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Does Upvoting a Review Help it Show Up Higher on Google?

People often want strategies to help them control which reviews Google highlights in the Knowledge Panel.  One specific tactic that gets brought up a lot is the upvote feature that Google has beside each individual review.  We wanted to see if upvoting a review on Google impacted where the review showed up so we did a test on this for a client of ours who had a negative review being highlighted in his knowledge panel.
negative review in knowledge panel

We had multiple people upvote a specific review that was left by a well-established Local Guide to see if we could get that review to replace the one that was displaying in the Knowledge Panel.
upvoting Google reviewsWe found that upvoting the review had no impact on the order of the reviews, or which reviews were chosen to be displayed in the Knowledge Panel.

The order of the reviews

The order of the reviews on a Google My Business listing is largely impacted by how recent the review is.  Here are some things that we observed about the order reviews are displayed in:

  1. Reviews that were left recently are more likely to float to the top with the default filter of “most relevant” selected.
  2. Older reviews show up lower, on average.
  3. Ratings with no text appear at the very bottom of the list.
    Ratings with no textHere is another great example of how upvoting a review doesn’t appear to impact the order of the reviews.  If you haven’t heard of Rod Ponton, he is the lawyer who went viral earlier this year due to joining a Zoom call as a cat.  Within a matter of days of this video going viral, he started getting flooded with reviews on his GMB listing because of the video. Google removed most of the reviews but he continues to get new reviews based on the cat video.

    The review that is a year old that has 40 upvotes does not rank higher than the reviews that were left recently.  Here is a table that highlights the order of the 7 reviews that are on his listing currently:

    Review Order Date # of Upvotes
    1 a month ago 4
    2 2 weeks ago 0
    3 a month ago 3
    4 a year ago 40
    5 (Rating Only) a day ago 0
    6 (Rating Only) 3 years ago 0
    7 (Rating Only) a week ago 0

Which 3 reviews get highlighted in the Knowledge Panel

In our test, upvoting the review also had no impact on which 3 reviews get displayed in the Knowledge Panel. We learned a few things about this section of the Knowledge Panel.

  1. It’s very common for Google to display 2 positive reviews and 1 negative review in this section like the examples below.
  2. This section doesn’t get updated very often.  When we tracked this for a client for over a year, the reviews displayed in the Knowledge Panel didn’t change despite the business getting tons of new reviews in that time period.

A great example that shows how upvoting reviews doesn’t appear to impact which reviews get chosen is Roman Stone Works.  Their Knowledge Panel displays 3 negative reviews currently:
Reviews in Knowledge Panel

When looking at their reviews, the 3 that are displayed currently have 45, 48, and 34 upvotes.  There are other reviews that have thousands of upvotes but yet are not being selected to display in the Knowledge Panel.
Review with 3000 upvotes Review with 2000 upvotes

In summary, we found that it’s not worthwhile to spend effort upvoting reviews on Google.  It doesn’t appear to impact where or how they show up.  I think Google is unlikely to change this because it would make their platform way too easy for people to manipulate.

And See These Other Articles Covering Important SEO Topics:


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Joy Hawkins

Joy is the owner of the Local Search Forum, LocalU, and Sterling Sky, a Local SEO agency in Canada & the USA. She has been working in the industry since 2006, writes for publications such as Search Engine Land, and enjoys speaking regularly at marketing conferences such as MozCon, LocalU, Pubcon, SearchLove, and State of Search. You can find her on Twitter or volunteering as a Product Expert on the Google My Business Forum.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Very interesting, thank you, Joy! We upvote positive Google reviews for our clients, and, like you, have found that it doesn’t seem to make a difference to Google. But it’s still nice to see a little thumbs up next to the positive reviews. 🙂

  2. Great article Joy as usual. I’m glad to see this data as we felt the same about upvotes. I do agree with Teresa. I think the fact that people see a large number next to the review makes the review a bit more enticing to read and trust.

  3. Joy, very interesting. I think it makes sense that upvoting doesn’t impact the order of reviews. Like you mentioned, it would make it very easy to manipulate your client’s or their competitor’s reviews and Google has realized this too.

  4. Amazing content you have here. It is hard to find high quality writing like yours these days. I honestly appreciate individual like you.

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