Google’s John Mueller states that customer reviews are still not taken into account when it comes to web search results.
This topic is discussed during the Google Search Central SEO hangout recorded on August 6, 2021.
A question is submitted to Mueller that reads:
“Does Google look at the amount of customers and/or reviews a website has to rank it higher in the search results?”
Mueller responds saying customer reviews aren’t a factor for web search, but they’re not totally irrelevant in terms of gaining visibility in Google.
Read his full answer in the section below.
Google’s John Mueller on Customer Reviews & SEO
While Google does show information about customer reviews in search results, such as aggregate star ratings, they are not a factor for determining the ranking of web content.
“As far as I know we don’t use the number of customers or reviews when it comes to web search, with regards to ranking. Sometimes we do pull that information out and we might show it as kind of a rich result in the search results.”
Google’s customer review rich results can give the impression they’re being used as a ranking signal, but that isn’t the case.
However, as Mueller alludes to in his response, customer reviews are used elsewhere in Google Search:
“It might be that for the Google My Business side of things, maybe that’s taken into account more. I don’t have much insight there. But with regards to normal web search we don’t take that into account.”
To be fair, Google My Business is not Mueller’s department, but it’s definitely the case that customer reviews are taken into account there.
When conducting a local search, the pack of business listings shown at the top of Google is ranked using its own set of factors.
Google is transparent about what those factors are and lays them out in a help guide under a heading titled: “How Google determines local ranking.”
The section reads:
“Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. A combination of these factors helps us find the best match for your search.”
The prominence ranking factor refers to how well known a business is. One of the ways Google evaluates prominence is by looking at customer reviews.
The Google My Business help guide confirms both the number of reviews and average score are taken into account when ranking local results:
“Google review count and review score factor into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’ local ranking.”
Customer reviews won’t help (or hurt) a business’s web search results, but they will impact the ranking of its Google My Business listing.
This is in line with what was previously known about customer reviews and their impact on Google Search. It’s a common misconception among business owners that customer reviews influence search rankings, which makes this a topic worth revisiting from time to time.
Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below:
Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt has an uncanny ability to make the most complex subject matter easy to understand. When he’s not ferociously following and covering the search industry, he’s busy writing SEO-friendly copy that converts.