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Hi Guys,
I was supposed to take all of the 4th of July off, but instead I ended up writing a short blog post on a look at review counts in the carousel. If you're looking for a quick, light read, you might enjoy:

SEO Igloo Blog ? How Google’s Carousel Conviced Me That Review Counts Count For Nearly Nada

I'm posting this here because I would truly like to know what you think about the role review counts are actually playing in rankings these days. You'll see what I think in my post - but what do you think? I hope we can have a discussion!

EDITED BY LINDA to add: Miriam did another follow-up post with a small study. Read it here:
Do Review Velocity Or Recency Influence Local Business Rankings?
 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Miriam, Thanks for posting this topic!

I just did a short reply at your blog and copied part of it below but want to add a link and a little more detail here.

But this is a great subject and one I'm working on a big related post about. I actually am in a bit of a debate with a member here about how much reviews play a part in the algo and as a result am going to do a really big revealing post about how organic rules the ranking order - NOT reviews or citations.

I have seen SO many articles about the carousel saying now reviews matter more than ever and Google is surfacing the listings with the most reviews.

Yes with carousel reviews may be more important visually.

But as you pointed out they aren't what controls the algo.

The carousel uses the blended algo. The blended algo ranking order is primarily about organic ranking factors.

I'm having a debate with someone in my forum now and as a result and going to post proof and document why I've been saying this for so long. (Bout time eh?)

So anyway, like you said reviews ARE important for a great variety of reasons but they don't control ranking order. They are just one small part, but not the most important part.

I'll try to remember to link back the big post I'm working on in this thread. I think I'll be publishing it Tues AM.
Thanks for the insights!
 
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Hi Linda,
I can hardly wait to read your big upcoming post on this topic. I know you'll point out some things we all need to know. I totally love your big monster posts!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my article. Appreciate it!
 

Linda Buquet

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Wow Miriam, you ARE on a roll!

Miriam just did another follow-up review post today. Read it here.

Do Review Velocity Or Recency Influence Local Business Rankings?

I replied on her post "Miriam that big post we talked about I’m working on for Tues that kinda helps prove what really controls the local ranking order… My theory does not work for these restaurant results which is odd. It’s like it’s a different algo.

Totally works and is provable for Drs, Chiros and plumbers. But does not jive for restaurants. Weird!"
 
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Works for chiros, etc., but not for restaurants, Linda? Wow, I wonder what that is all about. Well, I am looking forward to your Tuesday update, for sure! Thanks so much for taking the time to read my latest update. I haven't blogged in months because I've been so danged busy, but I'm having fun:)
 

Linda Buquet

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Works for chiros, etc., but not for restaurants, Linda? Wow, I wonder what that is all about.

Actually it MAY work for restaurants BUT it's tons harder to correlate and track just because restaurant searches are so clogged up with so many food directory and local directory sites, plus big chains that it's harder to research and illustrate the correlation I'm trying to show.

You'll see when I show the screenshots and explain it all with a Dentist and Chiropractor example. (They illustrate the issue more clearly.) And my examples clearly show why the listings with the most reviews are not always the ones ranking highest.

Working on it now.
 

Linda Buquet

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Miriam, here's the huge post I promised:

How the Google Local Algo Really Works - What Rules the Ranking Order

After reading and absorbing and viewing screenshots come back for the comment below.

I "think" the reason restaurants are hard to correlate this way is twofold.

1) All the high ranking food review and directory sites that list restaurants clog up the works.

2) Many restaurants don't really do a good job at on-site SEO. Then are optimized for their name and sometimes type of food - but often are really not that well optimized for city + KW. So when you try to find the pure organic results in AOL for restaurants - for example in the search you did for your study - the good but Mom and Pop owned restaurants that rank in the carousel are BURIED in organic. Not only below all the grubhub and yelp listings but below big chains like Subway and Dominos that may not have the greatest food BUT DO HAVE MARKETING BUDGETS AND OPTIMIZE FOR LOCAL!

I think lots of restaurants get customers due to drive by traffic, word of mouth and social so don't invest much in on-site SEO like a local Dentist or Plumber maybe does. (Does that make sense?)
 
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