Today’s customers make decisions with a quick scroll and a tap. However, for local businesses, the key to attracting customers isn’t just having a website. It’s more about building trust with glowing Google reviews.

A recent Birdeye survey of over 150,000 customers underscores this point:

  • Online reviews are experiencing explosive growth, with a 5% increase in 2023 compared to 2022.
  • Customers are providing richer feedback; 79% of reviews now include comments, up from 73% in 2023.
  • Automated responses accounted for a rise of 42% in 2023, a jump from just 32% in 2022, highlighting the growing shift toward automation. 

The message is clear: Google reviews are no longer a nicety – they’re a lifeline for local businesses. Positive reviews attract new customers, boost your local SEO ranking, and establish you as a leader. This guide will unveil the importance of Google reviews and show you how to leverage them to build a loyal customer base. 

The importance of Google reviews

A man search on his laptop for a business and the importance of Google reviews in selecting the right one

As the largest search engine in the world, Google dominates the market for finding local businesses. This means that most people looking for a product or service will search on Google first.

Plus, consumer behavior has changed dramatically in recent trust years. Today, review sites matter to your business as most customers on these sites rely on them before they buy from you.  

Did you know: Birdeye Review empowers you to monitor and respond on 200+ review websites? Now, improving your reputation everywhere your customers search is that easy! 

Benefits of Google reviews for small businesses

As per our survey highlighted above: 

  • Google reviews soared by 15%, capturing 79% of all online reviews since 2022.
  • Each business location, on average, received 66 new Google reviews in 2023.

All these prove Google’s significant sway in the review ecosystem as they are integrated directly into Google’s search results and business listings.

Understanding from a customer perspective offers some unique insights. They view Google reviews as an unbiased, trustworthy source of information about a company’s quality, customer service, and overall reputation.

Here are some key benefits of Google reviews for small businesses:

Improved local SEO and search visibility

  • Google’s ranking algorithm heavily weights positive reviews as a key ranking factor for local businesses.
  • Higher review quantities and ratings can help small businesses appear more prominently in Google’s local search results.

Enhanced credibility and trust

  • Positive Google reviews act as social proof, showcasing that a business provides a quality product or service.
  • This builds trust and credibility with potential customers, making them more likely to choose your small business.

Insights into the customer experience

  • Google reviews provide unfiltered, real-time feedback from customers about their experiences with a business.
  • This granular customer data can uncover specific pain points, highlight areas of excellence, and reveal opportunities for process improvements.

Localized relevance

  • Google reviews are inherently location-based, allowing small businesses to understand how they are perceived within their local market.
  • This hyper-targeted feedback is crucial for companies catering to their community’s unique needs and preferences.

Improved voice search optimization

  • As voice search grows, Google reviews play a significant role in how businesses are discovered and ranked for voice-based local queries.
  • Businesses with a strong review profile are more likely to appear in the coveted “Position 0” spot for voice search results.
Must read: Voice Search on Google: A Guide for Local Businesses

Heightened emotional connection

  • Thoughtful responses to both positive and negative Google reviews can humanize a business and foster a deeper emotional connection with customers.
  • This personalized engagement demonstrates a company’s commitment to customer service and can lead to increased loyalty and referrals.

How do Google reviews improve your online exposure and local SEO?

Online visibility is important for attracting new customers. After all, if potential customers can’t find you online, they can’t do business with you. 

Importance of Google reviews for local SEO

Your customer reviews on Google are directly linked to how easily people can find your business online. A customer review containing relevant keywords about your business helps Google better understand your services.

If your business has hundreds of reviews with a 4.5 average star rating. Then, Google can reasonably infer that most of your customers have positive experiences and consider your business worth ranking higher.

On top of that, Google also considers a current and active business more relevant. So, having a constant flow of Google reviews for businesses signals them that your business is thriving, and ranks you higher in search results. 

How do Google reviews affect SEO?

Reviews play a major role in the local SEO strategy for multi-location businesses, both from the perspective of customers and search engine algorithms. The customer reviews that your business gets on your Google Business Profile can significantly impact your local search rankings.

Let’s look at this in more detail.

Google serves users the most relevant results to the subject they’re searching for

Google views your customers’ reviews as a testament to the quality of the products or services you offer. The more positive reviews you have, the higher Google will place you in search results when your customers search for things relevant to your business.

