Do Google reviews impact local ranking?
Based on her research, contributor Joy Hawkins thinks reviews may play some part in how a local page ranks. Here is a case study that shows her findings.
In May of this year, many small businesses lost a number of Google reviews. A month later, Google provided my colleague Mike Blumenthal a statement that confirmed the reviews were not coming back:
We do not allow anonymous reviews today and we’ve removed legacy anonymous reviews.
The reviews removed were old reviews from anonymous profiles that didn’t have a profile attached to them. Since they didn’t have profiles attached, it would also take you to a blank page when you tried to click the username, which is not the greatest user experience.
How many reviews were removed?
BrightLocal looked at nearly 2 million Google reviews for over 40,000 businesses and found that 3 percent (just over 50,000 in their sample) were removed as a result of this.
I wondered if this would be a good opportunity to figure out if the number of reviews on a listing impacts ranking. I looked through dozens of examples comparing the search results before this update to what they were after. I wanted to find cases where several ranking businesses lost reviews to see what the impact was.
My case study
In my research, I found several ranking business listings lost a good number of reviews. I’ve captured the most extreme cases below.
Here’s a screen shot of what the search results looked like for “dentist NYC” when I searched using a New York City ZIP code on May 23. Focus on the business results in positions 5-8.
On May 25, just two days later, the same businesses had significantly fewer reviews than two days prior: