Every restaurant owner fears the odious Yelp reviewer. Heck, there’s even an entire South Park episode making fun of amateur food critic culture. As annoying as the wannabe Trip Advisor and Yelpers can be, they play an important role is your restaurant’s online presence. Answering reviews actually helps improve your Google Business Profile rankings. Responding to a bad review can quell a negative situation. Conversely, answering a great review can mean more return business. SpotOn POS can help you manage and answer reviews to leave no customer unanswered. Today, let’s break down why answering customer reviews is vital for your restaurant’s business.

Answering Reviews Improves SERP

The first major area that answering reviews helps is on Google. Google users can leave reviews on your Google Business Profile, or GBP. Your GBP is one of the most important parts of your restaurant’s online presence. Everybody, including yourself, has likely judged a restaurant based on a GBP.

What you may not know is that the GBP isn’t just a place to load pictures, check opening times, and leave a review. Believe it or not, a GBP’s review section is very important when it comes to SERP. SERP, or search engine ranking position, is where your website ranks in Google searches. Having a higher SERP means more customers will find your business compared to competition.

Answering reviews on your GBP rewards your SERP. Why? Google rewards uses who actively use their GBP. When you answer every single customer review, you are actively using the profile. It also shows that you are having real interaction with customers. Over time, GBP users’ profiles will go up as a result of answering Google reviews. That means, for example, a pizza restaurant with an equal number of reviews as another pizza restaurant will rank higher if they answer each review on their GBP.

Better Reviews Means Better Local SEO

Reviews are also important for your local SEO. Local SEO, or search engine optimization, is how your business’ presence is formatted online to attract local business. This feature is a keystone for local businesses, especially restaurants, in order to rank above their competition.

Let’s use an example as to why answering reviews is important for local SEO. As we’ve discussed, simply answering reviews helps improve your GBP rankings. Prompting more customers to leave more reviews will slowly help your local SEO over time. Why? If you are a pizzeria with 1,000+ positive reviews, a customer is more likely to choose you over a restaurant with 100 positive reviews. This can result in more business, bringing in more customers, and, thus, leaving more reviews.

Customers that review restaurants on Yelp and Trip Advisor can play a critical role in local SEO. Both platforms allow restaurants to be flagged as ‘Best Pizzeria Philadelphia’ or a different combination of terms. These longer forms of terms can create what we cal longtail keywords Try typing ‘pizza’ into your search engine. You may get a bunch of results. Now type in ‘Best Pizza in Doylestown PA’ and the search will drastically narrow to local business in that direct area. This longer form of a keyword is better and more niche than a short keyword. More longtail keyterms like this are better for local SEO. Answering these reviews can help your profile, regardless of if they are positive or not.

Leaving Bad Reviews Unanswered is a Bad Idea

What if a customer does leave a bad review? “The food was horrible”. “The service SUCKED.” “My dog could cook something better with both of its eyes closed.” Surely, your restaurant has had to handle bad customer reviews online. A bad review on Yelp, Facebook or other platforms can deter customers. Occasionally, you may have the gall to answer one of these reviews in a snarky manner. Yes, that may feel great, but it’s a bad idea.

Customers are actually turned off when a restaurant owner answers a bad review with an equally sarcastic and bad review. It’s usually seen as pompous and doesn’t resolve the situation. What if a future customer has legitimate feedback? Are they going to be expecting to be bullied or listened to? The answer should be the latter. Restaurant owners should refrain from answering negatively. Respond in a positive manner that shows professionalism and that you are above the fray.

Furthermore, bad reviews need to be answered! Why? First, let’s recap. Every review needs to be answered, especially on your GBP, in order to improve SERP and local SEO. Second, when bad reviews aren’t answered, they stay there and can leave a lasting impression. Responding to a negative review in a professional way shows that you are focused on understanding the customer. The conversation thread in the review can lead to a positive outcome if it is navigated correctly.

Responding to Great Reviews Improves Customer Service

To build off of why to never leave a bad review unanswered, let’s consider why it’s important to respond to great reviews. Customers that take time to leave a positive review on your GBP, Yelp or any other platform because of a phenomenal experience. A restaurant can simply look at these reviews and say, “we did our job, time to move on.” That mentality is wrong!

Again, restaurants need to answer every review. Responding to great reviews makes the customer feel even better and heard following their experience. When responding to a great review, prompt the customer with responses like, “Thank you for your review! We can’t wait to serve you again.” Small responses like these can leave a big impression on a customer and convert them into return business.

SpotOn Reviews Makes Managing Review Platforms Easier

Managing all of these reviews can be difficult. A great way to respond to all of them is in SpotOn’s back office review management software. Sync your profiles like Google, Facebook, and Trip Advisor into SpotOn software. Track review averages, total reviews written, and answer reviews in real time. It’s all included with SpotOn’s monthly subscription software. This can improve your SERP, local SEO, resolve bad review scenarios, and reward great reviewers with positive responses. Want to improve your online ratings with SpotOn? Contact us for a free consultation to get started today!