Getting Your Restaurant Review on Google: Top 5 Sites Picked Up by Google’s Local Business Center

 

As we discussed last week, encouraging customer reviews is a key component in getting your small business found on Google and other search engines.  So if reviews affect your small business’ search placement so much, what are the very best sites to encourage reviews from?  What sites are picked up by Google’s Local Business Center most frequently? 

 

We found the answer differed from industry to industry.  The top review sites for restaurants or hotels were not the same for plumbers and doctors, etc.  Thus, we have decided split our findings up into a series of posts, each dedicated to finding the best review sites for a specific industry.  Now, without further ado, the top 5 sites picked up by Google’s Local Business Center for restaurant reviews:

 

 

 

1)      www.citysearch.comCitysearch was the runaway winner when it came to restaurant reviews, accounting for 1,594 of the 3,398 reviews studied.  Taking credit for nearly half of the restaurant reviews in Google’s Local Business center is a truly impressive feat.  Feel confident encouraging your customers to review at Citysearch, they are a proven commodity.

 

2)      www.tripadvisor.comComing in second was the travel-specific website: TripAdvisor.com, which allows users to rate and review hotels, restaurants and other travel related destinations.  TripAdvisor clearly has a strong passive feed with Google, accounting for 472 of the 3,398 reviews studied.  If your restaurant is located in a large travel hub or destination, feel comfortable encouraging customers to review on this site.  However, restaurants in small towns should explore better options, as TripAdvisor doesn’t pay too much attention to the little guy. (For example, TripAdvisor doesn’t show a single restaurant in my hometown of Eureka, IL – though we have several, just ask Citysearch).

 

3)      www.zagat.comComing in third with 207 total reviews is another industry specific website: Zagat.com, which also specializes in hotel, restaurant and travel specific reviews.  When it comes to encouraging customer reviews the playbook for Zagat is identical to TripAdvisor.  The site clearly has a strong passive feed with Google and you should feel comfortable pointing customers in Zagat’s direction if your restaurant is in a major city or travel hub.

 

4)      maps.google.comTo the surprise of no one, Google makes the list, coming in at number four with 198 total reviews.  The advice here is a slam dunk: Feel 100% comfortable pointing potential reviewers to Google.  Unlike the other sites we have noted, Google doesn’t need to crawl anything to find these reviews, they are dropped off right on Google’s doorstep, showing up in the Local Business Center almost immediately.  To write a review on Google, simply search the business you wish to review, click through to their profile and scroll down until you see “Write a Review” (as seen below).

 

5)      www.urbanspoon.comRounding out the top 5 is one final industry-specific review site, Urbanspoon.com, which focuses entirely on the restaurant information industry.  Though Urbanspoon only pulled down 162 of the 3,398 reviews studied, they are still comfortably situated on Google’s radar.  Try encouraging your younger clientele to review your restaurant on Urbanspoon.  Their site is very iPhone-friendly, you may be able to score a review right on the spot.

 

Notable Exceptions:

There are plenty of sites that missed the top 5, but still showed up in Google.  For more on those, scroll down to the next section, “Breaking Down the ‘Other’ Slice of Pie.”  Instead of going into further detail on those sites, I’d like to address three sites that were noticeably absent from our entire study of 3,398 reviews:

 

1)      Yelp.comIn the review game, Yelp is an absolute powerhouse.  Our own study of the sites feeding into Google covered 30 restaurants in 10 cities, ultimately totaling 3,398 reviews.  Just for fun, we checked to see how many reviews these 30 restaurants had in Yelp.  4,382. That’s not a typo.  Yelp exceeded Google’s aggregated review count by nearly 1,000.  So why aren’t Yelp reviews picked up by the Google Local Business Center?  Here’s the short version: Yelp reviews used to be picked up by Google.  Google tried to buy Yelp for $550 million.  Yelp declined.  Now Yelp reviews are not picked up by Google.

 

2)      www.merchantcircle.comMerchant Circle is another big player in the local search game, one of the few local search sites to boast over 10 million indexed pages.  So why aren’t their reviews picked up by Google’s Local Business Center?  We honestly don’t know.  However, thanks to Google’s Rich Snippets Testing Tool, we do know it’s a deliberate choice by Google:

 

 

3)      EZlocal.comOkay, maybe we aren’t notable yet, but we are enthusiastic about local search, and especially passionate about how it relates to small business owners.  Good things are happening here at EZlocal, stay tuned.

