As restaurant marketing experts, we manage online reviews for hundreds of clients. While there are multiple review sites, we get the most questions about how to use Yelp effectively. Here are the top five questions we get and our recommendations:
Every business is different. While some restaurants on Yelp receive dozens of reviews every week, others may only get a new review once a month. A good rule of thumb is to prioritize responses to the reviews on each end of the spectrum (the glowing 5 star reviews and the negative 1 and 2 star reviews). If you have time to respond to more, then by all means, do so.
We recommend responding publically to all reviews, so that other potential diners visiting your restaurant’s profile can see that you are concerned about the feedback diners provide. After the initial response, though, you should take any further conversations with the same guests offline or privately as quickly as possible. You especially want to respond privately anytime you invite a reviewer to return for a meal on the house.
At the very least, respond to a negative review and thank the guest for the feedback. We recommend inviting the reviewer back and (privately) offering to pay for the meal, which sometimes leads to positive experiences that motivate guests to revise their reviews with a better rating.
If you do have an extreme case in which you really think the review should be taken down, you can flag the review and provide your opinion as to why this review violates Yelp’s Terms and Conditions and ask that it be removed. Once reported, Yelp might take the review down, but it is not always guaranteed.
In an ideal world, every customer would go on Yelp to rave about the perfect dining experience as soon as they get home. Since this is not usually the case, there are other ways to inspire reviews. You can prompt and encourage guests to post a review with in-restaurant signage, by having your wait staff remind them, via the occasional social media posts and email, by providing a link on your website, etc. Remember though, ethically you should not ask guests to specifically write positive reviews, just reviews in general.
Yelp ads are a good way to reach new people and turn them into paying customers. Yelp advertising can also enable you to have more control over your restaurant’s profile and even remove other business ads from your page. However, it’s worth noting that paying for Yelp advertising will not give you the ability to control which reviews are shown for your restaurant, nor will Yelp remove negative reviews because you are a paying customer. Bottom line, if you have the budget, test Yelp advertising. But, make sure you go back and measure whether the ads are meeting your business goals. To learn more, watch this helpful orientation video for Yelp Ads.