Recently, Google launched some major changes to Google Places, its local listing service, that allow local business owners to connect with their existing and potential customers in a unique and more human way. Google Places quite literally put local businesses on the map, and now, its replacement, Google+ Local, helps connect those businesses to consumers more directly. These Google+ Local listings are not only a part of search and maps but also have a new look and feel as part of Google+.
Google+ now has 400 million users. With all those potential eyes, local business owners on the site need to put a stronger emphasis on their customer reviews. In fact, 67% of consumers online read reviews of businesses before making a purchasing decision, and 70% of consumers trust a business with a minimum of 6-10 reviews. Here are ten things you need to know about the new Google+ Local reviews.
1. Reviews Lost Their Stars
Google certainly didn’t lose any “star quality,” it still averages 4.7 Billion search queries per day, but gone are the days when Google showcased a star-rating on listing pages and in search results. Now, Google is using a 30-point rating system adapted from Zagat. So now, in the place of stars, you’ll see a number rating in the format of “# / 30” displayed in local search results for a Google listing and on the page itself.
2. Google+ Local is Using Zagat’s Rating System
If you are a restaurant owner, you may be quite familiar with Zagat. For the rest of the business world, Zagat is a review site consumers can use to find restaurant reviews and recommendations in their city. The Zagat numerical system is based on a 30-point rating, which takes the average score each reviewer has left (on a scale from 0-3) and multiplies that number by ten. Google acquired Zagat in 2011 and has adopted their rating system for their new Google+ Local pages.
3. You Now Need 10 Reviews For Your Rating to Display
With Google Places, a business owner only needed five reviews in order for the star rating to appear on their listing. Now, with Google adopting the 30-point rating system, you need at least ten reviews for the number rating to display on your Google+ Local Page as well as in the search results.
4. There’s a New Sorting System for Reviews
Google+ Local reviews are now put through a sorting filter where the “Most Helpful” reviews are displayed first. This filter is based on the searcher’s connection to the reviewer, the text of the review, and how many votes that particular review has acquired from other users. The more relevant and popular the review, the higher it will be placed in this new sorting system.
5. Google+ Local Favors Reviews from Friends
As part of the new sorting system, when a user is logged in to their personal Google+ account, the reviews from their circle of friends will actually show up higher than any other reviews on a business page. In other words, reviews from other Google+ users in someone’s circles will display higher than reviews from people who aren’t in their circles.