There has been a lot of talk lately about the new review format display that Google Plus Local is using. Some business owners are complaining that the new format is causing their clicks to go down and their phone calls to diminish.
We decided to take a look at some of the businesses we work with to see how the new format appears to be affecting their click-through-ratios. We looked at 20 different businesses and compared the clicks on their listing before the change (month of March) with after the change (the last 30 days). 10 of the businesses we looked at had between 5-9 reviews, meaning they used to have gold stars but now just have a regular format (Example: see blue box in picture). 10 of the businesses we looked at have 10 or more reviews so they went from having the gold stars to having the new Zagat Score displayed beside their listing (Example: see red box in picture).
- For the businesses that had 5-9 reviews, there seemed to be no noticeable drop in website clicks on the listing after the review format change.
- For all 10 businesses that had 5-9 reviews, there was a decrease in “clicks for more info”. These are the clicks that people make to the button that shows up below the listing that indicates how many reviews the business has.
- For the 10 businesses that had 10 or more reviews, there was no visible drop in website clicks on the listing after the review format change.
- For the 10 businesses that had 10 or more reviews, there was an increase in “clicks for more info” for 6 of them. For the 4 that had a decrease, it was by less than 0.3%.
The results seem to indicate that the loss of gold stars seems to be impacting the businesses that went from having a “gold star status” to nothing. Businesses with 10+ reviews who got the score displayed beside their listing either had an increase or a very small drop in clicks for more information on the listings so if anything, the format change appears to be helping them.
Another interesting thing that we found is that Google Plus Local is not a very good source for clicks to your website. A huge majority of the clicks on these businesses were to the Google Plus Local page, not to the website. If a business owner is looking at their website visits to see how well their Google listing is performing, they might be misinformed since the visit count will probably be pretty low. Most of the businesses we looked at received 20-40 clicks for more info but received less than 10 clicks to their website in 1 month. It is important to note that all the businesses we looked at were service-oriented (insurance agents, tree trimmers, electricians etc). Other industries such as hotels and restaurants have a much higher click-through-ratio because the user needs to gather more information about the business from the website. For a hotel, for example, most users need to see photos and rates before they will place the phone call. For businesses in the service industry, getting a quote normally starts with a phone call so it explains why the user would be more likely to click and read reviews of the business vs clicking to the website.
If your business currently has less than 10 reviews, we would recommend that you get the number of reviews to be 10 or higher so that you don’t experience a drop in clicks on your Google listing as a result of this format change.