How a recent Google change makes online reviews more important for your practice
It seems you can’t go a day without Google making a big change to their search results. One of the most recent changes that could have a significant effect on local businesses like audiology and ENT practices is the ability for online users to filter their local search results by review ratings.
Below is a screenshot of a search result page for the query “audiologist in portland or.”
As you can see, two of the local map-pack results have star ratings while one does not. Typically, the location of the online user has a big impact on the search results displayed. Google feels when people are searching for local businesses, providing users with places nearby will give that online user the best experience.
Along with the user’s location, online reviews are believed to play a big role in search rankings. A 2017 study completed by Moz reveals the importance and impact of online reviews continues to grow for a business’s local search ranking.
Now, with this new ratings filter feature, Google is giving users control over what they want to see in their search results. (Note: Users also have the ability to filter by hours, but today we are just going to focus on the importance of online reviews.)
On the search results page with this new filter, you are able to select the type of star ratings you want to see (as shown below in the screenshot). So if you are a business with a low star rating, you might be getting filtered out by potential prospects. (Check out our tips on responding to negative reviews.)
After selecting “4.5 stars and up,” the user is taken to a screen like the one below, which features a map of all the practices with an average star rating of 4.5 and higher.
The above search results were gathered on a desktop, so we wanted to see if this new filter has been carried over to mobile. Below is a screenshot of the search query “audiologist portland oregon,” and as you can see, the “top rated” filter is there. (This screenshot shows the search results before the filter is applied.)
Once the “top rated” filter is applied, the search results page changes to what is shown below. It takes the user directly to a map with the listings at the bottom and the opportunity to directly call those particular practices.
Every change that Google makes is designed to give the user a better experience. So instead of just showing local search results, oftentimes based on the user’s location, users now can say, “I would rather see businesses that have five-star reviews even if they are located a little farther away from me.”
Google doesn’t make changes lightly, and they don’t make changes without understanding what their users really want. We can assume with this type of change that Google recognizes the importance online reviews play in a consumer’s decision to choose a business.
If you don’t have an online review strategy in place, developing one for your practice has become more critical than ever. To learn more about creating an online review strategy, visit our Online Reviews Program page and discover how Audigy can help.