Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
Not only do people talk to each other when sharing a meal at a restaurant, but they also talk about the restaurant on rating-and-review sites.
As such, it is in the restaurateur’s best interest to find out what’s on patrons’ minds in terms of their experience with the establishment.
Here are seven restaurant-related rating-and-review sites that can help.
One of the more popular review sites devoted exclusively to the dining industry, Urbanspoon allows customers to add places they frequent to its directory.
Restaurant owners and managers can claim their listing by clicking the “Is this your restaurant?” button located in the top-right of the page.
Restaurants can also add their listing, in the event it is not in the directory. Urbanspoon will call to confirm the authenticity of the listing and reviews all new listings prior to adding them to the site.
Urbanspoon limits restaurants to updating their business information, responding to user reviews either publicly or privately, and seeing voting trends for their business. Owners cannot edit or remove reviews, but can contact Urbanspoon for those that violate its guidelines and request removal.
Designed as a site that allows customers to make reservations online, OpenTable includes customer reviews and ratings.
For online reservations, OpenTable charges restaurants monthly and per-reservation fees for their use of the system. Restaurants must sign up to the service to gain inclusion in the directory.
Subscribing restaurants get access to a management portal where they can customize floor plans, assign tables, and get information about their customers to provide more personalized service.
Although owners are not allowed to respond to customer reviews publicly, all reviews are accompanied by a “Contact Author” link that restaurateurs can use to contact the reviewer directly via a private message.
In addition, the site offers both paid and free promotional tools for use by restaurants.
Like Urbanspoon, Restaurantica — owned by Yellow Pages Group Co. in Canada — allows patrons to add listings, which restaurant owners can then claim. Doing so enables them to edit their information and interact with the site’s members.
Restaurants can add up to three cuisines, list hours of operation, the price range, accept reservations, add photos, and link to their website.
The messaging system enables owners and managers to comment on reviews and interact with customers before or after a visit, as well as offer incentives to entice customers to return. Advertising options are also available.
Started in 1994, Dine.com is one of the oldest restaurant rating-and-review sites on the list. It offers personalized recommendations to members based on their food preferences and, like the others, contains member ratings and reviews.
Owners who claim their listing can get a custom URL for the restaurant, create photo albums, add a detailed description, and create their menu online. In addition, they can post messages and get feedback directly from customers.
One drawback to Dine.com is that it does not have a verification procedure such as phone or direct mail that ensures the authenticity of the claimed listing. Anyone can claim to be the owner, and the only authentication comes in the form of an email with a confirmation link.
Limited to a handful of cities — New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles among them — MenuPages enables consumers to download restaurant menus or view them online.
Like the others, it allows users to rate and review restaurants. But there appears to be no way for owners to respond. Owners can, however, list or update menus and advertise on the site.
Founded in 1979, Zagat predates the commercial Internet. Initially, its founders, Tim and Nina Zagat, husband and wife, produced printed guidebooks that consumers could purchase. That is still the case.
Since going online, Zagat is one of the most well-known and trusted restaurant rating-and-review sites. It curates the best restaurants in 18 major cities worldwide.
Acquired by Google in 2011, Zagat integrates into Google+ Local. Restaurant owners must use Google My Business to claim their listing. Doing so enables them to update their business information, including address, cuisine, hours of operation, phone number, and website.
Zagat uses a partner site, SinglePlatform, for all menus. Business owners can send an email requesting that their menu be added or updated.
To determine ratings, Zagat uses a survey process that begins with local editors who create a list of notable restaurants within a city. Once added, patrons can vote on the places they visit.
Customers are asked to rate establishments based on attributes such as food, decor, and service. Ratings are then averaged and presented on a proprietary 30-point scale.
Named after the French food critic, André Gayot, who coined the term “Nouvelle Cuisine” in the 1970s, Gayot is a professional guide to dining, hotels, travel, and lifestyle. It contains ratings and reviews of local restaurants written by professional food critics and restaurant patrons.
Gayot evaluates restaurants on a particular rating system based on a 20-point scale and includes comments about décor, service, ambience, and wine.
Restaurant owners do not have the ability to claim their restaurant listings. However, they can advertise on the site to gain more attention.