Have you been wondering if the Google reviews your business has received will impact your ranking? This is a common question and one that you should learn about to know what may (or may not) be helping or breaking your business.

Ranking and Google Reviews: What You Need to Know

The answer to the above question is “yes,” Google rankings do impact you in the local search results. The way customers are finding and choosing businesses is something that is changing and evolving all the time.

In the past, customers would rely on the advertising put out by a business, the previous experience a customer had or recommendations from people they knew. However, that all changed with the Internet’s search engines and when online reviews became more mainstream. As a result, the question that’s still out there is – do or will Google reviews really help with a site’s ranking?

While personal recommendations and advertising still have their place in the overall buyer’s journey, the majority of consumers are now turning to search engines, as well as online reviews when they are ready to make a purchase decision. There are two reasons this is done:

  1. Google makes it easier than ever before to locate businesses in a local area.
  2. Online reviews help to make an informed purchase decision (more so than recommendations from friends).

Since the introduction of the Map Pack from Google, Google Reviews and the Map Pack will go hand-in-hand. However, ever since this “merger” occurred, many businesses are wondering how much influence their reviews are going to have on their overall rank. The simple answer is – quite a bit.

In fact, according to a recent study, online reviews are considered the fifth most important factor that determines where a business is ranked online. However, the important thing businesses need to look at is where their online reviews have started to trend. The actual influence that is carried by online reviews in the local search ranking has increased by more than 20 percent each year.

The Positive Effect of Google Reviews for Your Business

There are several factors that impact where a business will rank in the local search on Google. Some of these factors are ones that your business can control, while others you can not. In many cases, the businesses that rank higher usually have taken the time to optimize their Google listing. This gives them a leg up on their competition and helps to increase the company’s visibility to online searchers who are actively looking to make a purchase. Here you will find some of the primary factors that Google is looking at when figuring out a business’s local search ranking.

Relevance

The primary goal of Google is to serve searchers with the most relevant content, or the most relevant business based on the search terms used by consumer. To make sure the business is served up for relevant searchers, business owners need to ensure that each of their listings are accurate and up-to-date and that the descriptions included have all of the keywords that are trending in the industry.

Distance

The location someone searches for plays a significant role in local search engines and this is something that you are not able to control. The goal of Google is to provide searchers with relevant businesses that are nearby to them, especially searchers on mobile devices looking for something now. This goes hand-in-hand with the importance of having a mobile-friendly website, but that is worthy of its own conversation entirely.

Prominence

The last factor is somewhat confusing. What Google actually means by “prominence” is whether or not the business in question is “well-known,” especially in the offline world. A well-known store brand is much more likely to rank higher than the brands that are not as well-known.

Prominence is ultimately determined by what Google knows about a certain business from its presence on the internet, which includes online reviews, directory listings, articles, and links. When trying to evaluate online reviews, Google will take a look at the quantity, quality, frequency and recency of the online reviews. What this actually means is that businesses will have a higher star rating if they have a large number of reviews that come in regularly, than businesses that do not.

The Reason Google Reviews are so Important

There are several reasons that Google Reviews have such a high impact on a site’s actual ranking. Some of the top reasons are found here.

Awareness

It was discussed earlier how an online review can help a business be found by making it more visible to online searchers. However, it isn’t just about being noticed and remaining on top. Online reviews are also where a consumer will go to learn about new services or products offered by a business.

Consideration

After an online searcher has found a business, their star rating and the number of reviews they have will impact whether or not a searcher clicks on the listing to find out more. Businesses that have a higher rating are (obviously) going to be more appealing. It is really that simple. According to research that was conducted by Podium, the lowest star rating a business can have to be considered by a searcher is 3.3. If a business really wants to stand out among the crowd (and competition) it’s a good idea to get the star rating to at least 4.5.

Purchase

Believe it or not, the online reviews a business has will play a significant role in whether or not a consumer opts to use that business. Approximately 93 percent of consumers have stated than online reviews can impact their decision to purchase something, and 82 percent of consumers have stated that the content contained in the review has helped to convince them to purchase something or not.

Post-Purchase

After a purchase that has been made and a review has been left, the reviews will provide the business with invaluable insight into its operation. A smart business will use the content in reviews to help make decisions to improve the overall customer experience.

The Best Practices to Improve a Business’s Google Raking

If you need to improve your Google ranking, use the tips and information here.

1. Figure out the right timing for the Google review invitation

When a customer reviews the invitation will matter. The longer you wait to send it, the less likely a customer is to provide a review.

2. Set certain expectations for the reviews

Once the sale is in process, you should send the invitation to leave a review. You need to set expectations with the customer for the invitation. Before leaving a customer, let them know when they will get the invite, how they will receive it and why they need to respond.

3. Eliminate the barriers that may exist for a customer not to leave a Google review

Over 70 percent of consumers are willing to leave a review if they are asked to do so. Many don’t because the business makes it too difficult to leave reviews. Making this process easy will ensure that customers actually leave a review.

4. Google review invites offered via text

One of the ways that a business can eliminate barriers is by sending invitations through text message. Texting is becoming the preferred option for communication and it may give you a better chance of getting the reviews you need.

5. Use some type of online review management tool

One of the best ways to increase Google reviews is to implement an online review management tool. Once you know what’s coming in, you will be able to obtain invaluable insights to help move your business forward.