Reviews and Testimonials – Voice Search Ranking Factors?





Blog Date

June 6, 2024


UK, Manchester

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Reviews and Testimonials – Voice Search Ranking Factors?

Reviews and Testimonials – Voice Search Ranking Factors?

The Rise and Fall of Review Empires

I’ll never forget the day my old friend Mike called me up, asking about the local search landscape from a decade ago. It was like a blast from the past – Yellowpages, Merchant Circle, Angie’s List, all vying for a piece of the review pie. Oh, how the times have changed!

Back then, it seemed like a new review site was popping up every other week. But fast forward to today, and we’re effectively down to just two major players: Google and Yelp. The once-vibrant review ecosystem has dwindled, leaving us to ponder the future of this crucial piece of the local search puzzle.

The Google Juggernaut

As we discussed, Google has emerged as the undisputed champion in the general review space. According to my research, they’re generating a staggering 35 times the number of reviews per location compared to Yelp. That’s an incredible feat, made possible by their relentless pursuit of review data and their ability to leverage it in innovative ways.

Think about it – those rich snippet stars and aggregated review counts in the search results don’t just help consumers make snap judgments, they also allow Google to use reviews to directly answer user questions in real-time. It’s a master stroke that has solidified their position as the go-to source for local business information.

The Yelp Conundrum

Meanwhile, Yelp seems to have taken a very different approach. By limiting access to their review platform and focusing on a niche subset of “elite” reviewers, they’ve effectively ceded the broader consumer market to Google. The search trends are telling – Yelp’s popularity is waning, especially in the mobile-first world where snap judgments reign supreme.

It’s a curious strategy, to be sure. Yelp could argue that they’re catering to a more discerning audience, but I can’t help but wonder if they’re missing the forest for the trees. As you pointed out, sites like Rotten Tomatoes have proven that the wisdom of the crowds can be a powerful force in shaping consumer perceptions.

The Vertical Review Landscape

Of course, the story doesn’t end with the rise and fall of the general review titans. In many industries, vertical review sites continue to play a crucial role in shaping consumer opinions and, more importantly, Google’s local search rankings.

Take the home services sector, for example. Sites like Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, and Yelp (yes, even Yelp) remain important players, providing a wealth of industry-specific data that helps Google paint a more complete picture of local businesses. And in industries where vertical review sites are scarce, like insurance or financial services, enterprises have a golden opportunity to leverage their own first-party reviews to fill the void.

The Voice Search Factor

As we look to the future, the rise of voice search introduces an entirely new dimension to the review landscape. After all, when someone is asking their smart speaker for a nearby plumber or accountant, they’re not going to want to wade through a lengthy review – they’ll be looking for a quick, high-level summary of a business’s reputation.

This is where Google’s approach to review aggregation really shines. By collecting data from a broad range of sources, they’re able to distill that information into the concise snippets that voice searchers crave. And let’s not forget the importance of those schema-powered review stars in the organic search results – they’re like a magnet for voice-based queries.

The Takeaway

So, where does all of this leave us? Well, if I had to bet on the future of local search and reviews, I’d put my money on Google. Their ability to collect and leverage review data, combined with their dominance in the voice search arena, makes them a formidable force that’s hard to imagine any of the remaining players toppling.

But that doesn’t mean the other review sites are obsolete. Vertical players will continue to play a crucial role, particularly in industries where they can provide a more specialized, nuanced view of local businesses. And savvy enterprises would be wise to invest in their own review collection strategies, ensuring they’re well-positioned to capitalize on the ever-evolving local search landscape.

One thing’s for sure – the world of reviews and local search is a dynamic, ever-changing beast. But with a little creativity and a keen eye on the latest trends, you can make sure your business is riding the crest of the wave, rather than getting left behind. After all, as they say, reviews are the new homepage – and you don’t want yours to look like it’s stuck in the past.

MCR SEO is here to help you navigate the complex world of local search and reviews. Contact us today to learn how we can boost your online presence and help you stand out in the crowd.

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