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Do Local Google Reviews Help Your SEO?

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9 min. read

Do reviews matter? This has a question has a short answer and a long answer.

The short answer is yes: Google Reviews can help improve search rankings and general SEO efforts. Although there are many factors involved in search rankings (over 200, in fact), online customer reviews send a strong signal to search engines that communicates expertise, authority, and trust.

Plus, every business owner loves seeing positive Google reviews from customers on their Google My Business profile. Not only does it let you know that folks love your products and services, but it lets everybody who might stumble on your website know it, too!

But, as I said, there’s also a long answer.

How Do We Know Online Google Reviews Help Search Rankings?

When Google’s algorithm assesses a website, one of the goals is to measure what is called E-A-T: Expertise, Authority, and Trust. 

In measuring that “T” in E-A-T, Google reviews play a key role. Glowing reviews from real-life local customers signal to Google that your business has that trustworthiness the algorithm is looking for.

On top of that, studies have been done showing concrete evidence that Google reviews play a tremendous role in your search ranking. 

Last year, Google decided to ban anonymous reviews without profiles attached to them. The new ban was even applied retroactively, which meant that a lot of businesses lost many of their reviews overnight. Joy Hawkins, the owner of Local Search Forum and Sterling Sky, took the opportunity to see if GMB profiles that had lost reviews saw a change in their rankings. 

The result? Businesses who had lost a significant number of reviews typically dropped two spots or more, sometimes even getting shunted off of Page 1.

Around the same time as Hawkins’s study, Darren Shaw of Whitespark released findings from his annual Google Local Rankings Survey, showing that reviews accounted for over 15% of how Google ranks a local business.

In a somewhat related study, the folks over at Moz released a piece on what makes for good SEO for local restaurants, observing that eateries with less than 100 reviews had only a 1% chance of making it into the 3-pack in the 50 major cities studied. Further, none of the 3-pack-worthy restaurants they studied had ratings below 4.1.  

Why Do Google Reviews Help SEO?

Okay, so we know that Google reviews from local customers are great for your rankings. But why do they influence rankings? Why does Google care?

There are essentially three reasons search engines decide customer reviews are relevant

Local customer reviews build trust

We’ve gone over trust and authority quite a bit already, but it bears repeating. In a sense, Google trusts what other people say about you much more than what you say about yourself. Sure, you can put “Best Pizza Joint in Philly” on your website as much as you like — but when customers freely offer the same opinion, that counts much more in Google’s eyes. In return for the social endorsement, the algorithm rewards your website with greater visibility.

Good customer ratings drive more traffic

For many people who search online, a business’s Google reviews mean everything. According to BrightLocal, 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 stars or more. If your business has a solid star rating with lots of detailed reviews, searchers are more likely to trust and click on your website. This added traffic sends a signal to Google that your website is authoritative, and thus worthy of a strong search ranking.

Local reviews tell Google and future customers what your site is about

When you’re building a website, having rich, detailed descriptions on all of your pages is essential to good SEO. These full descriptions make it easier for Google to recognize and crawl your website; in turn, this increases the likelihood Google will serve up your website for online searchers.

The online reviews that your customers leave do the exact same thing. Not only do your Google reviews let the robots know what your site’s all about, but your customers can even fill in gaps that your website’s content may have missed. 

Perhaps your pizzeria’s website neglects to mention that you offer vegan options on request. If so, all of your vegan Google reviewers who appreciated the flexibility can come to your rescue! 

Presto: next time someone in your neighborhood searches “vegan pizza,” Google will keep you in mind.

Do Google Reviews Help SEO for eCommerce Businesses?

If your business deals strictly in ecommerce or has no real physical location, there’s still research supporting the importance of Google reviews for SEO. Yotpo, a review management platform, studied the impact of adding customer reviews onto a sample of digital businesses’ websites. During the 9-month study, monthly organic page views increased about 45%.

How Can I Get More Google Reviews?

