How Reviews Can Affect Your Business’s Google Ranking

Google ReviewsMany small businesses lost Google reviews this past spring. It was an unwelcome surprise but it turns out that the removal was done by Google because of a new policy. According to Mike Blumenthal, Google was no longer permitting anonymous reviews to be posted. All legacy reviews of the same kind were also removed.

These reviews were old and were from anonymous profiles. None of them had profiles attached. Since this was the case, the user might try and click a username only to be taken to a blank page. This left many users confused and unhappy.

A company called Bright Local did some research into the matter. It turns out that almost two million Google reviews were removed. This happened to more than 40 thousand business and that three percent of all reviews were taken away. This equaled about 50 thousand reviews.

This got me thinking. Did the number of reviews on a listing impact a business’s ranking? I browsed dozens of examples and then compared their search results before the update to see what was being looked for. I tried finding cases where several businesses had lost reviews so that I could see what the impact was to those businesses.

My Research Case Study

Several businesses lost a lot of reviews. The most extreme cases are listed below.

Here is a screen shot of what “dentist NYC” search results looked like on May 23 when I searched using a New York City ZIP code. Look carefully at the business results in positions 5 through 8.

Two days later, the same businesses had fewer reviews.

These businesses experienced a drop in their rankings a few days after that. On May 28, just four days later, the rankings looked something like this:

Manhattan Dental Spa – 11 fewer reviews for a 31 percent drop which brought it from position 5 to position 7.

209 NYC Dental – 11 fewer reviews for a 4 percent drop only two spots down from 6 to 8.

Smile Arts of NY – Lost nearly half their reviews at a total of 125 fewer reviews. They went from position 7 to position 12.

Emergency Dentist NYC – 57 lost reviews which also represented over half their total reviews. They went from position 8 to position 9.

I looked at the results a month later in June. Both Manhattan Dental Spa and 209 NYC Dental retained their rank. Emergency Dentist NYC lost a position while Smile Arts of NY gained a rank up. It also received over a dozen new, genuine reviews which I believe helped.

Most of the sites I looked at did not lose many reviews which translated to no huge ranking changes. It seems safe to say that the number of reviews impacts the ranking. There are, however, 200 more new factors that determine how pages rank, so rank does not always hinge on having the most reviews.