Tuesday 8 May 2018

Why scoring 4 on Google is simply not enough

Google allocates a score to every business on the planet, from 0 to 5 ('0' for businesses with no reviews - for reasons better known to Google, a customer cannot score a business '0'). In this article we will help you understand why your business's score matters so much (and will matter even more at some point in the not-too-distant future). 

Your Google score

Your Google score is used as a headline guide, by everyone who is searching for a business. If that score is not as close to perfect - 5.0 - as it can be, those potential customers will mine deeper - by selecting the 'lowest rating' option given to them in every search...

The Google filter

This can be set to '4 and above' or 'top rated'...

So, if your business scores more than 3.9 you will pass the first of these filters, but to succeed with certainty with the second it will need to score as close to 5.0 as possible.

How consumers view your score

This section is based on hard research by several respected institutions - Harvard Business School and Cornell University School of Hospitality amongst them - we have simply expanded on their findings...

  • 5.0 - will use this business - no questions asked (may read the first two or three reviews)
  • 4.8 - 4.9 - will use this business - will read the first two or three reviews
  • 4.5 - 4.7 - will use this business - as long as the negative reviews are not convincing
  • 4.2 - 4.4 - may use this business (will definitely read the negative reviews) if there is no comparable business scoring higher
  • 4.0 - 4.1 - may use this business, will definitely read the negative reviews, but will actively seach for a business with a higher Google score

But what if my business scores less than 4.0? we hear some of you say. I think we have probably answered that question already, but, for those harbouring any lingering doubts...

  • 3.9 or less - these businesses are increasingly finding themselves filtered by even the most unsophisticated Google users (bear in mind that well over 70% of search is now conducted on mobile). If they do make it into the consumers' line of sight then estimates show that at least 93% of those consumers will be influenced by the reviews - negative reviews in this case - that they read.

The 'No-one believes a business that scores a perfect 5' myth debunked...

This has achieved the status of 'urban myth' with businesses. How often do we hear a business say 'No-one will believe their reviews - they score 5'? Pretty often - especially when referring to a competitor! But all reserch points to the fact that consumers actually discriminate in favour of a business that scores as near to 5 as it possibly can.

This business is not 'suffering' from its score - quite the contrary. How do we know? Because they are clients of ours. Of course it does help that all our clients can point to the fact that they invite reviews from everyone with a button like this on their website...

...the button illustrated is 'actual size' so our client can hardly be accused of not proactively inviting reviews!

Why a score in the 'low 4s' is damaging...

Apart from the fact that your competitor with scores better than yours will be doing more business, consumers will invariably read a business's one-star reviews. Here is a typical business scoring in the low 4s - see how they look...

Ranking by score

Sheer force of logic dictates that Google will soon rank businesses by their reviews scores - it is just a question of 'when'. Why do we say this? Because of the single most important reason people use a search engine - and that is to find the 'best' business for them there is. Not the one that pays the most for advertising, not the one that is (necessarily) the closest - the best

Google have a three-pronged conundrum to solve before they switch over to 'best' in search, and it goes something like this...

  1. Will it dilute our ad pitch (even more)?
  2. Do enough businesses have enough reviews to make it a reliable test?
  3. Are the reviews themsleves reliable enough?
Our answers:
  1. You - Google - will have no option, the logic is just too strong (and you are already acknowledging this in mobile search, with your filters)
  2. In some markets and amongst some types of business - yes. There is some way to go with businesses in denial - here's a good example: our recent article on financial services
  3. Far more reliable than those from external reviews sites, partly because businesses are not paying Google for reviews and partly because Google now insist that a reviewer is indentifiable - at least to Google!

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