There’s no magic bullet to getting more 5-star ratings. However, there are things you can do to encourage customers to give feedback. Don’t be afraid to reach out and get creative — many businesses leave out signs or placards requesting feedback, including links that can make it easy for customers to see what others are saying on their site, or even asking all your customers regarding the service you provided. Remind customers to see what others are saying on Yelp, Facebook, or Google.

Keep in mind, though, to never pay people for Google reviews — including marketers. Not only does it violate Google’s guidelines, but their algorithms are designed to sniff out inauthentic reviews. If Google has reason to think you or your employees have been inventing false reviews, your website could wind up with a stiff penalty that would tank your rankings.

How Can I Get the Most Out of My Google Reviews?

As you accrue more positive reviews, you can get the most out of them by posting them to your website’s homepage. Granted, doing so does no benefit or harm to your SEO — but it’s great for user experience. People love seeing all-star reviews, and there are plenty of tools out there, such as EmbedReviews, Kudobuzz, and Yotpo, that let you add your social reviews to your website.

How to Handle Bad Reviews

If you get a negative review, use it as an opportunity to make amends and win back that customer. 

Sadly, many business owners respond to negative reviews with angry, not-so-professional responses. Don’t be that person. Instead, reach out by commenting directly on that review, and go the extra mile to make up for their poor experience with stellar customer service.

You can kill two birds with one stone by both retaining the would-be former customer and zeroing out that bad review. You’ll be surprised at how many customers will change their tune — and their negative post — after you reach out and listen to their concerns.

By the way, you should always respond to all of your reviews, even the positive ones. Which brings us to our next point.

Does Replying to Google Reviews Boost Search Results?

Whether your online reviewers are singing your praises or venting about a bad experience, you should always respond to every review. Not only does it go a long way with less-than-satisfied customers, but it helps build trust among all of your past and potential customers by demonstrating that you care.

Further, responding to positive and negative reviews does more than build trust with your audience: it builds trust with Google, too. Your responses send signals to Google that your business is actively responding to customers, which is great for your SEO strategy and search ranking. 

In fact, Google itself admits that responding to reviews helps your SEO. Google likes it when you interact positively with your customers, and rewards your business with visibility.

What Should I Do About Fake Reviews?

Dealing with fake Google reviews is critical because they can damage your online reputation. It’s essential to take action as soon as possible when you notice activity that looks suspicious or out of the ordinary.

For example, if you start seeing a lot of one-star ratings without accompanying reviews in a short period of time. If you determine that one or more of the reviews are illegitimate, it’s best to reach out to the reviewer via email and politely ask them to explain their motivation and/or to remove it. If that fails, you can flag the review on Google with any evidence you may have.

Keep in mind any reviews that violate Google’s Terms and Conditions can be removed by Google entirely. Additionally, investing in reputation management solutions and regularly monitoring your online presence will help ensure malicious actors don’t take advantage of you in the first place.

Does It Matter If People “Like” My Google Reviews?

Sometimes, SEO agencies will get requests from clients to get more people to “like” their GMB reviews. Does getting more likes actually help your rankings, though?

First, let’s back up a bit. Starting in 2016, Google started allowing those logged into their Google accounts to give a thumbs-up to any GMB review they like. You can only give one thumbs-up, you can reverse your thumbs-up by clicking twice, and there is no opposite thumbs-down function. 

In a small study by Miriam Ellis over at Moz, the author found that although thumbs-up in themselves don’t help your rankings, reviews with lots of thumbs-up are more likely to surface at the top of the reviews, without viewers having to click “View all Google reviews” to see it. 

This gives you an opportunity to highlight your most glowing reviews. Just beware not to have too many people like a review — if a single review gets, say, 100 likes, Google may consider it spam and penalize your website.

Do Reviews on Third Party Review Sites Like BBB Affect Search Rankings?

We’ve been talking about Google My Business a lot, but what about other review platforms, like Yelp or Better Business Bureau? Do reviews on those platforms affect your rankings?

On the one hand, it seems that they don’t matter so much, at least SEO-wise. Last year, John Mueller from Google stated flat-out that BBB and other third-party reviews don’t influence your rankings, with the transcript from the interview here: 

On the other hand, according to Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines (QRG), a poor reputation is considered a red flag for a site being low-quality, and the QRG talks a lot about third-party sites playing a role in a website’s reputation, particularly the BBB. 

