Google My Business Reviews
A little background Information!
With the initial release of Google Maps many years ago, reviews were not part of the initial release, but have been a solid fixture on Google’s for some time now and they are here to stay. The fact is consumers love reviews!
A consumer survey by Bright Local, a leading SEO and online marketing company suggests that over 90% of consumers use reviews to evaluate local businesses. 84% of them trust reviews. it’s, therefore, no wonder that Google likes them too and features them so prominently.
With reviews and star ratings now displayed in search results, they can affect the way people find your business online and may determine whether they want to engage with you.
It also stands to reason that if consumers love reviews, Google’s ranking algorithm does too. Businesses with strong and positive review profile on Google tend to be rewarded with higher rankings.
So why are reviews important? By encouraging customer reviews will lead to more reviews, which in turn lead to better online visibility, which leads to more customers, which again will result in more reviews. It’s one of the highly important marketing techniques any business can engage in to increase their online presence.
How Google Evaluates Reviews
Well Google, as secretive as it is we can only guess, but many local SEO and search experts have theorized for years that Google primarily evaluates reviews across some key attributes. I’ve listed the major ones in below.
Number of Reviews
In Google’s world, popular businesses rank near the top of search results. Less popular businesses rank further down. Reviews are one way for Google to assess popularity.
All other factors being equal, popular businesses tend to serve more customers than less popular ones. So, if your customers leave reviews of your business at a higher rate than your competitors’ customers do, your business will appear more popular and stands a good chance at outranking the competition.
Content of Review
Not only is Google looking at the number of reviews when assessing the popularity of local businesses, it’s looking at what people are saying about local businesses in those reviews.
For example, plumbing contractors whose customers mention the kind of projects they execute, such as “bathroom renovation,” are likely to rank better for searches for those kinds of projects.
Google’s ability to analyse reviews through semantics includes a sentiment filter. Adjectives like “great,” “terrific,” or “best” are likely to rank your business higher than reviews with adjectives like “poor,” “average,” or “OK.”
The content of your customers’ reviews isn’t generally something you can control. But prompting your customers to think about specific questions as they write their review e.g. “What service did we conduct for you – bathroom renovation or laundry renovation?” “How would you rate our overall service – excellent, very good, fully satisfied?” can help improve the effectiveness of those reviews with respect to your rankings. Obviously, you need to customise these questions according to your business.
Google’s algorithm seems to value volume and the content and sentiment of the reviews more strongly than the star rating that customers leave for a business. However, from a consumers point of view, 5 stars always stand out!
Diversity of Reviews
A common misconception is that Google does not use third-party reviews to rank local results. They do! In some cases, reviews on sites such as Facebook, True Local etc., can also improve your rankings even more.
It’s not only a best-practice, but it’s also valuable to gain reviews from your customers on some other sites beyond just Google.
Getting ongoing positive reviews is what will lead to long-term success.
Implementing a review request strategy and processes should be part of any business full transaction cycle and part of a strong marketing regime with their clients.
Like to find out more about Google My Business and online strategies, we ‘d love to help, call us on 03 9739 5445 or take a look our range of SEO Services.