Online Reviews Improvement for a National Restaurant Chain

The Goal

A national restaurant chain enlisted Go Fish Digital to audit and improve the Yelp pages of their more than 700 locations, which averaged less than a 3-star rating. Like most franchise-based businesses, developing an internal system to monitor, request, remove, and respond to dozens of new reviews each day became overwhelming.

Our team was brought on to improve review tracking and response practices, as well as increase the declining Yelp ratings of many locations.

The Strategy

We combined three key tactics to meet the overall goal of improving the Yelp ratings and profiles:

  1. Remove any negative reviews that violate Yelp’s content guidelines to improve the average star rating.
  2. Identify Yelp users from a customer database by matching email addresses to associated Yelp accounts.
  3. Analyze review text to identify areas of improvement and develop detailed review response strategies.

Review Removal

Removing negative 1- and 2-star reviews from a business’ Yelp page can have a strong positive increase on the overall rating of the page.

We analyzed 21,267 negative reviews to identify any content within them that might be a violation of Yelp’s strict content guidelines. Following that audit, we flagged and built a case for the removal of 501 negative reviews.

Text Analysis

Understanding common themes in negative reviews can be helpful in identifying and fixing root causes with training, internal processes, and specific team members.

We performed a deep contextual analysis of 48,335 reviews to identify any common, recurring, or trending concerns. We then further broke this analysis down by location, region, and ownership so that issues could be grouped by where they were occuring most frequently. This led to internal changes within the restaurant chain to correct the cause of these reviewers’ concerns.

The Results


Over a period of six months, Go Fish Digital’s review flagging campaign removed 256 negative reviews and improved the Yelp star rating of 69 locations.

Over 50% of all flagged reviews were removed by Yelp, and 190 locations had at least one negative review taken down.

Go Fish Digital also identified 404,037 Yelp users from the client’s loyalty program by matching email addresses to active Yelp accounts. A word analysis of all review text revealed several keywords and themes that revealed common customer complaints. For example, three of the most frequently-used words in negative reviews referenced individual specialty dishes. A number of service-related keywords (“waiter”, “waitress”, “order”, etc.) appeared equally in the highest and lowest-rated reviews. This helped us identify that wait times, server attentiveness, and the execution of a handful of marquee dishes were the “make or break” aspects for customers who left reviews.

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