Case Study: How Important the Google Places 5 Stars Are


I have always seen case studies as a decent way to support an argument. Unfortunately, although I am convinced in the importance of having 5 stars on one’s Google Places page, I hadn’t encountered an interesting enough case to write a post about until very recently. So let me eagerly share this case with you now.

I spoke with my friend Yam Regev, who observed a great increase in the number of calls to one of his clients. This happened, according to Yam, immediately after the fifth customer posted their review on the Google Places page (note: after a business has been reviewed 5 times on Google Places, the stars bar appears in the organic search results page).

The business’ main traffic-driving search term is “Car Recovery London“, the search query for which is currently returning 7-pack (pure) search results:

Car Recovery London

Click to enlarge

The listing in question ranks on position F, above the fold (even with three AdWords and AdWords Express results), but at the bottom. At the same time it is the only listing that has the stars bar. Here are the objective factors:

1. Position – position F in the 7-pack, right above the fold (with ads)
2. Space occupied – normal (2 rows)
3. Distinctive features – 4.5-star rating (out of 6 Google reviews) showing up (the only listing for which a rating shows up)

The observation starts on 26 August, one day after the fifth review is written. Here are the statistics (note: the statistics are generic and holistic, i.e. not particularly for the keyword “car recovery London”, or the traffic brought by Google Places); the periods compared are “monthly average before 26th August” and “average after 26th August”):

  • Average phone calls/day – increased from 4 to 11
  • Website traffic – 23% increase
  • Page views – 37.5% increase
  • Pages/visit – 11.77% increase
  • Bounce rate – 7% decrease
  • New visits – 16% increase
  • Average time on site – 35.8% decrease

A few thoughts:

It is obvious that the conversion rate increased. However, the time on site decreased, which looks strange as the pages/visit and bounce rate decreased. The reason could be that people are taking their decisions faster, so they are briefly going through the pages, before contacting the business. Another possibility is that the percentage of mobile users visiting the site might have increased, which is good for such a urgent service type of business(towing, car recovery).

Overall, the effect of the star review bar showing up was very positive. Two very important factors in this particular case study are the fact that none of the competitors has any reviews on their Place page and the business type(people are taking purchase decisions relatively fast). Therefore, it is neither universal, nor claiming comprehensiveness, and all the external factors have to be taken into account when analyzing it or referring to it. But then again, no case study can claim comprehensiveness.

  1. Jo Shaer
    Jo Shaer09-06-2011

    Sounds good enough for me. I shall keep nagging clients to persuade their satisfied customers to leave google places reviews… and hope that my listing doesn’t get messed up so I lose them all!

    • Nyagoslav Zhekov
      Nyagoslav Zhekov09-06-2011

      Losing reviews is definitely a big frustration, but I hope this case could help many business owners realize (realise) how important the Google reviews could be.

  2. Alex

    The big question, how to get people to write 5 star reviews!?

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