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Understanding Google's Most Relevant Reviews: What's the Criteria?

Tobias Roelen-Blasberg
Tobias Roelen-Blasberg
Co-Founder & Head of Product
Discover how Google determines the most relevant reviews for your business. Learn the criteria and tips to improve your ranking.
Understanding Google's Most Relevant Reviews: What's the Criteria?

So, picture this. You're planning a romantic dinner, and the internet is your oyster. A quick "most romantic restaurant near me" Google search throws up a buffet of options. Italian? Steak? American? Overwhelmed by the mouthwatering choices, you rely on the reviews to make your pick. But Google surprises you - instead of showing you ALL the reviews, it presents the 'Most Relevant' ones. Ever found yourself wondering how Google chooses what's most relevant for you? Let's break that down.

Are Google reviews still relevant?

Yes, Google reviews are still relevant in helping consumers make informed decisions about businesses. They provide valuable insights into a company's reputation and can influence potential customers.

google business screenshot keens steakhouse
A Michelin restaurant still actively collecting Google Reviews.

Recent surveys suggest that 81% of consumers read Google reviews before making a purchase. Aside from this, 56% of consumers say they always do a quick Google search before making a purchase, and since Google prioritizes the content across their platforms, consumers are likely to read Google Reviews first.

Read How effective are Google Reviews for a business? to learn more about how Google Reviews can boost your business.

What's the deal with Google's ever-evolving algorithm?

Decoding Google's algorithm can feel a bit like taming a digital beast. It's ever-changing and often elusive, yet it is this very chase that allows digital marketers and local SEO experts to understand Google's current (as of 2023) criteria for choosing the 'Most Relevant' reviews.

But why does Google even have this algorithm?

The aim is simple. Google wants to help you make the best decisions by providing you with helpful and relevant information. Latest reviews may provide recent feedback, but not always the most useful content for your decision.

What is a relevant review on Google?

A relevant review on Google is one that offers specific and recent information about a business's products or services. It should be honest, unbiased, and focus on the customer's personal experience to aid others in making informed choices.


How does Google determine relevant review?

Google uses several factors to decide a review's relevance:

  • Length
  • Specificity
  • Location
  • Keywords
  • Photos
  • Recency

Let's get into the nitty-gritty of each factor:

Why does review length matter?

The longer, the better - That's Google's mantra. Google believes reviews with at least 200 characters have more useful details. More information could mean insightful reports of a restaurant's best dishes, service standards, or even parking and reservation tips. So, the length of a review can significantly influence its position on Google's "most relevant" list.

screenshot Google Review keens steakhouse
A longer Google Review being ranked higher than the one with less content.

How does review specificity impact relevance?

When it comes to reviews, being specific is vital. When a reviewer shares detailed feedback about their experience, their review is more likely to matter. Specificity adds a layer of depth and authenticity to the review.

lobster bisque review keens steakhouse
A Google Review for a steakhouse ranked higher because of its specific review of the lobster bisque.

Does the reviewer's location affect relevance?

Guess what - who writes a review also matters. Some reviewers are Google's Local Guides with a wealth of experience reviewing local businesses. Their input is highly trusted by Google as they've sampled countless restaurants and left many reviews.

screenshot google search best chinese restaurant around me
Google auto-tagging the Google Search with the users location.

Location-based reviews are also used by Google to determine your ranking on a local search. Check out our article Ranking on Google 3-Pack: Strategies to Help You Succeed to learn more about this.

What role do keywords play in review relevance?

Keywords are quite the game changers. If a review includes keywords related to the business (like restaurant, Italian dishes, best customer service, or most romantic), it's more likely to get a higher ranking. When your search includes these keywords, Google prioritizes matching reviews.

screenshot google maps search best steak new york mashed potato
See how Google automatically ranks the listings based on the keywords of their Google Reviews.

Caption: See how Google automatically ranks the listings based on the keywords of their Google Reviews.

Alt text: screenshot google maps search best steak new york mashed potato

Furthermore, keywords in Google Reviews can significantly affect your search visibility. Our article How Ratings and Reviews Impact Search: A Comprehensive Guide for SEO focuses on this.

Are reviews with pictures more relevant?

Indeed, they are. Reviews with pictures are more likely to top the relevance chart. Photos provide a visual account of the reviewer's experience, assisting potential customers in making informed choices. For Google, seeing is indeed believing.

Google Reviews most relevant content with photos
Google Reviews with tagging reviews with photos as the “Most Relevant”.

Is recency important to Google Reviews?

Yes, recency is important to Google Reviews. More recent reviews are often given more weight by Google's algorithms, as they provide a more up-to-date perspective on a business. Users typically find recent reviews more relevant in making decisions, so they have a significant impact on a business's online reputation.

screenshot relevant google reviews based on time
A week-old review is ranked higher than a 3-month old review.

Other leading online review websites also consider recency when ranking user reviews. Read Why is Review Recency Important for Your Business?

Are negative reviews considered relevant, too?

