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Pile of Gold Stars

The Ultimate Guide to Google Review Stars

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown SEO.

If you’re trying to rank well in local SEO, then reviews are an important part of that mix.

But when you look at search results in Google, you’ll notice that review stars don’t always display in the way you would expect.

Both in Google Business Profile, and the rating stars in regular organic search results have changed a lot over time. We’ve covered those changes.

Here’s a table of contents that lets you skip to specific sections that answer questions on Google review star ratings.

Understanding Geo-Located Search Queries

So, the way Google is set up now, if you’re searching for a service using the city as part of the search query (city + service), you’ll usually see the top three map results at the top. After these top three results (the Local Pack), the regular top ten organic results follow.

The stars from Google reviews only show on these map results now. A couple of years ago, you would see Google star ratings in the organic search results, but that isn’t the case now.

So the goal in local SEO is to get to the top three map results, and also get review stars to show. Customers are more likely to click on a result with rating stars, as opposed to a result without stars. The better your click-through rate, the more confidence Google has in placing your business higher in results.

So, in Google Maps, and in the Local Pack on Page 1, you’ll only see rating stars if you have one or more Google reviews.

This used to have a threshold of three reviews, but it dropped to a threshold of one review around March of 2017.

So, that’s the first thing you need to know. You need at least one review for the yellow stars to be visible.

Why Does Google Business Profile Show a Lower Star Rating Than It Should?

We often see businesses try to get a lot of reviews immediately after getting a negative review. Many businesses aren’t going after positive reviews until they get a one-star review, and they need to bring their score up.

As you’ll see in the comments section below, when you get a sudden rush of reviews, these don’t get added into your review score right away.

What we are seeing is it takes about a week to add in new reviews to your total score. This could be because Google sees it as an abnormal pattern when you have very few reviews over the course of several years, then all of a sudden, you get seven or eight reviews in a week.

The best course of action is to be proactive about collecting reviews from customers. If you get a ton of positive reviews, the occasional mediocre review will not be as damaging to your cumulative score.

Interestingly enough, up until Spring of 2017, you would also not be able to get a 5.0 rating until you got ten reviews (though now your score is not adjusted). This had to do with something called the Bayesian average.

A Note on the Bayesian Average

For a long time, Google would extrapolate what your score might look like if you had more reviews. (This ended around March of 2017).

Since five reviews is a pretty small sample size to have perfect confidence in the rating, Google used to factors in for error until you got to ten reviews. (It no longer does this).

There’s a lot of statistical mathematics involved in the Google algorithm, but the concept of extrapolating the results is known as a Bayesian average. Basically, once you got to ten reviews, Google had more confidence in the data around your business when it came to ratings. You can read more about the theory at

Sending Customers Your Review Link

For customers to leave a review for your business, you must to send them to Google Maps, your Google Business Profile page, or send them a custom link (found in your Google Business Profile dashboard).

Finding Your Google Review Link On Desktop

One way that almost always works is to Google the name of your business, with the address from the regular Google page. On desktop, you should see your Google Business Profile show up in the right hand column.

Google Search sing address search

There should be a link that either says Be the first to review or Write a review, depending on whether you have reviews or not yet. If you have reviews, you can also click the link that shows how many reviews you have.

Address Search Trigger Map in Google

Clicking these links will trigger a modal window that allows the user to write a review.

Writing a Review on Google Maps

Copy the URL in your browser’s address bar and send that to your customer. Or use it as a link on your site, so people don’t have to figure this out on their own.

Finding Your Google Review Link On Mobile

There are two ways you can get to a Google business review link on mobile.

One way is to go into Google Maps and search for the business you want to review. Click on the link at the bottom left that shows how many reviews the business has.

google map search local business

Notice the text link at the bottom left of the screen? This will either say No Reviews or the number of reviews the business has.

You’ll open up the Google Maps/Google Business Profile for that business. Scroll to the bottom of the profile, and the review link will be at the bottom.

Mobile search for local business

Find Your Google Review Link On Mobile: Part Two

The second way to leave a Google review for a business on mobile is to go to regular Google search, and search for that business using the business name, and the city or address.

The Google Map result should be the first result in search. At the bottom of this result will be a link for More Info.

mobile search for local business

See that blue button with the downward facing arrow, and More info about…? Click this, and you should see the whole Google profile. The Google review link will be at the bottom of the profile, just like in the example we showed above.

Share Your Google Review Link: The Newest Method

Google has made it easier to create a shareable link to review your business. Here’s how to create that link.

1. Go to, which is the Google Place API page.

2. Type in your business name and address in the “Enter your location” field.

3. Click on your business name as it appears on the map.

4. You’ll see a string of characters under your business name, labelled Place ID. Copy that ID.

Google Places API

5. Add your Places ID to this URL pattern:<place_id>

If your Places ID is Abc123, then your shareable review link would be

6. You can now share this review link with your customers.

Getting To The Local Map Pack

Getting to the top three (Local Map Pack) seems to be an elusive target.

Obviously, this is where everyone wants to be. The things that seem to influence what goes here most are the local organic search results. Geo-location (GPS) seems to play a small role as well.

Reviews alone won’t get you to the three pack local map results. To get there, you’ll need better content, more local links and local mentions, better links from reputable sources, more link diversity (more than one type of link source), link velocity, social shares, stronger brand signals, and local relevance.

Let’s say you’ve done a lot of work on your site, and you feel like you have a really strong site that should be ranking above other sites that have weaker profiles. You might want to check out this Moz Whiteboard Friday that discusses why you might be losing rank to sites with weaker profiles.

How Long Will It Take For My New Reviews To Be Added To My Review Score?

Many businesses wonder how long it takes for Google to calculate new reviews and add them to your score.

It usually takes between two to seven days to add new reviews to your score. But…

Recently, I have seen many people asking why their review scores aren’t being updated when they get a whole bunch of reviews in a short amount of time.

Usually this happens if a business is trying to do “reputation management” or if an SEO consultant is trying to “fix” their score.

My advice is: be wary of how you go about this.

Google appears to cracking down more and more on suspicious looking reviews, and flagging them for manual review by the Web Spam team.

Normal and Abnormal Review Patterns

Google looks at the patterns that are normal for both your business, and similar for other businesses in your category.

If a business normally gets one review every four months or so, then suddenly gets a dozen reviews in the span of a few days, that can flag those reviews for the Google Web Spam team.

All sites like Google, Thumbtack, and Yelp are able to track the IP addresses of the people leaving reviews. If there are patterns that don’t look normal, that can flag the reviews for manual inspection.

Google says on it’s help page:

Your score is calculated from user ratings and a variety of other signals to ensure that the overall score best reflects the quality of the establishment.

Many SEO consultants and people who work with programing algorithms feel that the part about a variety of other signals means that Google uses what is called a Bayesian average to look not just at the raw numbers, but incorporating other factors that may cause deviation in the formula.

A Bayesian average is a method of estimating the mean of a population consistent with Bayesian interpretation, where instead of estimating the mean strictly from any or all available data set, other existing information related to that data set may also be incorporated into the calculation in order to minimize the impact of large deviations, or to assert a default value when the data set is small.

(source: Wikipedia)

This is the reason you cannot get a 5.0 rating before you get a certain number 5-star ratings. Google uses the Bayesian average to extrapolate information until it has a large enough data set (the number of reviews) to make an accurate calculation.

What Happens When You Get a Whole Bunch of Google Reviews All At Once?

Google is getting serious about looking for abnormal patterns in businesses that get reviews.

If you have a previous pattern of not getting many reviews, and your score is a bit low, then all of a sudden, you get a ton of five-star reviews, Google is going to take a closer look.

If your new reviews all have Google+ profiles with no photo, no profile information, and nearly no history of reviews — that can be a problem.

It is probable that Google is flagging these to see if they are fake reviews.

In the past, Google has been very lax about letting fake reviews in, and adding them to the review average. But I have seen increasing evidence that reviews that are flagged as fake may be getting tossed out from the final review score.

You will still see the number of reviews, but reviews that are flagged as fraudulent may not count towards the final review score.

Again, this is just what I’ve seen recently.

Do One Star Reviews Affect Rankings?

What About Getting Star Ratings in Organic Search Results? (Not the Map)

Recent Changes to Google Rating Stars in Organic Search Results (Sept. 2019)

Google announced on September 16th, 2019 that they would only show rich snippet ratings stars in search results for certain types of Schema types. The biggest changes that are still rolling out, affect rich snippet star ratings for the LocalBusiness and Organization Schema types. These will no longer show ratings stars if the Structured Data markup for the entity (business) is embedded on on the business website itself, either manually or via a third-party widget.

This will eventually affect sites that are adding Schema data for Organization or LocalBusiness, adding rating stars manually for the Review and aggregateRating properties.

Google representative John Mueller also confirmed that this will also affect third-party widgets that embed review markup, that have up to now, provided ratings stars in organic search results.

My understanding: ☑️ Use 3rd party tool (say, TrustPilot), show reviews + mark-up = fine (as you can't screen out bad ones). ❎ Collate own 1st party reviews (and, in theory, screen out bad ones) + mark-up = not OK. *Showing* 1st party reviews is fine, just not with SD.

I double-checked to make sure :) -- that's incorrect. Regardless of how the reviews are embedded on your site (widget or not), if it's for your own LocalBusiness/Organization, they would be considered self-serving and not be shown.

As of September 22nd, 2019 this is still rolling out, as I see rating stars for numerous sites still using both manual Schema markup or Google reviews and embedded third-party review widgets.

Google said that third-party sites that collect reviews independently (think Facebook, Yelp, HomeAdvisor) would be unaffected by this change. Only review markup embedded on the site of the business being reviewed would be considered “self-serving”, or an attempt to manipulate click-through rate using rating stars.

This has no effect on your regular Google Business Profile listing. Leaving the Schema review markup in place will not earn you a manual penalty from Google, the stars will simply not be shown, once the changes finish rolling out.

Final Advice

Never, ever ask someone to review your business if they haven’t been an actual customer or client. That goes for Google, Yelp, or any other platform that collects reviews and delivers a star rating.

Do ask your happy customers for reviews on Google (and other platforms). Google has made it more difficult to get reviews, so the effort is worth it. Your competitors will have the same challenges.

Remember that customer service will always be the biggest differentiation between you and your competition. Make sure service and integrity is at the center of everything you do.

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown SEO.

202 comments on “The Ultimate Guide to Google Review Stars

  1. Why is it that we have had a quantity of 13 (5) star reviews and they have not changed our ranking at all from 4.00 to 4.1 — or any other stars ranking? How many do we need to get a better ranking?

  2. Hi Angie:

    Based on the website URL you provided, it looks like you’re at one of the many locations for American Freight, somewhere near Kentucky, perhaps? I did see the American Freight website has a bunch of five-star reviews on their site. But these aren’t the same as five-star reviews from your Google My Business page or Google Maps.

    I did a quick search,and saw a few American Freight locations with more than five reviews on Google Maps. These are what you need to collect. Google makes people sign into their Google+ profiles to leave a review on Google Maps. These have authority to search engines.

    If you want to send customers to your specific location, make sure it is correctly represented on Google Maps. Search for your store location using the address in Google. You should see the map for your particular store show up in the right hand sidebar. There will be a link in that profile to Write a Review or xx Google Reviews.

    For example, if you search “American Freight, Turfway Square, Kentucky”, you’ll see that location show up in the right hand side of the sreen. This location has 11 reviews with an average of 3.0 — but for this location, there’s a pretty even mix of one-star and five-star reviews.

    I don’t know which location is yours. But work on encouraging happy customers to leave reviews. Once you start getting lower-star reviews, it’s difficult to bring your average back up. Remember that third-party sites like Google, Yelp, Angies’s List, and InfoGroup carry weight in who Google places near the top, while reviews that are collected on your own site may not carry the same amount of weight.

