Which is more important, 5 star rating average or number of reviews?
The short answer is both BUT the higher number of reviews the better.
Having a handful of 5 star reviews provides zero value to your audience and to Google. Your audience does not have enough feedback and Google wants your business to have as many as possible.
Increasing your review count is key in Google’s world. Google’s ranking algorithm places a value on your Google reviews which effect your local search ranking. This includes both rating average and volume.
Don’t get me wrong, having a few reviews is a good start but you need to have as many as possible. Consumers love to see 5 star rating averages especially since 90% of customers read reviews before making a purchasing decision. However, you need volume to back the average rating score up. One review with a 5 star rating doesn't do it.
Does your business really need the 5 star scoring average to be successful?
No, it’s not required and I would argue that having a 5 star rating average is misleading. Especially when a business has 100+ reviews.
Because there isn’t a business out there that is able to please every single customer/patient. It’s impossible.
Seeing local search results for businesses that have a good review count of 100+ with a 5 star rating average, tells me they have been review-gating (only asking “happy” customers/patients to write a review)….which is not a bad thing.
However, having some low score reviews sprinkled in helps to show that your business isn’t perfect.
Where low score ratings really hurt your business is when you receive a bad review and let it go unanswered.
You should ALWAYS respond to bad reviews in a timely manner (less than 24hrs) and be professional. Online arguments are a no-no.
Responding to bad reviews actually builds more trust for your audience. It shows your business pays attention, takes reviews seriously (we all should), and cares about their customer/patient.
By the way, Google banned review-gating back in April of this year in the hopes of driving more authentic reviews.
What is important when it comes to Google reviews?
The number of reviews (100+) carries more weight when it comes to the importance of reviews.
Google’s ranking algorithm places value on your reviews
More reviews tell a better story (your goal should always be 100+)
More reviews help your average rating score
More reviews help you dominate your local market & reputation
If you are not focusing on capturing satisfaction scores and reviews for your business then you need to start. Reviews are not going away and will help your business grow.