One portion of the QRG plainly says, “You will sometimes find high ratings on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website because there is very little data on the business, not because the business has a positive reputation. However, very low ratings on BBB are usually the result of multiple unresolved complaints. Please consider very low ratings on the BBB site to be evidence for a negative reputation.”

Seemingly, ratings from the 3rd-party sites don’t carry SEO weight in the same way Google reviews do. But from the looks of it, they definitely have an impact, so monitor your other online customer reviews carefully.

Do Google Reviews Pair with Facebook Reviews?

Understanding how Google Reviews and Facebook Reviews integrate with one another can be confusing for any business owner; however, with a few key considerations, this complex relationship begins to make more sense.

Ultimately, Google Reviews are intended to measure customer satisfaction with a company’s products or services while Facebook Reviews showcase how customers see the company’s overall brand. While reviews on a third party site can complement one another if businesses choose to integrate them in a unified system, it’s important to note that these two types of reviews serve different functions and require different levels of management.

Being aware of these differences can help businesses leverage each source effectively and make informed decisions regarding other review sites.

Summary & Final Thoughts

Wrapping up: Google reviews affect your SEO, so do what you can to garner and highlight positive reviews, make the most of negative ones, and use your Google My Business reviews to their full potential.

Also, if you like what you just read, don’t forget to like and share this article, too!

1SEO Digital Agency offers an array of expertise that can help your business maximize its results with Google reviews. Their team of certified professionals will offer advice and provide coaching on how properly utilizing these reviews can effectively push your SEO up the ladder of success. They know the secrets to managing and harnessing the power within Google reviews, and are ready to share this information with you! 

For a well rounded marketing approach, local businesses can take advantage of other services from 1SEO, including:


Frequently Asked Questions

Local Google online reviews are user-generated ratings and feedback that appear beside local results on Google. It allows users to quickly evaluate businesses in their area based on experiences of others, rather than relying solely on traditional advertisement methods.

Reviews are often the deciding factor when choosing between competing locations, so making sure to have good ones is a key part of an effective marketing strategy. With local reviews, you can build trust with potential customers and leverage your visibility across the web to make sure you stand out from the competition.

Local Google reviews can have a huge positive impact on your website’s visibility in search engine results. Reviews provide a way for potential customers to authenticate and validate the quality of your business.

When users search for related keywords that pertain to your company, reviews give your business an edge over others by providing more information regarding its services or products. Google reviews also help to establish higher rankings since many use customer feedback as ranking signals in their algorithms.

Overall, seeking out local Google reviews is an effective way to improve SEO rankings and increase web traffic.

A few tips to keep in mind are ensure to ask your customers and clients to review your business online – you can do this by giving them a link to the page or making it easy to find on your website. Additionally, once you receive reviews, make sure that you are replying positively as potential customers will see these responses when looking at a review.

Finally, consider incentivizing positive feedback by offering rewards or discounts for those who leave reviews of your business – this is a great way to get more people engaged!

The frequency of requests for customer reviews depends on the preferences of a business. It could consist of occasional requests with updates or significant changes in terms of product/service features, or it could be more frequent that is tailored toward customer feedback and experiences

Reviews in Google can indeed have an effect on other sites ranking factors. This is because many sites closely track reviews of other search results, and the more positive the reviews are, the more likely that other search engines will take notice and may even push a company’s product up their own rankings.

Additionally, some people use Google as their primary search engine and therefore if a company receives higher ratings there it’s more likely that they’ll be recommended higher in other search engines too. Of course this isn’t guaranteed to happen but savvy marketers understand the importance of monitoring reviews and making sure they have an active presence online.

About the Author

Stephen Carrozzino is a Senior Content and SEO Strategist with 1SEO Digital Agency – an authority on all things digital marketing. His deep understanding of search engine optimization is only rivaled by his passion for running, biking, and reading/crafting engaging writing.

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