6 Comprehensive Local SEO Guides to Help Your Business Rank Higher

  • June 11, 2024
  • SEO
No Comments

The coveted five-star review was once a glamorous feature limited to dedicated sections of a company’s website.

Nowadays, Google prominently showcases these star ratings on branded search engine results pages (SERPs), making them more visible than ever.

Star ratings serve as a pivotal tool for businesses to build trust, improve their local search rankings, and enhance conversion rates.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to understanding their functionality.

Stars And SERPs: Understanding Google Star Ratings

A Google star rating is a user-driven rating system that allows consumers to assess a business with a score from one to five stars.

These ratings can appear across various Google properties, including maps, standard search results, advertisements, rich results like recipe cards, local pack results, third-party review sites, and app store results.

Mechanics of Google Star Ratings

When a user searches on Google, star ratings are visible in the outcomes. Google calculates the star ratings based on an algorithm that averages all published review ratings for a business.

According to Google’s documentation, the star score is not instantaneous and can take up to two weeks to update following a new review.

When customers leave a review, they rate specific aspects of their experience, relevant to the business type and services provided. For instance, plumbers might be prompted with options like “Install faucet” or “Repair toilet.” Businesses can also add custom service categories not listed by default.

Feedback can be positive, neutral, critical, or omitted altogether, which is considered when Google calculates a business’s average rating using the formula: “positive ratings divided by total ratings (excluding unreviewed aspects).”

There are some regional nuances to how these ratings function. For instance, the UK and EU enforce restrictions that do not apply elsewhere following scrutiny from authorities concerning fake reviews.

A Comprehensive Guide to Securing Google Star Ratings Across Search Properties

Google star ratings can be displayed across multiple search properties such as standard blue link listings, ads, local pack results, rich snippets, third-party reviews, and app store results.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of how these star ratings function across different listing types.

Standard “Blue Link” Listings and Google Stars

Google has been testing star ratings in organic search results since 2021. Websites can enhance visibility by having star ratings show up alongside their organic search results.

Screenshot from SERPs, Google, February 2024

Getting Google Stars on Organic SERPs

To have stars show up on organic search results, it is essential to add schema markup to your website. Below is a tutorial video that demonstrates this process:

The video explains that actual reviews are necessary for structured data markup to appear. Collaborate with your development team to add the code indicating your average rating, highest, lowest, and total rating count.

Example of structured markup for google star ratings
Screenshot JSON-LD script on Google Developers, August 2021

While there is no definitive timeline for when stars will start showing up, Google outlines that delays often occur due to the merging of business profiles.

It’s strongly recommended to add schema. However, Google may still display star ratings for retail stores without schema markup to ensure searchers see diverse results.

“Content on your website that’s been crawled and is related to retail may also be shown in product listings and annotations for free across Google.”

Star ratings for Shopping Ads require payment.

Paid Ads and Google Stars

When Google Stars appear in paid search ads, they are referred to as seller ratings. These display high-rated advertisers in text ads, shopping ads, and free listings, showing both star rating and total reviews.

Shopping ads may include additional product details like shipping information, color, and material.

Google shopping ads showing star ratings
Screenshot from SERPs ads, Google, February 2024

Previously labelled as “ads,” paid text ads now appear under a “sponsored” label.

Paid ad showing google star ratings
Screenshot from SERPs ads, Google, February 2024

Securing Google Stars on Paid Ads

To participate in free listings, sellers must:

  • Adhere to all required policies concerning personally identifiable information, spam, malware, and more.
  • Submit a feed through the Google Merchant Center or use structured data markup.
  • Include their shipping settings.

Even in the absence of schema markup, review-starred content can still appear in SERPs.

For star ratings to appear on text and shopping ads, sellers typically need at least 100 reviews in the past year. Only ads with a minimum rating of 3.5 stars will display star ratings, helping higher-quality advertisers stand out.

Reviews are evaluated per country, meaning the 100-review threshold applies regionally. For instance, a Canadian ecommerce company must have 100 reviews from Canada in the last 12 months.

Approved third-party review sites from Google’s list of 29 supported review partners, simplify meeting this threshold.

Additionally, for reviews to be counted:

  • The rated domain must match the one visible in the ad.
  • Google or its partners must evaluate the site.
  • Reviews must pertain to the product/service sold.

Local Pack Results and Google Stars

Local businesses can leverage Google Places, map results, and a Google Business Profile to display star ratings. Consumers can even sort local results by star ratings.

Google star ratings in local search results
Screenshot from SERPs local pack, Google, February 2024

Securing Google Stars on Local Search Results

Appearances in local search results require a Google Business Profile.

Google encourages businesses to solicit reviews proactively and shares best practices:

Customers can leave reviews on various local review sites, with Google referencing both types. Note that updates to reviews can take up to two weeks to reflect.

Google Business Profile owners have multiple tools to manage reviews effectively:

Options to manage reviews in Google Business Profile
Screenshot from Google Business Profile Help, Google, February 2024

Rich Results, Like Recipes, and Google Stars

Food bloggers and websites can show average review ratings and the total number of reviews for recipes, similar to how restaurants leverage local reviews and organic search results.

Recipe search results on desktop
Screenshot from search for [best vegan winter recipes], Google, February 2024

Limited visibility in Google desktop searches drives fierce competition among food bloggers, as only three recipes per search are shown with the option to “Show more” for additional results.

Expanded desktop recipe search results
Screenshot from SERPs, Google, February 2024

Google Home users can search recipes via voice commands for a hands-free cooking experience:

Google Assistant recipes
Screenshot from Elfsight, February 2024

Star ratings for recipes follow similar steps to organic blue-link listings by adding schema markup with elements like instructional steps and nutrition information.

Getting Google Stars on Recipe Results

It is necessary to add schema markup to food blogs and recipe sites to display star ratings. Developers should adhere to Google’s requirements and recommendations for recipe markup.

Required Markup for Recipes:

  • Name of the recipe.
  • Image in a supported format (e.g., BMP, GIF, JPEG).

Recommended Markup for Recipes:

  • Aggregate rating.
  • Author.
  • Cook/preparation time and total duration.
  • Date published.
  • Description and keywords.
  • Nutrition information.
  • Recipe category and region.
  • Ingredients and instructions.
  • Yield or total servings.
  • Video (if applicable).

To include recipes in Google Assistant Guided Recipes, ensure the following markup elements are incorporated:

  • recipeIngredient
  • recipeInstructions
  • contentUrl (for video properties)

The example below demonstrates the structured markup for the recipeIngredient property:

Example of structured markup for recipe steps in Google Assistant
Screenshot from Google Developer, February 2024

Third-Party Review Sites and Google Stars

Many software companies use third-party review sites to influence purchasing decisions. Star ratings from these sites, like Yelp or G2, show within Google search results.

Example of star ratings in SERPs from third-party review sites
Screenshot from SERPs, Google, February 2024

For local businesses, Google star ratings appears differently than third-party reviews on a desktop. On mobile, these ratings are visible on a company’s Google Business Profile by clicking on Reviews or scrolling down.

Third-party reviews in local mobile results

About BDM

We are a digital marketing firm dedicated to assisting our clients in achieving outstanding outcomes in various crucial sectors.

Request a free quote

We provide expert digital services designed to significantly improve websites' organic search rankings, enabling them to compete effectively for top positions, even with highly competitive keywords.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More from our blog

See all posts