Here’s what this means for the local business owner:

  • Google search results emphasize businesses that get the best Google and Yelp reviews – and that have the best Google SEO.
  • Those top-ranked results will also show up in the search sidebar (Google Local) – and the businesses with the best Google reviews will appear as giant headlines above the others. 
  • Map-based searches will only show the top three or four Google-reviewed businesses – with star ratings based exclusively on Google reviews – and those with the best SEO. All lower-ranked businesses get pushed off the map.
  • Your Google ranking impacts whether or not your business will show up in a search within the Google Maps app.

Why Should I Care?


Yelp and TripAdvisor have been lashing out at Google, over a recent discovery that Google pushes results from Yelp and other review sites lower on the page.

To see this in action, run a quick Google search for businesses in your zip code. Paid Google ads appear at the top of the page. Next comes a Google map, then Google-rated local search results, then natural search results – then finally you’ll see results from Yelp.

The main problem with Yelp’s business model is that many people access Yelp through Google – which means Google gets final say over which businesses get ranked the highest. As Google’s review base grows, Yelp will gradually fade out of the picture.

Here at Digital Viscosity, our experts frequently see competitors appear in search results for local brands. This isn’t just a one-time mistake, or a pay-per-click (PPC) ad. This is Google systematically rewarding businesses who’ve both optimized their local search presence and tightened their SEO – at the expense of their rivals.

Reviews have always been a crucial component of a positive reputation. A difference of just a single star has long been able to impact a business’s profitability. In fact, a 2011 study by Harvard Business School found that a one-star increase in a company’s Yelp review could boost its revenues by 5 to 9 percent.

The second component of online reputation is SEO. As you know, businesses that regularly audit and improve their SEO get ranked more highly on Google – meaning they’ll get more customers, and more positive reviews, and end up getting ranked even higher.

Except now, Google has made sure SEO and reviews both directly impact search ranking, by deliberately pushing top-rated local business to the top of their search results – even in searches for their own competitors – while lower-rated businesses end up at the bottom, or get pushed off the map altogether.

Is your business ready for this convergence? We are.

Millennials who use Blogs & Review Sites to make purchasing decisions93%
Online Activity Related to Local73%
Users Never Scroll Past 1st Page75%
Of Businesses Unclear If They've Claimed their Google Business25%


People can create Google reviews for your business without your approval. You won’t even receive an alert. In fact, people are probably rating and reviewing your business on Google Local already, whether you knew about it or not. And those ratings and reviews are impacting your search rankings.

To protect your search rankings, and your visibility on Google Maps, you need to juggle a whole list of review sites – Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, YellowPages and a host of others –  while minimizing the very real damage caused by negative reviews on each of them.

Meanwhile, you’ve got to keep re-tweaking and fine-tuning your SEO, so your competitors don’t get ahead of you in the rankings that way.

You’ve got to handle all this at the same time, while also trying to run your business.

This is more than a full-time job – and it’s exactly what Digital Viscosity specializes in. That’s why we offer a FREE Digital Visibility Audit, to show you exactly where you need to tighten up your SEO. What’s more, we’ve launched our new REVERB product specifically to address your online reputation’s effect on your search engine rankings.

We’re experts in moving the needle on reviews and on SEO. Over the past year, we’ve proven that our unique SEO and reputation management techniques can raise a business’s Google search ranking by more than 50 percent – quite literally putting that business on the map, and at the top of Google search results.


Checkout your own FREE "Digital Visibility" Audit

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