SEO

Local Search : User Recommendations Make Your Business Money

Today I made plans to go out tomorrow evening to a Thai restaurant in Tampa, my new hometown. I’ve only been here 3 weeks and have been driving by many different Thai places around town, but am not really sure which one to go to.

I could always just pick one out of the phone book, but why do that when you have the Internet.

Yahoo Local is my local search engine of choice for finding places and businesses, especially restaurants.

Why? Because Yahoo does an incredible job of integrating user reviews into their search results and I like reviewing restaurants myself. I like reviewing them so much in fact I’m planning on launching a new local blog for the Tampa area; but that’s another story.

Here’s how my decision making process works.

  1. Search for “thai restaurants” in Tampa, FL 33618. Yahoo says there are 37 Thai restaurants within 15 miles of my house. Traffic in this town can be horrible, so I lower the radius to 10 miles from my house; Yahoo now suggests 23 restaurants.
  2. 23 Thai restaurants! How do I come to a decision? Well using Yahoo Local I can sort these results by variables such as Distance, Rating, or User Recommendations. I’m going to chose User Recommendations because I can drive 10 miles for good Thai food and generally speaking, I’m influenced more by what a person writes about a place than rating something on a 1 to 5 scale.
  3. After sorting the results by User Recommendations, I’m surprised to see that only 7 of the 23 restaurants have been reviewed and recommended on Yahoo Local.

So, let’s look at the top four :

  • Royal Palace Thai Restaurant : “Excellent food. The different fried rice and noodle preparations are some of the best I have ever had.
  • Thai Ruby Incorporated : “This is the best Thai in Tampa, closest to being in Bangkok.
  • Sukhothai Restaurant : ” You have never eaten Thai cuisine, until you have eaten at Sukho Thai!” & “ I love this restaurant the atmosphere is great, as is the service. But the food is absolutely wonderful. If you like Thai, this is the place to go. If you’ve never tried Thai, this would be the place to start. Wonderful appetizers (esp. Curry Puff), superb entries (I prefer the curry dishes), and great desert.
  • Jasmine Thai : “Jasmine Thai is well known as a destination for Thai food in Tampa. Located in Carrollwood, a suburb to the north of Tampa, Jasmine Thai has an authentic feel, a well thought out menu, and excellent service. If I had to note only one “downside”, it is that the restaurant, located in a plaza, is too small for the number of patrons it seats. Because the food is so good, every table is usually filled, and the crowding does take away from the ambience, somewhat. I have never recommended this restaurant to anyone who didn’t come away loving it! I usually eat Thai once a week, so I’ve been to Jasmine numerous times, and never been disappointed! Go, see, dine!

All of these restaurants have superb reviews from Yahoo users who seem like real people (not employees). Some have reviewed various Thai restaurants in the are and one is not from here but made the extra effort to review one of these restaurants after visiting the area!

I’m going to take my guest to either Jasmine Thai or Sukhothai Restaurant, based on the location, hours open, and most importantly the use reviews & recommendations.

We’ll probably drop about $100 at the place, and that’s a $100 that the restaurant brings in because of someone taking the time to write a review for them and that restaurant properly listing themselves on Yahoo Local.

Just think, if five people a week come into that same restaurant based upon the Yahoo Local user recommendations, that’s an extra $24,000 a year in gross revenue generated by a joint effort between the business and the customer.

How can your business or restaurant enhance its local search marketing to benefit from user reviews?

  • Easy, just set up a computer with Internet access in the restaurant.
  • After your customers have eaten their meal, ask them to log in to their Yahoo accounts and review your restaurant.
  • If they feel uncomfortable about doing so, ask them to review the restaurant when they get home and give them a 10% off coupon with a reminder to do so on Yahoo Local, Insider Pages, CitySearch or another local search engine.

Chances are, the local search listings and recommendations for your restaurant (store, clinic, boutique, coffee shop, or bar) will explode before your very eyes and the viral effect will build demand, more customers, a communication tool between your business and its patrons, and better service from your staff; all benefits of local search marketing.

Screen Shot 2014 04 15 at 7.21.12 AM Local Search : User Recommendations Make Your Business Money
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Screen Shot 2014 04 15 at 7.21.12 AM Local Search : User Recommendations Make Your Business Money

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3 thoughts on “Local Search : User Recommendations Make Your Business Money

  1. Nice marketing tip! If TGI Fridays can have TVs in booths, what’s to stop restaurants from passing a short 5 question point and click survey to guests after they get their check?

    Also, I love Yahoo’s local review process, but even more exciting is how it integrates with Yahoo’s My Travel itinerary. Very cool stuff.

    Have you played around with MojoPages? I hadn’t heard about it until the latest Rush Hour podcast on WMR. It’s a nice Trip Advisor/Yahoo hybrid with a more web 2.0 feel.

  2. It really is a simple thing to ask happy customers to give you a quick recommendation. At the very least you can give them a card with a URL for when they get home. Most won’t follow through, but if even a small percent do you’re ahead of the game.

    Another benefit of asking for the reviews is that you likely open the eyes of many of your customers to local search who will then pass on the information to their friends. Friends who see your customers review, which they will likely trust.

    Rhea I saw MojoPages in an article on SEL? I can’t say I’ve used it much, but it did look good. I think your description of it is accurate. It’s social media meets local search.

  3. Seven Restaurants at Yelp.com. Three have reviews, Sukhothai Restaurant at 8201 N Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, FL, 33614 sticks out and seems to be the real deal.

    Just in case your research had a real need as basis. Seems like it and the type of search does not surprise me :)

    Cheers!