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Keep on the Sunny Side

Have you ever wondered what factors influence the online ratings people give your business on review sites such as Citysearch and TripAdvisor? Researchers at Georgia Tech and Yahoo Labs recently decided to find out, examining 1.1 million reviews of 840,000 restaurants in all fifty states. They constructed computer models to determine the various factors that affect people’s ratings.

As expected, they found that factors the restaurants control, such as price, service, and the food itself, had an impact. Surprisingly, though, they also found that factors completely outside of the restaurant’s control – including the weather – affected the ratings. Customers in wet Seattle, for example, tended to be more critical in their reviews than those in sunny San Diego, as did those who posted when the temperature was under 40 degrees or over 100 degrees. Other factors that were found to influence ratings included neighborhood diversity, education, and geographic area. The researchers’ full findings will be presented next week at the International World Wide Web Conference in Seoul, South Korea.

Have you developed an effective reputation management plan for your business? Do you know your legal options to address false postings made by unhappy customers or disgruntled former employees? Or are you just hoping for sunny weather?