How Google chooses the most relevant reviews to display?
Yes we did it! At GMB Crush, we have analyzed 1,217 reviews to find the most relevant information. Here is what we found!
Google reviews help potential customers build trust and make a decision on whether to choose your business or not.
Your online reviews are important because they make a huge impact on how local businesses get their potential customers.
From Google reviews, people can read feedback and customer experience, which will give them an idea of the nature and quality of the services you offer.
Before we go deeper into how Google chooses which reviews to display, let’s first check the importance of why you need to get more reviews.
Table of Content:
What is a Google Review
A Google review is an unpaid and voluntary review that customers can write about an establishment, business or place they visited. Google reviews are connected with Google My Business page, Google Search, and Google Maps. This means that the reviews will show up in these Google platforms.
Google makes it easy for customers to leave a review using your desktop or mobile device. One way to do it is by using the direct review link of the business. Alternatively, you could simply search the name of the business on Google, and from their profile, look for the review link, and click on it. From the review page, you can select the star rating, add your personal notes, and also attach photos.
Google reviews show useful and relevant information, and it helps businesses stand out. They will show up next to your Google My Business profile on Search and Maps.
4 Reasons why Google reviews matter today
1. Google reviews help improve your local search ranking.
One of the most important benefits of Google reviews is that they can boost your ranking in the local 3-pack. It is an integral part of local SEO which will help your business compete with other businesses in your area. So if people can’t find your business when they are actively searching, how can they possibly choose your business?
Having Google reviews, particularly positive reviews will make your business stand out from the rest of your competitors in the local search ranking. The reviews will highlight the fact that you offer a quality product or service, and this is what will help drive many customers to choose you.
2. Google reviews promote customer trust.
Statistics show that around 55 percent of online shoppers read at least four reviews before buying a product or availing of a service.
Another online statistic shows that almost 27 percent of consumers say that they trust products with review counts between 11 to 50. In contrast, only 5 percent of consumers say they trust products with over 500 reviews. So although review quantity is important, having multiple reviews does not always equate to getting more customer trust.
The numbers will tell us that the right number of relevant reviews can help build trust among potential and existing customers. So much more if the reviews are Google reviews because many people use and trust this search engine more than the other sources.
3. Google reviews influence the decisions of potential customers.
More often, people read Google reviews because they want validation that choosing you is the right decision. And what better way to get validation than reading positive reviews of happy customers. These online reviews reflect their level of satisfaction over the product or service you offer, the same thing your potential customers also want.
However, the opposite may also happen if you have many negative reviews. So if your business has a high percentage of low-star review rating, this may push potential leads to choose your competition.
4. Google reviews boost your CTR metrics
Use the power of Google reviews to win over more customers with increased click-through rates and engagement signals.
Poor engagement means that your visitors will likely leave and it hurts the ability to capture leads, close sales or rank higher.
If the traffic your gmbs gets isn’t engaged, then people will leave and this could hurt how much lead or sale information becomes captured as well rank higher for certain keywords in Google search results.
Check your local rankings to stay on track!For a more detailed guide on how to improve your ranking in Google My Business, check out this article.
Our study after inspecting 1,217 reviews
We analyzed 1,217 reviews to bring you the most comprehensive review data that’s available!
We have audited 8 of the top most competitive business niches in the US such as: plumbers, lawyers, vets, surgery/beauty clinics, dental clinics, locksmiths, restaurants. Then we’ve took a note of the following:
1) Impact of the query keywords across the most prominent reviews.
2) Impact of reviews length across the most prominent reviews.
3) Impact of pictures among the most prominent reviews.
4) Impact of topic relevance across the most prominent reviews.
5) Impact of a local guide profile review.
6) The age of a review (time factor) and its impact.
7) Impact of likes over the top 3 reviews.
8) Impact of a picture in the reviewer’s profile.
9) Impact of representative reviews.
