There’s something comforting in the familiarity of brands we know and love. The safety of knowing that, no matter where you are in the world, when you see that brand’s logo you know exactly what to expect from them.
That’s especially true for fast food brands. Take Burger King and McDonald’s. Whether you’re traveling for leisure or work, and find yourself in unfamiliar territory, there’s just nothing like seeing those famous golden arches or orange burger buns and feeling that, in a way, you’re home.
Is that too dramatic (or perhaps just reflective of my feelings towards delicious, salty junk food)? It certainly got us thinking recently about the role of local business reviews for some of the world’s biggest brands. How do these global icons stack up from a local perspective, and could they learn a thing or two about review management?
We gathered the Google reviews for every Burger King and McDonald’s outlet in the USA (that’s over 20,000 locations!) to see how their average review ratings compare. Who will come out as the top-reviewed brand in the USA? Choose your player… this is the Big Brand Review Showdown!
- Burger King has the better average Google star rating in 23 US states.
- McDonald’s has the better average Google star rating in 19 US states, as well as the District of Columbia.
- Burger King and McDonald’s tie for the highest average Google ratings in eight states.
- The average rating for a Burger King or McDonald’s outlet in the USA is 3.5.
The Big Review Showdown: Who Wins the Battle Royale (with Cheese)?
We took each restaurant location’s review rating to analyze a set of averages:
- The average Google review rating per brand by state.
- The average Google review rating per brand for the whole of the USA.
- The average Google review rating for both brands across the USA.
The average Google rating for both brands across the USA sits at 3.5 stars. So, while we can’t say that one brand has a higher national average review rating, we can look at which states they average the highest in to determine who wins the lion’s share.
You’ll see on the map above that there is a fairly even picture of ownership. However, we can reveal that Burger King just about takes the crown from McDonald’s, with 23 of the total states won, compared to McDonald’s winning 19 (plus the District of Columbia). The remaining eight states are tied.
Burger King’s wins tend to be in states clustered around the center of the USA, while the states won by McDonald’s are most commonly based around the coast. This feels like a good time to make a Filet-O-Fish® joke…
It’s interesting that there isn’t a lot of variation in the state averages: the lowest average sits at 3.3 and the highest at 3.8 stars. There aren’t many areas across the nation where either brand particularly excels above their 3.5 baselines! So, let’s take a look at each brand’s state average Google ratings.
Burger King: Where Does the King Reign Supreme? 🍔
- New York, South Dakota, and West Virginia all share the highest average Burger King rating across their restaurants, at 3.7.
- New Hampshire has the lowest state average for Burger King restaurants, at 2.9.
Considering New York state has the fourth-highest number of locations in the US, with nearly 200,000 business reviews across 351 locations, it’s pretty impressive that it’s managed to maintain the joint-highest average review rating.
However, less than half of all US states meet the national average for Burger King’s Google ratings, with 24 states averaging 3.5 and above. This leaves 26 states (27 with DC counted) sitting below average.
Meanwhile, the individual top-rated Burger King in the USA is 3040 Ella Blvd, Houston, Texas. A quick look at its Google reviews shows a striking number that highlight specific restaurant employees by name, and applauding their customer service. Keep doing what you’re doing, team BK Ella Blvd!
McDonald’s: Where Are People Lovin’ It Most? 🍟
- Hawaii is the top-rated state across both McDonald’s and Burger King restaurants, with an average Google rating of 3.8.
- Utah has the lowest state average, with an average Google rating of 3.2.
The picture for McDonald’s is quite similar to Burger King, with 29 of the US states sitting below the 3.5 baselines. So why is this measure so significant, you might ask? Review research has found that the difference between a 3.5 Google rating and a 3.7 rating can be huge for local businesses in terms of converting searchers to website visitors, encouraging them to get directions, or contacting a business.
The highest average Google rating for any McDonald’s is 4.2. While a fair way above the baseline of 3.5, it was surprising that there are no McDonald’s restaurants truly exceeding through their local reviews.
Nuggets of Information
Consider yourself a fast food super-fan? We created this key points of information map to highlight some tasty little nuggets of additional facts.
- The most-reviewed McDonald’s in the USA is 6875 Sand Lake Rd in Orlando, Florida—also known as the World’s Largest Entertainment McDonald’s—with 18,590 Google reviews (and probably even more by the time you’re reading this)!
- The top-rated outlet overall in the US is Burger King 3040 Ella Blvd in Houston, Texas, with a Google star rating of 4.4.
- Hawaii tops the states with the highest average review rating across both food brands, with McDonald’s averaging 3.8 stars.
- Together, the 7,216 Burger Kings across the USA have 4.06 million Google reviews (an average of 562 reviews per restaurant).
- Together, the 13,247 McDonald’s restaurants across the USA have 16.3 million Google reviews (an average of 1,231 reviews per restaurant).
Dippin’ into the Detail: What Can Burger King and McDonald’s Learn From Their Local Business Reviews?
So, Burger King comes out on top as the brand with the most “won” states for the highest Google review ratings. But Hawaii is the top-rated state overall with McDonald’s. It’s a fairly even picture, with no clear sweep—and a lot of below-average locations!
Of course, as such giants in the fast food market, you might think “well, who cares about their business reviews?!”. This is where we’re going to switch gears and get a bit more technical, to discuss what these findings might mean for those running franchise businesses.
Love at First French Fry: First Impressions Count!
New Hampshire saw the lowest state average. For a state with just 31 Burger King restaurants, almost 60% of these are rated under 3.0 on Google. A quick look at some of the Google reviews for these locations highlights some worrying trends that franchisees should be paying attention to.