    1. Thanks for the post it was great, just wanted to ask you a question, and make a statement.

      Does Google Maps refresh reviews on a yearly basis? (Does it zero the Counter?)

      There are so many un-claimed google map markers on Google Maps, with incomplete and outdated info, a paradise for other people to abuse them, claim them, and change info in them.

      Out of 45 Golf Club/Courses in Google My Business – Map Marker Accounts reviewed. 28 were unclaimed, 13 were missing, 4 were claimed, but 2 remain incomplete.

      The top golf courses in South Africa, USA, UK, Scotland and Sweden all have unclaimed accounts. They cannot even respond to their reviews.

      Please take a look at the project site, maybe you can do a post on this subject.


      Michael O’Connor ([email protected])

      1. Hi Michael:

        I wasn’t sure if I replied to this previously or not. Google does not reset the reviews each year, the average is for the entire length of time they have been collecting reviews.

        However, in May of 2018, they purged any reviews that were in the anonymous user period of 2012 and before. This was before they required Google+ accounts to leave reviews. These were reviews that were left by “A Google User”. Overall, this accounted for about 3% of total Google reviews.
        More on that here:
        and here:

        Google will let anyone suggest an edit to a Google My Business profile. They then review that information against other public records, and make sure everything looks legit. People can do this by going to Google Maps, searching for the business in question, then clicking the Suggest an Edit link.

        I’m sure there are a lot of businesses that are unclaimed (on Google and Yelp). If a business wants to claim the profile, they usually send a postcard to the business address, and then you type in a code on that postcard. This prevent random people from claiming profiles.

        My apologies if this is the first time I answered this question!

  3. I just wanted to say thanks for this post John. I have found it really helpful in understanding the star system.

    Let’s hope they don’t change things again too soon!

    Thanks again 🙂

  4. Thanks, Charlotte! Google changes things constantly, because the way we all look for information keeps changing. 🙂

    All we can do is try to be the legitimately most helpful businesses, with the best possible customer service. It also helps to know where to point people to get reviews for our business, so more people can discover us. 😉

  5. I left a review using Google and it did not change the rating average at all despite being far from it, do you know why?

  6. Hi Samuel:

    Your question is a bit vague, but here are some reasons a single review may not move a rating:

    – Make sure you are submitting reviews through Google Maps for the business you are trying to review. You can no longer submit reviews through Google+, and reviews that are republished on your website won’t affect the Google rating of a business.

    – If the business has a ton of reviews already, one review won’t move the needle that much. This can be good or bad for the business, depending on if they have a positive score or a negative score. If a business has a long track record of low scores from many reviews, that will be difficult to bring up. So businesses should focus on good customer service whenever possible.

    – If a business has less than ten reviews, they won’t automatically get a five-star rating — even if they have all five-star ratings. Above 5 reviews, a business starts out at around 4.8. They have to keep consistently racking up five-star reviews until they get to ten to get the 5.0.

    – Though it doesn’t really happen that often, Google can still screen out reviews that are false. I do see this happen from time to time, where an employee of the business will leave a five-star review of the business. This doesn’t really provide any value to the customer base, so make sure you aren’t guilty of this. Google still has humans who look at search results and Google My Business profiles. Avoid anything that resembles review manipulation.

    – Reviews can take a day or so to be added to the cumulative score of the business. So if you add a five-star review, it may take a a day to be added to the average of the business.

    These are all possible scenarios for your situation. If you’re encountering something different, give us more details (such as the business name) and perhaps we can figure it out.

  7. Hi John, we had a one star review that has remained on top despite several more recent five star reviews. Why might this be the case? Much appreciated.

  8. Hi Matt:

    I looked up your business profile on Google Maps/Google+ and I see the review you’re talking about.

    You can try and flag this review as false, but it’s unlikely that it will be removed. Here’s the page that talks about flagging a review.

    Google will remove reviews that are personal attacks, hate speech, sexually explicit, illegal, obscene, spam, or a review from an employee. (See more about what they consider removable at this link: )

    Google tends not to evaluate reviews for who is telling the truth, as there are billions of businesses out there, and it’s too difficult to discern who is telling the truth (read more at the first link in my reply).

    If the review is from someone who was never a legit patient, the best thing you can do is politely explain that they were never a patient and stay professional. Real customers will look at your response to the review for context, and see that that person was not a legitimate client.

    There’s not much you can do to make Google filter the one-star review downwards. These are most likely sorted by looking for specific patterns of words, so your best bet is to continue to ask for five-star reviews.

    A single one-star review in the midst of a myriad of five-star reviews will appear to be an aberration, not a pattern. New reviews may also replace the one-star review at the top of the Most Helpful sorting mechanism.

    Since your business is based in Australia, you may also want to check out this page: for more steps you can take to contact Google.

  9. Hello,

    We have 54 reviews. When we search for our business name the reviews appear. However, when you search ‘car hire gold coast’ we are listed on the second page but it is not showing our star rating. Why is this?

    1. Hi Kelsey:

      That’s a great question. So, in late-2015, Google started phasing out showing the review stars on the regular search results (the 10 per page organic results.)

      The only place you would see your review stars in search would be in Google Maps, in the local 3-pack with the map at the top of organic results, or when you search your business name, and you see your Google My Business profile show up in the right hand side of the screen.

      Google (as well as Bing and Yahoo) are constantly doing little experiments to see what delivers the best results for their customers. The fact that you have 54 positive reviews is a really good sign, so congratulations to that!

      So your next question is probably going to be, “Why are some of our competitors getting review stars in the search results for car hire gold coast?”

      The answer to that is, Google is showing reviews from other places.

      For example, the Avis Coolangatta result on the first page is pulling reviews from Yelp.

      The DriveNow result is using hReview markup from their own page to display review stars. The same thing with VroomVroomVroom. They are using Schema markup on their own page to show their aggregate star rating (look right above the Happy Customers section on their search result.

      One thing you may want to consider is working with a search consultant who can help you with the structured data markup (like Schema or Microformats) on your website. Until you get into the 3-pack at the top of page one, it may be a way to show off the aggregate reviews you have.

  10. Hi John,

    We can see ratings for ProSchoolOnline in normal organic search with 10 results while searching for financial modelling courses in Delhi. But, our institute has also 5 Google reviews but we not getting any stars in organic search.

    1. Hi Vaibhav:

      I know we just discussed this exact situation on Twitter, but I want to document what we found for the benefit of everyone else reading this.

      ProSchoolOnline is using Schema markup in their page to show their reviews and aggregate rating. Their stars in organic search are from on-page structured data (Schema), not Google reviews. Google reviews (right now in 2016) only show up in Google Maps or in the 3-pack of local results at the top of Page 1, if the 3-pack is triggered by a localized search term.

      You also have some competitors on Page 3 that have some star ratings next to their search result. Those ones are saying votes instead of reviews, and though it looks they are using Schema for parts of their page, I couldn’t find Schema markup on those lower ranked competitors for reviews or aggregate ratings.

      The competitors on Page 3, Simplilearn and WallStreetMojo, look like they are having structured data pulled in by Google from another source, like a third-party website. I’m not sure what that would be in this case. I see Yelp reviews pulled in for some local searches, but this doesn’t seem to be the case for them.

      You can add Schema markup to your own site and test it via a tool like the Structured Data Testing Tool. Just make sure your rating reflect the real numbers out there on the various sites reviewing your institute.


  11. Great post John – I was helping a friend with a hairdressing business get listed on Maps and you have everything I wanted to know here. Much appreciated.

  12. Its been a while since I’ve visited you here John, but you never cease to post great content!

    Thanks for sharing this, it was a very informative read. I’ll be sure to keep this stuff in mind for future use.

    Hope you’re well!

  13. Thanks for putting this guide together. It really helps, since Google has been changing all the rating systems up constantly, but don’t really put out good content explaining what they’ve done. My theory is that Google wants to use Google Maps in order to know the reviewer is indeed a local person reviewing the business, as opposed to some low waged mass-reviewer in India or China.

    Our real estate business here in the Lake Norman, NC area has seen some extra business that has come in through google searches, and having a good amount of legitimate reviews on Google I feel has helped. Thanks again, John.

  14. Hi Mike:

    Some of what you are saying is correct Mike. Google would actually know if the reviews are from out of the area, because they can use both the IP address of the reviewer and GPS location to detect that. Google is actually much less strict than Yelp about filtering out reviews, but the capability is always there for services like this to get a sense if reviews are legitimate or not.

    I think the recent shift to moving reviews to Google Maps has more to do with user behavior. What I mean by that is everyone has their phone in their pocket at all times, and that is everyone’s main access to the internet.

    As a result, more people are looking for local businesses to find out directions, hours of operations, and see information like photos and reviews in order to make comparisons between competing businesses, or find the physical location of a service. To me, this seems to be reasoning behind many of their decisions.

  15. Hello John Locke,

    Can I ask you a question? My webpage rating stars have been removed, and I changed the structured data of my website and then they appeared again. I used the same type code of my competitor. After one month, the stars were removed. My competitor dosen’t have this type of problem.

    We are (, second position for the keyword “ecommerce development company” in this IP area. Our competitor is first (

    Why it is like this? I would also like to know, can anyone do negative SEO on our site to remove the rating stars?

    1. Hello Visnukanth:

      You have asked a very good question. If you look at the search results in Google Maps, you have 60 Google reviews, and Sparx IT has only 10 Google reviews.

      But when you look at the search results, Sparx shows review stars in the organic search results, with a 4.7 rating from a total of 9,324 votes.

      9,324 votes is a lot more than 10 reviews. So how are they doing this?

      The answer is, they have a voting mechanism on their front page, along with Schema markup that allows Google to parse this as review markup. It looks like anyone can vote to review them from a single IP address, and the numbers are updated through JavaScript.

      This is the second section on their home page:

      Screenshot, Sparx IT home page

      And this is the Sparx search engine result. Notice that it is tracking “votes” and not reviews.

      Sparx IT Search engine result

      You have similar Schema markup to track your own ratings.

      Yarddiant ratings

      It looks like many other web development shops are adopting this same tactic (AIS Technolabs).

      I would note that Alakmalak and Net Gains are also displaying review stars, but instead of using the voting system that is directly on the website, these two companies are using Schema markup to display their Aggregate Review score from their Google reviews, then linking to their Google+ profile. This might be something you might try.

      To address your other question, negative SEO is very real, but if you were suffering a negative SEO attack, your overall rank would be plummeting to the bottom — you would not merely lose your review stars in organic search results.

      The only insured method for getting review stars to show all the time is to place in the 3-pack of Google Map local results at the top of the first page of search results. The rest of the time, it seems like Google uses it’s discretion on whether to show review stars or not in organic search results.

      1. Hi John Locke:

        Thank you for your reply.

        The answer to my question is very useful and it gives me good information. I really thank you, that you would take my question seriously and you studied the problem. I think some more time is needed for analyzing the problem and also for comparing our website with those of our competitors.
        My hearty thanks to you for sparing your precious time to us, and thanks for your guidance.

        Thanks & Regards
        Vishnukanth M

  16. Thank you very much for your site, especially for your very well researched and clearly communicated replies, John!

    Our issue: We want our Google review stars to light up!

    We have hundreds of (and years worth of!) 5-star reviews through our in-practice review system, which is part of the data program we use for our patients. These reviews show up on Facebook and our website (yay!), alas, cannot be linked to Google—at least, that’s what I’ve been told.

    We launched a campaign asking patients to help us by leaving a Google review in addition to (or in lieu of) our practice survey. It’s been slow going, but we recently received our 5th actual, honest-to-goodness Google review. I was hoping it would finally light up our stars. Unfortunately, it didn’t. Argh.

