Local search guru Mike Blumental reported in March that Google is starting to use reviews in determining which websites should be visible for restaurant searches containing theBest restauarants
words “best” or “cheap”. “Best restaurant” returned only listings with a minimum of 4-stars, while searches for “cheap restaurant” returned listings with only one dollar sign.

This has not yet been rolled out in Canada but it makes sense that it will be at some point. When I conducted a search on my laptop I am not seeing dollar signs at all.

So where does / will Google get their data? Google Reviews from Maps/Plus/My Business? It seems more likely that they will aggregate data from a variety of sources such as Yelp, Urban Spoon, Trip Advisor, etc.

What should restaurant marketers do?

  1. Encourage reviews – hand out cards to patrons with suggestions to various opportunities to review the restaurant.
  2. Post reviews from satisfied patrons on the website and/or in the restaurant.
  3. Be sure details are up to date at sites such as Yelp.
  4. Make your sites mobile! So many prospective patrons check out a restaurant’s website while they are on the go and looking for a restaurant right now. This implies they are on a mobile device. And yet so many restaurants have websites that are extremely difficult to read on mobile phones and menus are in PDF format, requiring download! Get mobile for Pete’s sake! It is now a ranking criteria if that is the incentive you are looking for.

Adapted from: Google Ranking Restaurant Searches by “Best” and “Cheapest”