Google Places Star Counts Impact Direct Website Traffic


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We all know by now that at the end of July, Google changed how they calculate star counts on Google Places. (see previous post)

Dealers that relied heavily on,, or saw their review counts drop drastically toward the end of July.

I have been encouraging dealers to post review on Google Places because it will increase referral traffic to their website and increase calls. Some dealers are skeptical just how important Google Places is to their overall website traffic. Others are skeptical if posting reviews directly on Google Places makes an impact.

I finally have some direct proof that focusing your attention on customer reviews has a major impact on consumers clicking through to your website from Google Places.

The term Zero Moment of Truth refers to the digital “scorecard” consumers see prior to selecting a product or service online. For dealers, Google Places reviews play a major part of the ZMOT experience. For the dealer in this case study, Google Places shows over 40,000 times a month.

If you have been lackadaisical on adding reviews each month to Google Places, this is your wakeup call.

When Referral Traffic Dropped 85%

I am sharing the Google Places analytics for a dealer in the period from June 1st through September 16th in the graph below. Notice that over this period of time, the number of impressions have stayed basically the same. However, there was a big drop in “actions” when the dealer’s star counts dropped from 275 to 3 when Google changed their algorithm.

So let’s dig deeper and look at traffic in June and then we will look at traffic in the last 30 days. In June, the dealer had over 275 reviews in their star counts, primarily from In August, their review “star” count dropped to 3. Notice the BIG difference in referral traffic in the two graphs below:

June Traffic and Actions

Last 30 Days

The Big Drop Defined

In the month of June, this dealer had over 275 starred reviews and it resulted in 3,176 clicks through to their website.

In the last 30 days, with 3 reviews this dealer had 429 clicks through to their website.

This is an 85% drop in referral traffic and the impressions stayed basically the same. So if anyone is NOT taking their Google Places account seriously, here is the data.

The more reviews you have on Google Places, the more FREE traffic you will generate to your website. When you have the highest number of reviews in your market, you can amplify the benefit by running Google Adwords Express.

What Are You Waiting For?

If you have been holding off implementing on in-store Google Places review process, this data should light a fire under your ass.

You can choose if you want to leverage Google Places to drive free traffic to your website or drive traffic to your competitors.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Brian Pasch
Brian Pasch is an 20+ year veteran of the direct marketing industry. His career has spanned both management and technology roles. He is known for his expertise in consumer data warehousing models as well as digital marketing strategy. He is the author of four books on marketing and his latest book is entitled "Mastering Automotive Digital Marketing."


  1. This is a really great case study by Brian, which once again proves that visual in terms of conversion is extremely important. Very unfortunate that Google stopped showing the front image next to the Google Places results…

  2. Brian, I have been using the Google Places method in ranking my clients sites and have also found it to be highly effective.


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