    Is this somehow related to HOW our patients leave a Google review? I’ve read all you wrote about going through Google maps. What happens if some of the reviews were left through our old Google+ business site? Does that mean they don’t count toward the 5 reviews Google requires to light up the stars?

    Many, many thanks in advance for your help lighting up our Google review stars!

    1. Hi Nicole:

      Great questions! Let me address each of those.

      1) It looks like your in-house reviews were able to be imported to Facebook via a custom Facebook app. I noticed that you have two tabs on your Facebook page that say Reviews.

      This is a screenshot of these imported reviews. (By the way, I think this is great social proof of your service once you get people on the Facebook page.)

      Bullard Family Dentistry Facebook reviews #1

      But these are not the review stars showing up in Google results for your Facebook page.

      Bullard Family Dentistry Facebook SERP

      There are 50 of the imported reviews, and there are 51 of the native Facebook reviews, which have a 4.6 aggregate rating. This screenshot below is what is showing in Google results for your Facebook page.

      Bullard Family Dentistry Facebook reviews

      2) As you suspected, you can’t import your in-house reviews into Google reviews. I would encourage people to search for you on Google Maps and leave a review that way.

      I actually send people the link to leave a Google review via email when a project is wrapped up, as this whole process is really complicated for the average person to figure out on their own.

      Pretty much all third-party platforms will make your customers sign up for their service to leave a review. It would be too easy for businesses everywhere to manipulate the system if they were somehow allowed to import reviews they collected on their own website into Google or Yelp, and add those to the native reviews.

      These services (Google, Yelp, Facebook) collect ancillary information from the person doing the review to make sure it is authentic (IP addresses, making sure user is logged in, has a profile, etc). Yelp is the most stringent about this, Google is fairly relaxed, as is Facebook.

      I would suspect to consumers, reviews that are collected natively on these three platforms look more authentic than ones collected on your own website, in large part because the profiles of the patients/clients leaving the reviews have validated social profiles.

      3) Your reviews stars for getting five Google reviews did show up, it just took some time. This is normal.

      These show up when I search for your business name, and also for pediatric dentists in your area.

      Bullard Pediatric Dentistry SERP

      Sheyboygan pediatric dentists

      Note that you will see your Google star rating when you appear in the 3-pack map at the top of page one (sometimes known as the “snack pack”), and when people search directly for your business name or address, and it triggers the Google My Business profile in the right hand column of the search results screen.

      Occasionally, you will see star ratings for businesses in the rest of the search results, but these are fairly inconsistent. The only times (as of right now in autumn 2016) that you will see rating stars is on your Google+ business page profile, on Google Maps, and in the 3-pack of map results at the top of page one of search results.

      4) The way that your customers write a review should not have any effect on a business displaying rating stars for Google reviews. What it will affect is what review snippets are likely to display in the right hand column when your Google+ profile appears.

      Google seems to want to display review snippets that are the most helpful to other searchers or consumers. The criteria for which review snippets appear seems to change periodically.

      The best thing you can do is continue your efforts to get reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, YP, and any other service that allows for service ratings. (This is what we call “barnacle SEO”, named such because you get your business ranked again on the strength of these other websites ranking for a given local search term.)

      Hope this answered your questions, Nicole!


  17. Hi Rohit:

    There are lots of reasons Google may not be displaying the star rating for your plugin review when it appears in organic search results. There does not always appear to be a pattern, but here are a couple of things that seem to help.

    1) More often than not, the search results that have review stars showing seem to be using aggregateRating as part of the Schema markup. It looks like you are using Rating already, but I would look into this page, and see if you can change the markup in your web page to use aggregate ratings.

    I would be sure to double check the markup using the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.

    2) I would also do everything possible to make your overall site more authoritative. Meaning, if your site comes up more often in search results for other related keyword searches, then your structured data may have a better chance of appearing.

    Google seems to randomly show review stars in organic search results for some websites, while not showing review stars for similar websites with nearly identical markup. My theory is one of the factors could be how much Google trusts one site compared to the other sites in its category. Take care of your overall technical SEO, build links, keep publishing great content, and experiment with the Schema markup for your page. Take a look at what other people are doing who have review stars displaying.

    Keep in mind, over the last few years, Google has greatly reduced the numbers of search results that show rich snippet and review star information. Five years ago it was everywhere, and now is it more scattered in occurrences.

  18. Hi Rusty:

    It looks like all your Google reviews came in the last week. It usually takes a little while for Google to catch up. Sit tight and they should show up on Google Maps. I would also continue to collect reviews in a natural-looking manner. If you get a burst of eight or nine reviews all at once, and then don’t have any for a long time after that, it may look unnatural for your overall organic rankings.

    Your reviews and the stars on Google Maps usually take a week or so to synchronize.

  19. I used to have to send people to my Google Maps to get a review. Now Whitespark has a cool new Google review link generator where you can email or text your clients a direct link to your website. (I know this seems spammy, but I’m not affiliated with them–just super jazzed up that’s it’s easier to send clients to review me on Google now.) Google Review Link Generator: .

    Here are four other options (that includes creating a widget for your website):

  20. I have written a review on a business and when I log out of my Google+ account I cant see the review….why is that?

    I also uploaded photos to a location and its been over a week and I cant see the photos….why is that?

  21. Hi Nick:

    When you write a Google review of another business, it usually takes a day or two to show up in the rest of the reviews.

    If you are adding photos to your Google My Business account, and you look at that page logged out or as someone else, and you go to [The page] > About, you will only see three photos. These are the usually one each of the last photo from Posts, Identity Photos, and Photos at Work.

    Most of these photos will show up in Google Maps, or in the right hand column if you search the business name directly in Google.

    Much of the stuff in Google My Business (Google+) is being emphasized in Google Maps now.

  22. Hello,
    I am the owner of this website it is an educational online website so I don’t have a location on Google Maps. I am new on Google+.

    How is it possible to have my first 5 reviews on Google Plus, and to be able to ask customers to review? Because the Google Maps option is not available as my work is virtual, and searching my website name on desktop will not give customers the ability to review me. Until now, I don’t have the 5 first reviews!

    So if I want the 5 first costumers to review me, how to do so without Google Maps?

    1. Hi Rihab:

      In the case of your website, I would focus on getting reviews from other sources besides Google. The reason is, Google is moving business reviews over to Google Maps, to highlight businesses with physical locations.

      What you can do instead is set up a Facebook page for your educational site (if you have not done so already) and ask people to Like you there.

      You can also submit your site to Product Hunt and look for up-votes there.

      See if you can get coverage of your website in the local press, or look for other means of building your brand.

      Google reviews are not going to be available to you as a virtual business with no address, so you must look for alternative ways to reassure customers that your website is beneficial.

      Review stars are only one form of social proof. You will need to use other means of social proof to convince potential subscribers that your course is helpful.


  23. Hi, I have a problem for rating stars in Google. My rating stars have gone again and again. Could any one help me with this problem?

    1. Hi Alennajohn:

      I am guessing your business is Movies Jacket in Austin, Texas? I don’t seem to be able to find a Google My Business (Google+) profile for your business, and I also do not see your business on Google Maps.

      This is why there are no review stars for your company in Google search.


      When it comes to your products showing up with review stars, part of the problem is your reviews are not outputting Structured Data correctly. You can test your product pages at Test against some of your competitors who are getting product star reviews to show up in Google and you will see what I mean.

      I would sit down with whoever is doing web development for your shop and read up on Schema data for product reviews. Here are some resources:

      Make sure that your individual products pages are outputting proper Structured Data by testing them with the Google tool linked a few paragraphs earlier.

      Best of luck!

      – John

    1. Hi Dennis:

      For your site, it sounds like you are trying to add review stars for your products. It looks like your site is running on Magento, so you will need to add some sort of product review system that supports structured markup, or Schema metadata.

      Your site records reviews, but they are not marked up in Schema or Microformats metadata, so Google cannot parse those reviews to show the stars in Google search.

      You can test to see what structured data Google sees on your page by using their Structured Data Testing Tool.

      What you will be looking for when using this testing tool is Review markup. If the testing tool shows nothing, you will have zero possibility of showing review stars in search.


  24. Hi Matt:

    Part of it is going to be the business category(s) you choose in your Google My Business account. For instance, you have chosen Insulation Contractor for your main category. Part of it will be the words you put in your Google My Business description. Another part will be what words are on the homepage of your website. Anchor text (the words in links back to your website) also matter. Google Maps and organic search results on Google are usually closely correlated.

    You are doing better than many small businesses, as you come up on the second page on Google Maps for insulation contractors near Houston. You have five Google reviews (right now) which is a great start.

    A key thing to realize is that if you are in the first page for a specific search term on Google Maps (for a given geolocation), you have a chance at getting into the three pack map that appears at the top of organic search results.

    I would go into Google Maps and make some searches and see where you come up. For insulation near Houston and Galveston, you are doing pretty good, but for general contracting, you don’t rank as high.

    Some things I notice that you might want to do:

    – Get more reviews outside of Google, BBB and Home Advisor (though you are doing excellent here). If you can get some reviews on Yelp, Angie’s List, Houzz, and, these will also help. Yelp especially.

    – Whatever additional links back to your site you can get will also help. Chambers of Commerce, local news or other publications that are online, links back from products you are a dealer or partner with…these all help boost you in rankings.

    You are on the right track. In 2017, I would work on getting a more diverse back link profile, and that will help you move from page 2 to page 1.

  25. John, Can you give me any insights as to why I am not ranking. I have more Google reviews then of my competition where I live. I have 70 reviews. Out of those review I have one 4 star review and one 2 star review. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Andrew:

      I did see you have 70 Google reviews — nice job! You’re currently ranking #5 in Google Maps for “carpet cleaning Wichita KS” and #6 in organic for this term. I’m guessing this is is your main search term.

      You are also ranking #3 in organic search and in Google Maps for “Wichita carpet cleaning”, which is excellent.

      Here are some things you are not currently doing that may help you rise up a bit more.

      1. On your website, you don’t have your address listed anywhere. This is a huge opportunity.

      If possible, put your business address in the footer of each page, and your hours of operation on your contact page with an embedded Google Map.

      If a customer lands on your site, would they be able to locate you? These are questions Google looks to see if you answering.

      2. You have some inconsistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone) listings. See here:

      Basically, you want your business name, address, and phone number to be the same wherever they are found online. Accuracy of information is important to the search engines.

      You can read more about NAP citations here:

      Also look here for specific sites you should have NAP citations on:

      Best Citation Sites for Carpet Cleaners, 1-10.

      Best Citations by City (scroll to bottom to find Wichita, KS).

      3. Keep focusing on getting Yelp reviews. None of the other carpet cleaners in your city are breaking away from the pack. Google reviews are good, but Google also looks for reviews on other platforms, notably Yelp, followed by BBB, YP, etc.

      4. You have a service area set on Google Maps, which is great. If it is possible, listing your business address here wold be good, too.

      5. The biggest obstacle to you getting to #1 in Google is you need more relevant, local back links to your site.

      To be fair, OxiFresh has multiple back links to their site (because they are a franchise), and yourself (City Steam Clean), Snow White, and everyone else is a distant second in back links.

      As a result, the OxiFresh domain has more authority than the other carpet cleaners in Wichita.

      You can test that here:

      I would look at some of the back links that OxiFresh has, and see what you can duplicate.

      For example, they are listed as a sponsor on this local Wichita site:

      It also looks like they have write-ups in Business New Daily. I would look at publications like the Wichita Business Journal, and see what it takes to get coverage there.

      Reviews are an important part of SEO, but on-site content and local back links are still a bigger piece of the puzzle.