Google makes sure that users are getting the best information on the topic they are searching for

Customer reviews that include keywords related to your industry, like “best pizza crust,” can help Google identify your business’s products and services. Google will then connect your business to related searches and rank you higher.

Read all about Google Maps’ rating filter and get found wherever your customers search for you. 

Higher reviews make you rank higher on Google’s Map pack

Suppose your business has an average five-star rating but only three reviews. In that case, it’s not a large enough sample size for Google to determine whether your business provides quality services.

Check out our guide on how to manage Google reviews.

Google reviews improve click-through rates on your website

Example of a Google 3-Pack and how Google reviews improve click through rates to website

Google reviews can make a big impact on click-through rates to your website. Your click-through rate is the ratio of how often people see your link and then end up clicking on it.

Studies reveal that the top three Google search results (3–Pack) receive the most clicks (54.4%). This means that positive Google reviews can have a significant effect on how successful your website is in capturing those extra clicks and leading potential customers to your business. Your Google reviews can go a long way toward improving website traffic and gaining trust among potential customers.

Check out why you should display reviews on your website.

How do Google reviews impact search rankings in local map packs?

Google reviews have a significant impact on a business’s search rankings within local map packs (also known as the “Local 3-Pack” or “Snack Pack”). 

FYI: Google Maps Pack is a set of local business listings that appear at the top of Google's search engine results pages (SERPs) when a user performs a local search query.

This prominent placement in the search results makes the Google Maps Pack a precious real estate for local businesses, as businesses that appear in the Maps Pack are often seen as more trustworthy, authoritative, and likely to meet the user’s search intent.

Read & implement our proven 5 tips to rank on Google’s Local Pack

Here’s a closer look at how Google reviews influence local search visibility:

  1. Review signals as a ranking factor

Businesses with more positive reviews, higher average star ratings, and recent review activity are more likely to appear in the top positions of the local map pack.

  1. Review quantity and diversity

Businesses with a larger volume of reviews across multiple platforms, like Google, Facebook, and G2, are seen as more trustworthy and authoritative by Google’s algorithms.

  1. Average review rating

Higher average ratings (4+ stars) signal to Google that a business consistently provides a positive customer experience, warranting a higher local search ranking.

  1. Review recency

Businesses that actively encourage and respond to new Google reviews demonstrate an ongoing commitment to customer satisfaction.

  1. Review sentiment and quality

Positive, detailed reviews that provide specific, constructive feedback are viewed more favorably than short, generic, or negative reviews.

Did you know: Businesses that prioritize customer sentiment analysis for actionable insights are better equipped to identify and address pain points in the customer experience?

How Google reviews impact your business decisions

Whether you have ten or ten thousand reviews, each review can provide valuable data to help you make impactful business decisions. Feedback from your customers can give you direct insights into:

  • Where is your industry heading
  • What customers are looking for
  • How you can improve your business practices

In the next section, you’ll read three important data insights you can get from customer reviews. 

3 important data insights you get from customer reviews

  1. Provide actionable insights: Reviews contain important insights that help you identify what customers love or might change about your business. For example, if a hotel chain sees a ‘slow check-in process’ a few times for one of their locations, they’ll know it’s a problem they need to address. Timely action on budding complaints can go a long way in maintaining a great reputation, and reviews give you the means to address them.
  2. Discover emerging positive and negative sentiment trends: Consumer behavior changes. What was acceptable yesterday by your customers may not be so today. Reviews can provide insights into even the smallest shift in customer expectations, and any action taken to manage that can be rewarding. 
  3. Compare performance across locations:  If you manage a multi-location business, you already know providing a consistent experience across every location can be a daunting task. Comparing customer feedback for each location can provide insights into which locations are performing well and which are not. This vital information can help determine where to spend your time, money, and resources.

Extracting insights from a handful of reviews is easy. However, if your company gets hundreds or thousands of reviews monthly, you’ll need extra help to sift through the data and extract actionable insights. 

Investing in a reputation management platform like Birdeye Review can help you do just that with the click of a button.

Checklist for optimum Google review management for small businesses

For effective Google review management for small businesses, consider the following checklist:

✅Leverage analytics for trend analysis.

✅Personalize each review response.

✅Train staff in conflict resolution.

✅Publicize improvements from feedback.

✅Establish a clear review policy.

✅Monitor competitor review strategies.

How to get more Google reviews for your business? 

To effectively generate Google reviews, consider these proven tactics:
✅Request reviews post-purchase.
✅Send targeted emails.
✅Include review requests in post-service or purchase follow-up communications.
✅Promote your Google review page on your social media channels.

