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|
Some observations of interest since I last looked at these in Jan, 2008:
â€¢CitySearch is back with the most reviews of any source. They appear to be more thouroughly indexed than ever
â€¢Google now has 5 reviews in the total
â€¢SuperPages & TalkingPhone Bool (a regional YellowPage) are completely missing
â€¢Yahoo, TripAdvisor, InsiderPages & Judy’sBook are showing many results and have not previously appeared in any quantity.
â€¢A number of restaurant specific review sites were missing in action: Allmenus.com, DiningGuide.com, RestaurantRow.com
â€¢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:
â€¢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.
â€¢Choose sites for your review focus that will benefit your business regardless of what Google does or doesn’t do with them.
â€¢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.
â€¢Keep your options open and be prepared to change your tactics.