  26. Thank you for all the GREAT information! I really appreciate your time in looking into this for me.

    I have a another question. How important is it to have a physical business address for in regards to Google ranking? Being that I have a smaller, one van operation, I work out of my house. So Google won’t allow me to use my address for my business.

    Any ideas?

  27. Hi Andrew:

    Whether or not to use your home address for your home-based business is always a tricky question. I use my home address, but many people may feel uncomfortable doing that.

    It looks like Yelp and MapQuest are already using your home address for your business address. I would decide which route you want to go, and make sure all the places that list your business follow the same format.

  28. Great view, thanks! I have 10 5-star reviews but I still don’t have the orange stars on my listing – do you know why?

  29. Hi Debra:

    I did see that you have numerous testimonials on your site, but you only have one Google review.

    What you will need to do is find your business on Google Maps, and send happy clients to that listing to fill out reviews there.

    I would also concentrate on getting reviews on Facebook and Yelp(if you are on Yelp in NZ). Those reviews also show up with stars in Google search results.


  30. Hi Debra:

    I see what’s up. You have a duplicate listing on Google Maps.
    The other listing.

    If you’ve received most of your reviews in the last couple of days, then it may take Google a bit to catch up and display the stars in Google Maps, and in the local 3-pack.

    Getting ten reviews all at once probably triggered some sort of safeguard in the system, so give it some time. Getting a ton all at once can look suspicious to the algorithm, and the Map Maker Team may be doing some sort of manual review.

    I would also delete the review the review you wrote from your personal Google+ account. Make sure you don’t have any star ratings from yourself or any employees on Google Maps, or any other review site.

    Your star rating should show up within a few days.

  31. thanks John, actually I wanted to delete it but couldn’t see how to – do you know how I can delete it? Thanks!!

  32. Dear John Locke, I wonder if you can help me.

    Two issues:

    1) I have offices in two towns. Had great reviews in both Google map locations, however, today I discovered to my surprise that the Arlington reviews were removed. Gone! A new one has been posted today and that is good, but the steep fall in calls from that area is now understood.

    2) At that same review site, I had a person who met me for an introduction, took a personal dislike to me and posted a negative review.

    I told him people will not realize he did not actually get my service and would he remove his review. He did ultimately remove it, but before then I posted a response to his review and put 5 stars to counter his two.

    I removed my response but don’t know how to remove my 5 stars. It looks absurd for me to be giving myself 5 stars. Can you help me with this? Please respond by email, thank you!!!

  33. Hi Dr. Thomson:

    – You mentioned you had reviews removed from your Arlington office. On Google Maps, I am seeing five reviews each for your Littleton and Arlington offices. IS this on another platform besides Google?

    – Secondly, you mention getting a negative review on a review platform, then posting a five-star review in return. Which platform is this on? It does not appear to be Google.


    1. Dear John Locke,

      Thank you for taking the trouble to check. Today the reviews are back and my embarrassing self given 5-star review is not there. I am perplexed by this, because yesterday it looked different. The 3-star review by a person who never used my service is still there, but I guess I should not complain too much, as long as the good ones are back in place. I notice that Yellow Pages has my 5-star and only the new review from yesterday.
      Hmm. Your kind responsiveness is greatly appreciated!

      1. It is bewildering. I just checked again, and find that the record shows two reviews and again shows just my 5 stars and not even the new review. I use a macBook. My husband uses an iMac. I know it should not make a difference, but why these changing results?
        Is there a number I can call to actually reach a person at Google?
        Can you teach me how to get rid of the 5-stars that I put there?
        Thank you and apologies for the bother. I’ve added my husband as a subscriber, by the way. He is my ‘webmaster.’

        1. I’ve discovered how to remove the stars. Thank you!

          On your computer, open Google Maps.
          In the top left, click the Menu Menu.
          Click Your contributions.
          Choose Reviews.
          Next to the review you want to edit or delete, click More More.
          To edit a review, click Edit review.
          To delete a review, click Delete review.

  34. Hi John,

    First let me thank you for thegreat content you covered here.
    I have a question regarding the Google Map Reviews. I have two different places added for my Business, I would like to show these stars also under organic search results!
    I have tried to enrich my Snippets with JSON-LD, but the biggest problem is that these data aren’t dynamic. Is there a way to do this? Is there a way of creating a dataLayer-variable in Google Tag Manager?

    Kind regards

  35. Hi Besfort:

    To display the Google star ratings, you will have to get the site into the three-pack map at the top of local search results. Star ratings from Google no longer show in organic results.

    The good news is Google seems to have lowered the threshold from five to three stars for displaying a rating in Google Maps.

    Occasionally I see organic results that have star ratings for the website. In these cases, they have a mechanism for voting on the website itself, that is not connected to Google ratings.

    These sites use Schema markup or JSON to display the on-site voting results, but these are not Google ratings.

    Aim for the top of the Google Maps listings. This is the only way right now to guarantee the star ratings show up for your business.

  36. At our dealership we are trying to move up a level from 4.6 to 4.7 on Google, but it seems even after 51 5-star reviews our number isn’t moving. How can I find out how many we need to get it to move? Or maybe you can tell me, LOL.

  37. Hi Scott:

    It looks like you had a whole bunch of reviews come in within the last week. Google usually takes a few days to sort all those out and update your score, so I would be patient.

    Also keep in mind that the more reviews you have, the harder it is to pull up your score, because each review has a smaller effect on the overall percentage the higher you go.

    One thing to watch for in the future would be getting an avalanche of new reviews all at once. If that is not the normal pattern for how you have been getting reviews in the past, that sort of activity may trigger a flagging mechanism. Abnormal patterns may cause the activity to be manually reviewed, so be aware of that.


  38. Thank you for responding. You’re correct we did, we sent out a campaign asking our customers to post a review about their experience at the dealership. I did not know it takes a few days. I’ll wait and try to be patient, LOL. I will remember your advice for future reference and thank you again.

  39. Hi John,

    Excellent information, thank you.

    I’ve got a bit of an issue and was wondering if you had any idea. I’m using 3rd party reviews, which however never got pulled in SERPs properly. Both product and reviews markup didn’t help either, even though we did lots of tests.

    Now, all of a sudden we can see a single review being pulled in for some of our product pages. I’d assume this came from G Places, where we have 5 review but 1 only is being pulled in.

    Any thoughts of what we could be doing wrong?

    Thanks in advance.

  40. One of my clients came to me concerned with his Google reviews just not matching up correctly.

    He has 7 reviews. Six of those reviews being 5 stars and One of those reviews being 1 star. The 1 star review was posted 4 months ago and the rest of the reviews have been within 1-2 week time period. His overall rating is a 1 star even with 6 other 5 star reviews.

    Why is this? Does he need more reviews for a more accurate reading or is his overall rating just taking awhile to show up correctly?

  41. Hi Megan:

    I could be the new reviews are just taking a while to be calculated and added to the cumulative score. It’s hard to say without actually looking at the business on Google.

    If you email me the business name and address, I could take a closer look and give you my thoughts.


  42. Hi Peter:

    This is something I have been noticing more and more in recent weeks. The reviews seem to take longer to be integrated into the final review score.

    I saw the competitor you mentioned on Google Maps, the one with the generic search term for their business name.

    Your two reviews came in the last week. Theirs is six months old.

    Google seems to be taking longer to evaluate reviews and add them to both the review average and star ratings. I would keep an eye on how long it takes from day of review to being added to the cumulative score and expect that same timeline for reviews for clients going forward.


  43. Hi John:

    Until two months ago my website had no reviews, and we were not too concerned as the website did not show star ratings at all. Until recently, we had one one star review from a someone who was not a customer. That attached a one star rating to our website!

    Google did not even wait for a batch of three or five reviews to show the rating. This made the site look really bad. I complained to Google with no result.

    So we thought we should encourage our clients to leave some 5 stars review to in attempt to improve the overall rating. We did that in a short space of time which I now know we shouldn’t have done, but they are all genuine.

    How long does it take for the star rating to change? And should we continue to encourage customers to leave reviews? Many thanks.

  44. Hi Dr. Elmanharawy:

    Asking patients (or customers) for reviews on Google, Yelp, and other review sites is never a bad idea. It is always a good idea.

    Some things you experienced are new behavior for Google.

    In the past, it took five reviews to determine a rating. In January 2017, Google started rolling out star ratings for businesses on Google Maps, even if they had a single review. Google Maps and your listing on Google My Business are interconnected.

    Something many people have been reporting to me in February 2017 is that they get a number of reviews all at once, and Google does not automatically add these reviews to the cumulative star rating score. This used to take a few days.

    Now it appears if you get a bunch of reviews all at once, this triggers a flag in the system. These may be manually reviewed, or the score may be discounted in the final score. This is something to keep an eye on for now, to see which it is.

    Keep asking for reviews, but realize that if you have a pattern that doesn’t fit the normal pattern for your business or industry, it may take longer to add thee to the final score. This is new behavior, so I am also watching to see how these are handled.

    These flagged reviews seem to be triggered when a business has a score they are trying to bring up, and they get an avalanche of reviews in a short amount of time from profiles that either have no prior reviews, or maybe one prior review. You have to admit, it looks like manipulation, even if it is completely legitimate.

    The other thing you described, asking Google to take down reviews — that almost never happens. Everyone that would ever receive a negative review would complain, and so this is probably why Google leaves those in.

    The only two instances where I can say they would take down a review would be conflict of interest or hate speech.

    If the review is threatening or has hate speech, that is one legit case for removing a review. The other is conflict of interest, such as an employee of the reviewed business leaving a review.

    In any other cases, your reviews, good or bad, will stay on Google.

    The best advice is ask for reviews after you deal with customers, when they are happiest with your service.

    Refrain from asking a ton of people all at once, and never ever hire an outside service to write false reviews to enhance your rating (that is for anyone else reading, not yourself).

    Hope this answers your question in greater detail.


  45. Our website was created in Dec 2016, it is indexed but appearing poorly. On Google Maps, if you search for “karate crewe” we appear in positions 4+ despite having reviews and 1, 2, and 3 do not. Any ideas?

    1. Hi Red Dragon:

      Reviews are important, but they are not the only metric that Google looks at when determining how to rank sites.

      Some things that your competitors have over you in other areas besides reviews:

      – Address that matches their Google My Business listing on their website. You do not have the address listed on your site.

      – Better back link profile. If you do not have links to your website, and your competitors do, Google will trust their site more.

      – Your domain name is less than a year old, theirs are older. Spammers often get domain names for only a year. If you register the domain name for a few years, and wait for it to become over a year old, that will be another sign you are in business for the long haul.

      – Your competitors do not have WHOIS privacy on their main records, while you do. Google looks at domain privacy with an air of apprehension. Better to have your name out there as a legitimate business. Domain privacy is not necessary for most businesses.

      These are just a few of the top of my head that I noticed. I encourage you to look at the blog archives for SEO on this site to get some additional ideas for improvement.


  46. Had a very similar experience (see two posts above) with a non-client making a one-star (regarding my alleged texting while driving) review on a site I had previously thought fairly benign until I saw that now that site prominently displays one star after just one review. I’m currently working to ‘flood’ the site with positive reviews but it appears from what you’re saying, Google will most likely see a different pattern and question the reviews? Isn’t it a normal response to counteract as quickly with as many positive reviews as you can?

  47. Hi Nancy:

    In all likelihood, your five-star reviews will eventually be added to your score. But to understand why Google or any other search engine views the pattern with apprehension, you must think about it from their perspective.

    Every search engine relies on the integrity of their rankings (and reviews) for their continued business. If consumers lose faith in their ranking and reviews, they will simply use another search engine.

    To preserve that integrity, they have pattern detection built into their review algorithm. The reason they have to do this is because there are unscrupulous people out there that will try to manipulate any advantage they can to get an edge on their competitors.

