Why You Don’t Want a Perfect Google Review Score

This week, we’re back to talking about business reviews. Did you know that you actually don’t want a perfect 5.0 review score? Yep, it’s true. You don’t want a perfect score. Multiple studies have been done that show that clickthroughs and leads actually decline if you’ve got a perfect score on your Google My Business listing.

Sure, you want to strive for a high score – most consumers won’t consider doing business with you if you’ve got a score lower than 3.5. It’s also important to have a decent number of reviews. Customers aren’t going to trust your score as much if you’ve only got a handful of reviews.

So why don’t you want a perfect review score? Many companies have run studies – BrightLocal, GatherUp, UberAll, and others – and they all found the same thing. Businesses with a perfect 5.0 rating ended up with fewer conversions.

They don’t all agree on the best range for a review score. The widest range suggested is 3.7 to 4.9. Most of the other studies suggest a much narrower range – something like 4.2 to 4.6. If a business has a lot of reviews and a perfect 5.0 score, it’s human nature to suspect that something’s not right. We all know that no one is perfect.

As a business owner, I get it. It really sucks when you get that one star review with a really awful description of what happened. You think that review is going to scare away all of your customers and ruin your business. In reality, as long as you’re not getting a steady stream of bad reviews, a bad review every once in a while isn’t going to hurt you. In fact, it’s going to help you.

Most people expect that a business will have some bad reviews – there are grumpy people out there, and sometimes employees make mistakes. Think about what you do when you shop online, or look for a local business. Do you spend your time reading all the 5 star reviews? No. You jump right to the negative reviews to see what bad experiences people had, and how the business responded to those reviews.

If potential customers can tell that you truly care about your customers and did your best to try to rectify the situation, that bad review actually becomes a positive factor in their decision process.

Now, I’m not telling you to seek out bad reviews. Obviously, you want good reviews from your customers. You want a high score, and you want to have more reviews than your competitors. But I am telling you not to freak out when you get a bad review.

The key is to write a thoughtful response that addresses what happens – don’t use the same generic response that most businesses use: We’re sorry you had a bad experience. We strive to give great customer service, can you please call us as 555-867-5309 so we can discuss what happened?

If you use the same response, or something similar, for every bad review, it makes it look like you don’t care. Your response to that bad review isn’t actually for the person who left the review. You should do your due diligence and contact them to try to turn the situation around. Your review response is actually for every potential customer in the future who sees that bad review. You need to show that you care – and even admit fault if a mistake was made.

So now you know why bad reviews aren’t necessarily that bad, and that you don’t actually want a perfect 5.0 review score on Google My Business.

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Greg Gifford is the Vice President of Search at SearchLab, a boutique marketing agency that provides Local SEO and PPC to SMBs all over the US and Canada. He's got over 17 years of online marketing and web design experience, and he’s one of the most in-demand conference speakers at digital marketing conferences all over the world. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BA in Cinema and Communications, and has an obscure movie quote for just about any situation.