Does this sound familiar? All of my Google reviews have 5-Stars, why is Google giving me an overall rating of 4.9? (See Image below).
We have been asked this question repeatedly over the years of being in the industry. A business will have 5-8 reviews all with a 5-star rating on Google and yet a big 4.9 is displayed. Obviously, Google is using a formula different from the basic averaging formula.
We calculate an overall rating based on user ratings and a variety of other signals to ensure that the overall score best reflects the quality of the establishment.
The “variety of other signals” clearly indicates that Google is taking into consideration more than just review ratings when calculating their algorithm. Industry experts believe that Google is using their own version of a Bayesian Average to help them calculate, in their eyes, a more accurate average review rating. They are essentially predicting what your rating will be at scale and comparable to those other businesses that are getting a lot of reviews.
What on Earth is a Bayesian Average and why would Google be using it?
Calculating review averages is actually much more objective than one might originally think. Google’s main goal is to be the most trusted source of information for consumers and attempts to give the most accurate search results they can. Is a business with seven, 5-star reviews better than a business in the same industry with 50, 5-star reviews and a handful of 4-star reviews? Probably not.
The business with seven 5-star reviews is most likely going to start receiving reviews below 5-stars. Google, assuming this is the case, alters the review average to reflect that thinking. The algorithm that Google uses is very similar to the Bayesian Average, which is “a method of estimating the average, using outside information.”
Essentially, Google is using businesses with a large amount of reviews as a model to help estimate what the average overall rating would be for businesses with a smaller amount of reviews. The company with more reviews is more “prominent” to Google because they are factoring review quantity into overall rating score as a way to establish a quality recommendation.
How Does This Affect Your Business?
Until Google decides to be more transparent with their algorithms, we can only speculate how many reviews a business needs to take them from predictions to a more traditional, accurate average. Armed with the knowledge that Google takes into consideration a “variety of other signals”, small businesses are not left powerless to Google’s not-so-obvious algorithms.
Small businesses can continue to provide excellent service as well as encourage customers to leave more reviews. Generating positive reviews is crucial to businesses as 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business and 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more. Not only will more reviews help your business listings in gaining Google’s trust and therefore an accurate representation of your overall rating, it will, more importantly, improve your online rankings.
Local Search is actually very simple. The algorithms are very similar to the mind of consumers, everyone just wants to know that your store is a credible business. With 92% of shoppers starting their search on local sites (Google Maps, Yelp!, etc.), it’s imperative to win the vetting war as it begins… PAGE 1. Higher review counts, more responses, increased accuracy of listings, optimized social pages, and picture moderation will all lead to success.
Want to know how to improve your rankings and flood your business listings pages with positive reviews? Schedule a free demo with us today and we will show how easy it is to use our Review Generation tool to drastically improve your online ratings and reputation. We’ll also show you how you currently compare to your competitors in SEO rankings - and show you the exact steps to take in order to win more customers and leave your competitors in the dark.