Do Google Reviews Help with SEO?

Google reviews are always a hot topic for businesses — and with good reason.

Google reviews lend credibility and trustworthiness to your business, providing social proof for people who want to know if your business is worth buying from. Reviews also give a realistic view into real customers and their real experiences, so potential customers know what to expect. And reviews provide an opportunity for businesses to engage one-on-one with their customers, solve problems, and make important improvements.

But you may also be wondering: Do Google reviews help with SEO?

The answer is yes. In this article, we’ll talk about what SEO is, why it’s important, and how Google reviews help with local SEO so you understand how it can give your business a boost — or your clients if you run a marketing agency.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a method for improving your website’s placement on search engine results pages (SERPs) so that you can get more traffic when people search for a business like yours or a product or service you sell. The higher or more prominently your website appears on SERPs, the greater your chance that more people will see it. 

In a narrower context, “local SEO” helps local businesses get more traffic from potential customers in their specific location — whether that’s a city or a neighborhood — by improving their ranking in local search results. If you think about the businesses that appear in Google’s Map Pack or Local Pack, they are likely the direct result of a local SEO strategy.

Before we get into the specifics of Google reviews and SEO, let’s review the overall value of SEO.

Why is SEO important?

SEO is important because, when handled effectively, you can get more visibility for your business without having to pay for ads on search engines — referred to as pay-per-click (PPC) ads. 

With greater visibility, you get more people becoming aware of and interested in your business. And when those prospective customers convert, you can earn more revenue. Having an SEO strategy is especially desirable for businesses that — in addition to reaching more customers — want to keep more of their earnings and spend less on advertising.

SEO is always evolving, though — sometimes in little ways, sometimes in significant ways — as Google and other search engines tweak their algorithms. So it can sometimes feel like a full-time job keeping up with the changes. But what doesn’t change is that Google reviews and SEO will always be important in some capacity to any local business with an online presence that wants to stay competitive and grow. 

4 ways Google reviews help with local SEO

To set the stage, a Google review is a review that your customer leaves on your Google Business Profile. Google uses these reviews to come up with a star rating for your business. The goal is to collect a body of quality, detailed Google reviews from verified customers — never to buy fake Google reviews. 

Here’s how Google reviews are a key component of a successful local SEO strategy:

1. Star ratings

As we’ve mentioned, Google bases its star ratings on what your real customers think and say about your business, products, or services. Instead of relying on what you say about your own business, Google gives more credence to what others say. If your customers like and trust your business and have a good experience with it, you’ll get more positive reviews. More positive reviews contribute to a higher star rating, which helps your business rank higher in local search results. 

2. Keywords

The second way Google reviews help with SEO is that reviews are a form of content in which your target keywords can be included. When customers naturally — or organically — use your target keywords in their Google reviews, it reinforces with Google that your business does or sells what you advertise and in the location(s) included on your profile. In short, the use of keywords in reviews help prove that your business is relevant to search terms and therefore likely to be legitimate — which helps your website ranking.

3. Review responses

Your responses to Google reviews can also impact SEO. Not only is it a good business practice to respond to reviews on your Google Business Profile as it shows your audience that you care about what they think and want to address any issues, it’s yet another place where you can include your keywords for local search purposes. And review responses can improve your overall star rating as well. 

4. Recent reviews

Google reviews help with SEO especially if they are recent. Old reviews from many months and even years ago don’t have a lot of value. But recent reviews do, as it shows Google that your business is still operating and attracting customers — again, all of which can bump up your website in local search results. And just a little tip: the best way to keep the reviews coming in is to ask your customers on a regular basis to leave a review.

Example of how Google reviews and local SEO work together

Google reviews and local SEO work hand in hand. Building on the concepts we talked about above, Google uses the factors of relevance, distance, and prominence when determining rankings for local businesses, which we’ll outline below. 

Here’s a real-world example of how reviews help local SEO

Say you have a business that sells pet supplies in St. Louis. People looking for a business like yours are likely to search “pet supplies St. Louis.” In return, Google will display any business that matches those terms. Ideally, your Google Business Profile clearly mentions that your store address is in St. Louis and that you sell pet supplies. That covers the relevance and distance factors. 

But Google will also consider prominence by checking if your business has a bunch of positive reviews. Remember that the more positive reviews you have, the higher your star rating and the more prominently your website appears. A good rule of thumb when thinking about how Google reviews help with local SEO is to understand that a local business with more positive reviews can outrank a competitor that might factor well in relevance and distance but has fewer positive reviews. 

Which brings up an important question: How many Google reviews do you need to increase your ranking? The answer is you need at least 10 reviews to start to see a difference in your local search ranking. But you should aim for a lot more than 10 as a large number of reviews not only help your search ranking and star rating, they also increase your likelihood of converting more customers, which is always a good thing. 

To see how GatherUp’s review management platform can help you use Google reviews to help with SEO, whether for your business or your agency’s clients, start your free trial today.



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