The evidence suggests yes!
Another frequently asked question from dentists to the team here at the Dental Media office is “do reviews on Google affect where my website appears in the search results?”
Before we go into detail, let’s break this down a little bit more. When we talk about “organic” search results, we essentially mean the index of results which appear on page one of Google which are not from the paid channel i.e. not Google Ads. This can then be broken down a little bit further into the “map/local” results (the 3 results which appear with extra annotations e.g maps etc) near the top of the page, and also the “traditional” free search results (typically 10 although this can now vary).
It has long been known that reviews do influence whether a business appears in the “local/map” results and just how important this is; but more recently, there is increasing evidence that reviews also influence the rest of the traditional ranking results as well.
Whilst Google has neither confirmed or denied this, the evidence suggests that it is indeed so. The SEO team at Dental Media looks after search marketing for lots of dentists across the UK and as part of this remit we regularly check search positions, number of reviews etc and try to correlate what we see. And what we see is that, in general, reviews can indeed influence traditional search ranking as well as the local/map results.
Is this definite?
As with all things associated with Google, unless they confirm it directly, we can never be 100% sure; we can simply report trends and apparent correlations. Consequently we cannot guarantee that lots of good (or indeed bad) reviews will definitely affect your search positions. However, we can say with a degree of certainty, that in most cases, this does appear to be so. Those websites/businesses which accrue lots of positive reviews do seem to fare quite a lot better with their organic search positions.
There is also some logic to this. If you consider that Google is trying to surface the most appropriate results to satisfy a user’s queries, why wouldn’t they use reviews as a quality signal?
That said, there are also the usual anomalies which crop up from time to time. For example we have seen businesses steadily gain reviews over time and fail to get into the local/map positions for a long time. We have also seen dental businesses accrue reviews very quickly (contrary to advice) and been apparently red-flagged by Google for doing so. More of this below.
A recap on managing the Google review process
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