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In Your Corner: How Google Reviews Calculates Value of Star-Ratings


As Reputation Defenders at WebPunch, our team is on a first-name basis with Google. We’re known for being super savvy when it comes to understanding the online review environment and comprehending the ins and outs of the number one search engine. That’s why we were surprised to discover that the simple star-rating system for online reviews isn’t as straightforward as we had formerly believed.

If your business listing contained all 5-star google reviews, you would automatically assume that your overall star-rating would be 5. But check this out:






All seven reviews above have 5-star ratings, yet the overall rating is only 4.5.  At first, we thought this might just be a fluke, but we began to see more and more instances where the average wasn’t adding up. We found this concerning since star-rating plays a huge role in your ever-important online reputation so we rolled up our sleeves and started digging.

Below, you’ll see an example of how a 1-star review that’s been posted for this company doesn’t appear to affect the overall rating, which remains 5.





Our investigation brought us to many discrepancies (at least, what we considered to be discrepancies) across several business listings. So we went straight to the source. The following verbiage comes directly from Google’s Support Page.

Score Calculation

Your score is calculated from user ratings and a variety of other signals to ensure that the overall score best reflects the quality of the establishment.

User Reviews From Other Sites

Some listings may show user reviews taken from other local review sites. These are automatically generated based on information Google finds when crawling the web. Click the name, rating, or number of user reviews to visit the site where the reviews are published.

 In the past, Google created an algorithm for when business listings only contained a few reviews. They pulled in additional data to estimate what the average would be if the listing included a larger number of reviews. This algorithm was said to contain similarities to what is called the Bayesian average.

Because this only served to complicate things and confuse business owners, we were under the impression that Google had shifted to using the same method of averaging that we all learned in middle school. However, we are still seeing examples where this is clearly not the case.

We called our friends at Google to find out what was up and they informed us that Google’s current algorithms look for the following factors to calculate star-rating.

  • Optimization of Listing (including business info, photos and map placement)
  • Site Traffic
  • Reviews


The average of your star-ratings on Google involves much more than just numbers, which means that you get the opportunity to practice lovable marketing on your own business listing! In the same way that you devote yourself to your customers, you can dedicate yourself to enhancing your online presence. Pour that same attention and great customer service into your Google business listing and you will easily maintain your online reputation. Google wants to reward you for a job well done and they offer a full list of tips to assist you in optimizing your business listing. Remember to respond promptly to your reviews, which in turn establishes regular traffic to your Google page.  Optimizing your listing and responding to your reviews will help you to knock that Google algorithm to the stars.