Google Lowers Local Pack Review Star Threshold to 3

Update: Google Drops Review Star Threshold to 1 or 2 Reviews AND Stops Using Bayesian Average

A post at the Local Search Forum noted that a storage unit in Idaho showing review stars with only 3 reviews instead of the typical five required. It piqued my curiosity.

Was it a fluke or is it generally the case that Google is now showing stars for businesses with as few as 3 reviews?

It appears to be the new normal that only three reviews are needed to get the star treatment. Google has been using five reviews as the minimum to receive star treatment since abandoning the Zagat system during the summer of 2013.

Examples Of New Google Reviews Threshold

Here are a number of searches today that show stars for a number of such businesses with only 3 reviews.

This is true in both the 3 Pack and in the Local Finder

Businesses with three Google reviews will also see a boost to their local Knowledge Panel as well.  Our CMO’s wife is a realtor who is now rewarded with stars for her three Google reviews in addition to her GetFiveStars’s testimonial widget reviews in the Reviews from the web section.

Google review stars

What Does The Move To 3 Reviews For Stars Mean?

Obviously this will make reviews more obvious for businesses with less than five reviews. It will help those with a good batch of reviews and will impact severely those with only one bad review.

A recent study indicated that over 90% of businesses lack online customer reviews. This new change means that your reputation will suffer more with as few as three reviews and one bad one.

Time to get ahead of the curve.

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