Update: January 13th, 2019
I originally published this article back in October of 2017. However, a lot has changed since there an I may be changing my tune a bit on whether or not reviews increase your visibility in Google Maps.
As you can see in my original post below, I took a hard stance and answered NO to this question.
But today, I believe Google is actually relying on the nature and context of reviews to determine visibility in Google search.
Even though a business with 100 reviews may rank lower in Google local search than a business with only 20 reviews. If the business has 100 reviews and those reviews are highly targeted and relevant to the business, and those reviews are pushing 5 star ratings overall, I think this will influence and improve the visibility of business in Google Maps.
One question I get on a regular basis is can getting more reviews help increase my rankings and visibility in Google local search?
In my 10 years of experience working in the local SEO space, and working directly or indirectly with hundreds of local businesses, I see no correlation between the volume of reviews and rankings Google local / Google Maps search results.
As such, I believe it’s a myth that getting more reviews will result in higher rankings in local search.
We see many cases where a local business that are ranked well below the top 3 local search results have 10x the number of reviews than the top ranked businesses.
How Google Reviews Add Value To Your Local Business
However, that’s speaking directly to the question of can MORE reviews equal higher rankings.
The right perspective is that although the pure volume / number of reviews do not directly impact your rankings, the number of reviews can influence a potential customer’s decision to call your business or not.
Here at Bipper Media, I’ve received many calls where someone tells me they found us in Google and after reading our reviews decided to give us a call.
And I’ve heard the same scenario described from many of our clients.
The truth is, when a new customer finds you in Google local search, they will instinctively start reading through your reviews to see what other people think of your business.
Depending on what your reviews say, that customer will be directly influenced in their decision to engage your business.
So although reviews do not directly impact your rankings, i.e. getting more reviews is not a direct ranking factor, reviews of your business will directly influence customer engagement.
The correct strategy for you and your business should be to focus on getting 5 star reviews for the purpose of influencing customer engagement, not for the purpose of ranking higher in Google local search.
You must focusing intently on providing an amazing experience for your customers, exceeding their expectations on every front, and then follow up by asking your customers to leave reviews.