Moreover, there are also factors that many people thought have an impact on Google review relevancy, but in reality, they don’t seem to us to really matter. Here what we’ve found so far:
We’ve seen that the impact of keywords on top 3 Google’s reviews is diminishing over time. Google is cleverly using bolded keywords to draw attention not only towards matching search terms but also to words related to the sentiment surrounding them. As certain key phrases surely trigger higher user engagement, I noticed that Google has given more visibility in their results for top reviews containing “Emotional Trigger Words” ( Eg: great, professional, efficient, etc.. etc.. )- with an intention of directing clicks and interactions towards listings.
The length as represented by the number of words in a review greatly impacts how Google will treat it to be relevant. Based on our study, Google seems not to be rewarding a precise amount of words, rather than reviews that describe in detail the personal experience over service or product purchased. While there might be a direct connection between the length of a review and its relevance, it’s hard to tell the ideal number of words to be considered relevant.
Based on our data, we can say that there is an additional correlation between the length and formatting in reviews. A well-formatted review can greatly help Google to “read” what they need for sentiment extraction, as well keywords associated with services that may apply to your business.
In fact I’ve noticed that Google AI is pulling out keywords from customer reviews to create a list of what I call “service keywords”.
🧠The new feature highlights which services the single review pertains too and after inspecting multiple listings, it became clear how this update will impact.
👉It will help people discover exactly what they’re looking for, which in turn impacts their engagement and click-through rates as well.
👉Google has been proving time and again that they are the best at finding real correlations between what a business does on the surface level, with how customers feel about it.
👉This allows Google to categorize and labeling the reviews in a better way. As each review is more likely to become its own piece of content, with unique combinations of keywords, semantic keywords etc; This makes classification easier for search engines like Google who need clear patterns defined by data sets.
👉User-generated content is having a major impact on the way people connect and consume information. From time to time it will be more difficult to emulate the full outcome of a listing as multiple aspects such as posts, reviews and published photos are in users’ hands. These parts play an important role when Google validates what was initially added by them at first glance so they can trust info that goes into ranking factors.
Based on our observation, it seems that photos posted in reviews stick well on top only when the published image reflects 100% of what is discussed within a review.
The chances are higher than ever for the review to be chosen by Google as the most relevant one, when all related words and keywords are boosting its relevance “feeding” the “service keywords” attributes section.
This is a great reason to be thoughtful about the quality and relevance of images you choose when publishing your GMB posts as well.
A Google review is specific and topically relevant when it contains useful and personal feedback and it talks about the person’s customer service experience.
From our research when a GMB listing has a %5 up of negative reviews it tends to display at least 1 or 2 negative reviews ( it depends how strong the % of negative reviews is) with specific details and a higher word count. In this scenario Google prioritizes negative experiences from local guide profiles.
Local Guide Profile
Google is giving more weight to GMB listings with local guide reviews that have matching keywords. Even if the single review doesn’t get picked up by Google as the most relevant one, Google is taking into higher account what these guides submit and determine how prominent each listing is.
We explored several Local Guides accounts among those picked up by Google as top reviewer and noticed that the algorithm is preferring reviewer profiles with strong activities on Google Maps over the same geography.
In particular, Google is giving a boost to local guide profiles with strong activities on Google Maps over the same radius as the business reviewed.
These include photo-publishing activities happening nearby publicly accessible places, local events etc…
As a general indication we noticed that a review written by a person who also posted more online reviews in the same geographic location is more likely to be considered relevant than a review posted by someone with no other local reviews.
Although Google reviews are not sorted by date, generally, the more recent the online reviews are, the more Google will consider them as relevant and eligible to be displayed on top. As new, better reviews come in with stronger signals they can take over spots that older ones hold onto. This happens especially for restaurants, as their menu could change every year or season. In fact a written review for any restaurant a few years back might no longer be relevant to what the business currently offers.
From our study: the most relevant reviews for non-seasonal businesses are from 4 months to years old.
The likes a Google review gets won’t help much unless it has around +7 to +10 likes. But even with the likes, it does not have much of an impact in determining if a review is relevant or not.
As pointed above, when a GMB listing has a %5 up of negative reviews Google tends to display at least 1 or 2 negative reviews. In this scenario the amount of likes that appears on the negative reviews is greater than positive ones, due to the fact that people tend to express how much that feedback may have been useful to them.
