How Impactful Are Reviews For Your SEO?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, for those of us in the Local SEO world, one thing is clearer than ever: if you want your business to make an impact in your community, a strong local online presence is an absolute must. In addition to maintaining a complete and accurate Google My Business profile, user interaction — like getting ratings and reviews from your active customers — are a key component of any solid Local SEO strategy. But do ratings and reviews really impact your local SEO? And if so, how?

How Reviews & Ratings Impact Local SEO for Google Maps

For listings on Google Maps, we found that the average number of reviews for a listing had a significantly stronger impact on its performance, compared to average rating. In fact, we found that average rating did not correlate with placement for the first three positions. On average, the top position has more reviews than those in positions two and three. It’s important it is to encourage as many satisfied customers to review as possible. Together with a strong Google My Business profile, maintaining a high volume of reviews and an average rating of 4.1 or higher can help to improve visibility in Google Maps results.

Distance

While reviews and ratings are important, there’s no denying that distance plays a crucial role in Local SEO. According to Google, the three main ranking factors for a Google My Business profile are relevance, prominence, and distance.

How Reviews Impact Your Local Pack Rankings on Desktop

The impact of ratings and reviews on Local Pack performance on the desktop was a little less clear-cut. That said, we can still conclude that the number of reviews for a listing has a stronger impact on its performance, compared to the average rating. As with Google Maps, the average rating for the top three positions in the Local Pack on the desktop did not align with the position. The second position had the highest average rating, though all three were once again above 4.1. On desktop, the average number of reviews for businesses in the local pack did not correlate with their positions. In fact, listings in the second position had the lowest average number of reviews, despite also having the highest average rating.

How Reviews Affect Your Local Pack Ranking on Mobile

Just like with Google Maps and the Local Pack on desktop, the average rating was not indicative of the position in the Local Pack on mobile. While there was almost no difference between each position’s average rating, position two was once again the highest, despite having the lowest average number of reviews.

What You Can Do About It

Encouraging your customers to review is always not an easy task. There might be as many strategies out there to accomplish this as there are businesses with online profiles. Step one, of course, is to ensure that as many customers as possible walk away with a positive experience. You can help those satisfied customers leave more impactful reviews by providing them with links to your Google listing, along with starter questions, which can make it easier for reviewers to compose their reviews, while also subtly encouraging them to use the keywords you want to target. It’s also crucial that you monitor your online reviews and respond appropriately wherever possible. You can use the Reviews report in the Listing Management tool to monitor the reviews for each of your business’s locations, your average rating, and even respond, all without leaving the page. This is all on Google My Business. If you’d like help or want to learn more, please reach out to us and we’d love to help!