    In other words, there are businesses that would think nothing of hiring people to write fake reviews to make their score look better, if that would yield them an advantage in the market.

    Because there are literally hundreds of millions of businesses out there, some of that screening has to be automated. So they look for unnatural patterns.

    Take for instance your business, Artistic Garden Concepts. The domain name dates back to 2007, and the first review was about four months ago, and it was a one-star review. Now suddenly, there are three more reviews that come in the space of a week, and they are all one to two sentences long and five-star reviews.

    This is an unnatural pattern given the fact that the business only received one Google review in the previous ten years.

    Yes, it is natural for business owners to want to hurry up and get a bunch of positive reviews to counteract a bad score. But that’s what they should be doing anyway.

    The best defense is a good offense, to quote the old idiom.

    Businesses should be proactively looking for positive reviews from customers, not just when they get a negative review, or when business is slow, but when business is good, and when they already have good reviews coming in on a regular basis.

    By looking for positive reviews all the time, the effects of a one-star review, if and when those occur, will be greatly diminished.

    The mistake that many businesses make is worrying about good reviews only when their score is damaged by a random one-star review.

    But here’s why your one-star review should not cause you to panic.

    Intelligent and discerning customers who see that one star rating are going to be curious and click on that review to read it. When they see that the review is completely random, has nothing to do with your business, and most likely a hit job by a competitor, they will shrug it off.

    I know your next question will be, can I get fake reviews removed?

    The only way that Google removes reviews is if they are either hate speech, threatening violence, or a conflict of interest (like an employee leaving a review).

    99.99% of the time, you won’t be able to get the review removed. This is why it is so vital to get a steady stream of reviews from customers that doesn’t look manipulated. These organic reviews will be a steady defense from any random reviews that come from people who are not your customers.

    I hope that answers your question.


  48. Thanks a lot for the post. It’s just the information I was looking for.

    I kind of figured some of those things mentioned in your article when I started having more and more reviews from my customers, but my rating didn’t go up for a while.

    I thought there might be a tool where I could calculate the reviews I needed to get to 5 stars again, but with the info that you gave, I can be focused on other things — like how to improve the SEO of my website.

    Thanks again.

  49. Hi John, fantastic reading above.

    Regarding Google reviews, we as a company had our first one negative review on Google 4 months ago. This turned out to not be true, but what can you do. All the time it sat there, Google showed one 1 star review. At this, I then turned to some of our customers and asked if they would be so kind to review, is which they have. As almost a week in, the one star still shows despite getting 11 almost 5 star reviews. The same applies with for “we do doors”.

    Will Google update this at some point? Or will it possibly be frowned upon looking like this may have been fabricated as we have so many in such a short space of time?


  50. Hi Sean:

    I found your Google My Business listing, and you are correct on one count. Google has been “holding” reviews for a longer period of time when it breaks the normal pattern of reviews for either your business, or the industry.

    Many people have asked the same question you have asked after trying to get their Google review score up. When Google sees a pattern of one review for several years, and then ten reviews in the space of a week, that raises some eyebrows. My guess is they have some sort of trigger that sets off when you cross a certain threshold of reviews in a certain amount of time, if that is not historically what your business has received.

    Everyone that I have seen so far has the reviews added to their cumulative score. Knock on wood. It seems to take at least a week for the reviews to get added in if you trigger the red flag. Normally, it takes a day or two to add the scores in.

    This behavior in the reviews has been in place since about February of 2017. It feels like they are targeting review spammers. (There are people out there that are buying illegitimate reviews).

    Will Google not count reviews that they feel are false in the future? That’s hard to say, but they might follow the lead of other services that do this already (like Yelp). So far, I haven’t seen signs that reviews are being discounted, but the fact that they have a holding period means they may have humans from the web spam team trying to figure out how to judge a false review from a real review in the future.

    My advice would be to send out a follow up email to customers for a review to the top two or three sites you want to get a review from after the job is done. If you can figure out what sites they are already on (like Yelp or Google), then target those.

    Getting a steady stream of reviews going forward as opposed to sudden rush of reviews should keep you from getting screened by Google, allowing you to keep your review star total up to date in the future.

  51. Hi John, We have two locations, the first being our flagship store with 109 reviews, and the second newer store has 55 reviews. Why does our second location show near the bottom of of search results below other businesses who don’t even have a website?

    1. Hi Neil:

      This is an excellent question. After doing some research on your two locations, I’d like to share some things I found.

      First, it’s important to understand that Google collects information about businesses and forms a virtual profile. Your website is very important, but is one source of information. Local and regional business records and DBA listings tell Google there are other car stereo shops in the vicinity, but profiles on Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, and hundreds of other sites also feed information into the machine.

      Depending on what people are searching for, and what device they are searching on, and where they are physically located, Google will show them different results.

      If a customer is searching for “car stereo installation” or even “car installation in Milwaukee”, Google will usually return whichever shops are closest to their location in the three-pack map at the top of Page One, provided they do not have a negative reputation.

      Google tries to figure out the intent of searches, and return the best results. For most services, this will include the closest services that fit that description. Darren Shaw talks extensively about how proximity affects the map search results here.

      Reviews are definitely becoming more a difference maker in local search. But I sense you would like your West Allis location to show up higher in search for car stereo installation for people searching locally in Milwaukee.

      Your original location is optimized well. It comes up in the three-pack map for me when I search for car stereo installation.

      Google search: car stereo installation in Milwaukee

      I know your second location in West Allis must be somewhere between 8 and 12 months old. You have both of these locations verified separately in Google and Facebook, which is great! But one thing I would do is clean up the rest of your local citations for each location. If you click this link to do a search for Stereo One in Moz Local, and click the link to see all results, and follow the links for your 84th and 27th Street locations, you will see some inconsistent information.

      If you don’t have the direct logins to each of these data aggregator profiles, it is worth it to pay the small annual fee to get that information consistent.

      Another thing I’d like to point out is your two locations on Yelp have slightly different spellings. I would fix this, so Google and customers understand this is the same brand.

      Google Search: Stereo One Milwaukee

      I have your original location at #2 in Yelp for car stereo installation near Milwaukee, and the West Allis location at #5. Focus on getting more Yelp reviews (and Google reviews) for the newer location. Yelp reviews really seem to move the needle in local search.

      The West Allis location is also ranking between #4 and #11 in the map (for me) when I search for car stereo installation in Milwaukee, depending on how I phrase that search.

      I would make sure that you have the correct business category for the West Allis location as the primary category. I noticed you have the 27th St location categorized as Car Stereo Store, but the main category for the 84th St location is Car Alarm Supplier. Be sure to put your main category first, and add the other categories after that.

      One last thing I would advise is make your website reflect the hierarchy of your enterprise.

      In the header of your site, you have the address and phone number of your 27th St location. I noticed sometimes when I load the page, there is a small pop-up with the second location in the top right corner. But it does not always load, and I can close it out. Also, on your Find Us page, you have the information for the original location in the main part of the page. But the 84th St location is over in the sidebar.

      Google is going to look at the West Allis location as secondary if it reflected that way on your website.

      I would consider changing your Find Us page to display the map, address, and phone number for both locations with equal prominence. You might even add a location page for each spot, complete with driving directions. I would also figure out a way to display the address and phone for the two locations in the header.

      If you grow to three or more locations, I would then suggest adding the information for each location to the footer, with a link to a Locations page in the top navigation.

      I don’t think you’re that far off with the West Allis location, but some of the information you have on secondary sites and your main website could be tightened up.

      I hope this helps.


  52. Thanks for the info John. Why does Google not express the same concern in checking the legitimacy of a negative review as they do the positive? It seems there is no recourse for damaging reviews regardless of how factual they are or are not.

  53. Hi Jason:

    You pose an excellent question. Google reviews are, for the most part, automatically approved, or approved very quickly. This process is not overseen by humans, unless you bring it to the attention of the support team. Even then, it is highly unlikely that the negative review you received would be overturned.

    Because there are hundreds of millions of businesses to keep track of, screening out negative review complaints from business owners would be near impossible from a staffing standpoint. This is why most reviews on Google stick, and it is very rare to see them filtered out.

    Does review spam happen? Absolutely. Do rival businesses leave false reviews to hurt their competition? Yes.

    The problem is that it can be difficult to discern who is a legitimate customer and who is not.

    I see you have reached out to past customers and got an influx of positive reviews. These should be added to your total score in about a week.

    As you may have seen in other threads in the comments section, many businesses start collecting reviews when they receive a one-star or two-star review as their initial review.

    As the old saying states, the best defense is a good offense. A good way to prevent having a poor Google review score going forward is to be proactive about collecting reviews from future clients. The more reviews you collect, the harder it will be for negative reviews to tank your average.

    I would also put some effort into getting positive reviews on Yelp. These seem to move the needle in local SEO.

    Remember that you can also reply to customer reviews on Google. (This practice is discouraged on Yelp). Use the reviews you receive on Google as an opportunity to show that your customer service is professional and above reproach. Most prospective clients will see one negative review out of dozens as an aberration, not a pattern.


  54. Hi,

    I’d like to know if there’s a way to get the contact number or email address of the person who leaves a review?

  55. Hi Tessie:

    Not directly, there’s not. If you click on the name of the person who left a Google review of your business, it will take you to a screen with their contributions, including their reviews.

    Your best bet is to search for their Google+ profile using their full name. Some people list their email address or phone number, though most do not. You may also try to find them on other social media profiles.


  56. Hi John,

    Google allows people to post new comments again and again.

    In your experience, do multiple reviews from the same person have any effect on the overall rating?

    Thanks and good work here,


  57. Hi David:

    To answer your question: yes. Multiple reviews from the same person will affect your average rating. That can be either a good or bad thing.

  58. Hi Andrew:

    In the case of the comment thread above, if they get multiple one-star reviews, it can be bad, as it hurts their overall average. If they get multiple five-star reviews, it can help their average.

  59. Hi John,

    Thank you so much for your post. You have helped so many people. I have a question and have been finding it so difficult to get any information.

    I had a disgruntled ex employee put fake and disturbing posts on my Google review for my business. The posts have been removed by this person but I was mortified when I found out about them. How do I find out or where can I get the information to find out how many people actually saw and read this post? I have been doing everything I possibly can to find this out and Google won’t help.

    1. Hi Bo:

      It might be difficult to know exactly how many people saw a specific review during a given time period, but you can get a rough idea of how many people saw your Google My Business listing, which would include that review.

      Here are the steps you can follow to see the Google Business Insights for your business:

      • 1. Sign in to Google My Business.
      • 2. Switch to card view if you are not already using it. If you’re viewing your listings as a list instead of cards, switch to card view by clicking the cards icon on the right side above your pages.
      • 3. Click the location whose insights you want to view.
      • 4. Click Insights from the menu on the left side of the page.

      This is what it looks like in list view when you are about to navigate to Insights.

      Google My Business Insights

      And this is what your Insights for the month will look like.

      Google Insights

      The graph shown will tell you how many people saw your business listing in Google Search and in Google Maps. From these numbers, you should be able to extrapolate how many many people potentially saw reviews for your business.

      Hope this answers your question.


    1. Hi Sean:

      Thanks for stopping by. Glad to see you doing so well with Smek Digital.

      I would watch the Google search results page and see if it is pulling in reviews from Google. I haven’t seen that for a long while. My hypothesis would be that the search results are pulling the star rating from the ratings box at the bottom of the South Brunswick location page.

      ABC Taxi Limo South Brunswick NJ

      The only reason I say that is because in the last year and a half, I’ve only seen star ratings in the organic search results when there is a mechanism for collecting star ratings on the site itself.

