Review Sites in the Restaurant World – Updated Feb 2008

Updated 2/26/08

In the past I examined which review sites were being used by Google in Maps for Restaurants in Buffalo, NY. While the research is not scientific in the sense that I do not look at the same restaurants each time but look at the top 10, it doesn’t provide a complete list of review sites but it does provide insight to the comings and goings of review sites and the dynamic nature of the ones that Google is using at any given point in time.

Directory 2008 February Listings 2008 January Listings 2006 November Listings 1 11 3   6 8 7 3 70   10 4   1 4 1 4 2 4 9 4
Google 5     3
InsiderPages 20   1 2 41     1     1 1   2   10 7     2   3 5   1 2     3
TripAdvisor 31   17 7 20    

Some observations of interest since I last looked at these in Jan, 2008:

•CitySearch is back with the most reviews of any source. They appear to be more thouroughly indexed than ever

•Google now has 5 reviews in the total

•SuperPages & TalkingPhone Bool (a regional YellowPage) are completely missing

•Yahoo, TripAdvisor, InsiderPages & Judy’sBook are showing many results and have not previously appeared in any quantity.

•A number of restaurant specific review sites were missing in action:,,

•The hotel oriented sites like Travelocity, Mariott etc are gone and appear gone for good

Certainly some of these changes could be due to my sampling technique. That being said it does raise the obvious question of how a restuarant should approach the review process.

It still makes sense to focus on one or two of the general review sites like CitySearch, InsiderPages or Yahoo that would provide benefit in and of themselves to some extent.

On the restaurant specific sites, I would do local research and see which ones prevail in a specific market and seem to “have legs” in general and pick that one. In cities where it is active, Yelp is the obvious choice.

The value of Google Reviews is still very much up in the air. They appear to be gaining traction if not visibility. But their role seems poorly defined and Miriam at SEOIgloo has noted some odd disappearances. It appears to me that Google Reviews is one of Google’s long term plays that will get little attention from Google over the short haul. They could be as much Google flexing its muscle with its “partners” as a serious attempt to get into the review business.

The takeaway advice to restaurants: Treat your reviews as a critical part of your long term customer relationship and marketing plans. Some guidelines:
•If you are actively pursuing customer reviews, don’t go for them strictly for Google ranking but to establish the benefits of your particular business.
•Choose sites for your review focus that will benefit your business regardless of what Google does or doesn’t do with them.
•Any benefit that you get from Google will be a bit of serendipity and any work that you have done will not have been done in vane.
•Keep your options open and be prepared to change your tactics.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Review Sites in the Restaurant World - Updated Feb 2008 by

11 thoughts on “Review Sites in the Restaurant World – Updated Feb 2008”

  1. This is terrific, Mike. Many, many thanks for sharing this with us!

    So, it looks like, as of February, the top players are in this order

    Judy’s Book
    Insider Pages

    It’s good to see Google going from zip to 5, though I am longing for more powerful adoption.

    Can anyone fill me in on what happened to Judy’s Book? As I recall, they were going to shut down last October, but I just took a look and they’ve got a huge extended listing still in Google. I lost the train of that thought. Did someone acquire them? I missed it.

    It is a surprise to see this much fluctuation. Roller-coaster-ish.

    But, we still don’t know where the Canoe Guy’s 30 reviews went. I’m tempted to phone him. Someone in Google Groups asked him what the sources were, but when last I looked, he hasn’t responded to that.

    Thank you, again, Mike, for posting this! I’d love to see you post another of these in a couple months to see continue tracking the ebb and flow.

  2. Hey Mike:

    Wondering if you’ve got any ideas on this: Google seems to only pick up national providers of local reviews. Any idea on how to get them to look at better, deeper reviews from local providers (who may only be in one or two markets)?

  3. Hi Mike

    I have seen stories in the press of regional review sites signing deals with Google to get their reviews picked up. So I assume that it is necessary to contact Google, but who or how is not clear.

    From what I could understand the deals were simple quid pro quos where the regional site provided reviews and got some links in return.


  4. Hi Héctor

    I am afraid that I have not looked in most other countries to understand differences and similarities. I have not read any PR or google alerts about “deals” on reviews etc other than in the U.S.

    My suggestion is to contact your national Google or post in the Google Maps for Business Group. I will followup and see if I can ferret out any information.


  5. Yes, you can find local sites if you pick the right city. Just not Buffalo it appears.

    For example, Kudzu – which is big in Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego and Las Vegas – has quite a number of reviews on Google. Restaurants and beyond.

  6. Tom

    Thanks for the local reference.

    As I mentioned above, each market needs to be researched and the leading local restaurant site should be chosen for reviews. I am not that familiar with those markets but it makes sense that there would be good local sites. Are there others as well?


  7. Hi Casey

    Yes, I am a big fan of Yelp (mentioned above) as a great review site in the major markets, particularly SF and NY. When visiting those cities (I do occassionally leave the holler’) it is my goto site for great restaurant recommendations.

    It is a great example of a site that if a restauranteur were to work with their clients to have reviews there it would pay off regardless of any benefit from Google. It would be a win-win that’s for sure.

    What are some other major and mid major market restaurant review sites that meet the same criteria?


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