OnlineLobstar

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Which Business Would You Call?
A. The nearest business with no customer reviews
B. The business with good numbers of customer reviews even if the business is located on the other side of your city
 

Cherie Dickey

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Hey @OnlineLobstar,

Personally, like most folks, I do take reviews into consideration when choosing a local business. I also take photos into consideration, replies the business owner may have left, the website, and other information I can find about them in other parts of the Web. That's part of the reason I recommend businesses focus on fully optimizing their listing, their website, and other sources of information about the business. The other part is that I know these are also ranking factors.

I think the nature of your question is curiosity as to why a business with more reviews might not outrank a business with no reviews, but is closer to the searcher? Is this correct? Or are you merely looking for opinions on what business I would choose based on reviews alone?
 

OnlineLobstar

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I think the nature of your question is curiosity as to why a business with more reviews might not outrank a business with no reviews, but is closer to the searcher? Is this correct?
Yes, exactly. Right now, Google is showing only the nearest businesses in the 3-packs. Don't you think Google is losing their quality when it comes to user-experience?
 

Colan Nielsen

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Yes, exactly. Right now, Google is showing only the nearest businesses in the 3-packs. Don't you think Google is losing their quality when it comes to user-experience?

Hey @OnlineLobstar It really depends on the type of business and what their services are. Like Cherie, I also pay attention to reviews but I also know how reviews can be spammed and/or biased. If I was looking for a Dentist or a Lawyer, proximity would matter less than reviews to me. But if I was looking for a grocery store or a pub I would factor in proximity to my decision to a higher degree.
 

mborgelt

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Unless the businesses in scenario 1 have bad reviews then I'm not driving across town for much (especially with Denver traffic). Businesses can have great reviews and terrible service so weighing them only by their online presence can be misleading.

Unfortunately since Google caters to millions of people every day, it behooves them to do things for the majority. Urgency is more of a priority for local searches so Google showing them the nearest business makes sense when you look at it from that way.
 

HoosierBuff

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I think it's more interesting that google considers proximity very important for searches when the contractor comes to you!

I don't care if they drive 20 miles, I want the right guy (and plus, I'm not driving).

Similarly, if I ever need a lawyer, I want someone good, not neccesarily nearby.
 

Tim Colling

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It would make sense for Google to decide how to weight proximity vs "Quality" based in part on the primary category of the business.

For example, you might be most interested in convenience, and therefore, proximity, when choosing a hardware store or a garden center or an auto parts store. Why? Because:
  • The merchandise tends to be somewhat the same quality no matter where you go
  • You have to invest the time and effort to drive there
However, you would hopefully be a lot more concerned about quality than proximity when choosing a company like a non-medical home caregiving agency. Why? Because:
  • You aren't doing the driving, so it only matters whether the company has employees who will come to the client's home, not whether the company has an office near the client's home.
  • The services definitely are not the same from one agency to the next. One agency may provide services that are a lot better and a lot more trustworthy than those provided by another. After all, this about the safety, comfort and security of you or your loved ones, with strangers coming into their homes.
 

Phil Rozek

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@OnlineLobstar, these guys and gals have explained well the finer points of "distance vs. reviews."

I'd add only that in competitive industries, where a lot of local businesses compete with each other, Google can cherry-pick. Usually Google can find a business that's both close and that has good reviews. That business usually does well.

Also, the link-juice matters.
 

brettmandoes

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It depends on the niche. For gyms, most people are looking for something within a 3 mile radius of their home or work. It's a non-negotiable factor, so it makes sense that proximity is a ranking factor. But I don't care about a plumber or drain tech's location. I just want someone who is respectful of my home, can get there quickly, and doesn't charge me a college tuition to repair a leak. Proximity for that type of business doesn't make sense, but Google has made proximity a ranking factor for local search, and it is what it is.

You may find it interesting that in most cases, adding "best" to a local search will return results in the local pack that have at least 4 star reviews, and the proximity factor seems to be dampened somewhat. That could be due to closer businesses being filtered out, but I've noticed the range changes somewhat so I'm assuming Google's algorithm has identified that people are looking for slightly different criteria when they want the best, and reviews may be weighted differently in that instance.
 
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