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How improved Google ratings impact conversions

When performing a search on Google these days you will often find it contains a local result. In most cases that means results in a map powered by Google My Business results.

In fact, during quarterly earnings call Google’s CEO said,

“I wouldn’t underestimate the focus we have on local. Just to give you a sense, local mobile searches are growing faster than just mobile searches overall, and have increased by almost 50% in the last year.”

When a statement like this is made it indicates two things to me:

1. Consumers are expecting more and more local results

2. Google My Business is really important to capture traffic.

With this trend clearly in sight, I wanted to dig into some data to look into a key factor in consumers decision making, ratings, and reviews. I was curious as to how much having a strong rating impacts consumes selecting a business. We already know ratings and reviews are important from numerous studies in the industry.

For example, Brightlocal found that 57% of consumers will only buy from businesses with a four-plus star rating. So I took a look at some data that included over 10 million Google My Business data points to try to understand the impact of increasing a business rating had on their conversion rates. I think what I found will seem very obvious, but certainly, validate the importance of good reviews.

Ratings really matter for non-branded searches

I thought I might start with something that is the most logical. When a consumer isn’t familiar with your brand and performs a generic, aka non-branded, search they are influenced greatly by a business’s rating. In the data set that I used businesses were found via non-branded searches 70% of the time vs. 30% of the time via a branded search. Meaning >2X the traffic is coming from consumers who aren’t yet sure what business they are going to choose.

Once they see the results, consumers took action on business that had a higher rating regardless of the type of search as ratings improved (duh), but they were more impacted by businesses with higher ratings when they performed a non-branded search. Conversion rates for consumers who took action (phone call, click, or got directions) on a Google My Business result were 68% higher vs. 63% higher for non-branded searches for companies with a <=2 rating vs. a 5 rating. Each star rating improvement directly leads to an increased conversion rate.

star ratings and non branded search

Source: Google My Business Insights

In our data set we had 70% of businesses with a rating between 2 & 4, with just 17% of businesses >4. For that 17 % of businesses who have received the highest reviews, they are receiving almost 30 more actions per 1,000 impressions than business with a <=2 rating. Think about how much this adds up over time? It’s massive.

While the fact that having a higher rating directly relates to having a higher conversion rate might seem obvious, I thought I’d add a data point that wasn’t as obvious, but potentially just as valuable. Our data shows that as your rating goes up consumers are more likely to click “get directions” vs. calling. While this doesn’t necessarily directly equal higher conversions, to me it indicates that consumers are more comfortable to trust the listing and head directly there vs. calling to get a sense of comfort prior to making any decisions. Also, they might call to validate the listing since the rating is so low. This introduces a potential barrier to conversion, maybe that call isn’t answered, or is requiring a customer service call since the rating is so low.

action types by rating

Source: Google My Business Insights

The simple takeaway from this data is that ratings drive action and business. The action to be taken is twofold;

  • Google My Business is important. Ensuring that your name, address, phone number, website, hours, etc… are accurate and well aligned across the web. Often using a location data management platform can help improve quality and results.
  • Soliciting and responding to ratings and reviews will help your business improve your ability to convert consumers. There are also software packages available to help improve ratings and reviews for your business. You don’t necessarily need one of these platforms, but similar to location data management they can help scale your marketing prowess.

We know from Google’s data and CEO that location is important. Hopefully, these data points can provide some additional firepower for your business to take these listing seriously. Improving your listings in Google My Business and other location data providers will have a positive impact on your business.

Jason Tabeling is EVP, Product at Brandmuscle. He can be found on Twitter @jtabeling.

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