A huge part of the consumer buying process today is reading online reviews hence, online ratings have become an essential part of businesses today. BrightLocal executed their yearly study of Local Consumer Review and it garnered significant results.
Their study has proven that reviews have a huge impact on Google Local Pack Results and Organic Search Rankings whilst online reviews creates a positive impact on search engine results ranking.
Recent studies by Moz and The Local SEO Guide presents a more detailed explanation of the various ranking factors that affect local search rankings. The results show that online reviews where a business is present in Google’s Local 3-pack results and in localized organic search results.
These studies show how reviews can be a strong driving force to a good reputation and we know how valuable your reputation is. However, aside from online reviews boosting a business’ reputation, its greatest power is its ability to influence buying choices the customers make when looking for a business to contact on the search results page.
Online Reviews and CTR Rates
It has been known that getting an overall star rating online is excellent. Studies show that customers pay the most attention to your online rating when looking for a business to contact on the web. Thus, it also affects click-through rates from search to click. To further assess the amount of positive reviews needed to improve CTR’s, another set of study was executed.
BrightLocal set up a number of virtual tests using mock-ups of Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Some of them had Google Local 3-Pack results whilst the others have localized organic results. They made variations to target three different types of local businesses: plumbers, florists, and realtors. To ensure a realistic spread or results, they varied both the star rating and the review count to show participants and to draw findings against.
In 2016, they launched the study using 18 variations of Google SERPs and these were presented to several audience groups.
6,283 participants were involved in the study, 72% is from the USA and the 28% is from Canada. They were instructed to imagine that they were searching for a plumber/florist/realtor and to click on a listing they want. They were divided into two groups:
- Control Group – they were shown SERPs with no ratings and review count
- Test Groups – they were split into test groups and show different SERPs with a variation of star ratings from 1-5 stars.
As expected, the listings with 5 stars earned the most clicks from the Local Pack, which garnered 69% of the overall clicks while the ones with 1-2 stars earned the less clicks. On the other hand, listings with 3+ stars still have a positive impact on CTRs (Click-Through Rates), with 4 stars earning 59% clicks and the 3 stars had 44% clicks.
There is also a noticeable change when a business goes from a 3-star rating to a 5-star rating, resulting in 25% more clicks thus, businesses have to work harder to bring in more positive reviews.
For the variance in CTRs (Click-Through Rates) for different star ratings vs. having no stars at all, it shows that businesses with 5-star ratings earns 28% more clicks vs. no rating. Also, a 5-star rating earns a businesses 39% clicks than having a 1-star rating, whilst having a 1-star rating reduces the clicks a business gets by 11%.
Choosing a Business to Click On
Following that exam, the consumers were then asked why they picked that listing. The results show that 56% picked a listing due to its positive star ratings, 10% liked the name of the business, while only 9% picked the top listing.
This reaffirms that most consumers click on a listing based on its positive reviews.
CTRs from Organic Search Results
In this part, the consumers were instructed to look at organic search pages and click on the listing that they want. Still, it shows the same results. Consumers clicked on businesses with 5 stars from localized organic SERPs. However, the clicks are less impressive compared to the Google local pack study.
They have come to the analysis that 52% of the users still clicked on the top three results across all the organic SERPs that have been tested, which shows that when it comes to organic results, the ranking on the page still plays a huge role on CTR(Click-Through Rates) than in the Local Pack due to the number of search results to search from.
To put all of these in a nutshell, it’s not rocket science at all. It’s just further evidence of how online reviews affect a business’ reputation. Having a good reputation can boost the business’ brand and their online presence whilst beyond search, the positive reviews builds a stronger sense of trust.
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