The Ultimate Guide to Google My Business Reviews
In this in-depth guide, we show you how Google business reviews work, how to write them, and best practice tips for business owners to manage their presence on Google My Business.
The value of reviews to reputation management should need no introduction; they’re as powerful as word-of-mouth recommendations, they’re an SEO ranking factor, they make great customer experiences more visible, and they add credibility and trust to your brand.
Now, couple all of those benefits with the additional advantages of having five-star Google My Business reviews showing up whenever your company appears in the local pack. It’s a win-win.
But how do Google business reviews work? Google reviews have a few extra quirks to get to grips with, but it’s well worth spending that extra time getting to grips with the reviews platform. If you’re new to Google customer reviews, read on to find out what they are, what impact they have on your search engine visibility, how to do Google reviews, how businesses can grow the number of reviews they have, how to respond to reviews on Google, and how Google My Business users can get fake reviews removed.
Google My Business Reviews Overview
Way back in 2007, Jonathan Goldman, Software Engineer for Google Maps published a blog post announcing that consumers would be able to begin writing reviews via Google Maps. Goldman noted that the search engine had long since displayed reviews on Maps, but this information had been amalgamated from other sources around the web.
In his post, made in June, Goldman ushered in the very first generation of Google My Business reviews by encouraging search users to,
Tell the world all about your favorite (or least favorite) doctors and dentists, hotels, bakeries, hardware stores, salons, pet spas, auto mechanics, plumbers, and more. Or perhaps even your favorite restaurant in Tokyo. Give it a try to make your opinions known and discover new favorites.
Over a decade later, Google is now the fastest-growing review site around. Our own research into the leading online reviews platforms confirmed this, with an analysis of 50,000 US-based businesses confirming that Google has grown its volume of reviews far quicker than rivals such as Facebook and Yelp.
The data shows a 278% jump in the volume of Google reviews in the period 2015-16. This comes off the back of a 114% increase in the previous 12-month period.
To put that growth in context, Google’s closest competitor, TripAdvisor managed just 82% growth 2015-16, with Facebook recording a 51% increase and Yelp 59%.
Effects of Google Reviews on SEO
One of the mainstays of online reputation management is the certain knowledge that reviews can have an impact on SEO. The Local SEO Guide ranking factors study was one of the first to confirm this by definitively showing a very strong link between the volume of reviews accrued and local search positioning.
Other variables, such as the balance of positive and negative reviews, frequency of new reviews and speed of business response to reviews were all determined to play their part in local pack positioning.
A study carried out by top Google My Business contributor, Joy Hawkins also confirmed this. Using BrightLocal data, Hawkins ran a test to determine if the number of Google reviews a business has affects its search position. She found that when the number of reviews diminished (for example if they had been removed by Google because they’d been posted by an anonymous user) the search position also dropped a few days later.
An additional study by Sara Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing proves even more conclusively that Google business reviews are directly related to search positioning. She studied over 22,000 local business listings and over 100,000 individual reviews to uncover how Google customer reviews impacted SEO ranking.
After crunching the numbers, she reached four key conclusions:
- To gain a 1-3 spot in the search results, you’ll need an average of 472% more reviews than the businesses ranked 4-6
- The first three businesses ranked are much more likely to have Google reviews than those outside of the top three
- More than six times out of ten, the top listing will be the business with the most Google reviews
- Businesses ranked 1-3 have an average of around eight reviews. If you have just one or two, expect to be ranked position four or lower
We at BrightLocal have even performed our own study on Google Reviews, which highlights differences between industries. It’s worth taking a look if you want to see how your local business compares to your industry average in number of reviews and average star rating, as well as how this differs based on local search ranking position.