Google makes changes to its star rating system

Google is one of the best places to get a positive review for your business, especially for local searches. Not only does a positive review give you a warm and fuzzy feeling and the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing a good job, but it also goes a long way in attracting prospective customers to your business.

But to maximize your Google reviews, you’ll need to be able to keep up with Google’s changing approach to its review system. Even though Google’s choices are out of your control, you can still leverage the platform to prove that your business’s products, services and customer service are worth patronizing.

Free Guide: How To Optimize Your Google Business Profile


What are Google star ratings?

Google star ratings are a method of rating businesses based on customer reviews. Google uses this five-star scale to make it easy for customers to sort through companies that appear in general and local search results.

These ratings appear underneath your business name in search results and play a critical role in building a potential customer’s trust in your business.

How do I view my Google ratings?

Google makes it easy to access and respond to reviews, but you need to claim your business on Google first. There are several tools to see and manage your ratings.

The now-retired Google My Business (GMB) app allowed users to claim their businesses and access reviews. The Business Profile Manager has taken its place, allowing users to edit and manage their accounts and profiles, including reviews.

You can also use the Google Maps app to add your business to Google Maps and manage your Google Business Profile. Log in to your account, then click on the “Contribute” button at the bottom of the page. Next, click on “View Your Profile.” You will see reviews that customers have left for your business.

Changes to Google’s star rating system

Google periodically makes changes to its rating system. Being aware of the differences between the old and new systems can help you make the most of your reviews.

Google is ending the local business review schema

One of Google’s most recent changes affects the review schema markup.

Previously, local business owners could use review schema markup on their websites to push their Google review-generated average star reviews out to organic search engine results pages (SERP). As a result, when those businesses showed up in Google search results, their star ratings were displayed too, which could help to boost potential customer trust and interest in the business.

But Google announced it would no longer allow businesses to use this technique. “Reviews that can be perceived as ‘self-serving’ aren’t in the best interest of users,” Google wrote on its blog.

“We call reviews ‘self-serving’ when a review about Entity A is placed on the website of Entity A — either directly in their markup or via an embedded third-party widget. That’s why, with this change, we will not display review rich results anymore for the schema types LocalBusiness and Organization (and their subtypes) in cases when the entity being reviewed controls the reviews themselves.”

If you have already created these “self-serving” reviews, there’s no need to worry about removing them. Google just won’t display the review snippets for those pages, so your rating stars will disappear from those organic search results. Sites that collect online reviews of other businesses aren’t affected by this change.

You can — and should — still collect and display reviews on your website. Remember, reviews are a form of social proof. They help establish your business’s credibility and help new customers see you as a legitimate business.

Google is displaying gold stars for business listings that have as few as one review

Google has also changed its star rating scale. Previously, businesses needed at least five customer reviews before Google would give them star rankings. But Google lowered the threshold, allowing a company to get a star rating even with only one review.

That change means that every single review counts, and just one or two negative reviews can leave your business with a one-star rating. On the positive side, a single happy customer could leave your new small business a five-star and give a valuable boost to your online presence.

Google is taking a new approach to calculating a business’ star average

Google has also changed the way it calculates a business’ star average. Previously, Google used the Bayesian average. Google took rankings data for all businesses into consideration when calculating an average. Because of this, five-star ratings held more weight than others.

But now, Google is relying on arithmetic averages to calculate star ratings. Google calculates the arithmetic average by adding all star ratings together, then dividing the sum of the ratings by the total number of reviews.

Using the arithmetic average is ultimately a more accurate and predictable way to calculate averages.

Manage your Google reputation with Broadly

Your Google star rating is a crucial element of your online reputation, so it’s critical to focus on improving and maintaining your rating. You can accomplish this in several ways.

Make it easy to write a review

Streamline the process of writing reviews for your customers. Follow up with an email that includes a link to your Google Business Profile and ask them to leave a review. Make sure to publish that review link on your website and social media profiles. You can even include a review request on invoices or receipts.

Respond to customer feedback

Beyond asking your customers to write a review, ask them for their feedback directly, too. Send out brief customer surveys or engage with them face-to-face in your store. The more you can learn about the customer experience, including what’s working well and what needs improvement, the better you can make the experience for future customers.

Take that feedback and focus on ways to make improvements so customers are more likely to leave positive reviews. This can be a fantastic strategy since it can also affect the reviews that customers leave on other review sites, like Yelp.

Stay on top of your reviews

Focus on promptly responding to new reviews. Your review response is public and allows you to engage with your customers. It also demonstrates that you’re dedicated to correcting negative experiences and making things right for your customers.

Broadly can help to manage the review process and generate great customer reviews on Google.

Want to see how Broadly can help boost your online presence and grow your business?

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