Reviews on Google influence purchase decisions

When someone enters a query like “yoga studio near me” into Google’s search engine, Google will show them the most relevant businesses nearby. Google’s search results will also display the business’s star rating and review volume, which can provide prospective customers with information that might sway their purchase decision.

A high review volume can also mean increased visibility and clicks, giving businesses with higher ratings an edge over competitors. Google reviews certainly have a huge influence when it comes to purchasing decisions. Studies show that, on average, customer reviews can generate an 18% increase in sales. On the flip side, it is estimated that one negative review can cost your business about 30 customers. 

Google reviews are an essential marketing tool for your business

Google has become a household name around the world, and with “just Google it” is now a common refrain. That means that when customers see your Google reviews, they’re likely to believe they are authentic reviews from real customers. Having Google’s name attached to your reviews can give new customers confidence that your business is reputable.

Pro Tip: Display your Google reviews as a badge of honor on your website and social media channels. A good online reputation management platform like Birdeye can amplify reviews to your website, social, paid ads, and search seamlessly.

Optimize your Google Business Profile for reviews

Google’s free business listings management platform, Google Business Profile, is an amazing real estate that empowers businesses to market their services and products. 

Customers prefer to leave reviews on Google than on other review sites because it is easier and faster to access. Since majority of the time it is the first point of discovery, it is very important to make sure that your profile is optimally maintained and optimized. 

To optimize your Google Business Profile for reviews, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure all business information is accurate and complete.
  2. Regularly update business hours, services, and contact information.
  3. Add high-quality photos and videos to showcase your business.
  4. Encourage customers to leave reviews by providing excellent service.
  5. Respond to all reviews to show you value customer feedback.
  6. Utilize Google posts to engage with your audience and promote review generation.
  7. Monitor your profile regularly to address any inaccuracies or customer concerns promptly.

Display your star ratings in your Google Ads to convert more customers

Example of an ad with Google Seller Ratings

If you are already using Google Ads, you should consider activating your star rating, also known as Google Seller Ratings. This powerful tool can help businesses increase their Google Ad click-through rates at no additional cost. With Google Seller Ratings, businesses can proudly display positive reviews along with their Google Ads, providing credibility for quality and service. 

Star ratings on Google Ads can boost click-through rates by 17%, helping businesses attract and keep customers. If you aren’t already using Google Seller Ratings to increase your ad revenue, you should definitely consider it.

[Free Guide] The complete guide to Google Seller Ratings
Download Now

Google reviews are proven to boost online visibility, business trustworthiness, and customer engagement. If you’re hungry for more information on this topic, check out our complete guide to Google reviews

FAQs on the importance of Google reviews for local businesses

Why are Google reviews important for local businesses?

Google reviews boost visibility, credibility, and influence consumer decisions, significantly impacting local businesses’ online presence and customer trust.

Are Google reviews real? 

Google has automatic spam detection filters to flag fake reviews and other reviews that violate Google’s policies, which means all of your reviews should be authentic.

Do Google reviews have to be approved?

No. When a customer leaves a Google review, it should show up right away. Google automatically processes reviews.

Do Google reviews expire?

No, they do not expire. However, if they violate Google’s policy, they might disappear.

Do Google reviews show up immediately?

Yes, Google reviews usually show up right away once a customer submits the review. 
If not, there may be another reason why it is not appearing

Can Google reviews be changed?

Yes. However, Google reviews can only be edited by the person who wrote the review.

How should a business respond to negative Google reviews?

Businesses should respond professionally to negative reviews, address concerns, offer solutions, and commit to customer satisfaction, turning potential negatives into positives.

Suggest some strategies to generate positive Google reviews

Provide exceptional service, directly ask satisfied customers for reviews, make the review process easy with links, respond to all reviews to show engagement, use email campaigns to encourage reviews, and train your team on the importance of Google reviews.

Generate more reviews with Birdeye

Google reviews can determine whether prospects will choose your business over the competition. If you’re looking to outshine your competitors, Birdeye can make things easier. Our all-in-one platform helps over 150,000 businesses get more  Google reviews and get discovered in search results.

Take some time to speak to a Birdeye Reputation Expert and find out how we can help your business be found and chosen by customers. In the meantime, click on the banner below and download our free guide to Google reviews.

[Free Guide] Get Google reviews: A no-nonsense guide
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