Yelp, User Reviews Don't Help Restaurants, Study Says

Instead, deals and special offers get foot traffic to restaurants

Sure, Yelp has gone public and Google bought Zagat, but it turns out that most diners don't use user reviews and online marketing.

Research company NPD Group found that special deals and offers tended to affect one-third of restaurant choices, while online reviews and recommendations only influenced 14 percent of diners surveyed, Forbes reports.

Meanwhile, menu items affected 30 percent of restaurant choices (in second place), while what was termed "general information" was considered the third-highest influencer, affecting 27 percent of restaurant selection.

And naturally, where the restaurant is located affected 13 percent of diners' restaurant choices, almost tying with online reviews. So this is good news for all those restaurant owners burned by Yelp trolls and random one-star reviews. Bad news for Yelp addicts, and people shelling out cash for fake five-star reviews to amp up their ratings.

Jessica Chou is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @jesschou.