Google reviews do more than just give a boost to your online reputation. With higher customer ratings and review volume, they can significantly influence your visibility in local search results. But how do Google reviews impact your search rankings and overall SEO?

The answer is a mix of signals that Google picks up from your Google Business Profile, the reviews themselves, and other elements on your listing.

In this blog post, we decode the importance of Google reviews for your organic and local SEO efforts and offer tips on how to leverage them effectively. 

Why Google reviews are important for local businesses

In a recent Birdeye study, we found that 79% of all online reviews in 2023 were on Google, making it one of the largest online review sites for all businesses. Additionally, over 90% of retail, healthcare, legal, and home service business reviews were Google reviews. 

Such a vast online review footprint shows that Google is at the forefront of shaping visibility for local businesses. 

It is also important to note that 65% of all local business searches occur on search engines, and Google receives the majority of these requests as the largest search engine. Businesses must focus on collecting more Google reviews since the platform uses these reviews to determine the most relevant search results.

For a more in-depth look, check out our article on the importance of Google reviews for local businesses.

How do Google reviews impact local SEO? 

A typical local business discovery journey looks like this: A customer runs a Google search for “the best dentist near me” or “the best restaurant near me” and chooses a service provider based on various factors. Studies show that customers mostly choose the businesses in the top three positions. We call this the local map pack results

So, what factors determine which businesses appear in the top three on Google? Google ranks businesses based on their relevance, distance, and prominence, with Google reviews significantly impacting all three criteria.

The impact of your Google reviews and ratings on your local SEO success depends on several key elements:

  • Overall review rating 
  • Volume of reviews
  • Recency of reviews
  • Response to the reviews
  • Quality of reviews 

These factors collectively influence how well your business performs in local search results. Let’s explore these in detail:

1. Overall review rating

Your average review rating can determine whether your customers move forward with a purchase from your business or turn to your competitors instead. In fact, the Google Maps rating filter feature can determine whether potential customers will look at your business at all.

Google now defaults to a “4.0 rating and above ” when a customer searches for the “best <business> in a locality.” Aiming for this rating can help you rank higher and indicate that you have many positive reviews. 

Image showing a Google search result for "best dentist in houston". The image shows that Google only displays businesses with 4+ rating for such queries

Most people choose businesses with a high but realistic average score. With a low average star rating, your business won’t appear credible. On the other hand, an extremely high rating might lead customers to believe your reviews are fabricated. Customers are most likely to trust businesses with at least a 4-star rating.

2. Volume of reviews

A recent Birdeye study shows that over 50% of customers read five or more reviews before forming an opinion about a business. Therefore, having a higher number of reviews can increase the likelihood that potential customers will trust and buy from you. 

Additionally, businesses with high customer reviews are seen as active and trustworthy, making them more likely to appear as relevant results in local searches.

For example, a business with 20 reviews and an overall star rating of 4.5 will be featured below a business with 100 reviews and a 4.1 average rating. This is because the second business’s rating reflects the opinions of a larger group of customers. 

Image showing a Google search result for "storage facility detroit". The image shows that Google displays businesses with higher review volume above those with lesser reviews even with same rating.
Note: A higher volume of reviews convinces potential customers to further engage with your Google Business Profile by seeking directions, messaging, or calling you. These signals establish your business as a “relevant” result for the search query, improving your local search ranking. 

3. Recency of reviews

Both potential customers and Google pay close attention to how recent your reviews are when determining the trustworthiness of your business.

Also, Google only considers active businesses in search rankings. Old reviews indicate that your business is either inactive or not attracting customers.

4. Responding to reviews

Responding regularly to customer reviews on Google can improve local search ranking. As we mentioned before, Google values customer experience above all. In its effort to show the most accurate search results, the platform looks for businesses that consistently manage and respond to reviews.  

Responding to negative reviews can significantly boost trust in your business. When potential customers see you are willing to be accountable, they are more likely to consider you over your competitors. Again, this sends a positive signal to Google, making the platform trust your business.

If a company gets a negative review, it’s important for the company to respond to that customer quickly. Responding to negative feedback shows the customer that the company cares about their experience and takes any issues seriously. Taking the time to provide an appropriate response doesn’t just look professional. It might also help a business improve its services in the future.

