Responding to reviews offers restaurants a chance to improve relationships with customers and attract new diners. However, few brands are diligent about responding, particularly on Google Maps, according to L2’s Digital IQ Index: Restaurants.

While Google Maps joined the restaurant ratings and reviews party after Yelp, it seems to be more popular. L2’s study finds that restaurant brands in most categories receive more customer reviews on Google Maps than Yelp. The only category that defies this trend is fast casual, for which Yelp leads by a 14% spread.

Share of reviews

However, only 39% of brands in L2’s study have at least one Google Maps location where the manager has responded to customer feedback. Franchised brands are some of the worst offenders, with only 13% of locations responding to reviews, compared with 19% of corporate-run brand locations.

Moreover, just eight of the 126 brands in the study consistently respond to reviews nationally, overlooking a major opportunity to improve second-order search visibility on Google as well as Maps search visibility. Google rewards manager responses to reviews by making this metric one of the factors that determine Maps location visibility and Google search rank.

While restaurants might view responding to reviews as frivolous or futile, the practice offers many benefits, from customer retention to increased engagement. The most organically visible McDonald’s in Dallas responds to most of its 500-plus customer reviews, disproving the notion that scale is a barrier to communicating with customers.

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