With so many restaurants out there, most people turn to the internet to find a good place to dine in. Review sites such as Yelp provide a lot of information and countless reviews about numerous restaurants, and, due to the number of people who make their decisions based on what reviewers say, the emphasis placed on online reputation has been growing exponentially.
Google and Yelp’s Influence on Online Business Reputations
Unfortunately for restaurant owners, business listings on popular sites like Google and Yelp don’t always yield the best results. In fact, not long ago, Yelp has introduced a type of automatic “review filter” that completely hides reviews considered to be fake and even obscures their ratings from search engines.
Many positive reviews are hidden as well, and, to make matters worse, Yelp hasn’t disclosed the criteria upon which the filter operates; so, basically, you never know why your positive reviews disappear.
Similarly, despite Google’s attempt to include reviews on their Places pages from a wider variety of sources (not just review sites), the algorithms they had set in place have been hiding almost 90% of the reviews associated to restaurants in the past few months. This goes particularly for positive reviews, so basically a lot of “reputation points” are lost in the process.
How Destructive Can Negative Reviews Be?
Now, many don’t realize just how debilitating negative reviews can be. In 2010, about 67% of the people who have read a negative review on Yelp changed their mind about visiting the restaurant in question. Today, the number has reached more than 80%.
Also, according to a detailed Harvard study, up to 9% of a restaurant’s revenue can be lost as a result of a single bad review. To make matters worse, many restaurants simply ignore these reviews, even though many of those who posted them can be convinced to change their minds.
A New Answer for Independent Restaurants: ORM
This is where the difference between smart and unsuccessful independent restaurants is made. Restaurant owners who are truly dedicated to their work and don’t want a few threats to stand in the way of their spotless online reputation have found a new method to deal with the problem: ORM (online reputation management).
This is a technique that involves monitoring your company’s reputation on the web and taking measures to ensure that any negative feedback is properly dealt with.
It involves publishing content on a variety of websites to increase popularity, monitoring your reviews and ratings on as many review sites as possible, getting multiple listings on the first page of popular search engines such as Google and Bing, as well as responding to negative reviews as fast as possible.
Of course, changing a customer’s negative opinion can be quite easy at times. In some cases, reviews are based on a single visit to your restaurant, so all you have to do is call the person back and have them visit the restaurant again for an improved experience. Often, however, finding the bad review in the first place can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Many restaurant owners who are unable to cope with all these activities on their own or simply don’t have the time for them have hired online reputation management firms, such as Spotless Rep, to deal with the problem. With their help, it is easy to keep track of numerous review and citation sites, follow your customer outreach progress and keep track of your competitors.
The bottom line is that, nowadays, if you own a restaurant, building a strong online reputation is the only real way to keep your customers rolling in the front door. Online reputation management provides you with a quick and easy way of doing this, and, if you do it right, the results will be nothing short of astonishing.