Google is forever implementing changes to improve the way review content is displayed to users. With features like review keywords and filters appearing at the top of Google reviews, it means businesses with low review ratings should be concerned about what these might be. In the case of some of New Hampshire’s lowest-rated Burger King restaurants, negative keywords like ‘disgusting’ are appearing front and center.
Dealing With Negative and Average Feedback
Another standout location to note is the most-reviewed McDonald’s in the USA: 6875 Sand Lake Rd in Orlando, Florida—also known as the World’s Largest Entertainment McDonald’s—is right around the corner from some of the most popular Universal theme parks. This location (at the time of writing) has a staggering 18,590 reviews!
Even more impressive is the fact that it has maintained a 4.0 average rating. This McDonald’s, as you can imagine, is more unique than others in the US, with exclusive menu items (you can expect to find pizza and bolognese here!), over 100 arcade games, an animatronic homage to 80’s McDonald’s icon, Mac Tonight, and a huge play area.
The wider point, though, is the conundrum that many franchisees or enterprise business owners will face: you want more reviews, but with greater scale comes greater risk. A higher number of Google reviews on average can cause your review rating to become, well, average.
A business location attracting customers in its thousands (or tens of thousands in this case), might also struggle to keep on top of rogue feedback: fake or misleading reviews, or just average and negative feedback that could have been responded to.
Finger Lickin’ Competition
With so many speedy dining choices in the immediate proximity of most Burger King and McDonald’s locations, competition from rival chains and smaller, independent restaurants remains fierce. If you’re craving a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, let’s face it—you’ll may well have a lot of options
Pulling up the Google reviews of the nearest fast food options is easy and almost second nature to most of us these days. So, if your nearest Burger King or McDonald’s contains off-putting review keywords like “disgusting”, “cold” or “rude” at the top of its profile, or below-average star ratings, you won’t need to look far for a more appealing competitor!
While they might be two of the world’s biggest fast food chains, it means that franchisees and enterprise business owners shouldn’t rest on their laurels. Reinforcing excellent customer service, consistent product offerings, and investing in business reviews are invaluable for businesses at a local scale.
Thanks for reading the Big Brand Review Showdown. We hope you enjoyed it!
How did your state fare—and were you rooting for Burger King or McDonald’s? Do you want to see more brand review showdowns from us? Tag us with your thoughts on Twitter!
This research was conducted by obtaining the Google Business Profile business information for every Burger King and McDonald’s location in the USA in February 2023, and creating a script to retrieve their Google review ratings, and total number of reviews.
But with Reputation Management tools, you don’t need to worry about clever scripts or number crunching—with your location information, we can pull all of this review data for you in one, easy-to-use dashboard called Reputation Manager. It can help you to Get Reviews, Monitor Reviews, and Showcase Reviews.
You can see the full leaderboard of states below:
|State||Winner||Avg. Review Rating||State||Winner||Avg. Review Rating|
|Alabama (AL)||TIE||3.4||Montana (MT)||MCDONALD’S||3.5|
|Alaska (AK)||MCDONALD’S||3.6||Nebraska (NE)||BURGER KING||3.4|
|Arizona (AZ)||BURGER KING||3.5||Nevada (NV)||MCDONALD’S||3.5|
|Arkansas (AR)||BURGER KING||3.6||New Hampshire (NH)||MCDONALD’S||3.5|
|California (CA)||MCDONALD’S||3.6||New Jersey (NJ)||MCDONALD’S||3.6|
|Colorado (CO)||MCDONALD’S||3.3||New Mexico (NM)||BURGER KING||3.6|
|Connecticut (CT)||MCDONALD’S||3.6||New York (NY)||BURGER KING||3.7|
|Delaware (DE)||TIE||3.4||North Carolina (NC)||BURGER KING||3.5|
|District of Columbia (DC)||MCDONALD’S||3.6||North Dakota (ND)||MCDONALD’S||3.6|
|Florida (FL)||MCDONALD’S||3.5||Ohio (OH)||BURGER KING||3.4|
|Georgia (GA)||BURGER KING||3.4||Oklahoma (OK)||BURGER KING||3.6|
|Hawaii (HI)||MCDONALD’S||3.8||Oregon (OR)||MCDONALD’S||3.4|
|Idaho (ID)||TIE||3.6||Pennsylvania (PA)||BURGER KING||3.6|
|Illinois (IL)||MCDONALD’S||3.5||Rhode Island (RI)||BURGER KING||3.5|
|Indiana (IN)||BURGER KING||3.5||South Carolina (SC)||TIE||3.3|
|Iowa (IA)||TIE||3.4||South Dakota (SD)||BURGER KING||3.7|
|Kansas (KS)||MCDONALD’S||3.4||Tennessee (TN)||BURGER KING||3.5|
|Kentucky (KY)||BURGER KING||3.6||Texas (TX)||MCDONALD’S||3.6|
|Louisiana (LA)||TIE||3.4||Utah (UT)||BURGER KING||3.3|
|Maine (ME)||BURGER KING||3.5||Vermont (VT)||BURGER KING||3.6|
|Maryland (MD)||BURGER KING||3.6||Virginia (VA)||TIE||3.4|
|Massachusetts (MA)||BURGER KING||3.5||Washington (WA)||MCDONALD’S||3.5|
|Michigan (MI)||TIE||3.4||West Virginia (WV)||BURGER KING||3.7|
|Minnesota (MN)||MCDONALD’S||3.4||Wisconsin (WI)||MCDONALD’S||3.3|
|Mississippi (MS)||BURGER KING||3.5||Wyoming (WY)||MCDONALD’S||3.3|
|Missouri (MO)||BURGER KING||3.5|