Google has gone back to displaying star ratings for local business and suddenly the Internet makes sense again.
Last year, Google decided to radically change the way it displayed review ratings for local businesses. Rather than display star ratings, which had long been the established norm, they opted for a somewhat confusing number rating based on the famous Zagat number rating system for restaurants.
To even have a rating displayed with a local listing, a business would have to accumulate 10 Google reviews; a feat made much more difficult after the restrictions Google placed on reviewers.
In scrapping the Zagat rating, Google has also seemingly had a change of heart regarding its review requirement. As Mike Blumenthal reports, businesses now need somewhere between 4 and 5 Google reviews before Google will display their rating.
At this point, the exact number of Google reviews needed before a rating is displayed is not 100% clear. Whether the number is 4 or 5, it is a far more attainable threshold than 10. That means more listings with star ratings in local searches.
The latest move from Google does two things: First, it brings back the popular 5-star rating format. Second, Google made it easier for ratings to appear in search results. In fact, the ratings are more prominent than ever.
Given Google’s commitment to user experience, the reason for the change comes down to the fact that people searching on the Internet use ratings and value them as a resource. A point that is reinforced by the higher click-through-rate observed for search results ads with star ratings: here and here