5 Ways Google Reviews and Ratings Impact Local Businesses

5 Ways Google Reviews and Ratings Impact Local Businesses

Written by Michael Del Gigante

Do you ever give local businesses glowing Google ratings and reviews? If so, you probably know that they provide valuable information to potential customers—and they’re especially important for local businesses. 

The search engine giant’s reviews are found in search results across desktop and mobile, and now they’re beginning to appear on other platforms like Google Maps. Great Google ratings and reviews give companies increased credibility, which can result in a boost in website traffic and visits to their brick-and-mortar stores. 

There’s no doubt about the importance of Google ratings and reviews, but how do they really impact local businesses? Which businesses especially need to consider these ratings? Do potential customers check reviews on Google more than on other platforms? Search engine optimization is another consideration for local businesses—how do Google ratings and reviews affect SEO? 

After analyzing recent industry reports, MDG Advertising’s social media experts uncovered the answers. Read on to learn five things you should know about the impact of Google ratings and reviews. 

1. Most Local Shoppers Look to Google Reviews 

Google is still the most popular search platform, so it’s logical that its ratings and reviews would also be popular among consumers. But just how popular are these ratings and reviews? 

A recent survey from Uberall revealed that 51 percent of local shoppers depend on Google reviews when looking for a brick-and-mortar store. More than a third of consumers turn to Yelp for reviews, while 35 percent visit Facebook for information. The Better Business Bureau earned 22 percent, and TripAdvisor earned 15 percent. 

The survey results were clear—Google is the most popular platform for business reviews among local shoppers. 

2. Online Reviews Are Important to Young Shoppers 

For businesses that want to appeal to younger shoppers, online reviews may be the key. While most consumers search for ratings and reviews before choosing a business, crowdsourced information is extremely important to young shoppers. 

Fifty percent of shoppers between 18 and 34 say they always read reviews before making a decision, but survey data from shoppers over age 55 revealed that 54 percent only occasionally check Google ratings and reviews. 

Since younger shoppers will usually turn to reviews, while older consumers may skip them altogether, businesses looking to engage Millennials always strive for positive reviews. 

3. Google Ratings and Reviews Give SEO a Boost 

Most local businesses know that reaching the top of search engine rankings can mean more business. However, many underestimate the importance of reviews and ratings when it comes to search engine optimization. A variety of positive reviews gives a business trustworthiness and credibility—two characteristics that draw in searchers. 

BrightLocal explored the connection between Google reviews and SEO in a recent study, revealing that the search engine favors firms with positive reviews and ratings. On average, the top three local businesses in a typical search feature 47 reviews and a 4.47 rating. If a business has low star ratings and negative reviews, it will likely struggle to land on the coveted first page of results. 

It’s important to note that it isn’t the quantity of reviews that’s important—it’s the quality. Google scans content for specific keywords that deliver the most relevant content to the searcher, meaning that more-detailed reviews are favored by the search engine. 

4. Google Reviews and Ratings Strategies Are Customizable 

No business is exactly the same, so the most effective Google reviews and ratings strategies vary depending on a firm’s needs. If a business is in a large area, it may need hundreds of ratings and reviews to gain visibility. On the other hand, businesses in less-populated areas may only need a few dozen to stand out. 

Recently, BrightLocal examined the average reviews among various types of firms and discovered significant differences in the volume of reviews. For example, hotels in metro areas might receive hundreds of guest reviews, while smaller businesses may not have as many. Additionally, smaller, more specialized service providers sometimes see higher ratings—for example, BrightLocal noted that the average rating for photographers is 4.84. They also found that car dealerships earn an average of 4.11. 

5. Google Reviews Are Always Evolving

Google reviews and ratings are always changing as the search engine continues to add features (and eliminate others). One example of this evolution is the Google Maps app, which recently added a new feature allowing hashtags on customer-written reviews. Now, those who write reviews can add appropriate hashtags to their posts to further help searchers find the right local business. For instance, a user reviewing a romantic dinner spot might use #datenight within the text. 

While no one can be sure what the future holds for Google reviews, they’re essential for the long-term success of local businesses. Google continues to support several products—from Maps and search to YouTube and Android mobile devices—that offer companies various opportunities to showcase their reviews and ratings—all in an effort to engage consumers. 

User-created content is increasingly popular and helpful to consumers, which means it will be even more significant to consumers in the coming years. Google reviews are here to stay, making them extremely important to consumers and local businesses alike.

About Michael Del Gigante, CEO of MDG Advertising
In 1999, CEO Michael Del Gigante founded MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton, Florida and Brooklyn, New York. With his unique insight and decades of industry experience, he turned what was once a traditional ad agency into an integrated branding firm based on an innovative 360-degree marketing philosophy that provides a full spectrum of traditional and digital advertising services.