      I haven’t seen any cases where the search results pull a star rating from Google reviews (or anywhere else) in a while. But they may be trying something new. Let’s keep an eye on the search results and see if your theory bears out. I’m curious to see what Google is doing.


  60. Thanks for this amazing post. I have been blogging near a year now, but I am not getting traffic from Google and I did everything. Also, how do I know if I am penalized by Google?

    1. Hi Said:

      To see if you have a manual penalty from Google, log into your Google Search Console, and look under Search Traffic > Manual Actions. If you have a manual webspam penalty, it will be listed there.

      To tell if the Google algorithm is penalizing your site vs your competition, ask yourself these questions:

      • Does my back link profile consist of lots of questionable back links?
      • Have I used a Private Blog Network to build links in the past?
      • Does my content say anything original, or present new information that is not found dozens of other places?
      • Is my site user-friendly? Or it is not mobile-friendly, slow to load, filled with ads, or popups?
      • Does my site content exist to get people to click affiliate links, or does it exist to genuinely solve a customer problem?
      • Am I relying on ghost writers or article spinners for content?

      If you have been hit by a Google algorithm adjustment, these are the most likely suspects.

  61. Hi Michael:

    Let me address your initial question.

    There are still probably more unclaimed Google My Business profiles than there are claimed and actively managed.

    But to allay yours fears to competitors abusing the information, part of the confirmation involves Google mailing the claiming business a postcard with a code they must punch in to the profile before they can finish claiming it. This is meant to be a safeguard against information fraud and sabotage.

    Of course, there are advantages to claiming your business on GMB, and any business interested in improving their search rankings should claim their profile.


  62. Hi John, thanks for the post – response.

    You can now claim – verify your Google my business account, via Mail, telephone, e-mail and web domain name.

    But my question was not about how to claim accounts and how secure they are, but how unsafe they are whilst unattended and what state they’re in.

    You said it yourself there are probably more unclaimed accounts than claimed ones. Alarm bells should be ringing John.

    The blame for this mess should be laid at the feet of Google Maps, because they never had consent from the Owners to place the Map Marker in the first place. If they had received consent, then there would be willing participants not a mine field of misinformation, see what happens when you don’t know about or don’t pay for something, companies/people take over what is not theirs.

    You quoted, Of course, there are advantages to claiming your business on GMB, and any business interested in improving their search rankings should claim their profile.

    ( SEO Tip, Right?)

    Back to my question about review section – scores for these accounts, Does Google Maps refresh reviews on a yearly basis? (Does it zero the Counter?)



    1. Hi Michael:

      The Google review score does not reset each year. It is an ongoing, cumulative score. All the reviews that have ever been placed for that business go into the score.

      For the initial question, if there are inaccurate addresses and information on an unclaimed Google My Business/Google Maps listing, that is likely the result of inaccurate information elsewhere on the web.

      One of the foundational parts of SEO is making sure your structured citations (Name, Addres, and Phone or NAP, for short) are correct.

      Often, you’ll see businesses with duplicate listings, with two different addresses on various listings like Facebook, Yelp,, Trip Advisor,, etc.

      Remember that Google’s main goal is to organize the world’s information, so they try to fill the holes with whatever information is publicly available. For a long time, they had a Google Maps Maker (now closed) where people could contribute information about a location or business. This may also be where you are seeing inaccurate information — from previous contributions, as well as old information from other sites.

      As we previously stated, getting the Name, Address, and Phone number correct on all sites, and Google My Business, is a foundational practice in SEO.

      Hope this answers your question.


  63. I love Google Reviews! It’s a bit annoying when a customer you thought was 100% happy catches you off guard and leaves you a 4 star review though.

    Great article. Thanks!

  64. Hi Tony:

    I wish every review could be a 5-star too, but sooner or later, you’re bound to get a 4-star. a 4.9 average is not bad! Sounds like you are doing great work there in Blyth.


  65. Hi John,

    I just noticed that I have a one star rating by someone I am not even sure I know and who did not write a review. Since I had no reviews before this one, this showed up negatively on the general Google Maps search. I have asked several clients to write reviews and they have posted them today, but it is not changing my star rating. I realize now from reading your advice that Google may see a batch of new reviews as being the error when it is in fact the one prior to this batch that is the error. Any advice? This one star rating from someone I am not sure I even have worked with seems like a sabotage on my professional reputation. Anything I can do?


  66. Hi Christine:

    I did see you got a few 5-star reviews in very recently. Google should add those to your cummulative review score shortly.

    The old review looks like a fake, and there are still problems with reviews being written by false profiles.

    There is a great article by Whitespark on what to do if you get a fake Google review on their site with steps you can take.

    I would make sure you ask any clients for Google and Yelp reviews as part of your offboarding process. That helps minimize the damage from the rare occurrence of fake reviews.

    1. Thanks so much for this support John. I see that Google has now factored in the 5 star reviews, so that is a relief! The fake one is still there so I have flagged it as inappropriate and I will see if Google takes the action of removing it. Hopefully it will be removed. It is still affecting my overall rating. Your advice has been a comfort.

      Much appreciated,

  67. Hi John,
    A client left a great review on my Google business page but I can’t see it. She said she can and even text me a screen shot of it. Do you have a suggestion on how to correct this so the public can see this review?

  68. Hi Julie:

    If the client left the review in the last day or two, I wouldn’t worry yet. Reviews seem to be taking about that long lately to post, though in the past they are pretty much up the same day. If it has been more than seven days since you received the review, then let me know and we can investigate further.


  69. Hi John,

    Thanks for the great post, I have been reading the comments, and as per most users have been experiencing the same problem.

    A restaurant which has been reviewed on our product page received a 1 star review, including a few higher ratings of 3, 4 and 5 stars but per a Google search of “taqueria cape town” the listings shows with the 1 star being pulled through.

    What I have read here so far is that this rating can be random by Google, but should adjust accordingly over time, although in this instance it has not, even though there has been more recent higher rated reviews.

    The Google map results displays 4.5 stars, which is obviously what our client would prefer.

    Is this issue due to only 7 reviews on the restaurants page, or has this something to do with the ratings systems of 3 categories or perhaps even an issue with the scheme structure?

    Your feedback would be greatly appreciated!

  70. Hi Giovanni:

    I checked out the restaurant in question, and they have 88 Google ratings for a 4.5 average when you search them by name. When you search the restaurant name directly, the Knowledge Graph comes up with no problems.

    As you mentioned, when you do a general search for Cape Town restaurants, the top result is the third-party page where it is showing seven reviews with a aggregate rating of one star.

    Google shows star ratings for web pages if they are collecting reviews on that site, but they read the Schema markup of that page. That’s where your problem lies.

    Take a look at the source code of the page, around line 627:

    <span itemscope="" itemprop="aggregateRating" itemtype=""> <!-- aggregate reviews -->
    		<meta itemprop="reviewCount" content="7"/> <!-- number of reviews  -->
    		<meta itemprop="ratingValue" content="1"/> <!-- average based on the 4 review values -->

    The mechanism of the page is not calculating the aggregate rating of all the reviews correctly. This is what you need to fix.

    Hope that helps!


    1. Hi John,

      Thank you for the response and taking the time to assist me.
      This definitely points us in the right direction and we should be able to fix.

      Hopefully in no time the correct ratings reflect.

      Have a great day further!

      Kind Regards,

  71. Hi Julie:

    As we surmised, your client may not have completed the review submission, or you would be able to see it in the admin panel of your Google My Business. I would reach out and have her complete it again.


  72. Hi:

    I have an issue regarding the total number of review counts. My page has total 15 reviews, but every time I look, it shows the total review number as 9. Why is this happening? Every time I get a review, the total count doesn’t change, where as the review is still showing there.

    1. Hi Neha:

      Although you didn’t indicate what business you are having this issue with, my guess is that you received the six reviews you mentioned within the last week. Is this correct? Google has been holding reviews for a week or two before adding them to the cumulative score since about February of 2017. I believe this is in part to run the reviews through fraud detection filters. (This happens to everyone).

      If your latest reviews are not added to your total score after two weeks, there may be other issues occurring.


  73. Hi John,
    Great website you have here.

    I have done everything I know to get a better rank in my local serps. SSL, schema markup, title and meta data, google+, google maps and a lot more. But some of my competitors come up in the serps ahead of my business with less than ideal websites. Those websites haven’t changed in years yet they are ahead of me in some searches.

    My website is, based in Norton Ma. I show at the top in the 3 pack in Norton but not so well in other local towns.

    Also why does Google put businesses that don’t have a website and virtually no info in their Google profile except for a phone # in the local 3 pack? It doesn’t make sense to me. Am I missing something?

    I also can’t get a place marker on the Google maps. Been trying for the last couple of years.

    I appreciate any input. Thank you. Jeff

    1. Hi Jeff:

      I checked out your site, as well as the Google Maps for Norton, and some of the surrounding areas, like Foxboro and Mansfield.

      If you are looking to get a pin on Google Maps, you would have to list a business address, not merely the city. I know in painting, many people run their businesses from their home address, so that may not be the best way for you to go. If you haven’t already done so, I would set your service area in Google Maps. This way, when people Google your business, it will show a radius of what areas you cover. (It still won’t show a pin in the three pack).

      The three pack is based on three main factors: proximity to the searcher, relevance of the search, and authority (the strength of your brand).

      If people are searching from Foxboro, you would have to have an extremely strong brand in order to get in three pack there. Whenever there are clusters of similar businesses nearby, Google will usually put those in the three pack. What appears in the three pack will default to what is nearby if all other things are equal.

      You also asked about businesses with no websites appearing in the 3-pack. Google does not need to have that info in Google My Business, or even from a website to list that info. They can get that from a ton of other sources. If there is a physical location, or even a business with a phone number, that they feel answers the searchers need, that is nearby, that business may be listed in the Maps 3-pack.

      I feel what you are saying about businesses not updating their website, but outranking you. I would look at what you can do to improve your own website. Right now, you have a GoDaddy website builder site, but you may need to invest in something that lets you publish easier, and looks a bit better when stacked up against your competitors. You want to differentiate your business as much as possible from the other competitors, because perception is reality.

      I would also look at your local citations (Business Name, Address, Phone, Website). This may be more challenging if you want to keep your home address anonymous. I use Moz Local to test local citations, here’s what I found for JCB Painting.

      You may also want to double check this list of best citations for contractors from Moz. Whitespark also has their own list of best citations for contractors here. It looks like you have some of these already, but make sure you have them all.

      It may also be in your best interest to join the local Chambers of Commerce in the cities and towns you want to rank in. Google may see that as JCB Painting being active in those cities, and those are good back links to get for SEO.

      If you have done several jobs for people in Attleboro, Foxboro, Tauton, etc, it may be good to have specific landing pages that speak to work you have done there. (Another reason I would encourage you to upgrade from the GoDaddy site builder at some point. It makes it difficult to cram all these pages into a single site effectively). If you do have city-specific landing pages, make sure you have city-specific content on those pages. Don’t just copy the same page ten times.

      If you can get reviews on Yelp, that will help with your local rankings. This seems to move the needle for most local SEO. If you get Google reviews, and people mention the city, that might help you show up in the map for cities outside of Norton. Google Maps is now showing excerpts with the user search keywords in the Maps search results.

      Pay attention to things like 404 pages. (Your Attleboro landing page is a 404). Too many of those can be a sign of low site quality to Google.

      Hope this gives you some stuff to work through, Jeff. Best of luck.


      1. Thanks John for your quick reply and recommendations. I will certainly follow up on the helpful links that you provided. All good stuff. It should keep me busy. I look forward to learning more from you and your website “Lockedown SEO”.

        Thanks again,

  74. Great article, but still have conflicting reports. Currently, are Google reviews for a company ONLY local? For example, if someone is on the other side of the country, will my business reviews show up? or just the Google search results? I hear conflicting reports about the answer, would like to know what the real answer is. Thanks John!

