Mar 8, 2019
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In displaying the list of reviews, Google doesn't show the reviews in chronological order by default.

Instead, reviews are shown by what Google refers to as "Most Relevant".

What criteria is used by Google to decide if a review is more relevant?

In order to find out, we did a quick study of 500 Google reviews in the nursing home and rehabilitation category. Here are what seem to be the top 5 factors in what makes a review more relevant.

  1. Length - The number of words in a review had a clear impact on how relevant it was considered. There was a consistent correlation between the number of words contained in a review with its position in the Most Relevant rankings.
  2. Keywords - Using the name of the business in the review led to an increase in the post's relevancy ranking.
  3. Specific - A review that contained a specific story or example was more likely to rank higher than reviews with generic content.
  4. Local - A review by a user who posted other reviews in the local area is deemed more relevant than a user with either no reviews or one with reviews from a different geographic location.
  5. Time - The more time that passes since a review is posted, the less relevant it becomes.
Here are factors that did not seem to have much of an impact on their relevancy:
  1. Votes/Likes - Unless a review gets 10-20 votes/shares on the post, it won't help much to get a few. (Unless a review is viral-worthy, it won't get many votes or shares anyways)
  2. Response from owner - Having a response from the owner did not substantially affect the post's ranking in the Most Relevant list.
  3. Negative - Unlike what many business owners might think, Google does not rank negative reviews higher than positive ones. In all our tests, positive reviews meeting the criteria outlined above are just as likely to be considered relevant as their negative review counterparts.
These were our findings in a study of over 500 reviews in this category. What other factors do you think might contribute to making a review be considered "Most Relevant"?

Yan Gilbert

Local Search Expert
LocalU Faculty
Oct 15, 2016
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Could #1 & #3 be overlapping/related.. meaning story type reviews might be generally longer in content


Apr 12, 2019
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Very interesting. I do question about owner's responding though. I work with a company that has over 100 locations and I spent some time today reviewing what our "most relevant" is.

The majority of these locations have a negative review at the top. What is important to note, is that the company only responds to reviews that have 1 and 2 stars.

Currently, I'm having them run a test on ten locations to see how replying to comments can effect a listing based on how many stars the location has. This test has been in effect for almost a month. When I searched up those locations, they all had positive reviews at the top.

Perhaps it's just a blip and for some reason the locations I manage didn't align with your findings, but I definitely see something different than you do.
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