 

Breaking Down the “Other” Slice of Pie:

The above pie chart boasts a fairly hefty slice called “other.”  This tasty slab encompasses over 70 other sites that feed restaurant reviews into Google.  While none of these sites cracked the top five, their cumulative effort netted over a fifth of the pie, thus meriting the following breakdown:

 

 

Site

Reviews (out of 3,398 studied)

Percent of the Total

www.insiderpages.com

105

3.09

www.judysbook.com

78

2.30

dine.com

64

1.88

kudzu.com

54

1.59

slice.seriouseats.com

47

1.38

reviews.opentable.com

44

1.29

cityguide.aol.com

27

0.79

cityguides.msn.com

24

0.71

www.viewpoints.com

18

0.53

www.virtualtourist.com

17

0.50

www.igougo.com

17

0.50

theguide.latimes.com

13

0.38

www.gayot.com

12

0.35

reviews.metroguide.com

12

0.35

www.foodieview.com

12

0.35

beeradvocate.com

11

0.32

www.qype.co.uk

10

0.29

www.menutopia.com

10

0.29

www.lilaguide.com

10

0.29

centerstagechicago.com

10

0.29

local.yahoo.com

9

0.26

baconandbakin.blogspot.com

9

0.26

www.nyc.com

8

0.24

www.worstpizza.com

8

0.24

outside.in

8

0.24

www.yellowbot.com

7

0.21

pizzaisdelicious.com

7

0.21

www.azcentral.com

6

0.18

www.tripadvisor.in

6

0.18

www.cosmotourist.com

5

0.15

www.chicagoreader.com

5

0.15

11870.com

4

0.12

trustedplaces.com

4

0.12

www.tripadvisor.co.uk

4

0.12

route66la.blogspot.com

4

0.12

www.we8there.com

4

0.12

restaurants.uptake.com

4

0.12

www.timeout.com

3

0.09

events.nytimes.com

3

0.09

justonedining.com

3

0.09

www.alwayshungryny.com

3

0.09

zealotsofza.com

3

0.09

gastronormous.com

3

0.09

www.guidespot.com

3

0.09

www.layouth.com

3

0.09

www.dishola.com

2

0.06

www.grubhub.com

2

0.06

nymag.com

2

0.06

www.yelp.com/user_details?userid...

2

0.06

www.roadfood.com

2

0.06

restaurantrow.com

2

0.06

www.yelp.ca/user_details?userid

2

0.06

metromix.com

2

0.06

www.yummyeats.com

2

0.06

brianx.com

2

0.06

www.foupons.com

2

0.06

www.frommers.com

2

0.06

dexknows.com

2

0.06

www.menupix.com

2

0.06

www.happycow.net

2

0.06

gocitykids.parentsconnect.com

1

0.03

www.qype.fr

1

0.03

www.qype.com

1

0.03

www.minube.com

1

0.03

www.allmenus.com

1

0.03

www.mojopages.com

1

0.03

www.jaunted.com

1

0.03

www.durhamcooking.com

1

0.03

www.detroitpizzarestaurants.com

1

0.03

www.travbuddy.com

1

0.03

www.10best.com

1

0.03

www.restaurant-guide.com

1

0.03

indyrestaurant.compendiumsoftware.com/

1

0.03

www.myspace.com

1

0.03

 

 

Methods:

·         We chose the top ten cities in the U.S. by population, but omitted any city that was already represented by another in the same state. (e.g. We omitted San Antonio and Dallas because Texas was already represented by Houston).

·         This left us with the following 10 cities:

o   New York, NY

o   Los Angeles, CA

o   Chicago, IL

o   Houston, TX

o   Phoenix, AZ

o   Philadelphia, PA

o   Detroit, MI

o   Jacksonville, FL

o   Indianapolis, IN

o   Columbus, OH

·         In each city, we searched Google Maps for “Pizza.”

·         We selected the three restaurants on the first page of search results with the most reviews.

·         We went through these reviews for each of the 30 selected restaurants in the 10 selected cities and noted what site they were drawn from.

·         We collected data on 3,398 reviews, which is our sample size for this article.