NB: While we are illustrating this with examples from the hospitality industry, all our clients should take notice - Google will certainly apply the filter to any search where, in their opinion, it stands to enhance the user experience - who would not want to filter out plumbers or estate agents with scores lower than 4.0?
At the top right of selected Google searches in mobile* you will see an innocent word displayed in block capitals: 'FILTER':
This is a half-way move towards ranking by Google. 'Let's allow our users to filter out all but the best businesses.'
Can you imagine anyone choosing any but the highest (currently 4.0) filter? Nor can we.
Here's the same search, but with the filter applied:
Do you think One O One Restaurant is happy? Not only does it on longer appear in the top three in local search, it does not appear in infinite search - it has effectively been edited out of local search altogether.
And here's the more refined filter that Google is offering users searching for hotels:
A search on 'Hotel Kensington' saw 51 out of 97 hotels eliminated from mobile search when the 4.0 filter was applied. That's eliminated, not pushed down or parked somewhere else - eliminated.
It does not take a genius to see where Google is headed here: they will roll out the filter to all businesses (why would they not want to offer their users this facility when they are searching for mortgage brokers or financial advisers?).
Firstly - the obvious - any business scoring less than 4.0
Secondly - and perhaps less obvious - businesses without a Google score (businesses with less than five reviews).
Never has it been so important to get (and maintain) a great Google score.
- Businesses with no reviews (or less than five reviews): adopt a proactive review management strategy urgently - get five reviews with a score averaging 4.5+
- Businesses with more than five reviews scoring 3.9 or less: adopt a proactive review management strategy urgently - aim for a score of as near to 4.5 as possible
- Businesses with more than five reviews scoring 4.4 or less: adopt a proactive review management strategy - aim for a score of as near to 4.5 as possible
- Businesses with more than five reviews scoring 4.5 or more: well done, but don't rest on your laurels - the Google score is purely mathematical, so a clutch of 1* reviews still has the potential to drive your score down - keep the great reviews coming
Are you ready - for when Google apply the filter to your sector?
There are six businesses returned in this search; one looks great, one looks OK, the rest have no reviews - when Google enable filtering they will all disappear. You probably already know that Winkworth are clients of ours.
- Businesses in sectors where the filter has yet to be applied: Google have put you on notice - make the best of this advance warning: adopt professional review management and make sure you look great before the filter is applied to your sector.
*Here's the desktop version: