The Pros and Cons of Google Reviews

Written by: Rochelle Burnside | Best Company Editorial Team

Last Updated: Feb 17, 2021

Google Reviews header

Google is your chauffeur around the internet. If you’re one of the billions of Google users online, you hop on Google to get to some of the most familiar landmarks of the web. You ask Google your tough questions to locate niche advice. And you ask Google to recommend a good restaurant near you.

That’s why Google Reviews are some of the best you can get. Google Maps pulls local businesses for the industry you’re searching and serves up their locations, websites, reviews, and more. When customers look up your business, they’ll see your Knowledge Graph with information about your business on the side of their page. Google Reviews are highly visible.

But what makes Google Reviews special? And why should gathering Google Reviews be an important part of your reputation management? Let’s go over where Google Reviews excels and where it’s lacking.

What are Google Reviews?

In 2007, Google began allowing users to give businesses on Google Maps reviews. Considering the online review business erupted in 1999, Google was uncharacteristically late to the game. But Google Reviews are now some of the most accessible business ratings on the net.

Anyone with a Gmail account can leave a review on a Google Business Page, unless you’re in a GMB category that restricts reviews, like schools. But for almost any business with a Google Business Profile (in other words, a listing on Google with information about your business), reviews are permanently toggled on.

Why use Google Reviews?

You want Google Reviews to be a part of your online reputation management game plan. These facts will convince you:

If you’re on the fence about using Google as a review platform, you’re probably on the fence about online reviews in general. Google’s advantages in gathering reviews is clear, but here are the facts on why reviews in general are important:

Reviews matter, and it matters where you get them. Here are some of the pros of Google Reviews.

Pros

High visibility

We’ve brushed this topic, but it can’t be overstated how popular Google is. With millions of people looking for companies online, Google is the go-to web browser for a majority of them. The platform outpaces Facebook, Yelp, and Amazon in its volume of customer reviews.

It also can’t be overstated how important Google Reviews are for local SEO. More reviews means more local search visibility. 

This comes into play with Google’s Local Search Pack. You know the top three contenders for a keyword like “pest control near me” or “grocery stores near me”? Those three are decided through ranking factors like proximity to the searcher, page personalization, relevant keywords, and — you guessed it — reviews. This is what Google pulls when I searched "pest control in seattle washington."

Google Local Search Pack

Google checks a few review factors, like your volume of positive Google reviews, how recently reviews were written, and the diversity of your reviews (whether they have similar language, location, etc.).

Google Maps and Knowledge Graph integration

Managing your Google My Business profile could put you on the map — literally.

Having your physical address listed on Google Maps means you finally exist to searchers looking to navigate to your location or look you up in local search. And Google will pull your profile information into a Knowledge Graph that appears when customers search your business.

Google Knowledge Graph

All these branded terms might be confusing, particularly when the Knowledge Graph doesn’t look like a graph. But business owners should know that the screenshot above is profile information they can manage through a Google My Business account.

On both Maps and in the Knowledge Graph, Google will feature your reviews. These star ratings can be a welcome sign or a warning signal to shoppers. That’s why it’s important to gather positive reviews for Google.

Hundreds of support tools and agencies

Because Google is one of the biggest review platforms and has been in the game for over a decade, many tools and agencies cater to Google Reviews.

Companies can focus on helping you specifically gather Google Reviews, or provide you with social tools that bake CTAs for Google Reviews on receipt pages, in followup emails, or in post-transaction texts.

Because Google is one of the most popular review sites, tutorials and tips abound. It should be simple to set up Google My Business and see success with the help of online experts.

Cons

Limited support

If you run into fake or spammy reviews on your profile, you have little recourse when pleading your case.

Google lets you report the review.

Google report review

But don’t expect the chance to give them an explanation when you’re filling out that complaint.  You may have an opportunity to speak with someone at Google about it, but don’t count on it.

Reviewers don’t have to leave a comment with their rating

A customer could leave you a bad Google review without ever explaining why. That’s because Google doesn’t require reviewers to leave comments with their rating. 

This feedback isn’t helpful for review readers or businesses looking for feedback to inform their efforts to improve. It’s also why Google had to crack down on incentivizing reviews — too many users were leaving unhelpful, spammy reviews in exchange for a coupon or discount.

Google star rating only

Reviews with little content make it hard to spot fake ratings, which puts you at risk.

Limited fraud detection

Google automatically detects fraudulent reviews, but plenty still slip through the cracks.

As you saw when we talked about Google’s limited support, your options for reporting a review are slim. While Google does its part to limit fake reviews with rules against review-gating and incentivizing, it could be doing more to catch fake negative reviews from competitors or angry customers.

Google Reviews are only one piece of the puzzle

Google Reviews is one the best platforms to collect reviews because of its visibility. But it’s not the best place for high-quality comments, rich content, or shareability. Google Reviews don’t focus on video testimonials, and the program doesn’t have built in options to share customer comments out on ads and on your website.

Google Reviews can’t be the only piece of your online reputation puzzle. Customers consult a few review sites before making a purchasing decision. Expand your review portfolio with niche specialist websites, sites with high traffic, and sites that rank well for the keyword “your brand name + reviews.” 

Looking to gather reviews that matter?

Best Company helps businesses from all industries gather reviews they can use to increase conversions and build brand trust. See what makes us different from our competitors.

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