Best Practices

How Responding to Reviews Can Earn More Stars and Improve SEO

In the ever-evolving world of hospitality, your restaurant's online reputation isn't just a side dish – it's the main entree. Wondering how to turn those restaurant reviews and guest feedback into returning diners and loyal enthusiasts? Wonder no more. In this blog, we’ll dive deep into the art of review responding, offering valuable tips to boost star ratings and conquer the world of SEO. 

The Power of Restaurant Reviews 

The guest experience extends beyond your physical space—it now embraces the digital world. This has changed the way customers find and choose their next meal and reviews heavily influence that journey. 

Let’s face the facts: a staggering 92% of American consumers read restaurant reviews before choosing where to dine. And roughly 33% of diners won't even eat at a restaurant with less than four stars. The power of online reviews is undeniable, and it's not just about the numbers. 

Like them or not, reviews are personal. When your guests take the time to leave you feedback, they’re investing in you and your restaurant. If a guest gave you feedback about their experience in-person, you wouldn’t turn around and ignore them, right? Responding helps your guests feel heard and shows other potential customers that you care about their experience. 

The real secret power of review responses comes when you incorporate keywords to improve your SEO & local search performance. Sprinkling strategic keywords into your review responses helps your restaurant stand out in local searches and boosts your ranking over time. Just make sure not to overdo it. Your first priority should still be to address guest feedback properly.

It's time to take the reins and harness the power of your online feedback. Let’s dive deeper on where to start.

Understanding SEO 

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it’s the techniques and practices used to get websites ranked higher on search engines like Google.

Wondering how search rankings work?

Three main factors are taken into consideration:

  1. Distance: Proximity considers how far a potential search result is from the location term that was used in the search query. If you don’t specify your location in your search, Google will calculate the distance based on what they do know about your location.

  1. Relevance: As Google’s strongest signal, relevance refers to how well a local Business Profile matches what a user is trying to find. The more information you add, the better Google can understand your business and pair it with relevant searches.

  1. Prominence: Prominence is Google’s newest ranking factor and basically looks at how well-known a business is. It is also based on information Google collects from across the web from links, articles, directories, and… you guessed it, reviews.

Review Response Strategy for SEO Glory

Now, let’s talk strategy. "Best" searches only show results with ratings of 4 stars or more. If you’re hovering below 4 stars, we’ve got great news – Marqii users who respond to all their reviews see an average 30% increase in their star rating. So start responding, and you’ll be on your way! 

A great SEO-based response strategy is more than thanking your guests and practicing some humility. There are strategic moves that can elevate your restaurant's online presence, and they all center around keywords 

Let’s explore this a bit deeper.

As a business owner, you know what things you want to be found for when your guests are searching. Happy hour, dog-friendly patio, wings, awesome TVs with all the sports on all the time. And you’re savvy, so you’ve already included as many of those attributes as you can on your Google profile. 

What else does Google highlight when you search for something specific like “great patio near me?” Reviews! So how do you increase the prominence of your keywords on your Google Business Profile? Include them in your responses! 

Not sure what keywords to include? There are some great free tools you can use, like Google Search Console, to find out what keywords guests are most often using when they find you. Pick a few each season that you want to elevate even more, or flag 1-2 underdogs you want to bring into stronger prominence. 

It’s totally fine – in fact, it’s recommended – to refresh which keywords you highlight seasonally. Google prioritizes recent reviews, so dropping in mentions of your patio in the summer and your TVs during March Madness can give you a leg up. 


Use negative reviews as an opportunity – a chance to flip the script and inspire a return visit, transforming a critic into a loyal diner. Validate the customer in their experience and ensure that you are going to use this feedback to improve your restaurant.

Need some help? Use this review response template to get you started: 

While we appreciate you mentioning that you received great service, we're sorry you weren't impressed with the food or drink you received. Our team would like to learn more and have the opportunity to make things right. Please send us an email at <manager's email>.

This review template accomplishes the following:

  • Shows gratitude for the kudos on the service the customer received
  • Calls out what want went wrong during the visit
  • Takes action to resolve the customer’s issue directly

Pro tip: be genuine with your review response. No one wants a robot. Address their specific concerns, own up to what went wrong, and promise to take their guest feedback into actionable improvements. 

Positive reviews are where your keywords can really shine. Write responses that not only showcase your customer service and show gratitude, but also strategically drop keywords to boost your visibility. 

Check out how The Rustic in Dallas, TX uses keywords in this review response to showcase their atmosphere:

Their response wasn’t forced and the keywords they chose were organic to what the customer already loved about their bar. Not too hard, right?

Simply put: be real, be strategic, and watch your restaurant rise in rankings.

Leveraging Tech to Simplify the Process

You can totally do all of this manually! But when you’re busy, staying on top of reviews can be time consuming and overwhelming. This is why adopting a review management system like Marqii can help.

Marqii's Managed Review Response service handles it all for you, writing responses that are not just timely but also personalized and authentic, fitting perfectly with the unique vibe of your restaurant. 

Marqii's dashboard centralizes review management from Google, Yelp, OpenTable, Facebook, Uber Eats, Grubhub, and ezCater, simplifying tracking and prompt responses. This empowers your restaurant to build a caring reputation and turn reviews into strategic assets.

If you’re ready to embrace the power of responses, listen to your guests, and let SEO do the work for you– all in one place, check out Marqii today.

Using Marqii means you can easily manage your online:




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Situated “in the heart of it all, yet tranquil enough to make you feel away from it all too,” The Limelight Hotel Snowmass offers 99 hotel rooms and 11 residences, as well as footsteps-to-gondola access in winter and summer — right in the middle of Snowmass Base Village.

The Situation

Especially over the last few years, the Limelight Hotels IT team had witnessed a significant shift to contactless technology in the hospitality industry. After evaluating friction points in the guest journey, aligning with modern technology platforms in their restaurant was determined to be an effective way to offer elevated contactless dining experiences to their guests while also evolving their technology platforms to continue to support long-term company goals. Limelight Hotel partnered with GoTab to provide an enhanced on-demand dining experience on par with the brand’s reputation for exceptional guest service.

The Solution

Reducing Staff Touch Points Without Sacrificing Guest Experience

Guests are now able to begin a tab from their room or the property’s restaurant by scanning a QR code, texting a link to friends or family members on the ski slope to add in their orders, then meeting up together at the patio or lodge to enjoy their meal and après ski festivities without interruption. By streamlining tasks like inputting orders and processing payments, this eliminates friction for hotel staff and allows them to focus on delivering renowned guest service for a memorable experience. Since partnering with GoTab, Limelight Snowmass has consistently seen higher check averages and sales.

“We found the Point of Sale platforms we were looking at offered the guest and staff limited opportunities to further reduce touch points or improve the traditional restaurant experience. The GoTab platform enabled the guest to take an active role over the flow of their experience while simultaneously reducing touch points and further streamlining restaurant operations.”Nick Giglio, Manager of Hotel IT Operations, The Little Nell Hotel Group

According to the Limelight Hotels team, some of the other platforms that were evaluated were either missing some of the pieces they were looking for, had weak customer support models, or had little willingness to develop integrations to existing hotel platforms already in place. To that end, GoTab integrated with cloud-based platform, Infor. Together, GoTab and Infor are providing dynamic solutions to support central, efficient service across hotel amenities and deliver exceptional guest experiences.

“Previously, guests would call down to the restaurant to begin an order from their room or while they were out enjoying the ski slopes. Using GoTab, guests can now place orders from anywhere on the resort, giving them the on-demand service they want without interrupting their day. GoTab empowers us to give control to the guest, reducing touch points and streamlining overall restaurant operations, making Limelight Hotel the resort of choice for Snowmass.”Nick Giglio, Manager of Hotel IT Operations, The Little Nell Hotel Group

Since introducing GoTab, The Limelight Hotel has seen a consistent level of upsells and items sold per check resulting in additional revenue capture. They have been able to maintain service levels in their restaurants during periods when there was reduced staffing available without significantly diminishing the guest experience.

The Benefits

Eliminate Phone Orders – Take Orders from the Slopes. Guests can start a tab from their room or on the mountain without interrupting the flow of their day.

Future-Proofed Technologies – Delivering elevated contactless ordering via integration with the Infor hotel management platform.

Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.

  • Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.
  • Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.
  • Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.
  • Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.

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