Value of Google and Yelp Reviews

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Value of Google and Yelp Reviews

As marketers and business owners, we constantly seek ways to separate ourselves from the competition. Word of mouth is among the strongest forms of trust-building and lead generation. However, keeping up with all available avenues can be challenging with the proliferation of online review sites and sources. The two most important platforms for user reviews are Yelp and Google (with Facebook a strong third).

Value of Google and Yelp Reviews

Clients and friends frequently ask which is most important to focus on. To help answer this question, we’ll look into review quality, how each platform impacts SEO (search engine optimization), and then some advice on utilizing those reviews.

Review Quality

A blog could easily be dedicated to this topic alone, the reviews themselves. Let’s begin with Yelp. There is a lot of hostility towards Yelp reviews and, more importantly, the algorithm. Business owners frequently ask about lost reviews. After much research, while I understand the frustration, the logic behind the Yelp filter makes sense. Essentially, Yelp says we keep the most useful reviews to the end user (not the business). You can see the explanation here. This is meant to help Yelp users get the most relevant information about the business. The quality of reviewers is valued over the volume of reviewers on Yelp’s end.

Because of this, the reviews on Yelp tend to be richer in detail, making them valuable to the next potential customer. Also, Yelp reviewers tend to go out of their way to write a review. Unfortunately, this means the reviews tend to be at the end of the spectrum of the best or worst experience.

Google is different than Yelp in almost every way. Perhaps at the core of differentiation is that while Yelp says you cannot solicit reviews, Google encourages the practice. From here, Google makes it easier for a user to write a review. Chances are you are already signed into your Google account and using some Google products. Google allows users to leave only star reviews without comment. It can be your first or hundredth review, and Google will post it to the business. This creates more generic reviews, but the ease allows fewer emotional reviews. The theory is that through volume, consensus can be achieved.

SEO Impacts

Strong reviews on both Google and Yelp will help you in the SERP (search engine results page), only in different ways. With Google, the positive impacts are more tangible. Google reviews are a major factor in local SEO rankings. Logically it makes sense too. Google is built to show searchers the most relevant and useful information. Hence, if someone is looking for a local sandwich, a sandwich shop with a high volume and rating of reviews is probably a good business to show in the local pack. And as Google uses more features in the SERP, appearing in the featured sections will become even more of a priority.

Yelp reviews do help you in SEO, only in a different way. Yelp has a high volume of traffic, and information searchers find helpful. While Google may not like Yelp taking traffic away from them, for now, they have to respect users like Yelp. This means Yelp tends to rank well in many search results. If you rank well on Yelp, Google searches who click on the highly ranked Yelp page will find you when they click through to Yelp. Yelp is also used as a source for citation and verification in Local SEO, providing some direct SEO value.

Google and Yelp Reviews
Google and Yelp Reviews

Utilizing Reviews

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Yelp and Google reviews are important. If your competitors are accumulating reviews and you are not, you’re probably losing out on customers. On the other hand, if your competition is not generating reviews and it’s within your brand to use that platform, you just found an advantage. It’s now time to use these reviews to generate traffic. Ensure they are on your website, assuming they are good.

You don’t need to be a blue-chip company to take advantage of the value of reviews on your site. A great example is from a local transmission shop near Golden, CO. They use a WordPress plugin that feeds Google reviews directly to their site. It’s really simple to install and immediately helps traffic on your site convert from the middle of the funnel to a sale. There are some great tools out there that allow you to make customizations from the most recent reviews to filter out low-quality reviews. A good plugin will bring in reviews from all sources to your website.


For most businesses, the conversation should not be if I need to focus on Google or Yelp reviews. Both have challenges, and both have major payoffs. If you need to focus on one more than the other, check your market conditions. Weak Yelp presence? Maybe do some ads to generate traffic to your Yelp page. Are competitors not generating Google reviews? Stop reading this article and get to work. Once you have established reviews on both platforms, ensure you’re utilizing those reviews on your website.


Sam White
Sam White

About the Author

Sam White, MBA, is a senior account manager and search engine optimizer for New Dimension, a San Diego, CA, digital marketing agency. Over his career, he has worked in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Switzerland, Turkey, and the US on educational and marketing initiatives. He focuses his efforts on turning complex ideas into actionable and measurable steps.