Google is changing its algorithm once again. You may have noticed that when you search for a company on Google, you see companies with four to five-star reviews at the top or on the first page. If a page has fewer reviews, bad reviews, or no reviews, it’s placed lower on the list by Google’s algorithm.

As a customer, it’s convenient. The first options you see have been rated good or excellent by numerous other customers, so you can be sure you’re going to receive a quality product or service from these businesses.

As a business owner on the other hand, it means that to be competitive on Google’s search pages, you need to solicit positive reviews more than ever and address any negative or mediocre reviews ASAP. And yes, we said mediocre – a 3-star review will lower your rating and cause your business’s page to appear lower on Google’s results.

So here are some FAQs about Google’s reviews – and why your rating is showing up right next to your business name in Maps and in search engine results.

Why is my review score shared right by my business name?

To help customers sift through businesses with good reviews versus businesses with bad reviews or no reviews. It saves time for the customer but means you need to focus more time and energy on garnering positive reviews and dealing with bad reviews as soon as they hit your reviews pages.

Why is a snippet of a review next to my star-rating?

Google will often show a snippet of a review below your star rating. This is to show customers what specifically you excel at if your reviews are good overall. And no, you can’t pick the snippet. Google picks it for you based on the algorithm.

Here’s the kicker. Even if you have an overall good rating, Google can display a snippet of a negative review. That’s why it’s critical to address negative reviews as soon as they come up and resolve the issue to the best of your ability, ending in a request to take down the bad review once the issue’s resolved.

I have a five-star review average. Why is my competition ranking higher in Google’s search engines?

If you’re scratching your head, wondering why your five-star rank  is lower on Google’s search page than a 4.5-star rated business, the answer could be a number of things, including SEO. As far as reviews are concerned, most likely, your competition may have fewer five-star reviews, but they have more reviews in general.

Google lays out how you can garner more reviews efficiently. As we’ve said in previous blogs, asking is key. However, Google has a tool that will help your customers go to your Google Business Profile and leave a review directly. According to Google’s support page, you can include the link in emails, social media chats, and even on receipts you print or text to customers. The steps to find this link, listed right on their page, are:

  1. Go to your Business Profile. Google provided a link on how to find it here.
  2. Select Customers, then click on Reviews, and then go to “Get more reviews.”
  3. Share the link with your customers directly or use the sharing options provided.

What about other search engines? Do they use the same rules as Google?

Not necessarily. However, when you open Bing maps, you’ll see a similar setup to Google depending on the industry. We tested this out by searching “Cupcakes Near Me.” Bing showed images for a business, a circle-rating similar to stars, and a snippet from a random review. Unlike Google, Bing’s reviews aren’t always from Bing – they’re from third party sites like Trip Advisor and Facebook.

When we searched “repair shops near me” on Bing Maps, we found a similar setup, except there were star ratings from Facebook instead of circle ratings from Trip Advisor, and there were no snippets from reviews displayed right on the page.

That’s why it’s critical to monitor your reviews on all platforms. Google may be the biggest search engine in town, but customers are also looking for you on Bing, Facebook, and elsewhere.

I don’t have reviews! Now what?

Get some! Ask your customers and follow the steps above to do so. We’ve covered some ways to solicit reviews here and how to tackle negative reviews here.

Curating reviews and addressing negative reviews as they come up can feel like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole. Fortunately, we’re here to take reputation management off your plate. We work with you to implement a strategy that fosters positive review curation and tackles negative reviews as they come.

Receive help with your reviews with two solutions. LSO Plus, where we handle reviews on your Google Business Profile, and Reputation Management, where we handle reviews across platforms to give you a leg up in the local market.  Contact us today at sales@smartlinksolutions.com to start getting your reviews in order!

Call by October 6 and take 10% off Reputation Management

And if you would be so kind, please leave us a review!