Yes, Google doesn't discriminate when it comes to review relevance. Even negative reviews that are detailed, specific, include relevant keywords, and supported by photos can feature as the most relevant reviews. Google believes in presenting both sides of the story.

screenshot negative Google Review for a hotel
A negative review still tagged “Most Relevant” by Google.

While negative reviews are relevant, too, it’s important to know how to flag reviews that may be giving a wrong depiction of your business. Read Learn How to Remove Google Reviews and What To Do If You Can't.

Why should you respond to the most relevant Google reviews?

Interacting with the most relevant Google reviews is essential to your business reputation. It demonstrates that you value client feedback and care for your customers. Plus, your responses can also influence the algorithms favoring your business by incorporating relevant keywords and confirming reviewer's specifics. It's a win-win!


Respond to guests quickly and effectively with MARA

To maintain a high rating on review platforms, your review responses should be relevant as well, not just your customer reviews. Doing this can be a daunting task, but not if you have an AI Review Assistant like MARA.

This intuitive tool is designed to ease your Online Reputation Management process, making it more efficient, personalized, and time-saving. It offers the best and most personalized AI for responding to and analyzing your guest reviews.

Efficient Review Inbox

A centralized Review Inbox is crucial when monitoring the relevance of content across all your online listings. Fortunately, MARA AI has this covered.

One of the key features of this tool is the Review Inbox. Your review inbox makes responding to reviews as simple as hitting "Generate reply" and clicking "Send". The Review Inbox connects to multiple review sources, including Google,, and Tripadvisor, giving you a panoramic view of all your reviews. And you can even configure review response automation: Why not allow MARA to automatically respond to simple reviews, like 5-star Google reviews with no text, ensuring you never miss a review? Daily notifications about new reviews keep you updated and in control.

MARA AI Review Inbox
Google, Booking, and Tripadvisor reviews in one centralized Review Inbox.

Comprehensive Review Analytics

Maintaining the relevance of the content within your online listings requires a deep understanding of your customer reviews.

To help you understand and analyze the multitude of reviews, the Review Assistant also incorporates Review Analytics. This provides actionable, easy-to-understand insights that are tailored exclusively to your business. With MARA, you can quickly get the gist of all your reviews without needing to read each one. The analysis is so detailed that you can find out about specific issues like "not much variation in portion sizes" or "lack of vegan option”. These insights help optimize guest experience without requiring you to be a data expert.

MARA Review Analytics
Highly comprehensible Review Analytics.

AI-powered Review Automation

Recency and Relevance always go hand-in-hand. They are always the two major factors considered by online review platforms when rating their listings.

Fortunately, you can go on autopilot and create automation rules for your review responses with MARA AI. This way, you can specify which reviews should be replied by the AI directly with no additional approval. With the configuration below, all Google reviews with no text and a star rating of 4 and above are answered automatically.

MARA AI Review Automation
Efficient and effective Review Response Automation.

The most personal response AI

Crafting personalized responses to Google Reviews not only addresses individual feedback but also fosters a positive environment that encourages other customers to share their experiences. By acknowledging and engaging with reviewers, businesses can stimulate more user-generated content, ultimately leading to a steady influx of new reviews.

MARA's AI isn't just about efficiency; it's about personalization too. The Brand Voice feature allows the AI to adapt to your tone, making sure your responses sound authentically you. Plus, with Smart Snippets, you can "teach" the AI how to respond to recurring praises or complaints. Your AI then incorporates this information into its responses, but always with different words, providing more personalized, relevant replies.

This review response assistant has quickly become a game-changer for over 2000 customers. Its promising capacity to elevate your overall rating, amplify response rates, glean insights from customer feedback and economize both time and money, is the reason behind its growing popularity.

Final Thoughts

Understanding Google's criteria for selecting relevant reviews is key to maintaining an informative and engaging Google Business Profile. By consistently generating reviews and automating review requests, businesses can ensure their profiles are filled with valuable feedback that resonates with potential customers. This proactive approach not only enhances the visibility and credibility of the business but also contributes to a positive user experience for those seeking recommendations or information online.

Managing online reviews need not be an overwhelming task. With the appropriate software, not only can you streamline the process, but you can also personalize your responses, and derive valuable insights from the reviews. So, why hesitate to give our AI Review Assistant, MARA, a try? It's completely free for testing, doesn't require a credit card, and can be fully operational in less than five minutes.

This article is part of our hero content on "Mastering Google Reviews - A Complete Guide."

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Frequently Asked Questions:

What's the minimum length for a review to be considered relevant by Google?

A review should be at least 200 characters long to be deemed more relevant.

How does specificity affect the relevance of a review?

How does specificity affect the relevance of a review?

What is a "Local Guide" in Google's eyes, and why are their reviews trusted?

Local Guides are experienced reviewers in their area, and Google trusts their reviews due to their extensive reviewing history and local expertise.

How do keywords play a role in the relevancy of a review?

Reviews that include keywords related to the business, such as restaurant type or services, are more likely to be ranked higher by Google.

Why do reviews with images hold a special place in Google's ranking?

Reviews with photos are considered more relevant because they provide visual evidence of the reviewer's experience, which helps prospective customers make informed decisions.

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