We’ve learned overall that likes have no impact on the negative reviews either.
Negative review sample that ranks #1 ( Sort by lowest ) 👇
Negative review sample that ranks #6 from a local guide profile
( Sort by lowest ) 👇
Our study also found out that responses from the business owner did not significantly impact the online reviews ranking in the Most Relevant list.
However old reviews with no reply tend to be replaced by newest ones with stronger trust signals especially when accompanied by the owner’s response.
We didn’t find any correlations between the most relevant reviews and having a picture attached to the profile that left this review.
Despite this, we feel that Google is taking into account deeper signals to understand how trustworthy each reviewer profile is. In fact the importance of proximity signals in Google’s algorithm has grown over time by determining where reviews, clicks and phone calls come from.
If it is true that having a picture doesn’t affect the user’s profile rating then surely other data pulled out from these activities can be used by Google for detecting certain patterns which might help them to assign a “trust score” to each account.
To learn more about how to power up your GMB Proximity signals, we recommend checking out these 2 resources:
– Near Me SEO Strategy guide
– Increase your GMB/GBP proximity
Although not included in our study, many online sources mentioned that if a review is a representative review, there’s a big chance that it will appear in Google Search results as well as Google Place for relevant searches.
A representative online review is a review that represents other reviews.
But how exactly does Google determine representative Google reviews?
In classifying representative Google reviews, Google might group the different reviews based on certain shared characteristics. These shared characteristics may cover a wide variety of areas involving the local business. For instance, if the reviews are for a restaurant business page, Google might classify reviews based on their menus, customer service sentiment, location and dining experience, among others.
Another idea on how Google decides to group reviews is based on ratings. So if a business profile has 10 Google reviews rated 3.5 stars to 5 stars (positive review), 5 Google reviews rated 2.4 to 3.4 (neutral) and 2 Google reviews with a lower rating (negative review), Google might choose to display 4 positive reviews and also a few from neutral and negative reviews.
Tips to get reviews
Whether you have a single list or multiple GMB/GBP locations, Google Reviews can have a huge impact on local businesses especially when it comes to local ranking. They can help your Google My Business account gain the trust of customers.
High-quality reviews can even help customers make a decision.
If your review collection process is not working the way it should, consider these few tips:
- Consider requesting Google reviews from customers by sharing a direct link to your Google My Business account page.
- Verify and update your Google My Business information as this is the only way you can respond to reviews. You can build customer trust and improve your online reputation when you interact with your customers and respond to their feedback.
- Encourage customers to leave reviews for your Google My Business page. Tell them that it is a quick and easy process.
- Consider all Google reviews as important, regardless of whether one is a bad review or a good review. Respond to the customer to show that you care and that their feedback matters.
- Try the different approaches of sharing your review link to encourage customers to leave reviews. You can include it in your ‘thank you’ emails, include it in your receipts, or post the invite in your location.
Frequently ask questions
Can you delete Google reviews?
Deleting Google reviews is possible and there are two ways to do it. One way is for the person who wrote the review to be the one to delete it, and the other way is for a business to flag the review as inappropriate. Once flagged, it alerts Google that a review is fake or it does not comply with the review policy.
Can you remove a negative review?
Unfortunately, business owners cannot remove negative reviews under their Google My Business profile. The same is true for other review sites. Business owners cannot delete Yelp reviews and TripAdvisor reviews among others. But you can always flag a review if it is inappropriate.
Can you hide reviews?
Businesses cannot hide reviews but can flag them if they violate Google’s policy for reviews.
The impact of AI will make it harder for users to manipulate reviews as it will be unpredictable which part of the content from the review can or cannot be associated directly with a specific keyword/sentiment from Google’s database.
The idea that you can’t ever keep up with what Google is rewarding or why they are doing something new might have been a misconception in the past, but it’s true no longer. To understand their decisions today requires access to data and an investment of time – these assets should be treated as such.
SEO Lover, my motto is Action Over Words.