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Stop playing cat & mouse with your customers!

Why restaurants can no longer ignore getting Google + reviews

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There is nothing better to push up sales than good customer reviews. But if you’re not careful, those good customer reviews can push customers right over to your competitors!

It’s true. Take a look below.

Google Carousel for restaurants

In the Google’s Carousel at the top (the black slider with thumbnails), which one would you be least likely to click?

It’s obvious isn’t it? Poor Yong Lo Garden. With no reviews, they don’t have much chance of getting business from those looking for a restaurant in Saratoga when they’re surrounded by all those 4 and 5 star restaurants.

But no reviews is not bad reviews.

But at least we can see Yong Lo now when we do a query. Prior to Google Carousel, I didn’t know they exist and I do a lot of searches in Google for restaurants. Yong Lo wasn’t showing up anywhere close enough to the first page to be seen. And I couldn’t find them in the new Google Maps app either.

So at least the Carousel gets this restaurant some visibility and that’s great. It’s just too bad they don’t have any reviews. And to make it worse, they have a really horrible picture in contrast to the others. That Carousel listing is just not going to do much for Yong Lo Garden.

Surprise! Surprise!

But since no reviews is not necessarily the same as bad reviews, someone may click through anyway, and if they did, this is what they’d see:

Wow. Surprise. Surprise. Turns out Yong Lo isn’t so bad after all. In fact, now I’m getting hungry for Chinese food. They’ve got a great standing in Urbanspoon, Yelp, and White Pages. And there is even great press in local newspapers.

The problem isn’t that they don’t have good reviews, the problem is Google apparently is ignoring those reviews in favor of their own Google+ reviews. (And I’ll add Zagat reviews. Because Google owns Zagat, it will bring those up as well.) That’s no surprise. Google wants to get people to use Google+, and this review bias of theirs may do it for them. Smart.

But there’s another reason why restaurants like Yong Lo need to encourage his customers to leave reviews.

Google+ friend recommendations

Take a look at what I found when I clicked through to another restaurant.

Well, lookie there! That’s Chrystal Bougon liking that restaurant. Chrystal is my friend and Google knows that because she’s in my Google+ Circles. It also knows that I trust reviews coming from my friends more than I do coming from someone I’ve never met. So it gives them to me, and I like that. Trusted reviews.

Now that I have someone I trust telling me that restaurant is good, I’m going, and poor Yong Lo will wait his turn for another day.

So what’s Yong Lo Garden to do?

Clearly, besides replacing that gray image, Yong Lo needs Google + reviews.  From the looks of it, it shouldn’t be that difficult for them. We know they have good food and service or they wouldn’t have gotten those good reviews in other places. We just need to direct those reviewers to Google+. It requires a gmail account, but a good amount of people do, so if we reach out to everyone, good chance is quite a few of them will be able to help Yong Lo out.

So, Yong Lo, you keep on making all that great food and providing excellent service, then all you need to do is give them a little nudge in the right direction. I made something to help you with that.

Easy-to-get customer reviews with these easy-to-make table tents and inserts for restaurants

Ok, so reviews aren’t really that easy to get, but these table tents may help restaurants and any business that has tables where customers sit or transaction counters such as at doctors’ offices. Scanning those QR codes that will your customers right onto your Google+ page where it’s very easy to leave a review.

And maybe these checkholder inserts for restaurants will help too.
These are easy to make with these Word document templates I’ve prepared for you. Instructions to make these review tents and cards are here.

And now Yong Lo Garden, you’re ready to improve your visibility in Google + so you can get some more customers! If this helps, please let me know!

Good luck!


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Kathy (aka Kat) is one of the internet's original Digital Divas and freely shares her expertise in the fields of web design, SEO, Local SEO, social media marketing, content development, PPC, and conversion optimization to help businesses succeed online. Sadly, she's allergic to cats.

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