How Does Google Calculate Star Ratings?

Recently, we launched a reputation campaign for a client that started seeing 5-Star ratings on Google that same week. They had a great reputation to begin with but their reviews were too few and far between. Their goal was to get their ratings and number of reviews up, but after seeing numerous 5-Star reviews roll in without any immediate change it had them asking, “how exactly does Google calculate ratings?”

Ratings on Google

I actually see this questions every once in a while, but I will start by saying it can sometimes take up to a week for Google’s algorithm to pick up on any review changes before your business sees any kind of boost. Not too long ago Google also switched from a “Bayesian Average” system to an arithmetic model like what we learned in grade school. There are also a couple of other factors Google takes into account:
  • Optimization of Listing (including business info, photos and map placement)
  • Site Traffic
  • Reviews

Listing Suggestions

There are a few things you can probably implement right now to improve your listing, and it’s easy to do! Navigate to your Google My Business Dashboard and take a look at the completeness of your listing. You should feature your logo, a background image, and photos of your place of business or team members. The great thing about Google is they will even give you suggestions in your dashboard to walk you through completing your listing. It might take a little extra time, but optimizing your listing to the fullest will only improve the weight of your reviews.

Quality Reviewers

While you have no control over this, a little known tidbit is Google will factor in the quality of the reviewer. For instance a person who gets on and writes one review, positive or negative, may not carry as much weight as someone who writes a lot of reviews from their Google account and has never been penalized for false reviews.

Google also has a program called “Local Guides” that allows Google Users to review places they’ve been, contribute photos, and earn points for their contributions. The more points the Local Guide has, the more weight their review may carry.

So, to answer the question “how does Google calculate star ratings?” it is complex, but easy to fix with a little effort, patience, and the right systems in place to help your business acquire positive reviews.

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