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A guide to star ratings On Google and how they work

May 22, 2024 0 comments

In the e-business world, trust can be as fleeting as a pop-up ad. Google star ratings can, therefore, serve as a beacon for consumers.

These little gold stars hold immense power, influencing our decisions and shaping how we perceive businesses online. But have you ever stopped to wonder: how exactly do Google star ratings work?

In this post, we’re diving deep into this world of ratings and reviews, unpacking their significance for both consumers and business owners.

What is the Google star rating?

Think of the Google star rating system as a virtual thumbs-up or thumbs-down for businesses. It’s a consumer-powered grading system, allowing previous customers to share their experiences through a simple 1-to-5-star rating scale. These star ratings appear prominently across various Google properties, including:

  • Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs): Star ratings often accompany business listings in local search results, influencing which businesses rise to the top.
  • Google Maps: Star ratings are prominently displayed on business listings within Google Maps, giving users a quick glimpse into customer sentiment.
  • Google My Business Profiles: Businesses can claim and manage their Google My Business profile, where star ratings are displayed alongside detailed information and reviews.

How does the Google star rating work?

The magic behind the Google star rating system lies in its simplicity and transparency. Here’s a breakdown of the mechanics:

  • Calculation: Google star ratings are an average of all the reviews a business has received. If a restaurant has 20 reviews, with 15 giving 5 stars and the remaining 5 giving 4 stars, the overall rating would be 4.8 stars (rounded to the nearest tenth).
  • Algorithm: While the exact inner workings are a secret sauce, Google’s algorithm plays a role in determining which reviews are most relevant. Factors like recency, reviewer location, and helpfulness votes from other users can influence the weight given to each review.
  • Not Real-Time: It’s important to note that star ratings aren’t updated instantaneously. There can be a delay of up to two weeks after a new review is submitted before the average rating reflects the change.

Benefits of Google star ratings for website owners

So, why should website owners care about these little gold stars? Here’s a glimpse into the power they hold:

  • Increased Visibility: High star ratings can boost your business’s ranking in local search results, making it more discoverable by potential customers. Studies suggest that businesses with higher star ratings are more likely to be clicked on in search engine results pages.
  • Enhanced Credibility: Positive star ratings serve as a virtual stamp of approval from satisfied customers. They build trust and credibility, influencing consumers who might be on the fence about choosing your business.
  • Improved Conversion Rates: High star ratings can significantly improve conversion rates. Consumers are more likely to patronize a business with a stellar online reputation.
  • Valuable Customer Feedback: Reviews attached to star ratings offer a treasure trove of customer insights. By analyzing these reviews, businesses can identify areas for improvement and tailor their offerings to better meet customer needs.

How to get Google stars on organic SERPs

Now that you understand the importance of Google star ratings, you might be wondering: “How can I get those golden stars shining on my listings?”

Here are some key strategies that might be helpful:

  • Encourage Customer Reviews: Make it easy for customers to leave reviews by providing a link on your website and social media profiles. You can also politely request reviews after a positive customer interaction. Important Note: Always adhere to Google’s guidelines and avoid incentivizing reviews in a way that could be seen as biased.
  • Respond to Reviews (Both Positive and Negative): Actively engage with customer reviews. Thank happy customers for their feedback and acknowledge positive experiences. Don’t shy away from negative reviews; address them professionally and offer solutions where possible. This shows potential customers that you care about their experience.
  • Claim and Manage Your Google My Business Profile: This is crucial for optimizing your local search presence. A well-maintained Google My Business profile with accurate information and high-quality photos can attract more reviews and improve your star rating visibility.
  • Go the extra mile: Providing exceptional customer service is key to earning positive reviews. By consistently exceeding customer expectations, you’ll naturally encourage more customers to sing your praises online.

However, earning positive reviews is just one piece of the puzzle.

Here’s where schema markup comes in:

Schema markup is a way to provide search engines with additional information about your web pages. By adding specific code to your website, you can tell Google that your pages contain reviews and their associated ratings.

It’s important to note that Google won’t display star ratings based on schema markup alone. You’ll need to have actual reviews displayed on your website for the structured data to work. Ensure your reviews comply with Google’s guidelines to avoid any issues.

Implementing Schema Markup

There are two main ways to add schema markup for reviews:

Once you’ve implemented schema markup, use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool (https://developers.google.com/search/docs/appearance/structured-data) to validate your code and ensure Google can understand your data.

Remember that Google doesn’t guarantee a specific timeframe for when star ratings will appear in search results. It can take days or even weeks after implementing schema markup for Google to crawl your website and update your search result listing.

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