If you own a business, you are likely familiar with how good it feels to receive a positive online review from a customer. What you might not be aware of is how important those reviews are – not only in terms of attracting new customers but also how in how they affect your search engine ranking. Google Reviews, in particular, are something that your business cannot afford to ignore.

How Reviews fit into Google’s Algorithm

The reason why search engines put such a high importance on customer reviews is simple – they get clicks. According to a local consumer review survey conducted in 2017, 91% of customers said that online reviews influence their buying decisions.

Research conducted by Moz in 2017 found that customer review signals are responsible for about 13% of a website’s overall ranking. This is up from 10.8% just two years prior.

Among the factors that Google takes into consideration when it weights your reviews into your overall search engine ranking include:

  • Total number of reviews
  • How quickly reviews were generated
  • What your star rating is
  • The credibility of the person writing the review

A quick Google search of businesses in nearly any industry can demonstrate how important reviews are to ranking. In our own research, we found that the top three Google local search results frequently have nearly double the number of reviews as the next three results.

The listing with the most reviews makes it into Google’s local 3-pack more than 60% of the time.

Importance of the Google Star Rating

One of the first things you will probably notice when you look at a Google Review is the star rating. This allows customers to rank a business from 1 to 5 stars and Google calculates the average to show along with the total number of reviews.

5 stars

Not only does this star rating give other potential customers a quick snapshot of how others view your business, but 58% percent of consumers say it is the most important part of the reviews. Furthermore, 87% of consumers claim that a company must have between 3 and 5 stars before they will do business with them.

Since Google allows users to sort businesses by ratings, those with five stars will have a clear advantage in terms of how many users will click through to their website.

The Impact of Customer Reviews

As stated, Google Reviews are factored into Google’s algorithm for search engine rankings, but even if they were not they would still be important because of how they impact other potential customers. According to research done in 2017, star ratings can increase click-through-rate by up to 20%.

The Importance of Frequency

Businesses that are serious about capitalizing on the power of Google Reviews, must get new reviews on a regular basis. This is because potential customers reading reviews see more recent reviews as more trustworthy and relevant. In fact, 73% of consumers surveyed by Bright Local said that they believed that reviews which were more than three months old were no longer relevant.

How to Get Google Reviews

Once you have a Google My Business listing, getting Google reviews from your clients is as simple as asking for them. According to Bright Local, 70% of consumers are willing to leave a review, but most will not do so unless they are asked.

When asking, however, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind:

  • Wait until the right time – ask your customers for a review only after you have provided value to them and while that value is still fresh in their minds.
  • Make leaving reviews easy – provide the link for them to make reviews in an email or on your website. You can also make it part of your email signature so that they can leave a review at any time.
  • Create a print-out – for those customers with whom you only deal with face to face, you might want to create a print out which they can pick up at your location. The print out should have detailed instructions for them on how to leave a review. Encourage customers to take this home with them so that they can leave a review of your business.
  • Don’t ask all your customers at once – as much as you might like to go from zero to twenty reviews overnight, your business could end up getting flagged and penalized for soliciting reviews.
  • Respond to reviews – finally, customers like to know that you’re paying attention to what they have to say. When a customer takes the time to leave you a review, be sure to take the time and respond. This will result in more customers being willing to leave their feedback.

Bonus tip: When responding to customer reviews, think about keywords that people use when they search for businesses in your industry and use them in your response. Remember, responding to customer reviews can also be a subtle way to market your business!