5-Star Review Ratings Return to Google+ Local Pages

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Look at any business’s Google local listing.  Notice anything…different?

That’s right.  Google has returned to showing businesses’ average review ratings on a 5-star scale.

Didn’t happen a moment too soon.  When Google Places became “Google+ Local” in May of 2012, businesses and customers everywhere were confused by Google’s annoying 30-point “Zagat” system of rating businesses.

We’ve known for a little while that Google was about to take the “Zagat” system out to the pasture.

As Mike Blumenthal first noted back in May, when the “new” Google Maps rolled out and you used it to navigate to a Google+ Local page, you’d see its average ratings on a 5-star scale.

What’s different is that now you can see the 5-point ratings outside of the “new” Google Maps.  In other words, Google has finally rolled it out completely.

You don’t have to be logged into your Google account to see the average rating.  If you’re the business owner, you don’t need to have an “upgraded” Google listing in order to have your stars show up.

It seems to have rolled out to countries other than the US, too.

Your average rating shows up on your page only if you have 5 or more reviews – same as before.


The only trouble is that, at least temporarily, Google’s reviews system will look a little disjointed.  The 5 stars haven’t returned to every area where Google reviews are shown.

Even though the Zagat scale is no longer showing up when you search from the “Local” tab when logged in at plus.google.com…

…it’s still showing up in the “old” Google Maps and in the Google+ Local search results:

I’m sure Google will return the 5 stars to the search results soon enough.  The fact that they’ve returned to the business pages themselves is a good sign, IMHO.

What do you think?

Doesn’t it feel at least a little bit like an epic return – like when Odysseus came home after 20 years?


  1. Thanks for highlighting this update Phil. Great to see the 5 star ratings making a comeback. Can confirm that I’m seeing the same here in the UK and am looking forward to them finally showing up again in the full local search results.

  2. Can confirm that I’m seeing the 5-star rating in Holland. Looks way better than the Zagat score 🙂 Seeing those same 5-start ratings in the new Maps also.

  3. 5 stars for this post Phil!

  4. Yeeha! The 30/30 scores were a bit daft over here since no one really knew what Zagat was – it only seemed to have been taken up by a few restaurants in some very random towns. I shall be really pleased to get my stars back.

    And one of my clients, who has been complaining bitterly about not having a score as he has only managed to get his clients to give him 5 reviews is also very excited since that’s the amount you need to get your stars 🙂

  5. Why is my score 4.8 not 5 if I have all “Excellent” reviews 5 star reviews? Any idea Phil

    • There must be a 4-star in there somewhere. Have you clicked the “More” button at the bottom of your Google listing? Feel free to post the link and I can take a quick look.

    • There are several reasons that this may be the case.

      One is that ratings given previously but not shown in the interface can drag down the score. Ratings used to be able to be given via HotPot and feature phones. Apparently there are still some feature phones where this is still possible.

      Two is that they sometimes have rounding errors moving between they systems AND under the Zagat system with multiple criteria there may have been some attribute on which you fell down that is not shown but is pulling the score down.

      Three- Also Google used to say this

      We take these ratings, average them, and then multiply by ten to arrive at averaged scores. We then may adjust the overall ratings based on user inputs and other signals to ensure these ratings best reflect the quality of the establishment.

      They now say this: (https://support.google.com/plus/answer/1723748?hl=en)
      We calculate an overall rating based on user ratings and a variety of other signals to ensure that the overall score best reflects the quality of the establishment.

      Essentially translated: they use non visible criteria and can be somewhat arbitrary.

  6. @Phil
    Even the 29/30 was often based on non visible “other signals“. See this post in the forums where it was discussed http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/business/TlLdRcNJCi8 .

    Essentially Google is saying that 1+1+1+1+1 doesn’t always equal 5 in their book. And they are saying that they don’t have to explain it or rationalize it.

    As Harry Wormwood (played by Danny Devito) said to Matilda in the movie: Harry Wormwood: Listen, you little wiseacre: I’m smart, you’re dumb; I’m big, you’re little; I’m right, you’re wrong, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

  7. With this new , old system it looks like Yelp is coming back strong with there reviews showing up in the first and second positions.