For more information on review responses, take a look at out our ultimate guide to responding to reviews.

Generate high-quality reviews to rank higher on local searches with Birdeye

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5. Quality of reviews

A good review is detailed, specific, and includes media to support its comments. And, having a higher volume of quality reviews for your business can help you rank higher on Google. 

In the local map pack results, Google provides small snippets of your reviews below your business. These are called Google local justifications. Google scans your reviews for relevant keywords and comments and displays them in the search results. This way, customers can know why a particular business is in the top three. 

Image showing a Google search result for "best restaurants in ohio". The image shows that Google uses keywords in reviews to justify why that business is featured in top three.

In this example, we can see that Google reviews with the word “best restaurant” and images have helped these restaurants rank higher. 

Google reviews have an impact on SEO ranking

Google reviews help you rank higher in local SEO. But it doesn’t stop there. They also help boost traffic to your website by improving trust in your business, improving click-through rates, and increasing the visibility of your business to relevant customers.

Google reviews increase trust 

The current Google ranking algorithm is based on E-E-A-T, which stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. A high overall review rating and a wealth of positive reviews show that your customers trust your business. 

To evaluate trustworthiness, Google checks:

  • The business “About us” page to see how long they have been working for and if the business is legitimate. Adding Google reviews here can help you prove your trustworthiness. 
  • Independent review sites, including Google reviews, can be used to see what the business’s partners and customers say about them.
  • The web presence checks what customers and other experts say about the business. 

As you can see, Google reviews play a vital role in two of the three factors listed by Google. 

Google reviews improve click-through rates and organic traffic

Google reviews can make your business more visible and help you drive more organic traffic. Businesses with positive reviews are likelier to see website clicks and engagement on location-specific pages. Such organically driven traffic and clicks indicate to Google that you are a relevant business, improving your overall ranking on the platform. 

Google reviews are also indexed on search engine results pages (SERPs). Therefore, more positive reviews can help increase the visibility and organic traffic to your business website. 

Pro Tip: You can also add Google reviews to your website. Check out our article on 3 ways to add Google reviews to your website.

Generate more Google reviews to rank higher 

An example of making a review request easy.

The easiest way to gather a large number of Google reviews is to ask your customers directly. Online reviews have been increasing consistently. In fact, the trend has been consistent with a 5% year-on-year growth across all review sites. This shows that customers are more than happy to share their feedback when asked. 

Investing in review management can significantly benefit your business, especially by generating higher revenue from organic online channels. 

Here are a few strategies to encourage customers to write reviews:

  • Integrate your review management tool with CRM so that every customer gets a review request as soon as a transaction is complete.
  • Respond to all customer reviews to motivate other customers to share their feedback. 
  • Improve the review writing experience with one-click forms and by including review links in emails, SMS, and other communications. 

FAQs about how Google reviews help ranking and SEO

How many reviews increase your Google ranking?

This depends on your industry and your competitors. If you’re eager to increase your ranking, you’ll want to get more reviews with higher star ratings than your competitors.

Does responding to Google reviews help SEO?

Yes. Google sees review responses as a best practice for getting reviews. Reviews also show customers you value their input.

Are reviews a ranking factor? 

Yes. According to Moz, customer reviews are a key factor in local search ranking.

How do reviews help with SEO?

Customer reviews influence how Google evaluates your business’s relevance in local search queries.

Do Google reviews help you rank higher? 

Yes. More reviews and positive star ratings improve your business’s local ranking.

Do Google reviews help Google ranking?

Yes. Positive Google reviews help improve your search ranking and overall SEO.

Manage Google reviews with Birdeye to rank higher

As your business grows and expands into new locations, managing Google reviews can become increasingly challenging. By automating the process of requesting and monitoring reviews, you can efficiently manage your online reputation without spending too much time on it. 

With AI-driven tools like Birdeye, you can draft review responses with a click, proofread your replies, and gauge customer sentiment from customer reviews.

Google is one of the most important lead-generation and traffic-generating channels for local businesses, so investing here can help you outshine competitors quickly. 

Birdeye is the leading AI-powered reputation and customer experience platform for multi-location businesses. Having helped over 150,000 businesses grow their Google presence and rank higher in local search results, we have the solutions you need. 

Scale your business and provide a stellar customer experience for your customers with Birdeye today!

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