Google Reviews and Your Small Business: What You Need to Know

Google reviews

Move over, Yelp. Shove off, TripAdvisor. Don’t even think about it, Facebook.

America’s top online review site is…

Wait for it…


That’s right. According to a recent survey conducted by ReviewTrackers:

  • 63.6% of respondents are likely to check Google reviews before visiting a business
  • Google was followed by Yelp at 45.2%
  • TripAdvisor at 30.0%
  • Facebook at 23.1%

And that’s not all.

The same study revealed that…

  • 57.5% of all online reviews of a given business location were posted as Google reviews
  • Only 19% were posted to Facebook
  • 8.4% to TripAdvisor
  • 6.6% to Yelp

We’ll dive into what every small business owner needs to know about Google reviews in a moment.

But first, let’s take a look at four other online review takeaways from the ReviewTrackers survey:

  1. Negative reviews really matter to customers. 94% of respondents said they’ve avoided a business because of a negative online review.
  2. Consumers expect brands to respond to reviews. 53% of customers expect a business to respond to a negative review within a week. (Jay Baer calls this hugging your haters.)
  3. But they’re not getting those responses. 63% of consumers say that a business has never responded to their review… even though you can respond in just 20 minutes a day.
  4. Your business MUST rate at least 4 out of 5. 80% of consumers say they don’t trust a business with a star rating below 4.0.

Still here? Great! Now, let’s dive into what every small business owner needs to know about Google reviews.

What Small Business Owners Need to Know About Google Reviews

After sitting out the online review game for quite some time, Google began aggregating star ratings from other review sites in 2010. Soon thereafter, Google acquired Zagat and shifted its focus to harvesting its own reviews.

As the battle with first-generation online review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor loomed, Google had a few advantages.

First, people often begin their search on Google. That means their reviews show up above Yelp reviews in search results. Duh.

Second, pretty much everyone has a Google account. That means it’s much easier for folks to leave a Google review than a Yelp review. (Facebook enjoys this advantage as well.)

As a result, Google reviews are unique from reviews on TripAdvisor or Yelp in a few interesting ways.

1. Google reviews are more positive.

As I mentioned above, it’s easier to leave a review on Google than on Yelp because you already have a Google account. The barrier of creating a Yelp account (or remembering your Yelp login credentials) means you have to be pretty riled up to leave a review there.

No wonder Google reviews average 4.3 stars while Yelp reviews average 3.65 stars! Damn trolls.

2. Google reviews are shorter.

Overall, the average online review is about 300 characters. That’s about one-third the size of the average review back when Google got in the game in 2010.

What’s driving the change? Well, Google for one. Google reviews are among the shortest reviews on the internet.

3. Google reviews are local.

Google reviews appear in search results anytime Google’s algorithm thinks the user is searching for something local. And, oh by the way, that’s about one-third of all searches.

This is the No. 1 reason any brick-and-mortar business needs to be thinking about Google reviews. Search is important. Local search is absolutely critical.

Claim Your ‘Google My Business’ to Own Your Google Reviews

Given that Google reviews are the new top dog in online reviews, it’s imperative that you claim your Google My Business listing and then respond to any reviews you receive.

Oh, what’s that? You haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing?

Well, get started here and then leave me a five-star review in the comments.

Are you monitoring your Google reviews?

About the Author

Matt Simpson

Matt is a freelance writer for The DRIVE blog with expertise in digital marketing, social media, and copywriting. He's active in the #yesphx startup movement and has been recognized by AdWeek, Mashable, and more for digital innovation. Visit Matt's website or follow Matt on Twitter.


  1. Vittoria Dmowska says

    Great article Matt . I find that small businesses in particular don’t fully appreciate the power of having a steady stream of online reviews. can’t do much but flagging such reviews them or (even better) to respond on the reviews

  2. says

    Matt you have wrote a fantastic article. I’m small business owner (Redposie LLC) and I have heard from shoppers in my store saying they came in because of the positive reviews they read on Google about us.

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