    1. Hi Dan:

      If someone across the country reviews your business on Google, that review will show up in your Google reviews on Google Maps and in the Knowledge Graph for your business on the right hand side of the search results (when you Google your business name).

      What you might be thinking of is Yelp reviews. While it’s not uncommon for cross-country reviews to show up on your Yelp profile, out-of-town reviews generally get sent to the “reviews not recommended” pile, though some are know to slip through occasionally.

      Google, for better or worse, seems to approve any reviews your business gets (though reviews by employees can be flagged and removed for conflict of interest).

      Hope that sheds some light on your question.


  75. Hi John,

    Thanks for the in-depth review. We’ve been making some pretty good progress in increasing our number of customer reviews and so far it does seem to be helping with our local ranking. I’ve heard that the keywords within the reviews can also have an impact on your ranking as well. Have you heard of this or know if there’s any truth behind it?


    1. Hi Austin:

      Yes, there seems to be a correlation between having the target keyword phrase mentioned in multiple reviews and ranking highly for that phrase. In your case, if you can get clients to mention how you helped them sell their house, in those words, then that should help you rank higher for that phrase. That’s what I’m seeing.


  76. Hi John,
    So here’s the issue: Google is trying to manage fake news. I get it. But my sister (a sole-practitioner dentist) has had a lax office manager – she’s somewhat socially awkward and feels uncomfortable asking for reviews. Thus, the 100’s of satisfied patients have not been asked to review. But, as we are all aware, the upset customers have always review! Thankfully, there are only a few upset patients so her ratings should be repaired *RIGHTFULLY* with good reviews.

    I identified this problem and brought it to her attention and we asked her happy patients to review her. Because it is outside the norm of activity, the reviews are not showing up. That’s a farce! These are real patients with real opinions yet they are being skimmed by Google.

    I’m not saying this because she’s my sister…she really is an exceptional dentist! What she is not is a savvy business woman. So, how do we fix the norm and fix the ratings to show her true reputation with the vast majority of her patients?

    Also, there is another dentist by the same name who is supposedly located near her (5 miles??). This dentist has very disparaging remarks made about them. Upon researching, there is no dentist with that name at that location — and it’s not my sister. She’s never worked in that location. How do we get this fictitious rating erased so that when we DO repair my sister’s reputation to where it should be, this ghost dentist doesn’t appear, too?

    1. Hi Kelly:

      So, it looks like your sister just claimed her Google My Business profile recently, and you both noticed there was a negative review from about three years ago, and you are trying to build up good reviews to balance out the star average.

      There’s probably not much you can do about the old review at this point. It’s very hard to get Google remove reviews, even if they are recent. But it looks like your sister replied in a way that is professional and courteous.

      Believe it or not, that goes a long way with potential customers. People look at interactions like that as honest misunderstandings, and most people know there are time when people review businesses that they never went to.

      The other thing I know you are concerned about is how long it will take for the Google reviews to get posted to her star rating average. From what I’ve seen in the last year, it takes about two weeks if there are a whole flurry of them all at once. It looks like some of the ones from the past week got added in, and then the algorithm kicked in.

      You have to understand that systems like that are in place programatically when it looks like there is suspicious activity at hand. With hundreds of millions of businesses to monitor, there is no way Google, or any other organization can examine each business manually, so certain actions throttle the normal activity.

      Many of the comments on this thread experienced the same thing when they got proactive about counteracting a one-star review. They should all roll into her average after two weeks or so. (Unfortunately, there are a lot of businesses that try to cheat, and so systems like that have to be in place).

      I couldn’t find another dentist with the Alluring Smiles name in Gaithersburg, MD on Google Maps. If you have a specific business that is misnamed on Google Maps, you can suggest an edit. Here’s what I’ve done in the past to get those changes made.

      1) Put Google Maps (the app) on your smartphone.
      2) Drive to the business with a wrong name on the map.
      3) Open Google Maps and search for that business name. The map should focus to your location.
      4) Click the business name at the bottom of the phone screen. There should be a link that says, Are you here now? Click that, and then click Yes.
      5) Scroll down a bit more, and find the link that says, Suggest an edit. You should be able to suggest a name change to the correct one.
      6) One more thing to do to make this stick. If you can take a photo of the storefront, specifically the business name or logo on the building, then upload that photo to the Google My Business profile for that business. This sort of irrefutable evidence seems to cement any name changes that you suggest. The name they have on their storefront is the name they are going by.

      Hope this helps!


  77. Hey John, great article! I work at a recruitment agency in Australia and had a few questions about Google Reviews. Lately we’ve been focusing on gaining customers feedback and reviews with great success. I understand that you now need to gain 150 Google Reviews (it used to be 30) for your company’s Google stars to show up on Google AdWords, is this right? And does this only apply to AdWords specifically? For example, would our star rating appear if you simply Googled our company without us paying for AdWords?

    Secondly, we have 2 separate offices (one in the suburbs and one in the city) and have accumulated roughly 60 reviews for one office and 30 for the other. Will Google recognize that we are the same company at the end of the day, based on our website address, and combine these reviews to bring us to a grand total of 90, just 60 shy of the required 150? Look forward to your feedback!

    Thanks, Justin.

    1. Hi Justin:

      Those are great questions. For your questions about AdWords, you’re probably looking at this page: .

      That program appears to be something for advertisers on Google Shopping. I’ve seen those before in search results, and it’s always an e-commerce shop that gets review stars in AdWords. I haven’t seen a recruitment agency or other type of service business in that particular program.

      There’s more information on where combined ratings come from here:

      Companies that are in the Google Shopping program can check if they have ratings details by going to this URL, and swapping in their own domain name (without www, if they have that as the canonical domain):

      If you were to be an e-commerce store in the Google Shopping program, then it’s probable that Google would combine the reviews from the two locations. But, I would be looking at other ways to get review stars.

      Your two locations will show star ratings in Google Maps. But if you are looking to have review stars show in your regular Google search results, you must have a mechanism on the website itself for collecting the reviews, and then putting out the Schema review markup in the page itself.

      It also depends on what your end goal is for getting star ratings in your search results: local SEO or national SEO.

      If your goal is local SEO, you can use services like Nearby Now (there are others similar to this) that allow for embeds in the page, which collect reviews, and output the necessary Scema markup to the page.

      If you goal is aimed at national SEO, I would either get something custom coded for your site, or if your site were built on WordPress, I would say look at something like the WP SEO Structured Data Schema plugin by Phil Singleton’s group in Kansas City, MO.

      Hope that helps answer your questions, Justin!


  78. Hello John,
    We have had a sudden influx of reviews and photos that are related to our local area, but nothing at all to do with our business (being left in the wrong place as it were). Google have removed the photos as they are obviously unlinked to our business, but refuse to do the same for the reviews! We suspect a new link from the map or elsewhere is suddenly causing the issue. They are refusing to look into the cause of the issue – so we fear that more unrelated photos and reviews will continue to come in and our ratings will fall further. It is hugely damaging our company reputation. Anything we might be able to do? Many thanks, Rachel

    1. Hi Rachel:

      I see what you are talking about. It looks like there are some recent reviews that are one-star with no descriptions. You are responding to them in the right way, letting them and any observers know that you have no record of doing business with them.

      It’s possible these people are confused, or there may be someone paying people to deliberately interfere with your business (yes, this happens). I say this because the Local Guides look like they have a dubious review history. It is also possible that random people are leaving star ratings to “level up” their Local Guides status on Google My Business. (Google gives you Local Guide points for actions like leaving reviews, adding photos, confirming details about the business, etc.)

      Getting fake reviews removed can be a challenge. My recommendation is to follow the instructions here:

      You are most likely to get help by going to the Google My Business forum once you flag the fake reviews. If you call Google support, it goes to an offshore call center, and it is unlikely you will get the reviews removed by phone.

      Best of luck with this, I know it is a nuisance.

  79. Thank you for taking the time to reply John.
    We’ll try the business forums and see if we’re able to get more support from there.

  80. Great article. Thanks for that. I wonder if you have any thoughts on one star reviews. I have a client with hundreds of reviews and people either love them or hate them. They have an average of 4.2. There are hundreds of 5 star reviews, but there are also 140 one star reviews. They have been at or near the top of organic rankings in our community for years and are always featured in the local map pack. Until this week. They have lost some organic ranking and dropped off the map pack. Could so many one star reviews be the culprit?

    1. Hi Paul:

      Without knowing more about the client, the category, and the competition, it’s difficult to say what would cause a sudden drop. The number of one-star reviews could be part of that. But it could also be several other things, such as competitors having better content, satisfying searchers questions better, more relevant back links to their sites, better user experience, etc.

      Address your specific concerns, the map pack is driven by a few factors: proximity, relevancy, and reputation are chief among these. As Darren Shaw wrote last year, how close the search is to the businesses is going to be the biggest factor in the map pack. If there is a cluster of the same type of businesses near the searcher, Google will usually show these. If you walk a half-mile down the road, you may get different results in the map pack. Also, businesses that don’t have a website can also appear in the map pack.

      For the general rating drop, I would look to see what your client’s competitors might be doing better. Just because a site has ranked well in the past doesn’t mean that it will stay there forever. You should always be looking at ways to be more helpful to customers, and how to improve the website, and build the brand.

      What’s concerning is that you mentioned that although they have hundreds of reviews, they have a hundred one-star reviews. Google has several patents that focus on analyzing customer sentiment around a brand. Meaning, they look at the words in reviews, and the general discussion around a brand. If there is too much negative discussion around a brand, that could definitely have an impact on ratings. I would look not only at Google ratings, but also Yelp, and any other specialty review sites that your client would be on. Unfortunately, if too many people are having a negative customer experience, there’s not a lot that you can do for that. That might be an internal issue that the client company has to resolve to get back on track.

      Keep in mind that Google rankings are evaluated on a constant basis, and if there are other competitors trying to improve their brand, improve their website, and deliver a better product/service to customers, then your client’s rankings will be adjusted in comparison to what other people are doing.

  81. Just read this article as trying to improve Google reviews and rankings etc. Found it very good, thanks. Have just used the write a review ID link to make it even easier for customers to write a review. Excellent.

  82. To be honest I do not know what is the solution for this as we are unable to remove the fake reviews. It’s so easy for the competitors to leave the fake reviews at your Google My Business profile. Is there any way we can check/verify the user’s profile whether it is real or not?

    1. Hi Kristine:

      Unfortunately, there is a lot of Google review spam out there. Many of them are not removed, because there are more spammers than Google resources to verify who is real and who isn’t.

      I have a pair of fake reviews myself, luckily, not one-star reviews, but still…

      The best methodology for removing fake reviews is found here:
      You still might not get them removed, but following these steps will increase your odds of success.

      I did see that several of your locations had some obviously fake reviews. Your team handled these professionally, by being courteous, and explaining that you had no record of a patient under those names. Most consumers can discern that these reviews are false.

      I would be proactive about obtaining positive reviews on Google and other local review sites, and health/medical review sites. Not every patient may be up for this, but giving them a printed handout with instructions on how to leave a review on a few selected sites will help minimize the impact of fake one-star reviews.


  83. Hi, great article btw. I have question and that is: How I can set an average rating star on my website? I want only average rating star and link (link I know how to add).
    Best regards.

    1. Hi Josip:

      If I understand your question correctly, you want to know how to display a star rating for your website in Google search results. (Not in the 3-pack map, but in the search engine results pages).

      To do this, you’ll have to have a mechanism on your website for people to leave a rating, that outputs the cumulative rating using Schema markup.

      Last year, someone in the comments asked something similar. Essentially, people would have to be able to come to your site, click a star rating, and the total average star rating would have to be output in the source code using Schema. That’s what I have seen that works in 2018.

