How Online Reviews Impact Restaurants' Local SEO and Business

May 16th, 2024, 09:00 AM

Online reviews play a crucial role in shaping consumers' perceptions and decisions, especially when it comes to dining out. 

For restaurants, these reviews are not just a testament to their service and food quality, but also a powerful tool for improving their local search engine optimization (SEO) and overall business performance. 

In this article, we'll examine how online reviews, particularly on Google, impact restaurants' local SEO and business, and how restaurants and their marketing or local search engine optimization teams can leverage reviews for better rankings and customer engagement.

8 Ways Online Reviews Can Benefit a Restaurant's Local SEO and Overall Business

1. Directly Impacting Local SEO for Restaurants

Online reviews, especially on Google, are a direct ranking factor for local search engine results pages (SERPs).

When customers leave reviews on platforms like Google Business Profile (Google Maps) and Apple Business Connect (Apple Maps), they provide valuable feedback and signals to search engine algorithms about the restaurant's relevance, authority, and trustworthiness. 

Google and other search engines and navigation platforms consider various factors when ranking local businesses, and online reviews are a significant one of those factors. 

Positive reviews lead to a higher average review score, which can improve a restaurant's visibility in local search results and help it outrank competitors, whereas negative reviews can cause restaurants to drop in the rankings. 

Restaurants with a high volume of positive reviews are also more likely to appear higher in local search results, making them more visible to potential customers searching for dining options in the area.

2. Building Trust and Credibility

Positive online reviews also help restaurants build trust and credibility with potential customers. When people see that others have had positive experiences at a restaurant, they are more likely to trust that they will have a similar experience. This can lead to more people choosing to dine at the restaurant, boosting its business.

Additionally, people tend to choose one of the first options they see on Google or another platform when they search for any type of restaurant — you've probably done this very thing yourself, because you trust the top restaurant results to be the best! 

3. Gaining Insights from Negative Reviews

While positive reviews are obviously the most beneficial, negative reviews can also provide valuable insights for restaurants. They highlight areas where a restaurant may be falling short and give them an opportunity to make corrective improvements.

By addressing negative feedback, responding to all reviews, and making changes based on customer suggestions, restaurants can enhance their offerings and service, leading to better reviews in the future, which in turn can improve local rankings and result in more repeat business.

4. Improving Service and Offerings Through Sentiment Analysis

Beyond just allowing restaurants to look at and address concerns from negative reviews, online reviews also provide an opportunity for in-depth sentiment analysis. 

Restaurants can analyze the sentiment of all their reviews to understand how customers feel about all aspects of their dining experience, from the service to the food. 

By identifying common themes in reviews, such as complaints about service or praise for specific dishes, restaurants can make informed decisions about how to improve their offerings and service, fixing what's not working and emphasizing what is!

For example, if several reviews mention slow service, the restaurant may decide to hire additional staff, provide more training for existing staff, or implement new processes to speed up service. 

Similarly, if customers consistently rave about a particular dish, the restaurant may choose to feature it more prominently on the menu or promote it via social media or Google Business Profile Posts to attract more customers and get more reviews.

5. Outranking Competitors

Positive reviews can help restaurants stand out from the competition, both by outranking them in local search results and distinguishing their establishment and menu items.

Not only that, but restaurants can also look at competitor reviews to help them improve their own business, which could result in a boost in the local search rankings and more business.

For example, a restaurant might see that a competitor is getting a lot of great reviews about a certain menu item that they don't currently offer, and decide to come up with their own variation to add to the menu. This could attract another portion of their target market looking for that specific dish, as well as lead to more reviews and higher local rankings.

6. Improving Customer Engagement

Responding to restaurant reviews is another important aspect of leveraging online reviews for better local SEO and business. 

When restaurants respond to reviews, including negative ones, it shows that they care about their customers' experiences and are committed to engaging with them and providing excellent service. This can improve customer loyalty and encourage repeat business.

7. Getting User-Generated Content

When customers write reviews, they often use keywords and phrases that are relevant to the restaurant's offerings. These keywords can help improve the restaurant's visibility in search results for those terms, attracting more customers who are searching for similar products or services.

Restaurant's can also take advantage of positive reviews by featuring them on their websites as testimonials. If these reviews contain locally relevant keywords, they can also help improve a restaurant website's local SEO.

8. Increasing Click-Through Rates

Having a high volume of positive reviews can also lead to increased click-through rates (CTRs) from search results. 

When potential customers see that a restaurant has a lot of positive reviews, they are more likely to click on the restaurant's listing to learn more, and potentially go one step further and visit the restaurant's website or social media listed on the profile. 

This increased CTR can further improve the restaurant's visibility and rankings in local search results, as well as drive desirable actions like phone calls, messages, and reservations.


Online reviews have a very significant impact on restaurants' local SEO and their overall business. 

Positive reviews can improve a restaurant's visibility in local search results, build trust and credibility with potential customers, and provide valuable insights, all of which lead to better business performance. 

By encouraging customers to leave online reviews and using feedback to make informed decisions, restaurants can improve their offerings and service, attract more customers, and boost their local rankings in SERPs.

Keep in mind that getting more positive reviews is just one important part of optimizing Google Business Profile for restaurants — it's crucial to implement other best practices for the best chances of appearing at the top of Google results for as many relevant local searches as possible!

Local Falcon can help restaurants track local rankings on Google and Apple Maps, as well as analyze reviews and compare them to competitors, so try it out today! 

Try Local Falcon

Return to all Blog Entries