in Florida leveraging Yelp and Google reviews

  • Carrabba’s Italian Grill (Brooksville, FL): Boasting a 4.0-star rating and over 250 reviews, Carrabba’s profile likely features mouthwatering food photos, a detailed description highlighting their Italian specialties, and up-to-date operating hours.
  • Chef’s of Napoli (Spring Hill, FL): This restaurant with a 4.0-star rating and over 212 reviews has won positive reviews likely mentioning the quality of its menu specialties and attentive waitstaff.
  • Thousand Island Cafe (Spring Hill, FL): This cafe with a stellar 4.5-star rating and over 135 reviews highlights its strengths such as quick, friendly, and attentive service. Their Yelp profile might showcase a welcoming atmosphere through photos and highlight their speedy service in the description.

The Final Course: Reap the Rewards

Consistency is key! By diligently claiming, optimizing, and engaging with your Yelp and Google My Business profiles, you can cultivate a strong online presence and leverage the power of positive reviews to attract new customers and boost your restaurant’s success. But remember: Yelp and Google Reviews are powerful tools – use them wisely, and watch your food and beverage business flourish!


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