While many factors play into a brand’s search engine page rank, reviews and ratings are a big part of the mix. Factors like the number and sentiment of reviews as well as the authority and diversity of the sites where the reviews appear all affect a brand’s rank.

It’s hard to ignore the role ratings and reviews in play in a brand’s messaging, and potentially risky when search engines often display star-ratings natively on the results page, giving that simple little number big power over the first impression your brand gives to a consumer. Having negative sentiment surrounding your brand on a search engine results page can not only impact if your page gets clicked on first but, ultimately, if your product is going to be considered for purchase at all.

Little number, big Impact

A recent study conducted by ConsumerAffairs that explored the science of star ratings revealed a few interesting findings.

The study looked to examine what impacted star ratings the most in both negative and positive directions across features like product function and quality, shipping and delivery and customer service among others. Perhaps most interesting was what we saw reflected in a customer’s star rating for a product when we asked them to give one overall rating for the product compared to when broke the experience down and asked for separate ratings for each factor.

The first scenario dealt with rating a situation where either two good or two bad experiences happened in sequential order.

When a user was asked to give a single ratings for two good scenarios, a higher average sentiment was seen compared to the individual ratings for the two good scenarios. The converse was also true, single ratings for two bad scenarios had a lower average sentiment than the individual ratings for the two scenarios.

This points to the possibility of single ratings amplifying the overall tone of an experience. Which means in a scenario where the experience was likely bad all-around, you have a better likelihood of getting an overall better rating when you ask the consumer to rate each part of the experience individually versus having the person rank the experience as a whole with one star rating.

Consider a consumer was disappointed with the packaging on their order, which left a few scratches on their product. If they were asked what they thought of their experience overall they might, in their frustration, give a 2-star rating. However, if asked to rate the packaging and delivery individually along with items like customer service and product function, which they had a largely positive impression of, they might give delivery a 1-star rating, but say they gave a 5-star rating to both function and service. You now have an overall rating of 3.6. Much better than the overall rating of 2.

This approach also gives consumers a more detailed look at customer sentiment, allowing them to dive deep into what matters most to them and make educated purchase decisions. They might be more willing to move forward with a 3.6-rated item, knowing the main issue with a customer’s experience was delivery and not the quality of the product itself.