    • Yelp pretty much always ranks tip-top organically. If anything, Google’s re-introduction of the stars steals a little more of Yelp’s thunder in the SERPs.

  8. I was just staring at my map listing today thinking something had changed until the penny dropped. This is Ireland so looks to be a widespread change back. I was stuck with a 29/30 rating as well…much happier to have 5 starts back. Much less confusing for the end user…and it looks great!

  9. avatar Willy Le Sante says

    Everything you post is awesome Phil

    I did finally ask my small client base for reviews and they happily said yes. I’ve now hit 5, but the stars are not showing up yet. Even though they are all legit reviews from clients and they did post, I am a little worried that I got them quickly (3 days) and they all rated 5 stars.

    Is there a time frame before Google shows the stars in the search results or Google+ Page?

    You rock!

  10. avatar Mike Blumenthal says

    It takes a few days perhaps as many as 5 for all of the stars to align and the stars to show everywhere.

  11. Hey Phil,
    Great Post Indeed. But one thing I would like to ask, As per your post I told my client that stars will show up once you have 5 or more than 5 reviews and my client asked their customers for review and he got 5 but still stars are not showing on Google+ Local page. Any advise what should I do ?

  12. Phil – Great insight here (as is very common). You and Mike Blumenthal do a ridiculously good job of distilling this stuff down so schlubs like me can almost undertand it. Like many previous posters, our score trajectory is strange too. We have all 5 star reviews, and the entire (short) time G was showing the Zagat style rating we had 30/30. We monitor this stuff several times a week. However, we are now at a 4.6. This seems so unjust for Google to present this score. Mostly because other businesses in our category with fewer review can seemingly easily achieve a 5 star score for coming to the review party much later. Do you know of any resource at Google that would provide a manual review?

    • Thanks a lot, Tom.

      “Unjust” is a generous choice of words. FWIW, a hunch tells me Google will get this straightened out soon(ish). But in the meantime, no, there’s nobody at Google we can contact who can help.

      If it makes you feel even a little better, one of my clients is down to 4.5 after having been 5.0 for 3+ years.


  1. […] It looks like in the last few hours Google got rid of the last vestiges of the 30/30 "Zagat" review scale, and brought us back to the good old 5-star scale. The 5 stars had been showing up if you navigated to a Google+ Local page through the "new" Maps, but now it's rolled out completely. More detail here 5-Star Review Ratings Return to Google+ Local Pages | LocalVisibilitySystem.com […]

  2. […] “5-Star Review Ratings Return to Google+ Local Pages” (Local Visibility System, 11 juli 2013) […]

  3. […] to Phil Rozek of Local Visibility System for pointing out that the familiar 5* system of reviews is on its way […]

  4. […] Like Oprah’s weight, Google is in a constant state of flux.  Phone support, the carousel, the return of review stars…it’s a roller […]

  5. […] that’s slightly lower than 5.0 even if you have nothing but 5-star reviews.  (See this great comment by Mike Blumenthal on a post I […]

  6. […] they put reviews front-and-center in the “new” Google Maps and in the local carousel, then they started showing the review stars again, and now they’ve introduced the pop-up.  Google is making it (relatively) easy for you and […]

  7. […] Local is the re-introduction of star ratings for business listings. These star ratings made a comeback in the past few months, and are now noticeably displayed on all listings. The ratings tie in with […]

  8. […] @Travis There's a weird gray area between 4 and 5 reviews, and a 4.8 and 5.0 average rating. See these two posts: How Many Reviews to Get the Star Treatment? Somewhere Between 4 and 5 | Understanding Google Places & Local Search 5-Star Review Ratings Return to Google+ Local Pages | LocalVisibilitySystem.com […]

  9. […] Early July: reintroduces 5-star ratings system […]

  10. […] @Joy What Eric said. There also seems to be a gray area at work, where Google may show the review stars after 4 or 6 reviews (see these comments). […]

  11. […]  The 5-star rating system returns to Google+ Local pages and to the main search […]

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