      If you don’t already have mechanism like this in place, you’ll need a developer to help you with this.

      Hope this helps point you in the right direction.


  84. Hi, I found some websites on Google are selling Google reviews for a few bucks, ex: [redacted]
    Should I buy from them?

    1. Hi Sam:

      No, you should not buy fake Google reviews. While it is true that Google reviews are some of the most lax on spam (with Yelp going to the opposite extreme), buying fake reviews is like putting a band-aid on a shotgun wound. Sure, it makes the damage look better from the outside. But it doesn’t change the underlying condition. In this case, customers aren’t satisfied with the product or customers service of the business.

      Instead of concealing the root problems, reflect on why customers are leaving negative reviews. By taking a hard look at the business, you can make decisions on how to improve, so real customers are truly happy.

      As a side note, while Google seemingly allows all kinds of review abuse at this time, there’s no guarantee that they will allow it forever. If and when Google decides to purge fake reviews (and there’s no reason to think they can’t tell fake reviews from real ones), you’ll be better off with a some god reviews that are legitimate, rather than having to start from scratch because buying fake 5-star reviews was easy and convenient.

      I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.

      – John

  85. Why is it that we have had a quantity of 13 (5) star reviews and they have not changed our ranking at all from 4.00 to 4.1 — or any other stars ranking? How many do we need to get a better ranking?

    1. Hi Jerry:

      If you had many Google reviews in a short span of time, they usually take a week or two to be added to your cumulative score. This is to prevent spam.

      Also, if you are collecting reviews natively on your website using a built-in mechanism, or if you are using a third-party service that is separate from Google — these will not be added to your Google My Business star rating.

      Hope that helps,

  86. Hi John,

    Your site is amazing – learning a lot!.

    One of my customers recently put a link to her business in her Google review – is this the reason that I cannot yet see her review on my list? I had 10 reviews before and now it says I have 11 – but her actual review is not showing up. We insure people who do Airbnb and she put a link to her property at the bottom of her review (I know because she sent me a copy of her review in a personal email).
    Is it permitted in google reviews for the customer to put a link to their own business? I’ve just recently been asking some customers to do reviews and so far they have been very kind. I don’t mind at all if she puts a link into her review – I think it makes the review much more interesting!

    1. Hi Kate:

      Similar to you, I’m seeing 11 reviews on your Google Maps listing, but it only shows 10. Sometimes it takes a couple weeks for the reviews to post, but you already have a couple from 4 days ago. And Google has the review count correct.

      It’s possible that it was automatically flagged as spam, because they included their own URL.

      You might check in your Google My Business under Reviews and see if there’s a review being held as Spam. If there’s nothing there, and the review doesn’t show up within two weeks, have your client write a new review without the URL to their site.


  87. Hi John,

    Our company recently received a one star review as the result of our employee only following company policy.
    The review was actually a lie as the lady received all but $25 dollars back.

    Anyhow, my question is, we have been consistently getting 5 star reviews and stayed at 4.9 for a long time. It seems as if that 1 star review means more than the many other 5 star reviews, because we just recently received 2 more 5 stars after the 1 star was left!

    Does the 1 star mean more, or has it not been enough time for our score to be updated?

    Thank you for your help.

    1. Hi Tammy:

      The star rating doesn’t update right away, it seems like it takes a couple of weeks for everything to calibrate. About five years ago, it would sync up right away, but the past year or two, there’s seems to be a delay.

      It looks like you have 59 reviews right now, and your score is really good!

      When you do get a one-star review, I would still reply to those, just to show how the company handles themselves in a professional manner, even when a customer is unhappy.

      It looks like your company is in really good shape overall.


  88. Thanks for writing a wonderful article. I really enjoyed your article a lot and frankly speaking I didn’t know a lot of information about it. This article makes me know something new.

  89. Hi!

    I have an issue. One of my customer’s Google review is not showing even though the count has increased but there is nothing inside the reviews when you see it. What can be the issue?

    1. Hi Veronica:

      If this you mean that your client received a Google My Business review, and the count went up, but the review is not showing, it might show up in a few days. Sometimes there is a delayed reaction.

      Conversely, if you mean they have ratings stars that show in regular organic results, because they collect reviews on the website itself, Googlebot would need to recrawl the page, so that will eventually catch up.

      It is difficult to diagnose further without knowing the name of the business or affected website.


  90. Have a doubt, While updating the Google review plugins manually and via direct user review, which got a better reputation. As we set user reviews, anyone can drop make the review by their own right. Please clear in that case, from an IP one review format works well or not?

    1. Hi Shery:

      If I understand your question correctly, you are asking which has a more positive effect: directly embedding user reviews with Schema markup or using a plugin to embed Google reviews from GMB?

      As far as I know, Google is getting rid of star ratings for individual pages where the site owner controls the code. If outside customers can add reviews, it is different (as in Yelp). This is to counteract reviews spam.

      If it were me, I would use the plugin to embed Google reviews directly from Google My Business.


  91. Does anyone have an idea/hunch to how many positive Google reviews it takes to increase Google’s average rating i.e. 4.7 t0 4.8?


    1. Hi Adam:

      The more reviews you have, the more it will take to raise the average a tenth of a point. Most people seem to trust businesses if they are 4.5 stars or above. No one is perfect, and there is review spam. Most people understand that.

      Best of luck,

  92. Hi John,
    You answered all possible questions about Google reviews and ratings in the article.
    It was a long read but every minute I spend reading your article worth it.
    I have subscribed to your email newsletter because I want to read more articles like this one.

    Thanks for sharing this all-in-one article!

    John, I am also interested in downloading PDF version of such informative articles. Do you provide SEO E-Books? Is it free or paid?

    Hoping to hear from you soon!

    1. Hello Ram:

      Thanks for your kind words. I haven’t put out an e-book yet, but that sounds like a great idea for the near future. I will let you know if anything gets published. Feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel as well. I post there daily.

      1. John, I subscribed your Youtube channel.

        Also, I watched your video…you are providing GREAT solutions to the problems.
        I loved your video entitled as “When You Have Tons of Bad Reviews”.

        I want to let you know that I do LSM marketing for dentists so that I understand every word.
        John, you are doing a great job.

        Learning a lot from you.
        Ram Thakur

  93. Appreciate the update.
    I have a question. I have yet to switch to any star rating plugin.
    Which sounds better — a star rating plugin that users auto review, or one where we manually set the score to 4.9/5 rating using some code where other users can’t make a correction?

    1. Hello Tanys:

      Google has almost entirely phased out review stars showing from your own website. Exceptions to this would be third-party sites like Facebook, YP, Yelp, HomeAdvisor, etc.

      If you are considering adding code that regular users cannot adjust, my advice is avoid that route.

      It will be best to let real users leave a rating and adjust the overall score (on the page). Though do not expect to see “stars” in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Google has said that hidden Schema structured markup or embedded code that aggregates reviews from other sources are “manipulative”, and they want to prevent anyone from “rigging the system” with this type of code in the future.


  94. Hello John,
    Google wants organic reviews. I personally give feedback on the comments and reviews. Thanks to you for sharing this great information.

  95. Hi John,

    Your site is amazing – learning a lot!. You’ve answered all queries about Google reviews in the article. Although, It was a long read but every minute was worth it.

    This is a great post. Thanks Again!

    1. Yes, you can get a Featured Snippet. They don’t appear for every search, just some. It appears to be automated, so if the algorithm decides to show a Featured Snippet for that query, you have a chance.

      First, you’ll need to be ranking somewhere on page one of Google for that search query. The pages that seem to get selected for Snippets usually have a chunk of text that answers the search succinctly. Like a few sentences, or a bulleted list.

  96. John, I subscribed to your Youtube channel.

    Also, I watched your videos. you are providing GREAT solutions to the problems.
    I loved your videos and learned a lot of things.

    I want to let you know that I do Local SEO for small businesses so that I understand every word.

    John, you are doing an awesome job. Keep sharing helpful articles and videos on your channel.

    I have a request for you to share tips on featured snippets.

    Learning a lot from you.
    Naina Singh

    1. Hi Naina:

      I’ll talk about Featured Snippets in a future video. Glad you are enjoying the channel!

      Usually, you need to get to Page One to get a Featured Snippet. Think of how you could answer a search query in a sentence or two. Or in a ordered/unordered list. Those usually get rewritten as a Featured Snippet.


  97. Hi John
    Thanks for sharing this article. Very well written.
    We’ve been struggling to get reviews. A direct link to leave a Google review sounds brilliant. I think we’re going to put that in our business signatures!


  98. Hi John,

    Is there a way I can sync my reviews from other review platform in google SERP? (Just like does with tripadvisor).

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Toby:

      Unfortunately, there’s no way to sync your third-party reviews from other platforms into Google to where the reviews stars show up in the SERP for your regular website. Google usually will show “Reviews from Around the Web” in the Knowledge Graph/Google My Business profile for your business. Bing pulls in that information because they have an arrangement with TripAdvisor and Yelp to where they use that information as a supplement. Google uses another system to gather information on companies.


  99. Hello John, we are a travel tech company. As part of our customer feedback process, we do ask our customers (of course happy ones) to drop us a review on Google. And this happens regularly (not suddenly one day). While we see a lot of positive reviews/ratings everyday our Google rating remains the same. Whereas, the day we receive even one negative review our rating goes down. I always failed to understand why. Why Google is not considering the regular positive reviews and rather paying a lot of attention to that one negative review. Can you please explain?

    1. Hi Divya:

      It sounds like the averages haven’t caught up to what the calculations should be yet. Google reviews used to do this several years ago, where they would have a weighted average until yo got past five reviews, but they stopped a couple of years ago.

      Most likely, the average that is showing is incorrect, and it should correct in time, usually less than two weeks.


  100. Hey John,
    In these day Google follow how original the reviews are, follow guidelines and considerable like the user write exact review that services or the product he/she got. And in search result Google will highlight the words of reviews. I don’t know what you’ll say about this. I’m curious to know is that really working for now or it’s just a myth?

    1. Hi Trivanks:

      Google will highlight words from the reviews they select to show on the GMB profile. If customers use the words that describe the service a business provides, that is likely to show up.

      – John

  101. Is it possible to view a Google score from the past? I currently have a 4.9 score, but last year it was worse. I would like to create a report showcasing that our score increased in the past year, but I do not have the previous score for reference.

    1. Hi Michael:

      There’s no practical and reliable method to see historical data on what your review average was in the past. You might be able to get an idea if the GMB widget was embedded on your website, and there is an old capture in the Wayback Machine/Internet Archive, but that will not be practical for many cases. Some SEO tools can track that data from a point in time going forward, but none of them that I know of store historical data (due to number of businesses * amount it costs for data collection and storage).

      Sorry there’s not a simple fix to find this information.


  102. You have written a very good blog. There was a lot of good information in it. But in this you did not tell how we can make a big 360 degree video, in which we can cover our whole city.

    1. Hi HM:

      Normally business hire a google endorsed photographer in their area to create a 360 degree image tour of the inside of their business. This involves taking the photos and stitching them together for use on Google Maps. As far as I know, there isn’t a 360 degree for entire cities, though Google Street View does cover most of this already.

      – John

  103. Hi John, I am here after Google Reviews update 2022. I lost GMB reviews last month, I thought I will never get my reviews back. I gathered lot of information on Google reviews update and I found your article really helpful. Its really necessary to obey the terms and conditions of Google reviews. Thank you for sharing this information with those people who are having trouble in Google reviews.

    1. Hi Pawna:

      You have a lot of Google reviews, just under 500 at the time I am writing this. I am glad you were able to recover your reviews! Thanks for leaving a comment, I appreciate your input.

      – John

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